Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Excited Delirium" - Orwell's "political language"

The police-induced TASER® deaths keep piling up:

"OTTAWA (AFP) — A third death in five weeks linked to the use of Taser stun guns by police in Canada on Thursday prompted a ministerial inquiry in easternmost Nova Scotia province.

Justice Minister Cecil Clarke ordered the review into the use of Tasers in Nova Scotia, he said, following the death of a 45-year-old man who died in police custody Wednesday, hours after being zapped.

"I have ordered Police Services officials in my department to immediately begin a review of policies and procedures regarding Taser use in Nova Scotia" by law enforcement, corrections staff and sheriffs, Clarke said in a statement.

"At the same time, RCMP are being called in to investigate the circumstances of the death at the correctional facility and I understand Halifax Regional Police will also have the RCMP conduct an external investigation into the arrest."

And the public has had to raise shit just to get these incidents independently investigated. Meanwhile, while we were sleeping, newly-discovered medical conditions began working their way into law enforcement lexicon. Conditions like "Excited Delirium":

"Excited delirium is a controversial term used to explain deaths of individuals in police custody, in which the person being arrested, detained, or restrained is highly agitated and may be under the influence of stimulants. The term is not recognized in DSM-IV-TR, but has been listed as the cause of death by some medical examiners." (emphasis mine)

"Not recognized in DSM-IV-TR" -- no indeed. So why are law enforcement officials citing this as an actual "condition" if it isn't recognized by any credible medical source?

I hate to keep banging this drum, but that's tough, because it's true: one of the first signs of authoritarianism bullying its way into our society is apologist propaganda, including the invention of new quasi-credible-sounding terminology to rationalize inhumane treatment... "unlawful combatant" springs immediately to mind. Orwell referred to it as "political language":

"Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

It's all part of the stealthy training process that gradually changes how we as a society think of our rights, and allows us to unquestioningly accept casual authoritative aggression like this:

"An officer guarding RCMP cells in Pukatawagan in northern Manitoba warned an offending prisoner: "Let me introduce you to the Taser. It is able to produce 50,000 volts of electricity. Co-operate with us and you will not be stunned."

Without further noted intervention, the unarmed suspect was touch stunned – a close-range zap likened to leaning on a hot stove."

Orwell also said "Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip." If we accept that the state has a right to zap us at will, we're turning big time somersaults.