Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Utah in the News: Utah Officer Uses Utah Product on Utah Man

A lot of Mormon critics suggest that Mormons are a bunch of sheep trained to submit to authority and not ask questions. Yes, there are some who lack the intellectual curiosity and critical thinking that I think is healthy, but having faith and respecting wise leaders is not the same as blind obedience and mindless submission. Plenty of Mormons I know don't mind asking questions and politely, respectfully challenging authority when something doesn't seem right. Of course, in any organization, even gentle challenging of authority can sometimes get you in trouble, depending on who the authority is. So much depends on the tone you use and the sensitivity you show. But when the authority figure has a gun or a Taser (one of Utah's many fine products), blind, unquestioning obedience is probably the safest way to go. That's a lesson that one Utah couple learned the hard way, as reported over at TaserJustice.com. A man and his expectant wife (BYU students, perhaps?), get pulled over for allegedly driving above 40 mph, apparently before the 40 mph limit was in effect. The man doesn't want to sign the ticket without knowing why they are being charged for speeding. In response, the officer wants to arrest him, and when the man steps away to point out the 40 mph sign close to them, not immediately following the officer's instructions, he gets tasered. Ouch. Now there's some uproar on the Net about another apparent case of taser abuse.

I know some Sunday School teachers who could occasionally use a taser, but I'm not sure that would advance Gospel purposes in the best way.

I think the real lesson here is the need to use restraint when you have power. There is a temptation to use power in disciplining others, but in so many cases, more good could be achieved by using persuasion and gentleness and avoiding the full use of the power that one has - even when somebody's behavior seems inappropriate.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't tase me, bro!!!

Shadow Spawn said...

I watched the video and being in the law-enforcement field myself, I saw a couple of problems.

1- I don't know what the law in UT is if you refuse to sign a ticket. But, arrest seems a bit over the top to me, but it might have been within the officer's rights to place him under arrest. I think the officer is out of line for taking it that far.

2- The young man (victim) gave the officer no choice once he chose to ignore a direct order and walk away. Once the officer has escalated to the point of drawing out a weapon and has issued a direct command there are only two possible ways for the scenario to end. Either you comply with the orders, or you don't, and face the consequences. I don't know what this young man was thinking was going to happen as he walked back towards his car.

My final 2 cents: Within the context of the scenario at the time of the tasering, the officer was justified using the taser and within the confines of the purpose of the taser gun. That being said however, the officer in the end is at fault for failing to control a situation that did to go as far as it did. I think he needs to recieve some extra training on his people skills, and not allowing someone with a bit of an arrogant and snotty attitude to set him off.