Lawn Ardour, Justice Thomas!

It may still be possible for a poor, non-white American citizen mistreated by The Proper Authorities to get justice — or at least some media attention — under the most difficult circumstances. As long as said citizen is related to every Heartland Authoritarian(tm)’s second-favorite non-white Supreme Court Justice:

Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas and family are “outraged” after his nephew was allegedly punched, pulled and tased at a New Orleans hospital, after a possible suicide attempt. The taser put him into a “massive epileptic seizure.”…
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Clarence Thomas is headed to New Orleans to check in on his nephew. This sounds miserable:
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“Derek Thomas was admitted to West Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Thursday, after a possible suicide attempt, reports ABC affiliate WGNO.
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When the Supreme Court justice’s nephew refused to put on a hospital gown and said he wanted to leave the hospital, doctors ordered security to restrain him.
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Security guards “punched him in his lip, pulled out more than a fistful of his dreadlocks and tasered him to restrain him,” a statement from Thomas’ family said…”

Since Justice Thomas has not always been on the best of terms with his family (during his confirmation hearings, he famously described one of his sisters as a parasite for living on welfare while caring for their elderly aunt) we can only hope that his newborn “outrage” might translate into a wider sensitivity towards those less fortunate, at least those within his immediate genetic kindred. That’s the problem with giving small-people authoritarians a free hand with the lash, Justice — sooner or later, they’re going to let that awesome power loose on someone whose fate you have to care about, and the cops in Jefferson Parish just don’t have the same training in deference as those handling DUIs in Kennebunkport or cocaine arrests in West Palm Beach. Let us hope, she said piously, that this incident doesn’t cause an awkward rift between Justice Thomas and his mentor Scalia.

Gawker commentor Plmyshkin had the best comment, I believe:

You know what this country needs? Some kind of panel or committee of highly educated judicial scholars to make this sort of thing illegal no matter what backwards state you live in. Why didn’t the founding fathers ever think of that?

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104 replies
  1. 1
    El Cid says:

    Re

    You know what this country needs? Some kind of panel or committee of highly educated judicial scholars to make this sort of thing illegal no matter what backwards state you live in. Why didn’t the founding fathers ever think of that?

    Yeah, but how many would you need? And how long would they serve? These are things we just can’t ever know.

  2. 2
    eemom says:

    hey, I was ON this motherfucker on the last thread.

  3. 3
    kay says:

    We had a mentally ill 18 year old tased here in his own kitchen, and when he went down once and then sat up involuntarily, they hit him again.
    He was saying “I’m sorry” over and over.
    It’s sickening.
    I predict we’ll now have a Serious National Debate. What we should have a debate about is how in the hell so many people placidly accepted this, to the point where we had a national joke about tasing.
    Ha ha.

  4. 4
    Hunter Gathers says:

    I imagine that Fat Nino’s BFF will be outraged until about five minutes before his wife does her next teabagger fundraiser.

  5. 5
    srv says:

    I tend to really be partial to Ayn Rand, and to The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
    – Clarence Thomas

  6. 6
    MikeJ says:

    If you “accidentally” pull your gun and use it instead of the taser you’ll get less jail time than NFL players who shoot themselves.

  7. 7
    Arclite says:

    I wonder if you could legally challenge tasers as violating the 8th amendment of the constitution (cruel and unusual punishment. There have been so many deaths (including, I would argue, BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle shooting of Oscar Grant) where few if any would have occurred had the devices not been deployed.

    What do any lawyers out there think about such a case?

  8. 8
    Eric U. says:

    for some reason, this story fills me with profound sadness.

  9. 9
    kay says:

    @Arclite:

    This is what Justice Thomas thinks about it:

    Thomas dissented in the 7-2 decision that upheld a $800 award for damages for a Louisiana inmate who, from behind his locked cell, argued with a prison guard. Three guards took the inmate out of his cell, put him in handcuffs and shackles, and dragged him to a hallway where they beat him so badly that he suffered a cracked dental plate.

    The lower court ruled that the beating had nothing to do with acceptable prison discipline. But Thomas all but laughed off the beating, saying the injuries were ”minor.” Thomas said the ”use of force that causes only insignificant harm to a prisoner may be immoral, it may be tortious, it may be criminal, and it may even be remediable under other provisions of the Federal Constitution, but it is not `cruel and unusual punishment.”’

    Last year Thomas was one of three dissenters, with Rehnquist and Scalia, in the 6-3 decision that found that executing the mentally retarded was ”cruel and unusual punishment.” Also last year, Thomas dissented from a 6-3 decision to ban the practice in Alabama of chaining prisoners to outdoor ”hitching posts” and abandoning them for hours without food, water, or a chance to use the bathroom. While the majority also called that ”cruel and unusual,” Thomas said the hitching post served ”a legitimate penological purpose,” encouraging a prisoner’s ”compliance with prison rules while out on work duty.”

  10. 10
    MikeJ says:

    @Arclite: Tasers aren’t punishment. Punishment comes after you’ve been convicted. Anything the cops do to you before the jury comes back with a guilty isn’t cruel and unusual punishment.

    It may be assault.

  11. 11
    eemom says:

    I heard Thomas on C-Span not too long ago giving a speech to some young folks — maybe at a Teabagger Youth Forum, or something — and I can tell you the reason he’s so quiet on the bench is not because he’s a Deep Thinker. He’s every bit as stupid as we liberals think he is.

  12. 12
    Kryptik says:

    As awful as it is to say so, I’m half convinced his outrage is probably reserved for his nephew for provoking said treatment. I wish I could say it was a joke, as callous of one as it would be, but….

  13. 13
    kay says:

    I figure tasers end up being used exclusively on the mentally ill and drunks, because people who are competent will immediately comply with any order, lawful or unlawful, to avoid being tased.
    Anyone who has watched any of the hundreds of clips out there gets the message loud and clear.
    I don’t know when it happened, but the duty to use professionalism and restraint somehow migrated from police officers to those detained or questioned by police officers.
    You don’t dare rattle or upset them, or really, you had it coming.
    We may all need training in immediate and complete compliance, and I just don’t think the mentally ill are up for that.

  14. 14
    Kryptik says:

    @kay:

    But at least this way, you can be sure Arizona will treat all them damned illegals the way they oughta be treated!

  15. 15
    kay says:

    @Kryptik:

    Did you see the one where the woman objected to a speeding ticket, and made the grave error of climbing out of her car?
    The CNN anchor was just appalled at her lack of professionalism. What gives with her? Did she miss the training?
    Everyone knows you stay seated and shut up, or, really, they’re likely to drop you right there on the street.
    I’m thinking a laminated card, distributed with your driver’s license renewal.
    Remember “stop, drop and roll” during Fire Safety Week? Like that.

  16. 16
    Kryptik says:

    @kay:

    When you see the police, Remember:
    The Cops Are Always Right! Their Tazer Says So!

  17. 17
    Warren Terra says:

    @kay:

    But Thomas all but laughed off the beating, saying the injuries were ‘’minor.’’ Thomas said the ‘’use of force that causes only insignificant harm to a prisoner may be immoral, it may be tortious, it may be criminal, and it may even be remediable under other provisions of the Federal Constitution, but it is not `cruel and unusual punishment.’‘’

    A great example of the sort of behavior by Thomas that inspired my immediate reaction: of course I want justice for Thomas’s nephew, and for anyone else who is abused – but I can’t help but recall that Thomas seems never to rule against law enforcement on any grounds, especially issues of cruel and inhuman punishment or unreasonable search and seizure. His unreasoning bias in this regard is even more striking than his similar extremism in support of corporate power.

  18. 18
    asdf says:

    kay, thanks for your post. You’re right.

    One must walk gingerly now around the cops. I’m old. I remember when it was not this way.

  19. 19
    Warren Terra says:

    @kay:

    I figure tasers end up being used exclusively on the mentally ill and drunks, because people who are competent will immediately comply with any order, lawful or unlawful, to avoid being tased.

    We, as a society, were sold tasers as a nonlethal alternative to firearms. And they probably have saved some lives serving in that capacity. But it becomes ever more clear that they’re not only a (mostly) nonlethal alternative to firearms – they’re also an alternative to physical coercion, to putting up with crap, and sometimes to mere boredom.

    We desperately need to impose a level of oversight on taser use similar to that for firearms: at least according to the TV, when an officer discharges their firearm their action automatically requires an official investigation – if the taser really is an alternative to the firearm, it should be handled in the same fashion. And, of course, cameras: it’s nice that many cop cars now come with cameras – but we have the technology to do the same with cops themselves, while they’re on duty.

  20. 20
    kay says:

    @Warren Terra:

    He really is in a class by himself, but, of course, he isn’t his nephew, and it’s just a very sad story.
    Has anyone even done any research on tasers? Did they have any earthly idea of any long-term damage (particularly as they’re used on children) before they started this? WTF happens if we find out that all those tasered kids develop seizure disorders? Do we know enough about how brains work to be shooting people full of voltage?
    Damage beside the fact that anyone tased in unlikely to ever challenge a security guard (as here) or a police officer ever again, regardless of the lawfulness of the police officer’s order? Besides that.

  21. 21
    Cacti says:

    Poor Uncle Ruckus. Even after kissing all the right rings and posteriors, every now then he can’t help but be reminded that he and his family are black people in America.

    On the other hand, he might be heading down to Luziana to present medals to the Security Guards for their handling of such an unruly negro.

  22. 22
    Corner Stone says:

    @kay:

    I figure tasers end up being used exclusively on the mentally ill and drunks, because people who are competent will immediately comply with any order, lawful or unlawful, to avoid being tased.

    Please tell me this is a twisted joke of some sort.

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    @Corner Stone: I’m thinking I misunderstood, and this was something else.
    I hope so.

  24. 24
    Mnemosyne says:

    @asdf:

    One must walk gingerly now around the cops. I’m old. I remember when it was not this way.

    It didn’t used to be this way for white people. Right now, African-Americans are looking at us and thinking, “Jesus, you idiots, this is what we’ve been telling you that cops are like.”

    Someone linked to a blogger at the GOS who wrote a long piece about how African-Americans and other minorities have always been the canary in the coal mine: the authoritarians pull all of this shit on them first and then, when they see people will accept it when it’s applied to poor/black/brown people, it starts to spread out to the general population until everyone is being threatened by the cops because that’s what cops do.

    I can’t remember who the writer was, but it was a really thought-provoking article.

  25. 25
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Corner Stone:

    That would be kay giving us some grade-A snark, my son.

  26. 26
    kay says:

    @Warren Terra:

    We, as a society, were sold tasers as a nonlethal alternative to firearms.

    I saw a demonstration when they were introduced in my county and I never bought that. The person who ran out during a professional sports event recently and was tasered would have been SHOT? Really?
    I thought they would be over-used, as an easy alternative to talking people down or humane and controlled physical restraint. It’s really hard work to physically restrain someone who is going berserk, and it carries risk for the person doing the restraining.

    The city closest to where I live had a post-taser death, so instituted a policy where the police had to take anyone tasered to the closest emergency room, for observation. It took hours, and was a huge pain in the ass, and, miraculously, taser use dropped to near-nothing.

    All of a sudden, police went back to talking to crazy people to calm them down, or using physical restraints.

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne: Unfortunately, she’s about as clue-deficient as you are.
    So I’m never sure.

    Man. If only I could patent a formula to develop clue pills you fucking wankers could take…
    I’d be a Soros-illionaire.

  28. 28
    wasabi gasp says:

    Don’t hi-tech lynch me, bro!

  29. 29
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    we can only hope that his newborn “outrage” might translate into a wider sensitivity towards those less fortunate

    Yeah, well, I am not holding my breath. AFAIC the man is a sociopath. Seriously.

    See Kay at #9, that is all you need to know about this sick motherfucker.

  30. 30
    That's Master of Accountancy to You, Pal says:

    @Corner Stone: Probably. Snake-oil salesmen have always done well.

  31. 31
    asdf says:

    “It didn’t used to be this way for white people. Right now, African-Americans are looking at us and thinking, ‘Jesus, you idiots, this is what we’ve been telling you that cops are like.'”

    Like I said, I’m old. I already knew that.

  32. 32
    kay says:

    @asdf:

    I never got the distinction. It doesn’t leave a mark (well, mostly, depending on if they’re using the “stun” or the actual staple) but how is it different than hitting someone hard enough so they fall down? Because it’s safer for the operator, right? That’s nice.
    They crack skulls and break teeth and end up with stitches when they drop, not to mention the sheer terror of getting hit and losing all bodily control for minutes.
    It’s just hard for me to believe people see some big distinction.
    “He didn’t hit him! He hit him with the TAZER!”
    Oh, okay. In that case…

  33. 33
    Cassidy says:

    @Corner Stone: You really are a grade A cocksucker. It would be really nice if you and Mclaren went and formed your own little circlejerk somewhere. For all your sanctimonious bullshit, you really don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about 90% of the time. Just go the fuck away.

  34. 34
    Corner Stone says:

    @That’s Master of Accountancy to You, Pal: Yeah. Good luck with your opportunity at the IRS.

  35. 35
    efgoldman says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I don’t often respond directly to commenters (as opposed to the subject at hand), but you, sir (or madam) are out of line.

    Kay is one of the most intelligent, informed and experienced commenters I have seen on any political blog anywhere (and I spend much too much time reading them). When she engages in the kind of outraged snark above, its because she needs to express something beyond rational thought or action.

    It was clear to me (and I think to most of us) from the get-go that she was clearly engaging in a sarcastic response. Sometimes you just gotta’.

    I’ve seen you here a lot; your snarkdar usually works better.

    Kay can probably defend and explain herself much better than i can, but I couldn’t let you go unanswered.

  36. 36
    mb says:

    I don’t think tasing is a danger limited to “backwards” states. Seems to be pretty pervasive. Apparently, the BART cop intended to tase the guy rather than shoot him. If the taser had not been an option, would he have drawn his weapon? Not if we believe him that his intention was to tase not shoot. No taser — nothing to pull — no chance of pulling the wrong weapon — father of 4 year-old still alive. It could have been a happier ending. But for the taser.

    The cops are out of control in this country (Canada didn’t look too good either, during the G20.)

  37. 37
    Corner Stone says:

    @Cassidy:

    You really are a grade A cocksucker. It would be really nice if you and Mclaren went and formed your own little circlejerk somewhere. For all your sanctimonious bullshit, you really don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about 90% of the time. Just go the fuck away.

    Actually, I’ve had a legit grade AAA cocksucking before.
    I’m somewhere around the so-so BBB league of cocksuckers.
    But I make up for it with perseverance.

  38. 38
    Cassidy says:

    @That’s Master of Accountancy to You, Pal: And mega church fundies. He’s right there in a lizrad brain sense.

  39. 39
    Corner Stone says:

    @efgoldman: God in Heaven.
    You poor thing.

  40. 40
    Corner Stone says:

    Friday night at home just got a lil better.
    Anyone else got something stupid to say?

  41. 41
    kay says:

    @efgoldman:

    Thanks. It was sarcasm.

    I thought “stop, drop and roll” would be a tip-off, but apparently not :)

    Cornerstone wasn’t properly trained in fire safety. He didn’t get the coloring book.

  42. 42
    Corner Stone says:

    @efgoldman:

    Kay can probably defend and explain herself much better than i can, but I couldn’t let you go unanswered.

    kay can’t defend herself any better, unfortunately.
    She’s fairly incompetent.

  43. 43
    TX Expat says:

    Tasering came up in my section 1983 AKA Civil Rights Litigation course down here in Louisiana last semester. Our professor, the Vice-Chancellor and former general counsel to Governor Foster (google it, you’ll find him on many things), tried to make light of the effects of tasering when we discussed a case that involved this issue.

    The Vice-Chancellor tried to characterize it as a “little shock.” What was shocking is how many people in that class were willing to accept that definition and even laugh about it along with him.

    When I pointed out that the VC would probably be killed by a taser shock, he is fairly elderly, he laughed and said, “I wouldn’t be breaking the law.” I replied, “Not necessarily. The cops now can do most anything they want and even though you know the 4th Amendment inside out, that’s not going to save you – unless, of course, you pull out your bona fides.”

    What’s disturbing is that people I go to school with rarely think that 1) tasering is such a big deal and 2) even if it was, it would never be applied to them. It’s like they didn’t grow up in rural TX and have the childhood experience of being shocked by a cattle prod or an electric fence!

    In answer to the question above about 8th amendment, that only applies if you’re convicted and in the prison context, prison officials have almost full reign to do with you what they will. Outside of that, you might have a 1983 claim if you can prove the cop was acting far outside of his authority in using “excessive force” and the departmental norms regarding tasering were far outside the mainstream.

    Tragically, tasering people does not usually meet that criteria.

  44. 44
    Cassidy says:

    @Corner Stone: You handle that just fine. No one could possibly take your self imposed duties around here. Seriously, go the fuck away. No one has an interest in anything you think you could add.

  45. 45
    Corner Stone says:

    @Cassidy: Nick…is that you?

  46. 46
    Roger Moore says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Man. If only I could patent a formula to develop clue pills you fucking wankers could take…
    __
    I’d be a Soros-illionaire.

    Ladies and Gentlemen: The Dunning-Kruger Effect at work.

  47. 47
  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @Roger Moore: Oooo…ouch.
    Or maybe it’s a double-reverse D-K Effect?
    Huh? Yeah. That blew your mind didn’t it.

  49. 49
  50. 50
  51. 51
    Steeplejack says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Anyone else got something stupid to say?

    No, you’re doing fine by yourself.

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steeplejack:
    @patrick II:

    Yes! That was the one! Amazing, amazing essay.

  53. 53
    Corner Stone says:

    @Steeplejack: Damn man. You’ve got something to say here?

  54. 54
    Ash Can says:

    Clarence Thomas can cry us all a fucking river. His nephew deserves way, way better than to have an uncle like him.

  55. 55
    Keith says:

    Is this site crashing IE8 (on Win7) for anyone else? I last saw it happen a couple of months ago, and something has gone onto the site in the last couple of hours to make it start up again (I’ve tried this on a separate laptop as well).

  56. 56
    eco2geek says:

    The police use tasers too much. Tasers were introduced as a “less-lethal” device, meaning “an alternative to being shot.” But they’re now been used on everyone from children to grandmothers, in situations where lethal force would never be used, simply as a way to get people to comply with police.

    With that said, I’m going to withhold my outrage until we hear a fuller account of the story, including what Mr. Derek Thomas did in order to merit such a level of attention from hospital security. Then, if the situation warrants, I’ll get outraged. The story so far is completely one-sided.

  57. 57
    JimPortlandOR says:

    Heyak needs to be reawakened (Frankenstein-style) to write the sequel to Road to Serfdom. Titled: The Road to Totalitarianism.

    Every time I read someone say “I’m not worried, I don’t break the law”, I think of the saying:

    “First they came for the Communists” etc.

    At the end of the road, The Gestapo gets everyone they want to get and law is just a joke.

  58. 58
    Warren Terra says:

    @Ash Can:

    His nephew deserves way, way better than to have an uncle like him.

    I admit it’s unlikely, but it’s possible he’s a kind and caring uncle to his nephew (I seem to recall he took another nephew in when that nephew’s mother died or was incapable of caring for him). We can’t assume Thomas is a bad uncle, although his famous denunciation of his sister during his confirmation hearings is a pretty strong hint.

    On the other hand, the country deserves way, way better than to have a judge like him, let alone one on the Supreme Court.

  59. 59
    Mark S. says:

    What’s the most ridiculous taser story anyone has heard? I vaguely remember one about a guy with no legs getting tased, but I can’t find it, so I’ll go with the 86 year old grandma who police say “took a more aggressive posture in her bed.

    h/t mclaren, in one of his terser efforts, from a couple weeks ago.

  60. 60
    eco2geek says:

    @Mark S.: Wikipedia is a goldmine (if that’s the right word) of ludicrous taser use stories.

  61. 61
    Ash Can says:

    @Warren Terra: I know what you’re saying, of course, but he can be as kind and caring to his nephew as anyone could possibly be, and it ultimately wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans in light of the legal precedent he’s established/is trying to establish. He’s spent a large part of his career condemning people like his nephew. Why should he all of a sudden get upset now? He can go fuck himself, and I hope his poor nephew gets some real help.

  62. 62
    MattR says:

    @Mark S.: I was trying to find this story, but my initial Google search of “deaf man tasered” brought back at least three distinct incidents. Once I added the word “bathroom” to the search, I found the one I was thinking about.

    There’s outrage and threats of a lawsuit after a Mobile man was tased and pepper sprayed by police…all because he wouldn’t come out of the restroom. What makes matters worse, police learned later the man inside that restroom was deaf and mentally challenged.

    (EDIT: The worst part of all these tasering stories is that an investigation is done, some kind of justification is given for how the tasering fell within department guidelines and that is the end of it. All the public/media outrage disappears and it seems like no major efforts are made to change the guidelines governing when tasers can be used)

  63. 63
    fucen tarmal says:

    i believe this is what paul mooney refers to as a wake up call.

  64. 64
    TrishB says:

    @eco2geek: Medical personal are trained to restrain recalcitrant patients without undue force. Ask any former $8/hour tech at an adult MR/DD facility if they don’t know how to implement a basket hold. It would be unlikely they’d answer in the negative, and if they did, they damn well knew who on site could do it effectively. First, do no harm.

  65. 65
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    The founding fathers would have tased him too.

    Look what they did to the indians.

  66. 66
    Wilson Heath says:

    This meme must die. Thomas isn’t a Scalia clone. If anyone is, Alito is. There are differences in Thomas’ results-driven batshit craziness and Scalia’s. If anything, Thomas is more intellectually honest, although it’s the intellectual honesty of someone who really thinks that night is day. Scalia is a liar and doesn’t care.

  67. 67
    Comrade Kevin says:

    Who the hell let Brick Oven Bill come back?

  68. 68
    Mnemosyne says:

    My “favorite” Taser story is the kid who was Tasered 19 times when he didn’t stand up after the cops ordered him to.

    He didn’t stand up because he’d just fallen off a 30-foot bridge, which was why someone had called 911 to get the cops in the first place.

  69. 69
    Yutsano says:

    @Comrade Kevin: Methinks that may not be our long-departed BoB. I think DougJ is trolling again.

  70. 70
    jwb says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: who let you out?

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Oh, and even better? The cops claim that he must have been on LSD since he didn’t react to being Tased at first. It certainly couldn’t have been, you know, his broken back that might dampen his reaction to being Tased.

    LSD and PCP are so useful to cops for explaining why they just “had” to beat the crap out of someone, they would have had to invent them if they didn’t exist.

  72. 72
    MattR says:

    @Mnemosyne: No cognitive dissonance here. Nope, none at all.

    Police say although there are several unanswered questions; the reason for the use of a stun gun is not one of them.
    __
    “It’s a big concern for the officers to keep this guy out of traffic, to keep him from getting hurt,” said Rousset.

  73. 73
    eco2geek says:

    @TrishB:

    Medical personal are trained to restrain recalcitrant patients without undue force.

    Actually, medical personnel (EMTs, professionals who work in hospitals, fire first responders) try not to get in the way of violent patients. Instead, they call security (who, in the hospitals here, anyway, are required to have the same public safety training as police) and the cops to deal with them.

    “Doing no harm” includes not letting a suicidal guy walk out, even though he wants to, if he’s judged to be a danger to himself and others.

  74. 74
    Platonicspoof says:

    @Keith:
    No problems here with IE 8 and XP, and I’ve had the window open most of the evening.
    On a couple of earlier threads it sounded like one person with Chrome and one with Firefox had appearance problems.
    @Comrade Kevin:
    Please let it be DougJ.

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:

    @eco2geek:

    Actually, medical personnel (EMTs, professionals who work in hospitals, fire first responders) try not to get in the way of violent patients. Instead, they call security (who, in the hospitals here, anyway, are required to have the same public safety training as police) and the cops to deal with them.

    Not necessarily, which is why my friend’s RN husband now works in a nice, quiet heart transplant ward instead of psychiatric. They were usually reluctant to call security unless someone was completely out of control because they didn’t want the patient to be Tased or injured by a reckless cop wannabe. They’d rather have the nurses and/or orderlies try to wrestle the patients down despite the risk of injury to themselves than risk their patient’s life and health by letting them be Tased.

    After he wrenched his back for the second time trying to get a patient under control, he started studying so he could move to cardiac instead.

  76. 76
    eco2geek says:

    @Mnemosyne: Very noble of him.

  77. 77
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    I’ll correct myself on that.

    What would the founding fathers do?

    They would have put the young man back into manacles and called his owner to come pick him up.

    How’s that for intellectual honesty?

  78. 78
    TrishB says:

    @eco2geek:Ecogeek, maybe I’m missing something. I guess I’m describing a different type of medical personnel, then. The roomie is a director for a bunch of group homes for adult mr/dd patients, many of whom have severe concurrent psych diagnoses. He, and his staff have had to restrain patients from harming themselves and everyone else around, until the patients could be given appropriate meds and/or be transported to the correct medical facility. Not once in 12 years has the need for tazers been mentioned. They don’t belong in the health care environment.

  79. 79
    Joey Maloney says:

    @srv: Justice Thomas was discussing his video library. The correct quote is,

    I tend to really be partial to Anal Randy, and to The Pouting Head and Assless Shrugged.

    Regarding the post title, I had to say it out loud to get it. My first thought was of a whitewashed lawn jockey in a black robe.

  80. 80
    Yutsano says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: Nope, definitely not BoB. Too coherent and Founding Fathers wasn’t capitalized. You’re slipping DougJ.

  81. 81
    Lysana says:

    What I keep going back to in all of this is “what the fuck is hospital security doing tasering someone checked in as a possible suicide risk?” Why does hospital security even HAVE tasers? Since we’re talking Louisiana, is this somehow related to Jindal permitting concealed carry in churches?

  82. 82
    eco2geek says:

    @TrishB: I know I’m walking sort of a fine line here, which tends to get me in trouble. Usually when you hear these sorts of stories, involving excessive use of force, the cops inevitably end up being the ones who are on the wrong side. But we’ll see.

    I was involved in the, shall we say, public safety system for a long time. When we got calls for transportation for violent mental patients to the hospital, we’d always send the police – aka the “blue canaries” – in first, and the police would then let the EMTs know when it was safe to come in and take care of the patient.

    We got a lot of calls from ERs, which is where Mr. Thomas was, or so I’m assuming from the news reports. Most of those calls were regarding people who refused to stay and forced their way out, and/or got into fights with security.

    People who have to restrain violent clients until help arrives, like you’re describing, deserve a lot of respect. You’re right, that’s a completely different scenario.

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:

    @eco2geek:

    First responders =/= hospital caregivers. Please don’t try to pretend that they do the same job so therefore you know exactly how a nurse on a psychiatric ward reacts because you worked as a first responder.

  84. 84
    eco2geek says:

    @Mnemosyne: Not knowing any nurses who work in psych wards, I have no idea how a nurse on a psych ward reacts. And I didn’t work as a first responder. Nor was I “pretending” that they do the same job as first responders.

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    @eco2geek:

    No? You’re claiming that you’re reserving judgment on security guards who ripped out a patient’s hair because, hey, who knows how badly the patient was behaving? Maybe the guy deserved it! And you’re claiming that on the basis of your professional experience.

    I really hope you don’t have anything to do with patient care anymore, because you have an insanely unprofessional attitude towards mentally ill patients.

  86. 86
    eco2geek says:

    @Mnemosyne: Check. Yes, there’s no way a patient could ever have been behaving so badly that he deserved to get his hair ripped out. Because, you know, hospital security just loves to get in fights with patients and rip their hair out. And because, as you so obviously know, patients never, ever behave that badly. Ever.

    Why don’t you go work as a hospital security guard for a while and then give me that song and dance.

  87. 87
    asiangrrlMN says:

    I think the reliance on tasers has made security guards/cops lazier about trying other methods first. And, while I reiterate that most cops are good, the small proportion of assholes really ruin it for the others. Digby has been on the taser issue for quite some time, and I agree with her that they should be banned. They cause more harm than do good.

    As for Clarence Thomas, he can go fuck himself. Asshole.

    @eco2geek: I don’t think security loves to do that, but it’s quite common that when a person’s adrenaline gets revved up, he is more than happy to continue pounding on someone who maybe doesn’t deserve it. Sadly, I find it all too easy to believe that the security guards overreacted to the situation. Plus, again, there is that small minority of security guards/police who are in it just because they want to be the assholes with the guns.

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:

    @eco2geek:

    Yes, there’s no way a patient could ever have been behaving so badly that he deserved to get his hair ripped out.

    I guess you missed the whole “mentally ill patient” part. Or you just don’t give a fuck that the person who “deserved” to get hurt literally could not stop himself from doing whatever it was made you decide that you should be allowed to get a little revenge on him.

    Whatever. Go tase some old men in their hospital beds because he totally deserved it for being delirious and hypoxic. And don’t forget to Tase yourself a diabetic having a seizure while you’re at it.

  89. 89
    balconesfault says:

    I am sure that Justice Thomas is appropriately outraged that someone as famous and powerful as himself could have something like this happen to one of his relatives.

  90. 90
    eco2geek says:

    @asiangrrlMN: They may well have overreacted. We’ll see! And I agree, there’s a minority of cops/security guards who are in it simply because they like being bullies.

    @Mnemosyne: Right, because mentally ill patients totally can’t hurt anyone, not even themselves. When you think they’re struggling with you, it’s really just all in your imagination.

    And since it’s not their fault that they’re struggling, you really shouldn’t make any attempt to use reasonable force against them. You might hurt them. Which wouldn’t be reasonable, since it’s not their fault.

    I like your logic.

  91. 91
    NobodySpecial says:

    Perhaps someone can send Judge Thomas a copy of Fear Of A Black Hat.

  92. 92

    It’s sad… liberals seem to take joy in cruelty towards others, and almost gloat when bad things happen towards conservatives. The tone of this post was sick.

    Justice Thomas has fought for years for those who are trapped in poverty, and his recent ruling on the 2nd amendment was based on racial grounds that it is blacks (who suffer the highest percentage of gun-related crime) who need to be able to defend themselves. Through his rulings, he has done more to help others than all those other liberal judges who simply believe having people be owned and controlled by the state is the right way to go (through welfare policies, regulation, etc).

    Life, liberty, and property.

  93. 93
    AJ says:

    OK. No one asked this question, so now I have to look like the idiot.

    If Clarence is the “Heartland Authoritarian™’s second-favorite non-white Supreme Court Justice”, then who is the favorite?

  94. 94
    noncarborundum says:

    @Keith:
    Yes. I had to move over to Firefox (not a bad thing, I recognize).

  95. 95
    Ash Can says:

    @A Conservative Teacher: If you were to read this thread a little more carefully, rather than see in it only that which you want to see, you’d understand that we’re lambasting Thomas for his hypocrisy. If he really cares about people the way you say he does, he sure has a bizarre way of expressing it. If you want to help people you don’t take steps to impoverish them, if you want to keep people safe you don’t do things to turn their neighborhoods into war zones, and if you want to put out fires you don’t throw gasoline on them.

    Clarence Thomas is a caring person? What difference does that make when his actions say the opposite? Even dismissing your formulaic whining about how mean we all are here and how placing limitations upon the damage people can do to each other equates to fascism, communism, or whatever your pet “ism” is these days, your argument makes no sense in light of the evidence.

    (Edited to fix phantom strikethrough.)

  96. 96
    markpkessinger says:

    This rather reminds me of the story from a couple of months back, where a teenager did a stupid teenager thing at a Phillies game in Philadelphia, and decided to run across the field. It was a harmless, if possibly annoying to some, prank. But the middle aged cop who was moonlighting as a security guard was in, well, less than prime physical condition, so since he could catch up with the kid he tased him instead. At the time I commented on this story on another site, and posed the question of when this country became so cruel and mean-spirited.

    As others have pointed out, Tasers were introduced as a tool to be an alternative to deadly force (although in at least some cases, Tasers can be deadly). It seems to me, then, that the guiding principal ought to be that they are used only when lethal force would be the only alternative. Does that mean that the only other way to deal with a teenager carrying out a harmless stunt is to shoot him with a real gun? Does it mean that an elderly lady who gets a little belligerent during a traffic stop would have been shot but for the existence of the Taser? Have we really come to that, that our sense of order and security is so fragile that law enforcement is considered to be justified in using a torture device on citizens at the slightest provocation? God, what a depressing thought.

  97. 97
    Josh says:

    I think Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, to say nothing of the various decisions on police misconduct cited above, is a pretty clear indication that Thomas doesn’t mind seeing people “owned and controlled by the State.”

  98. 98
    bago says:

    I have literally tied up someone to prevent them from doing the whole suicide bit over my balcony (this is in a Seattle capitol hill penthouse 5 stories up). The real downside is that it wasn’t even hot, as towing cable is SO not bondage.

  99. 99
    kay says:

    @A Conservative Teacher:

    Justice Thomas has fought for years for those who are trapped in poverty, and his recent ruling on the 2nd amendment was based on racial grounds that it is blacks (who suffer the highest percentage of gun-related crime) who need to be able to defend themselves. Through his rulings, he has done more to help others than all those other liberal judges who simply believe having people be owned and controlled by the state is the right way to go (through welfare policies, regulation, etc).

    This argument from conservatives always amazes me, because it nullifies itself.

    People in Chicago and DC elect leaders who draft gun control measures. A majority.

    Conservatives, in their infinite wisdom, think the Supreme Court should nullify those laws, because “blacks need to be able to defend themselves”.

    Do you even hear yourselves with this nonsense?

    While accusing liberals of creating some patronizing “nanny state” conservatives consistently insist that minority voters cannot self-govern.

    I’d be embarrassed to advance this argument, because it’s so incredibly fucking stupid and patronizing, and it eats its own TAIL, if I were a conservative, yet it appears again and again, and comes from the “best thinkers” in the “movement”.

    You cannot simultaneously argue that conservatives know what’s “best” for people who live in urban areas, and overturn the laws their elected representatives WRITE while accusing liberals of trapping people in some nanny state.

    You can’t do it. It doesn’t work. They’re VOTING for liberals. They are themselves running as Democrats, the vast majority. That’s a FACT. You have to grapple with it.

    They’re not, actually, helpless.

  100. 100
    kay says:

    @A Conservative Teacher:

    Life, liberty, and property.

    It’s the same argument liberals use for abortion. Identical.

    “The Court should overturn state and local law because there’s a fundamental right, and, anyway, it’s better”.

    The difference is, liberals grapple with the issue. They don’t pretend it isn’t there.

    Didn’t you anticipate you’d run right smack into your own dogma when you gained a majority on the Court?

    I mean, I certainly saw it coming. “Balls and strikes” my ass.

    Honesty. Some intellectual integrity and consistency. You’re employing an expansive reading of the Second Amendment, because you believe there’s a fundamental right and you know better than the voters in Chicago and DC. Just like liberals, on some other issues. The nifty part for me is, and the reason I’m on the liberal side, is liberals don’t lie about it.

  101. 101
    gocart mozart says:

    @Arclite:

    I wonder if you could legally challenge tasers as violating the 8th amendment of the constitution (cruel and unusual punishment.

    Good question Arclite. Yes, it would be a strong legal argument based on the text of the Constitution and common sense. However, I suspect that that at least 5 Supreme Court Justices’ would disagree including Clarence Thomas in all cases not involving his nephew.

  102. 102

    […] Annie Laurie, who gets disgustingly personal: Since Justice Thomas has not always been on the best of terms with his family (during his confirmation hearings, he famously described one of his sisters as a parasite for living on welfare while caring for their elderly aunt) we can only hope that his newborn “outrage” might translate into a wider sensitivity towards those less fortunate, at least those within his immediate genetic kindred. That’s the problem with giving small-people authoritarians a free hand with the lash, Justice—sooner or later, they’re going to let that awesome power loose on someone whose fate you have to care about, and the cops in Jefferson Parish just don’t have the same training in deference as those handling DUIs in Kennebunkport or cocaine arrests in West Palm Beach. Let us hope, she said piously, that this incident doesn’t cause an awkward rift between Justice Thomas and his mentor Scalia. […]

  103. 103
    gocart mozart says:

    In February 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in Hudson v. McMillian that a prisoner need not have suffered a “significant injury” in order to pursue a lawsuit against prison officials for the use of excessive force. Keith Hudson, the Louisiana inmate who brought that case, had been kicked and punched by three guards while he was handcuffed and shackled. He suffered bruises, swelling and loosened teeth, injuries that a federal appeals court, in dismissing his lawsuit, deemed so minor as to be beneath the notice of the Eighth Amendment.

    Mr. Hudson’s appeal to the Supreme Court was supported by the George H.W. Bush administration, and John G. Roberts Jr., then a deputy solicitor general, argued on the inmate’s behalf. In an opinion by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the court reinstated the lawsuit. What mattered in such a situation, the court held, was not the extent of the injury, but the nature of the force that was applied. “When prison officials maliciously and sadistically use force to cause harm, contemporary standards of decency always are violated,” Justice O’Connor wrote.

    Justice Thomas dissented. He had been on the court for four months. During his Senate confirmation hearing, he had claimed a certain empathy for prisoners. He described looking out the window of his chambers at the Court of Appeals and watching prisoners being loaded into buses to be taken back to their cells. “I say to myself every day, but for the grace of God there go I,” he told the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    In his dissenting opinion in the Hudson case — which Justice Antonin Scalia joined, making the vote 7 to 2 — the new justice said that the Constitution’s framers “simply did not conceive of the Eighth Amendment as protecting inmates from harsh treatment.” The Eighth Amendment dealt with only the actual sentence, he maintained, and not with conditions inside a prison or deprivations that were not a formal aspect of the sentence. He said the Supreme Court had taken a wrong turn in the 1970’s when it adopted a more expansive view, and he added, “The Eighth Amendment is not, and should not be turned into, a National Code of Prison Regulation.”

    Beating and tasering by authorities is not unusual therefore IMHO Thomas would think it does not violate the 8th Am. Sad but true. Less government Uber Alles.

  104. 104
    Killercop says:

    Is this the same Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who stated that a prisoner who was slammed to a concrete floor and punched and kicked by a guard after asking for a grievance form — but suffered neither serious nor permanent harm — has no claim that his constitutional rights were violated?

    I think he needs a mental treatment.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Annie Laurie, who gets disgustingly personal: Since Justice Thomas has not always been on the best of terms with his family (during his confirmation hearings, he famously described one of his sisters as a parasite for living on welfare while caring for their elderly aunt) we can only hope that his newborn “outrage” might translate into a wider sensitivity towards those less fortunate, at least those within his immediate genetic kindred. That’s the problem with giving small-people authoritarians a free hand with the lash, Justice—sooner or later, they’re going to let that awesome power loose on someone whose fate you have to care about, and the cops in Jefferson Parish just don’t have the same training in deference as those handling DUIs in Kennebunkport or cocaine arrests in West Palm Beach. Let us hope, she said piously, that this incident doesn’t cause an awkward rift between Justice Thomas and his mentor Scalia. […]

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