Watt’s Up, Doc?

Yesterday, I wrote a piece about some environmental activists getting tasered by the local police in Brattleboro, Vermont. (It was a nice change of pace from the other recent news out of Brattleboro, when they finally passed a “no public nudity” ordinance.) I was rushed for work and suffering a caffeine crash, so it wasn’t my best work. The ending kind of trailed off, and my own opinion on the incident didn’t come through like I wished. So I thought I’d give it another take.

Here are the key elements of the story: a couple of out-of-town professional pains in the ass decided they didn’t like Brattleboro allowing a truck stop to be built on a vacant lot, so they planted a bunch of plants. That wasn’t enough, so they bound themselves to a steel barrel in such a way that they could release themselves any time they wanted, but police would have to get through the barrel to release them.

It brings up an interesting point: just what should the police do in such a case?

The unemployed dipshits were clearly breaking the law, so the police had a duty to get them to move on. And they refused the orders from the police, another criminal offense. At that point, the police are justified in using force on them.

First off, the police didn’t draw their guns and shoot them. As tempting as it was, it was clearly not justified her. So good for the cops.

They could have called in special equipment to crack open the drum. Not really a good option — it would have tied them up for far too long, and the kind of equipment needed could have injured the idiots. I don’t have too much of a problem with that, but it would have made the situation even more complicated.

They could have ignored them until Nature Called and they were compelled by their own digestive and excretory systems to release themselves. Again, not an option — some of these nutjobs are so committed, they put on adult diapers for just such a contingency.

They could have used pepper spray on them. Again, not the best option — it tends to screw with things like coordination, and they might not be able to release themselves. Also, it often leaves a “cloud” of irritants and lingers, meaning that it’s not pleasant for the officers around the dirtbags.

My own personal thought would be to send one guy back to the firing range and grab some earphones, then take a tire jack out of the trunk of a cruiser. With my own ears protected, I’d beat the hell out of the steel drum until their ears started bleeding.

But what the police chose to do seems about right to me. They apparently didn’t have ear protection and a tire iron at hand, so they used what they did have — tasers. And they presented the morons with a simple choice: free themselves, or get zapped. When that didn’t work, they moved on to Plan B: free themselves, or get zapped some more.

Eventually, the re-volting plan worked. The two imbeciles let themselves go, and were hauled off to the hoosegow.

The whiny gits are describing their experience as “torture.” I’m sure it was painful (that is the whole point of Tasers — to inflict pain without injury to force compliance), but I hardly think it qualifies as torture.

And to those who are upset at the police (and their deputizing Reddy Kilowatt in the service of justice), I’d like to ask you just what the officers should have done.

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