Video leaves us asking: To tase or not to tase?

In my experience, there are only two rules in life that always hold. The first: Whenever a woman talks about her weight, hold perfectly still without saying a word until the topic changes. The second: Whenever someone starts talking about politics, especially at Yale, do the same thing.

Violate either of those two rules, and next thing you know, you might end up on the floor begging not to be tased.

I want to put on my Fox News glasses and take a fair and unbiased look at the situation. For those of you who have been living under a rock, last week a video was released onto the Internet of a boy (he did not display the requisite maturity for me to call him a man) getting tased by University of Florida police. During the Q&A of a John Kerry forum, he cut in line and decided to give his own lecture to the senator. When security forcefully removed him from the microphone, the crowd applauded.

We’ve all been to talks by famous people at Yale and seen similar counter-lecturers. It felt good to see such a selfish person get carried off. However, as he continued to shout and be disruptive as the police escorted him out of the building, he was eventually subdued and — while on the ground — tased. His now-infamous cry of “Don’t tase me, bro!” has made countless Internet T-shirt dealers rich.

On one hand, he was up there making an ass of himself, talking down to a U.S. senator. No matter what your political alignment is, it just isn’t right for a kid to disrespect a former presidential candidate like that. I’d be willing to bet that the kid was the product of a middle-class suburban upbringing that got him into college, where he watched “The Daily Show” enough to think that the system that had given him so much privilege was actually somehow holding him down. The first time I watched the video, I couldn’t wait for the kid to be tased, and even wished there was a way to pull the trigger myself.

On the other hand, this is a kid who has gotten himself in way over his head and is held on the ground by four uniformed police officers. Even if he had walked in wanting to make a scene, and even might have seen such an reprisal coming, there is no way that was a fun experience. My understanding is that police carry Tasers to help subdue unruly persons — he certainly was unruly, but it was clear that he could have been carried out of the room or handcuffed and dragged out without the involvement of a Taser. I’ve watched enough “Law and Order” to know that four security officers should be able to cuff and remove one 140-pound punk.

In a video shot afterward, he is still trying to pretend that he is Winston Smith going to the Ministry of Love when he is really just a selfish brat who cut in line and monopolized everyone’s time. He tells the officers, “There are people who know I am here; you can’t kill me.” He continues to whine about getting back the possessions he dropped in the scuffle, and he seems genuinely shocked that he was removed just for giving a four-minute statement of his own personal views.

We should be thankful for Tasers. Without a Taser in this situation, the police might have had to use brute force to suppress the student. It would have been a problem if he had appeared as a real martyr for freedom of speech, with actual cuts and bruises. And while it probably wasn’t fun to be zapped, his mouth was moving again just a few seconds later, thankfully once he was removed from the lecture hall. His mouth only finally stopped moving when he lost his audience.

Brian Thompson is a senior in Branford College.

Comments