Sunday, November 19, 2006

Non-violence takes a few taser hits

My, how times change. I just watched a six-minute video of the widely reported incident in the UCLA library of what I assume are the campus police apprehending an uncooperative subject. The link is via which has a couple of corporate blogs, if you can believe it.

Aside from the obvious parallels with police actions of the Sixties, which I pointed out in a comment at the site, I am struck with the vanilla comments of the reporter/blogger who says...
.'s not up to me to determine if was actually a serious abuse of power. What's clear right now, though, is that technology has completely changed the way we collect news, monitor public safety, and police those in authority.

If you watch the video, keep an eye open for how many of the students have cell phones out, and are documenting everything that happens. A mere years ago, this fracas would have been an isolated incident on a college campus. There would likely have been no video of what really happened. Today, we've got it recorded from multiple angles by a variety of witnesses. The omnipresence of cell phones makes sure that no newsworthy act goes unrecorded. It's heartening to see that technology is helping us watch the watchmen, even if what we see is hard to look at.

"Not up to me" he says. For crying out loud, if it isn't up to him, me, you and other viewers, the pray tell who is it up to? What does he need to see to conclude that these guys were being thuggish? His comment about technology is correct, thankfully, but where is his sense of civic accountability?

I think he spent too much time in journalism school or something.

I almost forgot. Go watch the video and see for yourself. I'm more disturbed by the manner in which the police intimidated the crowd and the reporter's ethical timidity than the actions of these two ignorant officers. Police officers have a terrible responsibility and I am pleased and greatful when they do their duty well. But in the end I expect them to treat offenders with dignity and professionalism. And responsible citizens should expect no less.

In this instance all the talk about "Arab-looking" this or "smart-ass" that is entirely beside the point.

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