Cruel and unusual

I am hopeful that by now you have all seen the “Don’t tase me bro” incident that occurred during a John Kerry lecture at the University of Florida last semester. But even if you hate the questions Andrew Meyer was asking and think his politics are terrible, it is important to understand that free speech was violated by an excessive andpotentially deadly use of force. This is clearly the most famous use of stunguns, or tasers, since they have become the new favorite toy of law enforcement (other than warrantless wiretaps) in the last few years. UVM and BPD officers now carry dangerous force in the form of “nondeadly” tasers hanging on their belts while they patrol Burlington.We should all be scared of the ease with which law enforcement can violate our right and the rampant rates of police misconduct. Rights violations have become a staple of law enforcement – profiling, for example – because they think their efforts would be weakened without them.And the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment is violated every time officers pull out their taser pistols and light up somebody’s chest.Yet the idiots that we have let interpret our constitution appear to think that in order to be cruel and unusual, a punishment needs to fit both of those categories. While the death penalty is certainly cruel, it is not “unusual.”And yet tasers cannot even pass this bar.A stun gun in the chest may not be as cruel as a handgun bullet, but it is unacceptably so.As for the charge of being unusual, if a taser shot to the heart doesn’t fit your definition of “unusual,” then you’ve probably taken one too many taser shots to your head. Additionally, they can stop a heart if they hit on the right voltage, on the right individual, at exactly the right time, and they can cause permanent damage to nerve endings and the rest of the nervous system.That sounds cruel and unusual to me. Time will tell if they should be banned as more and more instances occur. Iwouldn’t take that risk, but for now I hope you can avoid the sting.