As most of you have probably heard and read, the pentagon has unveiled and budgeted for a ray gun.
According to EETimes;
Procurement of the nonlethal weapon has been incorporated into the Pentagon's budget planning cycle. Called the Active Denial System, the gyrotron energy beam is DoD's first nonlethal, anti-personnel, directed-energy weapon. The millimeter-wave energy beam works by heating the skin's surface, invoking an involuntary "flee" response. The beam is less powerful than a microwave beam.Most criticism aimed (pun intended) at this weapon, known as the ADS, focuses on the risks associated with it. Does it really work as the pentagon says? What are the long term effects? What about ocular (eyes) damage? What about pregnant women?
These concerns are, of course, legitimate and should be addressed and understood. But these concerns are not what worry me.
To me, the implications of a properly functioning ADS are far more frightening than an ADS that malfunctions, or one that does not function as promised.
To the jump!
First though, I must say that there is truth to some of the weapon's proponents' arguments. Imagine for instance, if the US soldiers involved in the infamous "Blackhawk Down" mission, had had access to this weapon. Their enemies hid within crowds of civilians, firing under the cover of children, making it impossible to fire back without killing the innocent. Having this weapon could have saved many lives.
Yes, I can imagine those uses, and there, in those instances it would be a good thing. But those are uses where the ADS is used instead of guns.
To understand the more chilling aspect of this "non-lethal" weapon, let's use our imagination. Let's take a trip back in time to May 3, 1963, to the city of Birmingham.
From the safety of our time machine, we peer upon a scene of chaos and brutality. Well over a thousand African-Americans had been demonstrating peacefully for their civil and human rights. But the power and hatred of Bull Conner and his dogs and water cannons have been let loose upon them. We've seen these images before, they've become part of our history. And alongside the demonstrators, we see the cameras recording. And we know that these scenes will soon be broadcast to a shocked and disgusted nation. These images would play an important part in waking our nation from its slumber. The visage of violence set upon the non-violent would serve the cause of the just and change us forever.
Enter Rod Serling.
Now, let's play a bit with history. Let's take away the dogs and the water cannons and give Bull Conner and his thugs the ADS.
We see a crowd marching. We see a truck with what looks like a radar dish on its roof. We hear nothing.
But the crowd backs away, they seem agitated, and they run away.
No footage airs that night. Nothing extraordinary happened. Those "negroes" gave up so easily, they certainly can't be THAT upset. There is no outrage. There is no awakening. The civil rights movement can wait.
Fast forward to 2007+. Do we know what is in our future? What demonstrations will we need to have? What demonstrations will be stillborn? Hard to have 100,000 gather when the crowd can't grow past 100.
Without scenes of violence set upon the non-violent, what will make the news?
The perfect non-lethal weapon. It's a nightmare in my mind.