Letters to the Editors

Tasers dangerous weapons

Dear Editors,

RE: “Amnesty opposes Taser use on Aberdeen” (Journal, Oct. 25, 2005).

The recent article about Amnesty International’s opposition to the use of Tasers to break up street parties may have left the impression that Taser weapons are harmless. Nothing could be further from the truth.

According to statistics compiled by the Arizona Republic newspaper, at least 153 North Americans have died, including 12 Canadians, after being stunned by Tasers. As these weapons are relatively new, the medical community is just starting to fully understand the physiological effects of transmitting 50,000 volts of electricity into a person’s body.

Contrary to the statements attributed to OPP physician Dr. Reid in your article, coroners and medical examiners have indeed found Taser use to have caused or contributed to deaths in the United States. For example, on July 29, 2005, Dr. Scott Denton, medical examiner for Cook County, Ill., issued an autopsy report which concluded that “the cause of death in this 54-year-old white male ... is from electrocution due to Taser application.” Last month, Coroner Mike Morris of Lancaster County, S.C., concluded that Taser strikes caused the death of a 29-year-old man in July.

I am a lawyer with an interest in civil liberties issues. My clients include the family of a man who died in Vancouver on June 23, 2004 after police repeatedly Tasered him.

The law enforcement community fervently advocates the use of these high-tech weapons. While they may be a legitimate alternative to lethal force in some circumstances, they are very risky, and I suggest that a great deal of independent testing and study is required before police start using them on unruly partygoers.

Cameron Ward, LLB
A. Cameron Ward & Company
Barristers & Solicitors

Tricolour Market ad misleading

Dear Editors,

I was quite unpleasantly surprised reading the Tricolour Market advertisement in the Tuesday, Oct. 25 edition of the Journal. The slogan reads: “Feel special for buying ethical.” The Tricolour Market claims that they sell Queen’s clothing that is “sweatshop-free American Apparel garments.” First of all, I’m not sure what the Tricolour Market’s definition of “sweatshop-free” is, but I would hope that it includes lack of sexual harassment and intimidation against unionizing, both of which American Apparel has been accused of. It is true that American Apparel offers higher wages than the average garment factory, but certain good qualities do not excuse the bad ones. Perhaps if Tricolour Market had done their research, they would have discovered this, and perhaps they would have also realized that all the Queen’s clothing sold at the Campus Bookstore is sweatshop-free—not because the companies claim they are as a marketing technique, but because they have signed a code of conduct with the University and are subject to independent third party monitoring. Before trying to make people feel special for being ethical, perhaps Tricolour Market should first work on trying to be educated about what they are advertising.

Amanda Wilson
ArtSci ’07

Signs a Kingston legacy

Dear Editors,

Re: “City takes tough line on house signs” (Journal, Oct. 25, 2005).

I was surprised to see the city taking such a hard stance on house signs in the Ghetto. With Kingston’s long-standing British history, I would have thought that the practice of naming houses would be culturally and legally accepted. The naming of apartment buildings certainly is. Rather than further incensing student residents, perhaps the city should drop this issue and focus on any of the other dozen or so housing standard by-laws that govern such things as appliance maintenance and snow removal.

Janet Gordon
ArtSci ’06

Tasers responsible for a number of deaths

Dear Editors,

RE: “Amnesty opposes Taser use on Aberdeen” (Journal, Oct. 25, 2005).

I was appalled at the brazen attitude of Inspector Cookman regarding the use of Tasers. Cookman suggested that Tasers would be used casually during events such as Homecoming as an alternative to physical force when rescuing partiers, arresting an individual or stopping unlawful conduct, referring to them as “just your new partner.” The belief that Tasers are harmless weapons to be used liberally with no long-term consequences to the victim is a false one, fuelled by ignorance on the part of police and city officials. Since 1999, at least 148 people have died in Canada and the U.S. after being tased, more than half of those occurring in the last year. Several medical experts and coroners reports conclude that the use of the Taser device contributed to the death of the suspect. Taser’s own study concluded “it is worth remembering that the Advanced Taser is to be used only as an alternative to firearms and any outcome measures should be considered in this context.” Inspector Cookman and Dr. Reid are mistaken if they believe there is consensus in the medical and law enforcement communities that Tasers are harmless.

Furthermore, I urge all law enforcement personnel to refuse peer demonstrations due to the numerous instances where officers have suffered life-altering injuries, from ruptured disks to fractures and joint injuries from Taser shocks during training.

The evidence is disconcerting enough to cause U.S. Securities officials and the Arizona Attorney General to investigate Taser’s business practices. Even the International Association of Chiefs of Police urged law enforcement agencies to reassess their Taser practices in light of safety concerns. Before we get on the less-lethal bandwagon, let’s make sure we understand the risks and implement strict policies on use to ensure that they are used only as a substitute for deadly force.

Eric A. Lavallee
ArtSci ’07

Happy and sad to see Stu Mills leave CFRC

Dear Editors,

RE: “Stu Mills signs off from CFRC” (Journal, Oct. 25, 2005).

Reading about Stu Mills’ departure from CFRC hit me with both sadness and happiness. I’m sad that CFRC is losing its most dedicated member, a man who put his heart and soul into the station for as long as I have known him. However, I am happy that a bright future awaits him in the broadcasting industry—something he truly deserves. The article in your paper provides a perfect description of the type of person that Stu is. He always put the needs of others and the needs of the station ahead of himself.

Stu opened his home to me for countless weekends over the course of two years while I commuted to Kingston to broadcast Queen’s football and hockey games. A large part of where I am today is because of what Stu did for me and what he taught me. Each time I sign on the air for an Argos broadcast I think back to my time at CFRC and all the fun I had. Most of the fun involved the company of Stu and his family, which I became a part of for those two years.

Here’s to hoping that the AMS and CFRC find another “Stu” to keep the legacy of Canada’s finest student radio station alive.

Jaime Stein
Producer and play-by-play voice of the Toronto Argonauts
AM 640—Toronto Radio

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