Try starting a serious policy debate about something that has been historically controversial and you can predict the conversation almost before it begins. Tasers for instance, as Newt Emeronson points out, elicit responses that have more to do with traditional pro-State/anti-State binaries than the merits or de-merits of their use in civil policing.
Tasers were banned in the UK in 1997 following an attack on a postman. As a result, Tasers are no longer available to postmen but they are readily available to criminals.
The ban doesn’t work because Tasers can be ordered online from UK auction sites or any of the various American companies, which promise “discreet shipping”. Such devices have already been used in crimes across Northern Ireland.
There is a compelling human rights case to be made for regulating their availability to the general public. But that case will not be made by the human rights commission. The commission has never brought a single case under articles 5 or 8 on behalf of a law-abiding victim of crime.
He notes towards the end:
The odds are even that the first person to be Tasered by the PSNI will be an Orange hanger-on. We may hope that shocks our elected politicians out of their entrenched positions. Because waiting on our human rights dinosaurs is a lost cause.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty