Save Your Child From A House Fire In Missouri And Get A Tasin’ And A Jailin’
IN case you’re wondering: apparently it is illegal in Missouri to save a toddler from a burning house, and cops will taser you, cuff you and haul you off to jail if you try.
Ryan Miller discovered this early on Halloween morning, when an electrical fire started in the house he shared with his wife and three-year-old stepson. Officers shot Miller with a stun gun as he tried re-entering the burning house to save the little boy. (There’s some dispute over exactly how often Miller got Tased; police say two times while Miller’s mother says three, twice after Miller was already in handcuffs and once after he was already in the police car.)
A city administrator referred to the police response as a “judgment call,” which is self-evident, but it says something about the character of modern American law enforcement that in their judgment, acting upset while your little boy’s trapped in a burning house is behavior inappropriate enough to get you hauled off to jail.
In fairness to the still-unnamed cop, he probably thought he was saving the father’s life rather than dooming the little boy’s. The child was still alive and breathing when firefighters eventually entered the house and took him out; unfortunately, Miller missed those last moments with his son because he was in jail at the time.
Sad thing is, Miller’s tasing and trip to jail is actually one of the more benign manifestations of a scary idea popular with modern American law enforcement: the idea that adults are not allowed to decide for themselves what risks they take (unless, of course, the get hired by a police force or elected to political office, at which point they acquire the ability to make such decisions not just for themselves, but for everyone else in the jurisdiction, too). And tasing people for their own alleged good isn’t the worst thing our cops have done; police will gladly risk killing you if that’s what it takes to keep you out of harm’s way.
Seriously. You know how whenever a big storm’s forecast to hit an American coastline bad enough for authorities to call an evacuation, there’s always holdouts who refuse to leave?
Some of them stay put because, while they wouldn’t mind leaving for a night or two until the storm blows over, they don’t want to risk being kept out of their own homes for weeks or months at a time — and police are willing to use lethal force if that’s what it takes to keep people from their own storm-damaged houses.
Check out this photo essay from 2008, after the flooding Mississippi River trashed multiple Midwestern municipalities. If you scroll down the page, past various photos showing a chode-of-God tornado and wrath-of-God storm damage, you’ll also see a wrath-of-cop scene second photo from the bottom: two obviously angry cops, one aiming a gun through a pickup truck windshield while his partner prepares to smash the passenger-side window. (The driver is invisible behind the glare off the glass.)
The caption reads: “An angry resident that tried to drive around a security checkpoint is stopped by one police officer, right, while another tries to break his window to extract him in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Monday, June 16, 2008.”
But who exactly was that angry resident? His name was Rick Blazek, and he wasn’t some felonious out-of-towner seeking to loot a ravaged neighborhood, merely a man wishing to return to his home to salvage what he could of his storm-wrecked life.
Police had already kicked him out of his house twice—citing safety reasons—and Blazek was only one of about 25,000 people barred from returning home. At gunpoint. And I’m all in favor of gun rights except one: when you aim a loaded weapon at somebody, you forfeit the right to say you’re acting with that somebody’s safety in mind.
Such absolutes don’t work with tasers (tasers can indeed be lethal, but they’re probably still safer than being shot with bullets) but if we Americans want to cling to the story that we’re the “land of the free” and the “home of the brave,” we should start by deciding that if you, an adult, are willing to risk yourself to save your son—or even just your stuff—that’s your choice to make, not some weapon-wielding cop’s.