Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Adventures of Frat Boy Mumia*

I have to say, it's really hard for me to get worked up over the tasering of young Andrew Meyer.

I should start with all of the usual disclaimers: of course I don't think people should be subdued and arrested for asking questions at a forum. Even if that person is screaming and running around and causing a disturbance, it doesn't give the police the right to overreact the way that they did. And while I think that tasers can serve a useful purpose, they can also pose a danger in the hands of overzealous officers (see here for a similar, but vastly more disturbing, case). And it certainly shouldn't matter how obnoxious (or self-promoting) the victim is, or that he's turned himself into an internet celebrity with the hottest catchphrase since "Leave Britney Alone."

Honestly, though, do these sorts of stunts prove anything besides the fact that privileged people who try really hard to be arrested are usually successful? I don't have the statistics in front of me, but I'm guessing that the majority of our country's massive prison population is not composed of white college kids who disrupted a speech by a U.S. Senator (or people who refused to show their receipt as they were leaving an electronics store). The real miscarriages of justice are generally aimed at people who weren't trying to get into trouble so they could prove a point, and who didn't have the foresight to videotape or blog their experience.

It was one of those strange coincidences that the night the story first hit the internets, I happened to read this post at the Group News Blog, inspired by the case of the Jena 6, and I suppose that's why I'm a bit sensitive to the essential inanity of the taser story. There is enough injustice in the world to go around, from racism and overly severe drug laws to extraordinary rendition and Guantanamo Bay. I don't need Andrew Meyer to convince me that some douche being tasered is the greatest threat to our liberty.

*Title blatantly stolen from TBogg.

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