Stephen Colbert on Tasering: ‘An act of torture to force compliance’

Adrian Horton
·4-min read

Stephen Colbert

On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert opened again with outrage over the killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. On Sunday, officer Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force, shot and killed 20-year-old Wright, who was unarmed, during a traffic stop after she confused her gun for her taser.

“There must be some sort of design flaw in the Taser handles – or in our country, because this is not an isolated incident,” said Colbert, citing experts who said this is not the first time such a deadly mistake was made and it won’t be the last. “Why not? And why are we Tasering so many people?

“I think it’s because when people here ‘Taser’, they assume it’s harmless because it’s non-lethal,” he answered. “But in fact, it’s an act of torture to force compliance. And it’s just possible that our laws are enforced too much with threats of violence for something that considers itself a free society.

“In fairness to the police, they’re just using the only tools and trainings we give them,” he added. “It’s like the saying goes: if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Also, maybe let’s not give the police hammers?”

Trevor Noah

On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah discussed the Food and Drug Administration’s temporary pause on distribution of the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine while it investigates an exceedingly rare side-effect: out of 7m doses, six women developed a severe blood clot disorder within two weeks of receiving the vaccine. “Look, on the one hand, I get it: you don’t want the vaccine for one disease to give you another disease,” said Noah.

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“But on the other hand, it’s six cases out of 7m doses. You realize that means you’re more likely to get struck by lightning 10 times?”

The chances of developing the blood clot side-effect from the vaccine are extremely low – less than one in a million – “but if you get coronavirus, you can get lung damage, heart damage, neurological damage, strokes, seizures, Guillain-Barre syndrome, immune disorders, erectile dysfunction and, get this, also blood clots,” Noah explained.

Related: Trevor Noah: ‘If the police weren’t so quick to draw any weapon then maybe people wouldn’t die’

“I think it’s impressive that Johnson & Johnson even made an effective vaccine with such a low chance of blood clots,” he added. “I mean, Pfizer and Moderna,” the other two major vaccine manufacturers in the US, are “drug companies. Johnson & Johnson makes baby shampoo. I’m surprised this shit works at all.

“There is no question that this is a setback,” Noah concluded of the pause. “It’s a setback for a country that is already dealing with a shit-ton of vaccine hesitancy.”

But “the US is still doing a really good job with its vaccine rollout”, he added. “Which, you have to admit, is a little unexpected. I mean, given how America handled everything else about the pandemic, I wouldn’t have been surprised if when vaccine time came around, America accidentally locked all 300m doses in the trunk of the car.”

Jimmy Kimmel

And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel also addressed the FDA’s temporary pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “Now the White House is scrambling to restore confidence in vaccines,” he said, as “public trust is already a major obstacle to achieving herd immunity”.

Kimmel, in costume as a doctor, then took audience questions submitted via Facebook about the implications of the pause. “First of all, out of 7 million people who received the J&J shot, only six people had the side-effect,” he said to one who wondered if the J&J vaccine was still safe. “That means the odds are less than one in a million,” or 0.0000009 – “more zeroes than in the whole Trump family”, Kimmel joked.

Johnson & Johnson and the FDA also immediately identified the side-effects – “that’s how closely they’re monitoring this”, Kimmel said, “and that should be very reassuring, because six out of seven million means getting the vaccine is safer than not getting the vaccine. You got it? Then get it.”