12 May 2008
Well, it looks like something fishy is going on with a topic that has been in the news for quite awhile now: deaths due to Tasers.
We begin our little story with an article from NorthCountryGazette.org:
North Country Gazette
7 May 2008
Between June 2001 and June 2007, there were at least 245 cases of deaths of subjects soon after having been shocked using Tasers. Of these cases, in seven cases, medical examiners said tasers were a cause or a contributing factor or could not be ruled out as a cause of death.
In 16 cases, coroners and other officials stated that a taser was a secondary or contributory factor of death.
In dozens of cases, coroners cited excited delirium as cause of death. Excited delirium has been questioned as a medical diagnosis.
Several deaths occurred as a result of injuries sustained in struggles. In a few of these cases, head injury due to falling after being shocked contributed to later death.
In 2005, a medical examiner ruled for the first time that a taser was the primary factor in a death. [...]
Fabulous. So what's the big deal? The day after we posted this article under our Fair Use Policy, we received an e-mail as follows:
From: Sasha (at) acegm2.com
As a first time reader at SOT [sic], I found a story about my county in the headlines.
I was appalled. Your headline: Florida, US: At least 245 cases of tase deaths in Pinellas County
Then I went and looked at the original story from the North Country Gazette which states:
"Between June 2001 and June 2007, nationwide there were at least 245 cases of deaths of subjects soon after having been shocked using Tasers. Of these cases, in seven cases, medical examiners said Tasers were a cause or a contributing factor or could not be ruled out as a cause of death." [emphasis ours]
which is a FAR CRY from there being 245 cases of taser deaths in Pinellas County.
So now I doubt the integrity of your entire site...
The problem here is that the word "nationwide" (bolded red text above) was not in the original article. So, was the article changed after we posted it, and then changed again to remove the word "nationwide"?
No. As it turns out, there are TWO articles. The first one is Death In Pinellas County - Excited Delirium Or Murder? This article, does, indeed, say:
Between June 2001 and June 2007, nationwide there were at least 245 cases of deaths of subjects soon after having been shocked using Tasers. Of these cases, in seven cases, medical examiners said Tasers were a cause or a contributing factor or could not be ruled out as a cause of death.
The second article, entitled Pinellas County Taser Deaths - Excusable Or Not? nowhere includes the word "nationwide." (We have taken a screenshot of it just in case it morphs!)
A bit of digging reveals that, according to Amnesty International, the 245 taser deaths were for the entire US, not just Pinellas County, Florida.
However, SOTT.net did not catch this error until after it was brought to our attention by Sasha. After all, the article we used was copy/pasted in toto, as it was and we were relying on the journalist who wrote it to at least have checked out the basic facts! In this case, not only did she not check out the basic facts, she did not even quote the article she was commenting on accurately! So, we must thank Sasha for bringing this to our attention. The end result was, of course, that the title of the article on the North Country Gazette site which is "Pinellas County Taser Deaths - Excusable Or Not?", and the content certainly does make it seem like the 245 deaths occurred in Pinellas County only.
After responding to Sasha and pointing out that the word "nationwide" is no longer (or perhaps never was) in the article text, we received another e-mail:
Please remove my copyrighted work from your website. You do not have permission to reprint my entire original work.
June Maxam, Publisher
North Country Gazette
Obviously, it seems highly likely that June Maxam didn't even bother to go to our web site to check out the placement and context or even the Fair Use notice (that sott.net is a research database). How do we know? Well, she included the SOTT link with the old title. After having the error pointed out to us by Sasha, we had changed the title to "US: At least 245 cases of taser deaths between June 2001 and June 2007". This suggests to us that someone alerted her to the fact that her work was being quoted, that it was wrong, and Ms. Maxam decided to do damage control.
Normally, we would simply point correspondents such as Ms. Maxam to our Fair Use Policy. In this case, however, we now think it's pretty safe to say that the article on the North Country Gazette is really not up to SOTT.net standards anyway, so we are happy to remove it. Again, we have to thank Sasha for that, though Sasha does not seem to be a happy camper. She wrote again today as follows:
Subject:Re: Not very happy with your site - MAJOR ERROR
IN YOUR HEADLINES
Date: Mon, 12 May 2008 09:22:26 -0400
First of all, ANY "articles" from the North Country Gazette seem to be "commentaries" which means no one is reporting the facts. YOUR headline read that 245 deaths from tasers were in PINELLAS COUNTY - the other article says there are 245 deaths NATIONWIDE. LINK- who or what are they "commenting" on?
Since we have already dealt with this above, noting that there are TWO articles on the North Country Gazette website, Sasha is beating a dead horse here. But, she continues:
So who's irresponsible here? If you are "reporting the news" you need to report the news - not just quote some commentary or change the original content.
Again, we note that there are two articles as indicated above, so Sasha's charge that we changed the content is in error. She has not investigated very thoroughly before charging SOTT with malfeasance. She continues:
There is an article in the SP Times in August 2005 that reported ONE death IN PINELLAS and NO deaths in HILLSBOROUGH at that time from tasers. That article I consider to be accurate. So would that then mean that those 245 deaths occurred between 2005 and June 2007 (which I seriously doubt)? There would be an UPROAR in the SP Times had this been occurring. LINK
****Here is an Amnesty International article dated March 28, 2006 stating that there had been only 152 taser deaths IN THE UNITED STATES from June 2001 through Feb 2006. LINK
It seems that they are the agency diligently tracking these deaths. In fact, they report 290 deaths in the UNITED STATES as of late 2007. LINK
What I am saying here is that on a first visit to your site, I have found a "sensational" headline that would cause any sane, logical person to question the credibility of ANY of the content in your site(s). All COMMENTARIES from North Country are suspect and need to be investigated unless they take one to an original report done by a credible entity.
There is certainly enough bad crap going on the world without you having to make it appear to be worse.
Sasha is certainly entitled to her opinion about SOTT, however, as we have noted above, there is a quite simple explanation for the problem: there are two items on the referenced website, Sasha was reading one, and we had included the other on SOTT. And, for the record, as our regular readers already note, we do not just report news, we also carry a great deal of commentary.
In the end, what we can say with a high degree of certainty is that taser deaths are a serious problem in our pathocratic world, and we'll continue to bring you any news and commentary we find on the topic.
For all our readers concerned with any potential decrease in accuracy here on SOTT.net, rest assured that the editor who posted this article has agreed to exile in Siberia.
For the time being, just type "taser" in the Search box above, and you'll get plenty of food for thought! SOTT doesn't need to try to make things appear to be worse than they really are. We might also mention that it is knee-jerk reactions like Sasha's that create many of those problems. Sorry SOTT.net doesn't suit you - don't let the door hit you on the way out.Golden Nuggets - Sexing Up An Iranian War