Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Modest Proposal

The Mostafa Tabatabainejad Library
at The University of California at Los Angeles

Our very own Jump to the Left has inspired me to re-examine my initial non-reaction to the UCLA Taser Incident.

I'm not sure if that's the way the MSM is referring to it, but after being brainwashed by overblown story after overblown story--Michael Richards, eh?--I don't need the MSM to effectively tag a story. I think we know how it's done by now. Call it the UCLA Taser Incident (or UCLA Stun Gun Incident as these folks have dubbed it), put it on a chyron and show the video over and over until the next "compelling" video comes along. That video already has come along--two or three times over. Of course, that video can't come from war zones in Iraq or Afghanistan--we have to protect the morale of our troops. Comedy clubs will do.

The UCLA Taser Incident--see how the repetition sticks it in your head--came on the heels of another police brutality incident, so when I first saw the video, I was appalled, but unmoved. The camera in the grainy YouTube video doesn't really convey the horror of the scene, and besides, I am a product of a society desensitized to 'small things' like police brutality by A GIGANTIC WAR.

Well, that cuts it too thin--the desensitization began long ago. Maybe it was the Rodney King Incident, or maybe it goes all the way back to the assassination of JFK. One has to include the Challenger Explosion and the tracer fire and the scud scares of the Gulf War, but this brutal misuse of horror on TV spiked with 9/11. Over and over we watched the planes hit the towers. Since then we've been embedded in the initial assaults on Afghanistan and Iraq, until that became too real for the MSM--the victim role the U.S. had after 9/11 was clearly obliterated by the time the Abu Gharib photos hit the news cycle. The media quickly adjusted. In the place of the actual horrors of war, we got a steady stream of domestic clowns, mostly celebrities and politicians, caught on tape doing and saying ugly, unacceptable things. But the horror of the Terror War was battered home during the 2004 election and the PR blitzes used to justify the NSA wiretapping and now the Military Comissions Act.

So, when I initially watched the UCLA Taser Incident, I missed the obvious significance. I didn't even know the name of the victim in the UCLA Taser Incident until I looked it up. His name is Mostafa Tabatabainejad. He even has his own wikipedia page. But when he was screaming on my monitor, I just thought, "Well, maybe it's just some trouble maker, who can say? The police can't be that brutal can they?"

But Jump to the Left was physically sickened.

Quickly realizing I missed something profoundly simple, I read the eye witness accounts:
Eyewitness David Remesnitsky said of the incident: "It was the most disgusting and vile act I had ever seen in my life."

"It is a real mistake to treat a Taser as some benign thing that painlessly brings people under control," said Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney at the ACLU of Southern California. "The Taser can be incredibly violent and result in death," Eliasberg said.

"(He was) no possible danger to any of the police," Zaragoza said. "(He was) getting shocked and Tasered as he was handcuffed."
The most telling statement was made by Tabatabainejad himself in the midst of the horror that the cell phone camera could only partially capture. He screamed, "Here's your Patriot Act, here's your fucking abuse of power!"

See, I'm a bit slow. Sometimes it takes a few days for the simple things to sink in. What happened to Mostafa Tabatabainejad is about the administration's imposed terror war mentality. An Iranian Baha'i, Tabatabainejad's ethnicity and religion or assumed ethnicity and religion may or may not have had a conscious or subconscious role in this obvious abuse of power, but so too does the erosion of civil liberties. How can we expect our police to be mindful of our civil liberties when we have less civil liberties every day? When Habeas Corpus itself is a victim of the global war on terror, what chance does an individual in a library have, no matter how astute their critique of their own tasering.
"Here's your Patriot Act, here's your fucking abuse of power!"
I hope one day that very library is named after Mostafa Tabatabainejad as a means to keep us all conscious of what happens when fear beats liberty.

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