Note: I started writing this a few days ago and then never got to finish it, so it’s a little old… better late than never though, right?
Lately, it seems like the military is taking its weapons development cues from a bunch of sci-fi buffs and gamers. First, the Navy comes out with a rail gun, a truly frightening weapon a la Quake II. And earlier this week, the media reported on a new piece of weaponry being developed by the u.s. military – a ray gun (!!!) that makes its targets feel like they’re about to burst into flames, though it supposedly does no actual harm to them. From the AP article:
During the first media demonstration of the weapon Wednesday, airmen fired beams from a large dish antenna mounted atop a Humvee at people pretending to be rioters and acting out other scenarios that U.S. troops might encounter in war zones.
War zones, huh? When I read this, my immediate thought was, “I guess we know what we’ll be seeing – and feeling – soon at rallies and demonstrations.” I’d put money on it – in the not-so-distant future, police forces in the U.S. will be using this at peaceful demonstrations to “disperse crowds.” I’m glad that the NYPD didn’t have one of these at the RNC in 2004, though what we got wasn’t really much better than this. (I was one of the thousands of people rounded up and kept in jail for days for protesting, like The Unapologetic Mexican, whose blog I recently discovered.)
Apart from the frightening thought of these things being used on protesters here in the states, my reaction is mixed. On the one hand, if this is truly a non-lethal, non-wounding weapon with no long-term effects, then it seems good; anything that might save human lives and avoid unnecessary death and injury is good, right? Unfortunately, though, since the u.s. has a nasty habit of involving itself in unwarranted, unjust wars these days, it’s kind of a moot point, isn’t it? If the whole premise under which something like this could be used is wrong, then it only amounts to reaching unjust ends in a slightly more humane way, doesn’t it? (And that, of course, isn’t taking into account what happens to “enemy combatants” after they’ve been humanely disarmed and captured.)