Jack Cover has died, age 88.
He invented the taser, but that doesn't make him evil.
In fact, he had the best of intentions...
...Cover began to develop the taser in the 1960s in response to a rash of airplane hijackings. Sky marshals carrying sidearms began riding on commercial airliners to discourage hijackers, but Cover saw the risk inherent in the situation. If a bullet missed the hijacker and pierced the fuselage instead, the plane could go down. [LINK]
There are several flaws in the above statements. First of all, the chances of a single stray bullet (or even five) taking down an entire airplane are actually fantastically remote. The concept of this risk originates somewhere between ignorance and insanity. Secondly, back in the 1960s, most hijackers wanted cash, or a one-way trip to Cuba, as opposed to martyrdom. So they'd be just as discouraged by a perceived risk of a plane crash as they would be by an accurate bullet. So the entire initial justification for tasers (as described above) is doubly-flawed from the get-go.
Cover's initial device emitted just 7 watts of electrical energy. A later model emitted 11 watts.
What Cover had invented was a device to be used against clear-cut threats like hijackers ...used instead of a gun ...and with the output power set to 11 watts.
Fast forward to the post-2003 world where Cover is effectively out of the picture (suffering from Alzheimer's disease) and others had taken over.
Tasers are now at least 26 watts (almost 2.5 times as powerful as Cover's version). And some CBC-sponsored testing has found that some are even above that specification. And the X26 taser output waveform contains significant low frequency energy, perhaps unintended.
...have linked the device to scores of deaths in recent years... [ibid]
It seems like a case where the bell curve of the population's susceptibility is being encroached upon by the bell curve of overly-aggressive (and possible flawed) design, poor quality control, and vast overuse.
Tasers are not being used against hijackers, and they're not very often being used in place of a gun. They're often being used against children and other completely harmless subjects.
And they're most-often being used as a replacement for the glowing end of a lit cigarette [LINK] for an inexplicably-authorized (!) insane and ill-conceived form of pain compliance.
There's no question that the original promises of Cover's invention have been long forgotten.
Cover was certainly not evil, but tasers have evolved - in both design and application - to become evil.
It's really too bad that Jack Cover didn't quite live to see the day when the RCMP, the national police force of Canada (arguably the 'most reasonable' nation in history), would admit that the latest versions of the tasers are actually 'potentially lethal' and 'can kill'.
I wonder what he might have thought about that?
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