Why the UCLA Police Taser Incident Matters:
When UCLA police officer Terrence Duren used his Taser on student Mostafa Tabatabainejad at the Powell Library last week, it was a brazen act for many reasons. See, when Rodney King was beaten by the LAPD, it was done in the dark of shadows, with at least the thought that no one was witnessing the actions. That's where these kinds of things usually take place: behind buildings, in isolated areas, in interrogation rooms, places where cowardice masked by bullshit bravado and unmitigated savagery can occur unnoticed - for the most part. But at UCLA, the campus cops didn't give a shit who saw what they did.

And in that way, in the week that George W. Bush visited the nation itself, we've finally come back, full circle, to the Vietnam era. We're back to when the National Guard could mow down students in broad daylight, when Mayor Daley's thug cops could beat hippies in front of TV cameras and not give a rat's ass who saw, and, indeed, they could be supported by large parts of the public.

The actions of a nation's government sets the bar for the power given to those with any kind of authority over the populace. It's why capital punishment is such a bullshit thing: hey, let's solve violence by killing people. If the government says that it can illegally bomb, say, Cambodia or Laos with no consequences to those who do it, then what does it matter if protesters get their heads bloodied? If the Congress of the United States actually negotiated to agree upon allowing certain kinds of pain and degradation as not torture, if no one of any standing is accountable to the law or humanity in general, then why not repeatedly tase an uncooperative student who was passively demonstrating against a school rule?

Are Mostafa Tabatabainejad screams any more profound than those of detainees at Abu Ghraib or at whatever shitholes the CIA uses in Jordan or Uzbekistan or where the fuck ever? Were his cries that he would comply once tortured heeded any more quickly than those who want to stop the drown reflex of waterboarding?

The Rude Pundit's said it before and he'll say it again: we live in Gitmo America. Sure, there's hope that in the future the cages will be rattled. But for now violence is out of the shadows and in our faces, and those who wish to create violence do so alarmingly without fear of reprisal.