We said the free speech zone was over there, liberal scum
June 17, 2004 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Weapons that can incapacitate crowds of people by sweeping a lightning-like beam of electricity across them are being readied for sale to military and police forces in the US and Europe. From guns that shoot streams of conductive fibers to plasma that will stop a truck, the military and the police are getting whole new ways to deal with protestors.
posted by dejah420 (29 comments total)
yeah, just protestors.
posted by angry modem at 7:12 AM on June 17, 2004

suggest would work well on these idiots.
posted by n o i s e s at 7:20 AM on June 17, 2004

As appalled as I am by this, as a compassionate human being, the ten year old boy inside of me is screaming, "Suh-weeeeet!"
posted by ColdChef at 7:23 AM on June 17, 2004

In "Soylent Green", they just used big dumptrucks (garbage trucks without the trash-mashing mechanism) to scoop up crowds.
posted by troutfishing at 7:25 AM on June 17, 2004

I predict the growth of non-lethal weaponry will presage a growth in the use of force by police/military forces equipped with them.
posted by infowar at 8:01 AM on June 17, 2004

the military and the police are getting whole new ways to deal with protestors.

of which, the designated "free-speech zones" are probably the most insidious and effective.
posted by milovoo at 8:02 AM on June 17, 2004

I'm not sure the weapon development is a bad thing. Take, for example, the number of people described in the article as having died after taking a taser hit. 40, right? I'll bet police departments across the nation kill that many people with firearms inside of six months. How many of those people would have lived if the police had used something far less lethal?

The fear is indiscriminate use, I think, and that's justified, but perhaps this is more of an oversight problem than a problem with the weapon. If a weapon is designed to take down a crowd, then there could be *very* specific designations about when such a weapon can/can't be used, with career-ending and criminal consequences if they're violated so that nobody gets casual about their use.
posted by weston at 8:21 AM on June 17, 2004

This should come in handy after the election is rigged.
posted by destro at 8:31 AM on June 17, 2004

NEW! From ProtestClean{tm}!
(brought to you by the fine folks at the First Amendment Containment Division of Halliburton Industries)
Highly conductive surfaces allow for the free flow of electricity to all areas of the mobile zone! Airtight doors can be calibrated to drop at any decibel setting, or manually via remote control! Triple-walled high-pressure toxic gas cylinders to prevent tampering! Fault-tolerant gas-release activators reduce and even eliminate bothersome non-patriot protest recidivism! Welded steel fork receptacles for convenient, truck-based, dumpster-like emptying! Galvanized! Easy to clean! Just hose it out!
posted by quonsar at 8:32 AM on June 17, 2004

I agree, the only possible people they need to incapacitate without killing them are "protesters." Everyone else, it's okay to just kill 'em.
posted by kindall at 8:38 AM on June 17, 2004

matteo: interesting analogy to chicago. I mentined this once in another thread, but I remember sitting in a bar once where a beefy guy in his mid-40's was wearing a t-shirt mentioning the last convention in Chicago bearing the legend "Chicago P.D.: We kicked your father's ass in '68 and now we're gonna kick yours."

I wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry or both. But it's scary when current events start to seem like bad reruns.
posted by jonmc at 8:39 AM on June 17, 2004

So what would neutralise something like the lightning-beam? Rubber boots?
posted by Blue Stone at 9:17 AM on June 17, 2004

So what would neutralise something like the lightning-beam?

Rubber body suit (scuba drysuit) or the other way would be to put your body in a faraday cage. If you go with the metal body suit it might heat up.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:34 AM on June 17, 2004

Yeah, if you just wore the boots, it would likely just arc back out of you and ground through something or someone else.

posted by badstone at 9:47 AM on June 17, 2004

Just wait for the lawsuits after some guy with a pacemaker is killed with one of these for peacefully protesting.

Thinking more about it, the protesters could do well for themselves to have their front flank comprised solely of people with pacemakers.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:57 AM on June 17, 2004

Oh boy, these sure would have been handy in Miami.
posted by homunculus at 10:45 AM on June 17, 2004

Can't we already do this with the Ark of the Covenant?
posted by scarabic at 11:04 AM on June 17, 2004

The true insidiousness of these techniques is that it lowers the bar of justification required for action. A protest needs to be fairly violent before police are justified in breaking out batons or guns. But if you have a giant blinding laser, you can just blast a crowd anytime they start to chant too loudly. Who can complain? You didn't "permenantly harm" anyone, right?
posted by 4easypayments at 11:26 AM on June 17, 2004

I was temporarily blinded by a laser once and it was scary as hell. It was only in one eye, so the difference was really obvious. And my eyesight did completely return in an hour, maybe more. But I cannot imagine using a big spread of blinding laser to control a crowd. People would totally panic once suddenly blind, start tripping over and trampling one another. It would cause so many injuries so quickly that I'm sure, if ever used in the field, even one time, it would be immediately discredited as a "humane" control device.
posted by scarabic at 11:31 AM on June 17, 2004

Does this mean The University of California, Berkeley, will shut down?
posted by Postroad at 11:41 AM on June 17, 2004

They should test these things at Boy Scout Jamborees.
posted by ColdChef at 11:43 AM on June 17, 2004

Waitaminute, isn't this the plasma gun?
posted by homunculus at 12:09 PM on June 17, 2004

it's nice that we're developing weapons designed specifically to be used against our own people.
posted by Miles Long at 12:44 PM on June 17, 2004

Well, I suppose it's nicer than having others design weapons to be used against us, but I can't help worrying that in the end it won't matter anyway.
posted by tommasz at 1:22 PM on June 17, 2004

I think I'll keep doing my protesting from behind a nice, safe, computer keyboard.
posted by ilsa at 4:08 PM on June 17, 2004

remember, Saddam gassed his own people!
posted by Miles Long at 4:14 PM on June 17, 2004

I'm not dyslexic, but I read the post as saying "Weapons that can decapitate crowds". Imagine my relief when I read the article to find that they just want to electrocute people. Whew.
posted by quadog at 5:37 PM on June 17, 2004

revolutions in the future will get harder and harder;
to take up arms against the government has become impossible.

Nations cannot afford the instability of a new order;
because citizens cannot possible make effective armies.
posted by firestorm at 7:18 PM on June 17, 2004

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