Monday, June 1, 2009

Definition of "Excessive force"

There has been a lot of hue and cry over the attacks on Indian students in Australia. There are over 90000 Indian students in Australia and there have been half a dozen attacks recently of varying degrees ranging from beatings to a stabbing. There has been a lot of noise over the racial nature of violence.

What I would like to know is whether the brutal beating of the non-racial nature is any less painful or acceptable? A lot of the acts were robberies gone wrong. In any case racism of all variety is deplorable but to condemn the whole country as racist because of a few nuts is ridiculous. A lot of my relatives have been and some still are in Australia and they can't stop singing it's praises.

The role of media in whipping up of hysteria is verging on unethical. There have been no figures given on the comparisons in attacks on Indian students and other students, number of attacks in past and the current year. The TV channels in their enthusiasm now are going hysterical on the alleged excessive force used by the Melbourne police in removing protesters forcibly who refused to move from one of the busiest streets of Melbourne. Excessive force? You've got to be kidding me? I saw the footage and I saw nothing of that sort. Besides, what were they supposed to do? Let them sit there and inconvenience everybody else?

The students by their mass protest and blocking of the streets have done their cause no good. I'll quote Ayn Rand who said the following:
The forcible occupation of another man’s property or the obstruction of a public thoroughfare is so blatant a violation of rights that an attempt to justify it becomes an abrogation of morality. An individual has no right to do a “sit-in” in the home or office of a person he disagrees with—and he does not acquire such a right by joining a gang. Rights are not a matter of numbers—and there can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.
The Cashing-In: The Student ‘Rebellion,’” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 256.

In India a protest like this would not be handled by Indian police with such civility. There are far more worse things police here do then bodily lift protesters. These include tear gassing, cane charge, hitting with rifle-butts (I was beaten-up during anti-reservation protest in 91, couldn't walk for three days), molestation of women (the whole country saw the groping of doctors on TV), shooting- frequently resulting in seriously wounding and killing of protesters (retaliation against stone throwing).

The hypocrisy of the Indian media is unbelievable. I have not seen such massive collective cry of outrage by the media in recent past over the far more serious violations by the police in India. If the conduct of Aussie police is labeled "excessive force", I wonder if we can ever find the right words to suitably describe the barbaric behavior of the Indian police.


JG said...

Fantastic post. Great clarity brought by you to the principles and morality involved in this issue.
Last year, January, there was an Indian student at Duke University tragically murdered -for a few dollars they showed total disregard for human life. I was in India at the time and saw the beginnings of a similar type of racial accusation begin in the local TOI, with the news story bringing up other diverse and unrelated murders of Indian students in other parts of the US and trying to pull a racial slant. Thankfully it did not escalate to the point at which the Australia situation is. The murdererer/s of the Duke student went on to commit the heinous crime of killing yet again - a beautiful, promising, young student from UNC campus -she happened to be white. (He is presently in jail -I hope they give him capital punishment -the evidence against him is conclusive and without doubt.)
Congrats on a very well-written and moral post.

Rajesh said...

Thanks Jasmine.
I normally don't like to comment on local media but this one really irritated me. This is one of the times when I really appriciated having a blog where I can blow off the steam (the objectivist way). It's a good survival tool for surviving in a irrational and a chaotic place.

Luke Baggins said...

When a protestor, or anyone, throws stones at the police, or anyone who happens to be armed with something better than a stone, doesn't the victim of the stone attack have the right to defend himself with the most efficient means available?

I don't see how you can object to police shooting people who attack them in large groups with potentially lethal projectiles.

Rajesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rajesh said...

Indian police when retaliating- against stone throwing mobs or peaceful ones, straightaway aim to kill. The police manual also instructs them to shoot below the waist, which they ignore.

In a lot of cases innocent people who are not even present at the scene are killed due to use of rifles which are essentially combat weapons being used. The stray bullets have been known to kill people in their houses a kilometer away from the scene of riot.

Shoot to kill orders are passed frequently in disturbed area's and anybody spotted outside is shot without any warning. Besides the shootings, the brutality of force used on peaceful protests is quite unnecessary.

My point is that the amount of retaliatory force used is disproportionate. The modern methods of riot control which are effective and used in a lot of other places are totally missing.