Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Stun Gunned

In Sanitized, we looked at the increase in overall harm in exchange for a decrease in visible harm. In the boxing case, for example, we traded major neurological harm for less blood at matches, by cushioning knuckles so that more direct blows can rattle the skull. In football, the same, while also cushioning the receiving body itself, so that damage is channeled more deeply.

A handful of further issues suggest themselves: firstly, credit. It's no surprise that the masters of credit, the great bankers who govern human societies, also favor and reward regulating authorities that produce short-term "gains" in exchange for long term sickness. Symptomatic medicine works this way, too, designed--like boxing--to disguise easily perceivable harms, while more deeply entrenching greater ones.

Those connections are fairly easy to perceive. So too the contrast between in-cruiser and foot patrol vis-à-vis policing. What this one would like modern westerners to think about are the connections between sanitized police and sanitized violence. Compare and contrast Mike Brown, Rodney King, and a flogged Mississippi slave circa 1840: in each case, the police interaction gets "cleaner," but the end result is worse. Maybe all the cases are unjust, maybe all are just, and maybe they're a mix; they're employed as easily-recallable examples to the modern Terran, and can be switched out for the example of Dillon Taylor followed by a series of German immigrants getting nightsticked by Irish police sergeants in old-timey New York.

Domestic policing (discounting the specific evil of Hillary Clinton's Party's lengthy and ongoing history of slave patrols) has taken its deadly turn for a lot of reasons, but one of them is surely this cleanliness. Sure, it looks cleaner when cops taser someone instead of beating the crap out of them, but blood and bruises is much better than lasting neurological damage (even on the "small" scale that modern formal taser research allows). And it looks cleaner when cops nightstick someone instead of just beating them up, but the normal beating is much preferable--both to the police officer's psyche as well as the victim's soft tissue. Clubs were certainly always a part of police work, but the transition to the glossy modern nightstick was, like the transition from nightstick to gun, to pepper spray, to taser, was motivated by this sickening western desire to make things "clean." Just like the automobile was supposed to "clean up the city" by eliminating horse shit, the nightstick and gun were going to make police work civil by preventing policemen from grabbing ahold of criminals and beating the crap out of them.

And there's a major loss to all of us, there. The sense of defeat by hand is psychologically important to a criminal. The "justice" is there, fair and square. Medical leave is expensive, but so is ammo, and the kinds of companies that go into taser design make way too much money off of us, just so we don't have to suffer the indignity of seeing a portly guy beat up a perp. In the long run, far more people end up dead or permanently damaged, grudging and ready for another round...and, as the skill level and discipline required to point a gun or taser differs greatly from that required to merely physically overpower, the quality of the cop drops, too.

Take in the political economy perspective while we're at it: in exchange for redirecting a vastly increased share of state and municipal funds to big firearms manufacturers, state legislators and city managers have been able to substantially reduce effective cop pay and benefits. Not just in the sense of wages, but in benefits--money that could be going to pay cops their full hourly to train, exercise, and meditate, is instead going to the stockholders of domestic arms companies. Check out this shit from the big dog itself, which sprang into being less than a year after the corporate media pushed the Rodney King beating: Saving Lives at Taser. Ford and Chevy won big when billions of dollars went to buy "patrol cruisers" instead of paying more cops more wages to walk more streets in person, and the "exotic weapons and computing category" is going to keep sanitizing police and military jobs into conditions far more inhumane for both giver and receiver.

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