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Good old-fashioned agitprop

My Friday column for the Post is a contribution to a continuing series on capitalism and conservatism. It will be refreshing to those who don’t think I write about pure ideology enough. I’d also like to call attention to this unsigned editorial about the Vancouver airport taser incident, which is the product of the editorial process functioning at its best: I think literally everybody who was at the morning meeting had a hand in influencing it and pushing it beyond the pious clichés in other papers.

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Comments (9)

Crid:

> pushing it beyond the pious clich├ęs

You're so dry I can't tell if you're kidding. This passage makes me hope you are...

> it will all end with a large parcel
> of detailed written recommendations
> -- precisely the sort that,
> tragically, seem to have been
> ignored by the RCMP and various
> other agencies on Oct. 14.

... Because, well, yeah. That's how public crises work, right?

(Still don't have the heart to watch the clip)

The ideological capitalist argument would have come in awfully handy this morning at work when a colleague in hushed tones told me about the new guy. He has some crazy theories, I was told: he doesn't believe in taxes, is against welfare and EI, wants private healthcare, and is opposed to arts grants.

To which, naturally, I asked...is it his FIFTH theory that was "crazy"?

It's such a clean, precise editorial that there is not much place to even engage it, but to pick just one nit, I did notice this line:

"Unless we are to condemn the police to battle refractory criminals bare-handed, there is no technology for subduing an unwilling suspect that is guaranteed to be 100% safe."

You see, I recall that there was also an earlier run of controversy over fatal chokeholds by law enforcement officers

I really hope somebody at the paper is furiously researching the question of the relative outcomes of taser versus baton/bare-hand approaches to subduing people. I assume someone has done some study on the subject.

As a jumping-off point, I suggest this sponsored-by-Taser column on 'less-lethal' tactics.

I think that recognizing how this death had so many freakish causes was an especially worthwhile point. If I would add only one thing, it's that sometimes the statistically high-percentage tactic still ends up having bad outcomes in some cases.

phil:

"I really hope somebody at the paper is furiously researching the question of the relative outcomes of taser versus baton/bare-hand approaches to subduing people. I assume someone has done some study on the subject."

Was wondering about that myself.

Good, meaty editorials. My mind settled on a throw-away line.

YVR = "abattoir-like" design? Not really, it's quite a nice airport. It has huge windows throughout, except for one place. International baggage claim.

Thor:

A query for said editorialist: When someone's heart stops, a defibrillator(sp?)--should it be available--is used to hopefully shock it back into beating again. Is it too big a leap to wonder if there's any possible link between shocking healthy bodies, and by extension hearts, and accidentally stopping them? Or do tasers know well enough to not affect the part of the nervous system that includes the heart?

Well, Tasers are not defibrillators. But clearly they can kill people in some cases. Indeed, I don't think anybody denies that.

I did a little research. That is, I read the wikipedia article on Tasers.

The coolest thing I learned is that the acronym stands for "Thomas A Swift's Electric Rifle," a reference to the Tom Swift of juvenile sci-fi novels.

That article includes an uncited claim that electroshock weapons are far less lethal than a baton.

I sense a probable conflict whereby tasers really are less lethal than other "less-lethal" options, but get used more often (and in less dire confrontations) than other options. Which is better?

Matt:

I thought "abattoir-like design" was the best line in the piece. I knew there was a reason most airports make me think of Monty Python.

"The passengers disembark here and are carried along the corridor on a conveyor belt in extreme comfort, past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the men with Tasers."

No, seriously, of all the things you can say about YVR, the new terminal is architecturally delightful.

I'm quite sure there's a fair number of gloomy little rooms and other less than joyful places, but by the (admittedly low) standards of airport architecture, it ranks pretty well.

By contrast, Athens built a replacement for its dingy old airport just before the 2004 Olympics.

The result was a modestly less dingy new airport.

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