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Sunday, December 14, 2003

Needed: A 'stun' setting on lethal force


Your voice: Russ Thomas

This column is about the war in Iraq, Star Trek and the untimely death of Nathaniel Jones. If you don't think they're related, allow me a few minutes of your time.

War is against our nature. It is against our God to kill people. And yet, sometimes in order to preserve ourselves, we must kill. We felt the leaders of the nation of Iraq to be a threat to our country's peace and well being. We tried to gain their compliance with sanctions from the United Nations, and threats of war.

That didn't work. We eventually had to engage in war and kill people and maim them, so we could maintain order in our worldThere was no other way.

The same can be said of the struggle between police and Nathaniel Jones. The officers on the scene did their best to get Mr. Jones to comply without any violence. Their diplomatic mission failed, and violence had to be used.

This brings us to leg three of our triumvirate, Star Trek. We all long for a world with a "stun" setting on our lethal force. A stun setting on a 9mm automatic would be nice, wouldn't it? One quick shot, the bad guy is immobilized, and a quiet, caring civilization has the floor. Best of all, we would no longer be forced to realize our safety is the result of brutal force, not intellectual idealism.

Cincinnati's solution is the purchase of a thousand Tasers - a million dollars' worth - to allow the police a non-lethal option for dealing with local Saddam Husseins. The day after Mayor Charlie Luken announced the purchase, Amnesty International announced that Tasers, too, can be lethal.

It seems that if the aggressor has a heart problem, or is under the influence of drugs, like PCP or cocaine, the Taser may cause death with a shock to their system.

Where do we go from here? The options are few - only two, in fact. We hire our enforcement folks, both police and military, to do our dirty work for us, be mindful of the sacrifice they make, and enjoy the peace they provide, or allow the uncivilized free run of the world, and the city, and hope for the best until Gene Roddenberry's dream comes true.

Just remember, the Saddam Husseins of this world, and this city, are not working on a stun technology.

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Russ Thomas is a government employee and freelance writer who lives in Melbourne, Ky.

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