Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good article on Dziekanski

Taser death a collective failure by Les Leyne, of the Victoria Times-Colonist.

I'm usually wary of terms like "collective failure", but in this case it fits.
It's hard to express what a monumental tragedy Dziekanski's death represents. It's not just the stupid, unnecessary death of a healthy young man. It's the fact that he came here to build a new life with his mother and in the space of a few hours all his hopes were snuffed out along with his life. Canada failed him callously and completely. There are very few times when I've been ashamed for my country. But watching the Taser video was one of those times...

But the clumsy brutal arrest is just what finished him off. It was the blind bureaucratic apparatus that treats everyone as cattle at best and as a suspect at worst that set him up for the kill...

It's haunting to think of all those functionaries standing watch over the crowd, and all those robot cameras watching from every corner. The whole operation is supposedly to keep us safe. But when one lone, frightened passenger gets a little off the grid, he dies a horrible death.
As someone said, it's the small details that get you. I read that Dziekanski carried 3 bags, two of which were full of geography books. It's one of those details I'll never forget.
Dziekanski's experience in Canada consists of several hours of being ignored, then a brief, brutal encounter with one of our national symbols that was characterized by hostility, aggression and paranoia. And now he's dead.

The other symbolic image from the video that sticks in my mind is the automatic glass door opening and closing repeatedly, as Dziekanski stands on the threshold. He'd been a landed immigrant for several hours by then. He could communicate with no one. The system was ignoring him completely. And the doors to what he thought was the land of opportunity just keep opening and closing mindlessly as he spends his last few moments on Earth driven to the brink of emotional collapse by a system that couldn't care less.


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