“Less Lethal” Weapons

Public Domain image of US Navy pepper spray demo.

After viewing the likely-to-be-censored Al Jazeera documentary “Bahrain: Screaming in the Dark,” it’s particularly creepy to read this August 1 article from Alternet about less lethal weapons available to or anticipated by the military and police around the world. The technologies include blinding lasers, microwaves and sound weapons. Of course, I knew about them all from watching The History Channel. But then, I’m not some Alternet hippie, now, am I?

Here’s Alternet’s Rania Khalek with her take:

The demand for non-lethal weapons (NLW) is rooted in the rise of television. In the 1960s and ’70s the medium let everyday Americans witness the violent tactics used to suppress the civil rights and anti-war movements.

Today’s rapid advancements in media and telecommunications technologies allow people to record and publicize images and video of undue force more than ever before. Authorities are well aware of how images of violence play out publicly. In 1997, a joint report from the Pentagon and the Justice Department warned:

“A further consideration that affects how the military and law enforcement apply force is the greater presence of members of the media or other civilians who are observing, if not recording, the situation. Even the lawful application of force can be misrepresented to or misunderstood by the public. More than ever, the police and the military must be highly discreet when applying force.”

The global economic collapse coupled with the unpredictable and increasingly catastrophic consequences of climate change and resource scarcity, along with a new era of austerity defined by rising unemployment and glaring inequality have already led to massive protests in Spain, Greece, Egypt, and even Madison, Wisconsin. From the progressive era to the Great Depression to the civil rights movement, Americans have a rich history of taking to the streets to demand greater equality.



Possibly related posts: