Fwd:Re: Non-lethal weapons acting via external manipulation of the Central

Allen L. Barker alb at datafilter.com
Wed Dec 16 22:43:50 EST 1998


kkollins at pop3.concentric.net wrote:

> Allen L. Barker wrote:
>
> > [...]
>
> > "Non-lethal" weapons in the hands of barbarians are torture implements.
>
> > [...]
>
> I Agree... it's "just" that they're a bit better than Murder. ken
> collins

This is getting a little off-topic for the newsgroup, but I will add one more
note.

I understand the argument above, and it is one that has often been put forward
in defense of non-lethal weapons.  In some sense it assumes that everything
stays the same but that safer weapons are available for carrying out violent
actions.  What it does not take into account is that non-lethal weapons lower
the threshold of use for such devices.

Take a political demonstration as an example.  An administration or regime
opposed to that demonstration formerly might have had a few options.  The
police could have opened fire on the demonstrators, used tear gas, or perhaps
clubbed the demonstrators.  In all these cases it is clear what has happened.
The press knows it, the police know it, and the demonstrators know it.  So such
a regime is hesitant to escalate to such tactics for fear of the resulting exposure.

Now suppose there is another option.  There are secret weapons that can be
employed to influence the crowd, which will probably not permanently harm anyone.
Their use can be denied, and they will probably break up the demonstration.  In
this case there is much more of a temptation to use the technology.  The press,
if it knows what has happened, will be less likely to report it.  The result is a
mechanism for a repressive government to better stay in power and to control
both its citizens and the perceptions of its actions.


--
Allen L. Barker
http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~alb





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