Letters to the Editor

UCLA Tasering Unjustifiable

Tasering in the library? Why stop there? Why not waterboarding in the stacks for late books? How about pulling fingernails off for biking along Ring Road?

You laugh, but it’s amazing the lengths administrators have gone to defend one of the most hideous assaults in academia this past decade. UCLA Police justify Mostafa Tabatabainejad’s repeated tasering, including while he was handcuffed, as a ‘pain compliance technique’ against nonviolent resistance. Behavior modification by torture. Ooh-la-la, so ’24.’ Did Tabatabainejad reveal the location of the bomb in time?

UCLA Assistant Police Chief Jeff Young declared there was no way to know if Tabatabainejad was armed. An astute observation and wise practice. At lunch today, better slug the student eating next to you. He could be strapped.

Here at UCI, Police Chief Paul Henisey claims Tasers produce ‘no permanent injuries.’ The heart attacks Tasers have caused in the past, according to Dr. Henisey, were largely due to the coke and meth the targets consumed. Permanent damage, then, is obviously the fault of those zapped, who violated the Taser’s operating instructions clearly printed on the side of the Taser.

Amnesty International begs to differ. Amnesty issued a report this past March calling for the suspension of the use of all electro-shock Taser weapons. The report declared 150 people in the United States have died from Tasering since 2001, and although many of the cases were attributed to ‘excited delirium’ associated with drug intoxication or violent struggle, ‘in 23 cases coroners have listed the use of the Taser as a cause or a contributory factor in death.’ Death alone, of course, shouldn’t be the sole benchmark for judging Tasering’s legitimacy. The pain of thousands of volts is censure enough.

Apologies abound in other forms. UCI Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Manuel Gomez, who has watched the video of the Tasering, told the New University that the UCLA incident was ‘unfortunate, but I don’t have enough information to make a judgment.’ What kind of message does that send the students Gomez ostensibly serves? That, upon further review, it just might be okay to fry your ass in the library?

There are those of us here, however, who will not stand by while UC students are brutalized physically or by the administrative rationalization that follows. For a start, let’s have administrators repeat, ‘Torture