Friday, October 26, 2012


(Note: This post represents an archive that I began several years ago. Many of the articles may have been removed from the cited URLs. I will update this page as time permits.)

"One-third of people shot by Taser need medical attention: probe," 

Tasers a form of torture, says UN
Agence France-Presse | From correspondents in Geneva | November 24, 2007
TASER electronic stun guns are a form of torture that can kill, a UN committee has
declared after several recent deaths in North America.
"The use of these weapons causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture,'' the UN's
Committee against Torture said.
"In certain cases, they can even cause death, as has been shown by reliable studies and
recent real-life events,'' the committee of 10 experts said.
Three men, all in their early 20s, were reported to have died in the United States this
week, days after a Polish man died at Vancouver airport after being Tasered by Canadian
The man, Robert Dziekanski, 40, fell to the ground and died after the police officers
piled on top of him.
There have been three deaths in Canada after the use of Tasers over the past five weeks.
See, also:

Torture by Taser
"Taser jolt can cause fatal heart rhythm," 
Terri Theodore | The Toronto Star; THE CANADIAN PRESS | May 09, 2008 
"Heart experts warn Tasers deadly,"  
Suzanne Fournier | The Province | Tuesday, May 20, 2008,  

American Heart Association: Tasers can cause death
By Jennifer Edwards Baker and Janice Morse, The Cincinnati Enquirer
But, despite the warnings, dangers, and UN-designation of "torture device", police around the world are being told that tasers are safe enough even to use of children.
Now police are told they can use Taser guns on children
By JASON LEWIS | Last updated at 15:27pm on 2nd September 2007

Students and children:
Police Taser 6-Year-Old
Officer's Taser is used on girl, 9
Cops Taser UCLA Student
Florida Student Is Shocked at Kerry Forum
Washington Post
Retired NYPD officer says cops used Taser on his teenage Son
Superior police, district say using Tasers on students is OK
Maria Lockwood | Superior Daily Telegram | Published Friday, February 08, 2008
Second student shot with Taser
Charlotte Observer/Melissa Manware | September 27 2005
Sixth Grader Tasered At Middle School
The elderly:
No justification for using Taser on grandmaChicago cop's actions against mentally ill woman probed
By Mary Mitchell, Sun-Times Columnist | November 6, 2007
Police taser 75-year-old at nursing home
Pregnant women:
Stun Gun Used on Pregnant Woman in Ohio
Associated Press | November 29, 2007
Pregnant woman tasered
Police Taser Pregnant Driver
FBI Investigates After Officer Uses Taser On Pregnant Woman
Jill Del Greco, Reporter | POSTED: November 28, 2007 | UPDATED: November 29, 2007
The disabled/restrained:

Diabetic Cleburne Teen Hit With Taser After Crash
CBSDFW.COM | October 24, 2012
Wheelchair-Bound Woman Dies After Being Shocked With Taser 10 Times 
Police use Taser in arresting autistic man
DailyPress | May 17, 2008
Handcuffed Woman Tased in Police Station
Kurt Nimmo | TruthNews | December 2, 2007
Man Tasered In Hospital Bed
Forced To Give Urine Sample
Associated Press | March 10 2005
And, yet:
St. Louis police plan wider use of Tasers
By Jeremy Kohler | ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH | 06/19/2008


Taser used on Wentzville student
By Kalen Ponche | St. Louis Suburban Journal | Tuesday, September 29, 2009 3:14 AM CDT

"Man's death by Taser prompts concern"
Joel Currier | ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH | 05/09/2008, 

According to the article entitled "Police Officers From Five States Sue Taser International for Serious Injuries Suffered During Stun Gun Training Classes," from August 25 2005, "among those who now warn of the dangers of tasers and other "energy devices" is a "a Missouri police chief" who "alleges that he suffered heart damage and two strokes after he volunteered to be shocked with a Taser in April 2004, while hooked up to a cardiac monitor that was supposed to show the Taser was safe. The officer also claims he suffered hearing and vision loss as well as neurological damage." Other officers allege injuries ranging from burns to fractures and dislocations. A cache of the original article can be viewed here:

St. Louis is not alone.
Tasered Man Dies
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/ NY Times | June 11, 2008
Alton Man Dies after Being Tasered
By Casey Nolen | KSDK / News Channel 5 | Created: 5/7/2008 10:51:42 AM
Last updated: 5/7/2008 10:15:52 PM
N.C. Teen Dies After Police Shock Him With Taser at Grocery Store
Friday, March 21, 2008
Man Dies After Police Use Stun Gun on Him
Another Meaningless Taser Death: Police Use Of Stun Guns Out Of Control
Confused? Distressed? Need Help? Get tasered | November 15 , 2007  | Steve Watson
Suspect dies in police custody
Posted at: 11/18/2007 07:18:54 PM | By: Eyewitness News 4
A man died in police custody after being subdued with a Taser. ... Police transported
the man to the detention center. But when they arrived, he was dead. State police say an
autopsy is pending.
Wheelchair-Bound Woman Dies After Being Shocked With Taser 10 Times 
Phoenix Man Dies After Being Tasered
Associated Press | May 4, 2005

Police accused of firing Taser into head of innocent man
Robert Booth | Tuesday December 18, 2007 | The Guardian (UK)
Houston Man Dies After Shocked By Taser Gun
POSTED: 7:18 am CDT July 14, 2008

Man's death spurs more questions on police Taser use
Arelis R. Hernández | Orlando Sentinel | 7:53 p.m. EST, June 2, 2012

Man who died after being tasered by police in Sydney Australia 
may have lost his life over a packet of biscuits
CARLEEN FROST | The Daily Telegraph | March 19, 2012 12:00AM

Sledge Hammer, Porn Star, Dies After Being Tasered By Police
The Huffington Post  |  By Kathleen Miles Posted: 04/16/2012 3:48 pm Updated: 04/17/2012 4:34 pm
"...tased to the point of cardiac arrest by police"

Man dies after police shock him with Taser
By Dale Lezon | Wednesday, August 1, 2012 | Updated: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 10:32am

Man dies after being tasered by police
Jeremy Foster | KTAR | Originally published: Feb 8, 2010 - 4:06 pm

Phoenix Suspect Dies After Three Taser Hits
Robert Anglen | The Arizona Republic | 7/18/2005
(Original URL removed, cahced at:

"Man hit with police Tasers dies"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The article was previously viewable at
but it has since been removed. 

See the list, here:

532 Taser-Related Deaths in the United States Since 2001
September 14, 2012


Friday, October 19, 2012

Argument Cop-Outs, Part 1

As I have mentioned in a different place, my two candidates for the three most frequently heard argument cop outs are: (1) "Let's just agree to disagree", (2) "You're just arguing semantics", and (3) in the relevant contexts, "Never discuss religion or politics."

Now let me (try to) make myself crystal clear from the outset. As to statements (1) and (2), I do not hold that every usage instance constitutes a "cop out" (statement (3) needs special attention). To be sure, such might seem to be tantamount to holding, for instance and highly implausibly, that there is no context in which a legitimate "semantic argument" could take place (I think that there are such contexts), or that there is no point in a dispute at which both disputants ought to retreat (I think there certainly are such points).

What then do I mean to criticize? Let me attempt to explain.

Let us consider in this installment, statement (1).

"Agree to disagree" is, to me, often used in a most disagreeable way (no pun intended). For example, it is often used as a conversation-stopper. This statement is (in my experience) frequently heard very early on in so-called "discussions" that, for all intents and purposes, are really better described as "trading opinion announcements".

Person one may announce: "My opinion is that blah." Person two may then counter-announce: "My opinion is that not-blah." And, without further ado, one person then hurriedly exclaims: "Let's just agree to disagree."

Alternatively, the statement might be used as a dispute blocker, in what I sometimes refer to as "drive by 'philosophy'," that is, philosophastry. In this setting, statement (1) is used as soon as one party realizes that the other will not be content to merely trade opinion announcements, but seems bent on actually delving more deeply into an issue.

So, here, person one may say: "I think such-and-so, because, after all, nyah" (where "nyah" may actually serve as a profferred reason). And then person two may reply: "Actually, not-such-and-so, because not-nyah. Moreover, blah, blah, blah." And person one, then realizing that he may be forced to think about such-and-so, may wish to forestall this eventuality by interjecting (1). (Of course, there could be other reasons, but I am setting justifiable cases aside, presently.) If used in this way, "Let's just agree to disagree" might be functionally equivalent to the obviously unutterable statement, "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up."

If two discussants (in the same discussion) are possessed of a healthy desire for truth, and if both hold (the very reasonable notion) that beliefs (of both parties) can only be fairly tested (as to their truth) in the crucible of open debate, then we would surely say that, in the situations sketched (albeit too briefly and comically), it is far too early in either exchange for the interlocutors to resign themselves to the thought that they are – more or less – stuck in a permanent state of disagreement.

To "agree to disagree," after little more than noting where their beliefs differ, seems to me to be the manifestation of a very cynical or even defeatist attitude with respect to the possibility of rational dialog. It's arguably a form of misology. But, in any case, it's facile.

(Of course, in some contexts, "Let's just agree to disagree" could conceivably be employed as a veiled boast or a threat. The idea might be that one disputant thinks himself so capable as to "warn" the other that he or she ought rather just drop the issue at hand rather than be outmatched in debate. I set this possibility aside as well, for present purposes.)

"Agreeing to disagree", while perhaps sounding like the "tolerant" and "high-minded" thing to do when two people are faced with disagreement, in actuality just short circuits the process of analysis and stunts the potential intellectual growth of both participants. It replaces the drive for knowledge with the ambition to be left alone to one’s opinions – however ill-grounded.

This is not to say that, in the course of discussion, a time (however temporary) never comes whereupon there is nothing further that can be added by the discussants, until, that is, they retreat to their studies to conduct additional research or whatever. But, it is to say the brief exchanges that seem (in this author's experience) to frequently precede (1)'s usage, do not even remotely bring one to such a time.

For example, in the cases surveyed (again, admittedly hastily), it would be premature, and inaccurate (at least, in my opinion), to say that either terminates at a point in the exchange at which the parties have exhausted all that there is to say that is pertinent. In fact, in my view, it is likely that the issues have yet even to be minimally outlined.

I hope briefly to discuss statements (2) and (3) in later installments.

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Outsized" Performance - It's Risible

Huffington Post (Joe Biden/Paul Ryan) debate summary (condensed):

"...dominated the spotlight...a flurry of eye rolls...over-the-top performance...cheered by the offensive...a the center of Tuesday's debate...focus on ... a humanizing voters’ guts, much more so than minds...'follow your instincts'..." (From here)

Fox News debate summary (condensed):

"...the attack dog impression...strong performance...bring a polished and presidential performance to the stage next Tuesday...lackluster performance..."had it up to here"..."projecting weakness"..."...what a real recovery looks like"...attitude onstage...debate performance ...""Their ideas are old..."..."...caught with their hand in the cookie jar" (From here)

(Source; cf. here)
(Source; cf. here)

Key word: Outsized (Coded as: Downsize + Outsource?)

Downsize (def.) "Make (a company or organization) smaller by eliminating staff positions."

Outsource (def.) "to obtain goods or services from an outside source: U.S. companies who outsource from China."

For more, see HERE.