Euthansia by Taser?

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Roughly thirty years ago, when the program still displayed the occasional flicker of satirical genius, “Saturday Night Live”  broadcast a sketch entitled “The Mercy Killers.”

The segment depicted two orderlies played by Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray who prowled the halls of a hospital looking for opportunities to display their twisted sense of compassion by granting a “dignified” death to people who hadn’t requested their services.

“Another dignified death,” pronounces Aykroyd’s character after one patient, who had struggled valiantly while being smothered with a pillow, finally succumbs to suffocation.

“The people we help can never thank us,” muses the orderly as he and his partner leave the room.  “All we can expect is that maybe someday, someone will write a song about us.”

Cue voice-over as Bill Murray — in full, cheese-dripping “Nick the lounge-singer” glory — warbles the theme song:

They kill not because they want to
Because they think it’s right to
In some cases
Have mercy on them and someday they may
Have mercy on you
The mercy killers
Have mercy on you
The mercy killers!

Perhaps someone will compose a ballad in honor of the Florida police officers who fatally electrocuted Preston Bussey III, a mentally disturbed 41-year-old man, early Saturday morning.

The Rockledge police officers were called to the hospital at around 2 a.m. to “help” subdue Bussey, who was described as “combative.” Bussey, who had been involuntarily admitted for psychological examination, “had apparently self-inflicted wounds and was bleeding from his extremities,” reports Florida Today.com.

This suggests that Bussey had attempted to commit suicide, and the police — without any apparent prompting from the victim — did what they could to help.

“Several police officers unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Bussey to follow a doctor’s directions,” continues the report. “Bussey refused, and after repeated warnings to comply `two officers then deployed their electronic control devices [Tasers].’”

It’s worth noting in passing that those implements of electro-schock torture are now referred to as “control devices” — not as “non-lethal” weapons for use in dealing with armed or otherwise potentially dangerous suspects.

Shortly after being “subdued,” Bussey stopped breathing, and died after unsuccessful attempts to revive him. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Brevard County Medical Examiner’s Office are “looking into the cause of death,” perpetrating the familiar post-Tasing charade in which some explanation other than electrocution is sought for the needless death of a helpless person.

12:30 pm on December 20, 2009