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Before some Iranians decide the motto of our union ought to be changed to "liberty, but tasing for all," remember that there is a legal system that demands accountability for the bad guys
December 16, 2006
Like most people in this day of point, click and enter, I saw the tasing of the UCLA student (Mostafa) on YouTube. I was shocked by what I saw. (No pun intended) What also shocked me was the response to the video by a lot of Iranian-Americans and especially the Iranian media. "How can this happen?" they demanded to know "The video is evidence that America is not free." "We might as well be living in the Soviet Union 40 years ago." IRNA reported that a nation that boasts freedom can now add to its resume "tases students who don't carry IDs."
I attribute the quotes above to the creative spirit of the great journalist Jason Blair. However, I do suggest a browse through the gallery of letters and blogs concerning this issue for more proof.
Some were so outraged, they likened Mostafa's cries to those of the freedom fighters in Tiananmen Square and others who are forced to endure police brutality in Gitmo. Others made verbose video commentaries relating this incident to a lack of freedom under the Bush administration.
Really now, people. Get a grip on yourselves before getting so carried away with your judgments.
Perhaps this is a case of rent-a-cops gone wild. I won't judge what really went wrong here until there is a full investigation, but the video does demonstrate how power can be abused because to me, the officers clearly went too far.
However, the events contained in this video do not show an organized movement for freedom and the actions of those officers do not reflect the United States' attitude toward freedom. To compare Mostafa with people who really fought the Soviets, PRC and anyone who lived in a real fascist country discredits the efforts of those people which often entailed self-sacrifice.
The legal system will hold the officers accountable for their wrongdoings and as Mr. Khorsandi so eloquently put it, "let us give thanks to technology" for helping the matter. Still, to me, it's a video showing a 23 year old who made a mistake and got the short end of the stick with the cops. Splintery end of the stick, I would add.
I see lots of Iranian people likening Mostafa to a figure in humanity's long fight for freedom against "the man," I ask them to stop making this an issue about the United States. Officers go too far all over the world. This is not a matter that can be compared to Soviets or Basij or any other notoriously violent group. In the context of this fine land, the United States never promised a utopian society where the police are a rare breed of Terminator 2 models. We are, like any other country, a nation of humans who do foul.
Thankfully, this case happened to take place in the United States. In these matters we can look to our legal system and Nokia for accountability. To me, accountability what makes our legal system brilliant (errrr except that blemish of a case involving OJ simpson's dead wife).
There are bad cops all over the world who mistreat the little guys. But I don't view Mostafa like I do the victims in Tiananmen Square, the Soviet Union or student activists in Iran. And I most certainly don't take the actions of these officers as a threat to freedom in the United States. They don't deserve that much credit.
So before some Iranians decide the motto of our union ought to be changed to "liberty, but tasing for all," remember that there is a legal system that demands accountability for the bad guys. They can also be comforted by the masses who are ready to help the legal system, armed with youtube and videophones. Bad guys, you'd better watch yourselves.
In all seriousness, I find this entire affair overblown by a somewhat hypersensitive community who are not used to seeing their youth head to the floor because they are generally studious and stay out of trouble.
However, let us be comforted by the fact that Mostafah will probably triumph where other victims, (just those who fought the PRC and other ACTUAL gestapoh police squads) failed. He, unlike them, has the opportunity to face the officers in court. That's really something to boast about.
I hope Mostafah triumphs in his lawsuit against the officers who did this to him, because again, I think they went too far in handling the matter. Comment