Have you ever read about how women used to be diagnosed with "hysteria" for basically anything that made them act "overexcited"? Or hey, to back up a little further, how excitable and/or mentally ill people were treated as "possessed by the devil"? Or oo, here’s a good one, remember way back in the day when children who didn’t sit quietly and study were said to have an "attention disorder" and given strong drugs to make them "behave"?
Seems that humanity loves to invent fake, usually derogatory, medical diagnoses with which to "handle" people who get loud or cause problems for the status quo. Nobody wants to admit that kids are being raised with too godsdamned much sugar and television, so we invent a disease for them to have instead, which gives us a convenient excuse to cover up their symptoms with dangerous drugs instead of addressing the actual problems. (Fun fact: I have known, personally, at least five kids prescribed Ritalin for "ADHD". Not a single one had sugar restricted from their diets beforehand…or even afterwards.) Nobody wanted to deal with mental illness, so it was re-cast as a moral failing and the work of the devil, which gives us a good basis for locking them away in hideous places to die slowly. And loud women, the scourge of the patriarchy…yeah, better call them sick too. (I do forgive the "hysteria" diagnosis a little more than the others, because at least it resulted in the invention of the dildo. Nothing good came out of the other two, unless you count the good ol’ "icepick lobotomy"…)
Why am I on about this topic? Because there’s another fake disease, and you’d better keep your eyes on it, because the next victim could be you, or someone you know. Unfortunately, the treatment for this new fake disease isn’t just a drug or incarceration, either — it’s death.
Or I should say, the death happens first: "Excited Delirium" (sometimes even called "excited delirium death syndrome", a euphemism so bad it would be funny if it weren’t for the topic) is a fake cause of death being widely used in this country to cover up cases of police brutality. (Like most invented diseases, there’s a grain of truth behind it — it was originally a term used to describe the peak of an overdose episode in long-time cocaine addicts, which could be but wasn’t always Not anymore, though.)
Excited delirium as a fake cause of death is not new (remember Malice Green?). It’s also not recognized as an illness by either the American Medical Association or the American Psychiatric Association, or any other reputable group.
The company that makes Tasers swears by it, though, using it frequently as a legal defense. And cops are all about it, blaming "50 to 125 deaths a year in the United States alone" on this imaginary illness, which, you know, they need to protect their poor misunderstood selves from. In response to the fairly widespread knowledge that Excited Delirium as a cause of death is hooey, cops and those dependent on their money have resorted to trying to tie ED directly to drug use, but the numbers themselves show that this is crap: the numbers cited in this very earnest article (by a pepper-spray manufacturer) are from the ’80′s and ’90′s, and don’t at all explain the leaping number of police-custody deaths and subsequent attribution of "ED", often in cases that had nothing to do with drugs. (I’ve even seen a claim that autism can cause it.) Regardless of what they claim the "underlying cause" is though, it’s impossible to ignore that so-called cases of Excited Delirium are always diagnosed after some kind of police brutality — mostly beatings at first, but lately, increasingly and unsurprisingly, also the use of tasers.
The idea behind "Excited Delirium" is that, in a nutshell, police "have to be" rough sometimes, and sometimes they’re "maybe a little too rough" with someone who is "weak or sick" or old or on drugs or something, and then the "person" dies, and why should that be the cop’s "fault"?
That’s a basic emotional appeal, and I can answer it very easily: Because letting someone get away with [insert usually-minor crime, civil infraction, or accusation of crime here] is better than killing them, you idiots. This idea that cops must Assert Their Authoritai, that they must be obeyed even up to the cost of someone’s life, is just ridiculous, and it’s out of this assumption that crap like "Excited Delirium" comes. We’ve got medical examiners being sued for saying that cops tasered someone to death, and judges re-writing autopsy reports so that, you know, the brutal beating was only incidental to someone’s dying from it, all so we can protect this precious idea of Police Authoritai being more important than anything.
Protect and Serve does not, I offer, include beating the hell out of anyone. Ever. You want to hurt people, go be a bouncer, or a soldier, or take a volunteer job escorting people in and out of abortion clinics. While the "literature" on the cop/manufacturer side often cites "restraint" as the cause, if you read some of the cases (which, um, obviously I spent a good chunk of time doing), you’ll see that beatings and/or torture (hog-tying, tasering, etc.) are actually the issue here. None of which, in my opinion, are ever acceptable, especially when perpetrated on civilians by those supposedly protecting them.
Seriously: For people who are supposed to be "servants", you see cops taking a punch surprisingly rarely, don’t you? If your job is "protecting and serving" the civilian population, don’t you think that would mean that you got beat up more than you delivered? Don’t you think it would mean that nothing short of a direct threat on your life or that of another civilian would justify using force against the people you’re supposed to be protecting and serving? Or would it mean that you could taser students who are engaged in no criminal action whatsoever, while bystanders beg you not to, just because said student refused to stand up when you told him to?
[WARNING: That video is really disturbing. It happened in California, no less. Make sure you watch it if you think Tazers don't hurt, though, and don't fail to note the whole string of similar "taser videos" YouTube has -- a sterling example of citizen journalism, those, as well as a stinging example of the failures of big-media journalism. ...Oh, and don't read the comments on the video, unless you have a puke-bag handy...it's unbelievable how many people think refusing to show your ID and swearing at a cop are grounds for physical torture! ::boggles and throws up::]
An idea I’ve had: No cop should be allowed to carry a taser (or any other nonlethal weapon) unless he agrees to be shot with it a minimum of once every three months. If it’s so safe and effective, you do it. Maybe that would cut down on the epidemic of "taser deaths", and the subsequent abortions of justice that cause them to be mislabeled as fake diseases like Excited Delirium so that those responsible can get off the hook. Similarly, how about for every incident of cops beating up a citizen, those cops have to get beat up by the same number of citizens that they ganged up on? I’ll even be nice and say we won’t give the citizens nightsticks, because we don’t want any cops dying of Excited Delirium, now, do we?
What I’ve just proposed is nothing but fair and reasonable, but I bet the idea of actually implementing such a system sounds shocking and far-fetched to most people. Why? Why do these "serve and protectors" have the right to beat the hell out of people and torture them with high-technology weapons, just because they won’t "obey" or there’s a perceived violation of a law going on? Don’t the courts exist to punish people who violate laws? If I break a law, and a cop beats the shit out of me, can I get out of the fines or jail time, since I’ve already been punished? No. Why?
To the inevitable "but they have to" response, I say take this picture of Gandhi and shove it up your — ahem. I’m sorry, if one man can stop a war without getting violent, then eight cops can stop one perpetrator without getting violent, too. The oft-used example is a "knife-wielding maniac" "threatening everyone" "in the middle of the street". Okay, so what’s preventing you from surrounding him and defending yourselves and others until he calms down or runs out of juice? You are being paid to protect people, and that includes the "maniac" who may simply be sick, having an adverse reaction to a prescribed medication, etc. Just because he’s making your day difficult doesn’t mean you get to tackle him and beat the shit out of him for expediency’s sake.
In short, watch out for cops; they’re turning more and more into complete thugs as time goes on*. Watch out for "Excited Delirium" and other fake diseases and defects tossed around to discredit the inconvenient and protect the guilty. And don’t get me excited, or I’ll throw a zillion links at you.
*To be fair, I must cite the exception that proves this rule: Someone I know recently had a psychotic episode, and was screaming and waving knives around when the cops were called. They took three hours to make sure that standoff ended with no injury, and got the (innocent, mentally ill) person to a hospital with not a scratch on him. That confrontation could have easily been the death of someone I love, but because one cop–the one leading that squad–was willing to put in the extra effort to negotiate and be compassionate to someone he’d never met before, and had no way of knowing wasn’t a "raving maniac", a tragedy was averted and a young man has the rest of his life ahead of him. This is proof positive that violence is not necessary, and that cops are capable of taking the high road and still doing their jobs. And a big thank you to that nameless officer on the Southgate force…you gave some faith in cops to someone who would have had none otherwise.
EDITED 2:00 p.m. to fix some typos and clarify some language.