on tasers and wooden teeth in ypsilanti

You might have seen it. There was an article in Wired a few days ago about taser parties and how they might be the new big thing in suburban network marketing. First it was Tupperware. Then it was dildos. And now it’s apparently tasers. Women get together, they laugh, they drink, they buy potentially lethal weapons created solely for the administration of pain. And that, my friends, is how torture goes mainstream, and why no one seems to give a fuck about the waterboarding of individuals held without charge in secret U.S. prisons.

And, while we’re on the subject, did you hear about the police crackdown on protesters today in New Orleans? Here’s a clip from the Yahoo News coverage:

Police used chemical spray and stun guns Thursday as dozens of protesters tried to force their way into a packed City Council chamber during a debate on the planned demolition of some 4,500 public housing units…

“Is this what democracy looks like?” said Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor who opposes demolition, as he held a strand of Taser wire he said had been shot into another of the protesters…

I don’t want to confuse tasering with waterboarding, but did you also happen to hear the other day what Republican Senator Kit Bond said about waterborading? He said it was “like swimming.” Anyway, this all brings me to the subject of tonight’s post — a letter I received from a reader today. Here it is:

So I was running errands last night and stopped at the Speedway at Packard and Carpenter to grab something to drink. As I was paying for my purchase, a gas station employee came in and asked the attendant behind the counter, “Where’s the taser?”

I thought, no, it can’t be what I’m thinking. It must be some sort of gas station tool, like maybe those long sticks that they dip into the underground gas storage tanks to measure the gas.

Attendant: I don’t know.
2nd gas station employee: You had it last.
Attendant: I don’t know where it is. Why do you need it? Who’s causing trouble?
2nd gas station employee: The lady with the wooden teeth.

I left the station feeling just a bit alarmed. I walked out into the parking lot, expecting a crazed woman with wooden teeth to come around the corner and attack me.

I didn’t see any crazies so I got into my car. The gas station employee walked out carrying two trash bags and threw one in the direction of the dumpster, but ended up hitting the bathroom building next to it. Then he lit a cigarette and stood waiting outside of the bathroom door. I assume the wooden teeth lady was inside. I stuck around for a while to see what would happen, but the gas station dude was looking at me and I got the creeps.

Are normal people (Steve Pierce, gas station attendants) allowed to just have tasers? I was thinking maybe they had a fake thing that they use to intimidate people, but it seems like that would be illegal, too.

The reference to Steve Pierce, I believe, was prompted by a comment left in the wake of an earlier discussion on tasers when someone said that he carried a taser while patrolling Michigan Avenue on his Segway.

So what the hell’s going on here? Are there a lot of Ypsilantians out there packing tasers? Will we all have tasers one day?

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  1. Posted December 20, 2007 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Tasers for personal use are illegal in Michigan. At least that is what the Police Chief said at one of his taser demos.

  2. Professor Plum
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    May I be the first to point out, Steve, that you did not in this thread, or in the previous one, deny having a taser in your hand as you accosted this person who, I might add, was under the impression that you were a police officer.

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Michigan’s taser laws.

  4. KT
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    My new favorite euphemism:

    “A device that uses electro-muscular disruption technology”

    Thanks, OEC.

  5. BrianR
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Steve was actually using a homemade taser-like device that I built for him from a disposable camera.

    If anyone is interested, they make a nice Christmas gift. I still have about a dozen in stock.

  6. Posted December 21, 2007 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Professor Plum,

    Call me, would be glad to talk to you anytime about any rumors or questions you have. 482-9682

    – Steve

  7. Ol' E Cross
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I never leave home without donning the urban self-defense body armor and weaponry package I bought from Brian last Christmas.

  8. egpenet
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Hot Christmas items to snag this weekend are:

    . Bullet-proof backpacks for the kids
    . Bullet-proof clipboards and notebook covers for that special teacher in the house

    … and to all, a good night!

  9. Peter
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    That’s it. I have to visit Ypsilanti, Michigan. You have a crazy woman with wooden teeth, a man with no face AND an armed vigilante on a Segway passing himself off as a cop. It’s a comic book come to life.

  10. Jack Horner
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    As long as we’re asking Steve questions, Steve, is it just a coincidence that your phone number spells “I-tax-ova” as in “I’m the reason the tax is over”?

    (One more lucky number and you could of had “I-tax-ouch!”)

  11. Posted December 21, 2007 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Nah! To continue the conspiracy story, I specifically requested that phone number when I moved here in 1999. I had to pay extra even to get the number. But still that wasn’t enough. I then had to kill off the previous onwers of the number, the Bensons, which I buried at Water Street.

    It was all part of my evil plan. But now it is all ruined by that evil mastermind Jack Horner.


    – Steve

  12. Posted December 22, 2007 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Hmmm. I may not be a “court officer,” but I’m an officer of the court. You may be on to something, here, OEC . . . .

    I did notice that pretty much anyone can buy a taser on the Internet for under $50, so long as they place the order from a state in which they are legal and the order is shipped to a state where they are legal.

  13. Posted December 22, 2007 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Sorry – didn’t finish my comment.

    Which makes the law somewhat ineffective, as one could travel to OH to get one and be back by lunchtime. Spooky, ain’t it?

  14. Posted December 22, 2007 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Peter wrote: “That’s it. I have to visit Ypsilanti, Michigan. You have a crazy woman with wooden teeth, a man with no face AND an armed vigilante on a Segway passing himself off as a cop. It’s a comic book come to life.”

    Dude, this is why I bought my house here. That and the hookers.

  15. Ol' E Cross
    Posted December 26, 2007 at 11:19 pm | Permalink


    Honestly, the spookiest thing is the poor folk who buy tasers as self-defense tools. Surprisingly, I still haven’t been tasered, but I watch the cop shows sometimes. Seems like they grant officers a few seconds for a half-dozen to jump on and cuff a fellow before he goes ape-shit again. (And, if they replace night-sticks across the neck or head [ala, Malice Green] I don’t generally mind the police having them.)

    My friends with their CCWs tell me their classes instruct them never to shoot except to kill. I hope folks with tasers get similar advice, i.e., “you have x many seconds to run-like-hell before your taser victim wakes up very annoyed.”

    I’m not sure why gas station attendants would even need a tazer to harass an old woman at the station. They’d probably be more dangerous with a broom handle. My presumption is, if anyone of actual physical threat engaged them and they responded with a tazer and no-follow-up plan, things would end much worse for them. Personal defense just seems ill-advised for how the devise was intended to be used.

    I’m willing to test my theory. Lock me and Mark in a room and give him a tazer and a pack of cigarettes. Tell Mark his goal is to use the tazer to keep me away from the cigarettes.

    I’ll just take a piece of rebar. You can open the door when the smoke clears.

  16. egpenet
    Posted December 26, 2007 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Hee, hee, hee. Rebar. OMG! Hee, hee, hee.

  17. John on Forest
    Posted December 27, 2007 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Bring $3.45 (or whatever is the current cost) with you and you could just buy the cigs. And $3.45, even in pennies, is less cumbersome than a length of rebar.

    You could smoke the whole pack, the smoke would clear and the jailer would let you out before Mark could finish counting the coinage. Ok, ok, I exaggerate a bit. Certainly you could smoke one of the cigs in that time.

  18. Posted December 27, 2007 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    OEC: The cop shows do present it like it’s shooting fish in a barrel.

    I must admit that as self-defense tools go (my preferred variety being running away at a swift clip), tasers seem to totally suck, mainly ’cause your attacker would have to be right on top of you to use the thing. Seems to me one’s already lost any possible advantage they had up until that point, and if the taser’s not already out and ready for use, seems as if one might possibly experience a tad of difficulty getting it out and applying the shock that late in the game, no?

    If one needs such a security blanket, wouldn’t pepper spray be better? At least you can shoot it from several feet away.

  19. mark
    Posted December 27, 2007 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    “Bludgeon before taze. Not a pinky will raise.”

    My mother taught me that at a very young age and it’s served me very well thus far, OEC.

    And I’m thinking about selling Severed Unicorn Head tazers here on the site. So, if you’re planning to go out and buy one, just hold on.

  20. Ol' E Cross
    Posted December 27, 2007 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    So we all agree. Tazers are terrible for self-defense but great for the boudoir.

  21. jb
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    scroll way back up, way back up … to Peter’s post
    The one about the “man with no face …”

    It has been 4 years since I left Michigan but I had a crazy experience where that guy approached my vehicle, slammed the note on my drivers side window and tried to get in my car! I dropped my entire water bottle and floored it out of the parking lot. I never heard anything again about him
    but that was the scariest moment of my life.

  22. stella
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    That’s freaky. I just mentioned him to someone, for the first time in ages, yesterday.

  23. Ypsi Founding Father
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t seen him in a year. I thought that maybe he’d died. Does anyone know?

  24. BrianR
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Since he was homeless, he was “relocated” to another municipality.

  25. mark
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Are you serious, Brian? I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t know how we deal with the homeless. I mean, I know a bit about the social services available to the homeless here, but I don’t know anything about how we deal with them on the law enforcement side. Do we “relocate” them often, or was he a special case, given the fact that he was aggressive and confrontational? And to which municipality, if I might ask, did we pass the buck?

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