I don't think we can really be too hard on Lancashire Police for Tasering a blind man in Chorley, just because they thought his white stick was a samurai sword. The no-doubt-still-vibrating victim, Colin Farmer, must surely have known that the authorities would be somewhat on edge. After all, it was only two short weeks before – in the very same Lancashire town – that a branch of Lloyds bank had been held up by a man who was brandishing what the staff took to be an AK-47 assault rifle, but what turned out to be a packet of Quavers.
And this sort of mix-up is hardly new. In 1977, my uncle Raymond was carrying a fluorescent strip light home from the hardware store when he was jumped by a posse of riot police who were under the impression that he was holding a lightsabre. But again, he must have expected as much, as he was wearing a black cloak and having an asthma attack.
Going further back in time, in Ripper-ravaged Victorian London, it was quite common for coppers to attack the nearest blood-stained man who was using a sharp knife to carve up lifeless bodies. Even if he was surrounded by fake parsley and was a butcher. In his shop.
So, forgive the police: they may carry weapons, but these are rarely used inappropriately and if an officer ever sprays you with something, it's probably just Febreze and that thing with which he is hitting your head may only be a black pudding.
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