Universal Translator

Friday, January 6, 2012

Elder Abuse and Police Brutality

I learned something today that I did not know before about elder abuse, especially as it occurs in privately run assisted living facilities:  the inappropriate use of physical restraints for punishment or for the convenience of the staff is prosecutable as “elder abuse.”

In other words, the mere act of physically retraining a resident – be it by locking them in their room or raising the guard rails to keep them from getting out of bed – not even because the staff wishes to punish that resident or to hurt the resident, but just because doing so makes life easier for the facility’s staff, is considered to be a crime.

Instantly, I flashed on the increasingly common use by cops of non-lethal force such as pepper spray or tasers as a convenient means of coercing citizens to comply with police orders.  From the infamous John Pike’s pepper-spraying of protesting college students at UC-Davis for refusing his order to disperse, to this story involving a middle-aged alumni couple being tazed for sitting in the wrong seats at a college football game, it seems increasingly clear that the police routinely employ physically abusive and quite painful practices simply because doing so makes the cops’ jobs more “convenient.”  Why bother actually talking to and calming down an irate or confused citizen when you can simply tazer them into instant submission?

And yet somehow almost nobody in American society seems to have a problem with the cops’ use of such force.  That really needs to change.

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