Friday, July 18, 2008

Personal Safety (by Phila)

Having previously manufactured a pink Taser for gals (who like pretty little pink things!), and hosted a charity poker tournament for guys (who like card games and Playboy bunnies!), Taser International is intensifying its gender-obsessed marketing campaign:
Taser International's newest marketing technique: selling their stun guns in truck stops.

"Anybody's that's traveling does have concerns about personal safety. For the trucker away from his family, he might want one or think that his wife could use that while he's gone, or his daughter at college could use one," Taser exec Steve Tuttle tells the Toledo Blade. "It fits with our vision of getting our products into more mainstream stores."
Much as I like the idea of a Taser battle at a truck stop -- preferably in a haze of gasoline vapor -- I can't really approve of this development. Police and security personnel -- who are allegedly trained to use Tasers properly, and usually use them in public, while sober -- haven't exactly been modeling responsible use of the device (although at least some of the people they've irrationally tased were probably glad not to have been gunned down, or clubbed into a coma).

But ordinary citizens aren't trained at all, as far as I know. And they're perhaps less likely to understand that "nonlethal," in TI's sense, refers to the concept of the weapon, rather than to the certain outcome of using it.

Worse, TI's marketing efforts attempt to reinforce and exploit insecurities that have little to do with the actual violent crime rate in America (which remains quite low), but a lot to do with racial and psychosexual paranoia, and the relentless hyping of certain titillating types of crime in the media. These insecurities, I suspect, encourage more violence against women than Tasers will ward off. Which suggests to me that once again, women are being used as an alibi for the increased availability of weapons that are very likely to be used against them (surely rapists and stalkers will find some use for a Taser?).

On the bright side, we may someday be able to counter the threat posed by the sale of Tasers at truck stops by arming ourselves with a consumer version of Raytheon's Silent Guardian.

UPDATE: In comments, aka fredo provides a truly horrifying link on the "professional" use of Tasers.