Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

Yeah right, 'Excited Delirium' my ass...


The primary purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for my observations and analysis about tasers, taser "associated" deaths, and the behaviour exhibited by the management, employees and minions of Taser International. In general, everything is linked back to external sources, often via previous posts on the same topic, so that readers can fact-check to their heart's content. This blog was started in late-2007 when Canadians were enraged by the taser death of Robert Dziekanski and four others in a short three month period. The cocky attitude exhibited by the Taser International spokespuppet, and his preposterous proposal that Mr. Dziekanski coincidentally died of "excited delirium" at the time of his taser-death, led me to choose the blog name I did and provides my motivation. I have zero financial ties to this issue.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stun guns can be a ‘wonderful [and potentially deadly] weapon’

Well here is an article at The Waterloo Record [LINK] that manages to fumble the entire taser issue.

The article provides an uncritical, almost fawning, waste of column-inches to promote those narrow, often hypothetical and sometimes completely imaginary, law enforcement situations where a taser could potentially be safe and effective and useful and justifiable - amazing in its relative rarity - all at the same time.

The obvious contradictions are ignored by the writer to a degree that amounts to journalistic malpractice.

For example: the story related "The individual burst passed me..." And then relates how the suspect was tasered in the back (exactly as recommend by the maker of these potentially-deadly weapons).

First of all, shouldn't the quote be written using the word "past" as opposed to "passed"?

Anyway... Does a fleeing suspect, running away, fleeing the scene, shot in the back with the taser, does this meet the criteria that would be described as "violent"? On its face, it doesn't really seem like it.

Meanwhile, Taser International's spokespuppy Steve Tuttle is quoted in this article as saying that studies have found that tasers are a reasonable means to "subdue violent individuals" [emphasis added since everyone appears to miss it...].

The author of this article fails to note that the suspect in the example given, this being probably the very best example they could recall, was not reported as being a violent individual. In fact, the act of "bursting passed" (sic) is clear cut and obvious evidence of a desire to run away.

The author also fails to pick-up on Mr. Turtle's insane geographical limitation [LINK] on the purported safety of tasers. He said they've not yet been formally linked to any death "in Canada". But investigators have found that in about 150 autopsy reports reviewed (for taser-associated deaths), the taser was listed as a cause of death or a contributing factor in about fifty.

Don't read that as "50", read it as "about one-third" of the taser-associated death autopsy reports that were reviewed. There is nothing to suggest that those 150 reports, extracted from about 450 taser-associated deaths, are not a representative random selection.

And this is just what has leaked through the 'iron curtain' that Taser International has erected around the issue of tasers and death. They promote "excited delirium" [LINK][LINK], they sue medical examiners [LINK][LINK], they wine and dine coroners [LINK], they plug up the pipelines of science with studies that have such obvious flaws that even laymen can spot them [LINK].

They misrepresent reports, for example the NIJ study [LINK][LINK][LINK][LINK][LINK][LINK] that found that there wasn't a "high risk", but expressed concerns about most of the population and noted that there seemed to be a correlation between repeated taserings and death (exactly as noted by Prof. Savard [LINK]).

The consensus of the informed and honest [LINK] is that tasers are perfectly capable of causing death, and they must - at the very least - be restricted to the narrow circumstances and rigorous controls as have been recommended by the Braidwood Inquiry [LINK].

The article linked above provides a clear example of the sort of subtle pro-taser propaganda being foisted on the public by Taser International, with supporting roles played by fan-boy police and unthinking journalists.

It's not enough to simply allow the spokespuppet his column-inches. Those column-inches should come with a price. And that price is that the reporter makes the effort to investigate the validity of his statements. A well-written article quotes the spokesman, and then critically examines those statements. If the spokesman is revealed to be providing misleading information, then that bad PR is the price they'll pay for trying to play the system.

[NOTE about "LINKS" - This blog has more than 1400 posts already, so most points of detail have already been repeatedly examined in previous posts. Therefore, links to external sources to support independent fact-checking are now most often made via previous posts on this same blog. Those previous posts typically provide much more detail on any particular detailed aspect of the larger taser issue. To reach external sources for fact-checking you may have to follow the links through the previous posts. You might wish to read those previous posts as you pass through to learn more about those additional details. In other words, if you're a journalist researching the issue of tasers: don't be lazy and whine that my links are mostly "internal". Click again. Do some research using this blog as a guide to further information and hopefully as an example of how to be s skeptic. And please don't write one-side puff-pieces for Taser International's PR department; this is a serious life-and-death issue.]


Reality Chick said...

If you haven't already done so, I hope you will send this post to the reporter (cgreeno@therecord.com) and the editor-in-chief (lhaddrall@therecord.com).

Excited-Delirium.com said...

If I do that, it would be much less effective than if they stumble across it by themselves (or if someone else provides a pointer).

People tend to be very defensive and they would naturally tend to reject criticism or aruments that are explicitly delivered to them.

On the other hand, if they're surfing the 'net and Googling themselves and just happen across this info, then it would make a huge impact.