Did the 17-year-old field-runner who was tasered by a Philadelphia police officer at a major league game Monday night have it coming? Or did the officer go too far by firing 50,000 volts at the towel-waving kid to crumple him in front of nearly 45,000 fans? The Christian Science Monitor asks those questions, noting that the number of Tasers in the police hands has grown to 375,000 worldwide and the blowback – from “don’t tase me, bro!” to a reported 300 deaths – has been significant.
To some, the Philadelphia incident is indicative of a perceived escalation of threat against police – and how the media has perhaps laid the groundwork for acceptance of Tasers by overhyping that fear. It “feels in some ways like a distorted version of what happened in the ’60s when people were out of control over fear of war protesters, but now there’s fear of almost anyone, like we’re at war with ourselves in this country,” says Elayne Rapping, a pop-culture expert at the SUNY’s University at Buffalo. “It’s a slippery slope when we’re going to start letting people use weapons of ever more intense destructiveness for small things.”