Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Your Agonizer, Please."

I have a bad feeling about this. Courtesy of Radley Balko, this article about a new weapon with an appropriately Orwellian name: Silent Guardian. Made by Raytheon, it's a ray-gun. Really -- it works by emitting "an invisible, focused beam of radiation - similar to the microwaves in a domestic cooker - that are tuned to a precise frequency to stimulate human nerve endings." And it's supposed to hurt like hell.

Here's the kicker: the beam from the Silent Guardian barely pentrates the skin -- just far enough to cause pain, but not far enough to cause permanent damage. Or leave marks. Silent Guardian is being billed as a humane, non-lethal weapon which can be used to disperse crowds and the like. But as the Daily Mail article points out, it's the perfect torture weapon:

Perhaps the most alarming prospect is that such machines would make efficient torture instruments.

They are quick, clean, cheap, easy to use and, most importantly, leave no marks. What would happen if they fell into the hands of unscrupulous nations where torture is not unknown?

The agony the Raytheon gun inflicts is probably equal to anything in a torture chamber - these waves are tuned to a frequency exactly designed to stimulate the pain nerves.

I couldn't hold my finger next to the device for more than a fraction of a second. I could make the pain stop, but what if my finger had been strapped to the machine?

Dr John Wood, a biologist at UCL and an expert in the way the brain perceives pain, is horrified by the new pain weapons.

"They are so obviously useful as torture instruments," he says.

"It is ethically dubious to say they are useful for crowd control when they will obviously be used by unscrupulous people for torture."

Unscrupulous people? You mean like Bush, Cheney, Yoo, and the whole "enhanced interrogation" crowd? This thing is barbaric, and it's going to be used. This thing is going to cause a lot of pain to a lot of people, and decent people everywhere will curse those who invented it.

Somebody was bound to invent something like this one of these days. Did it really have to be an American company working for the United States military?


society girl said...

LOL. So, you are a Star Trek fan? I believe the "agonizer" devise appears in the original series episode "Mirror, Mirro" -- am I right?

cheerful iconoclast said...

You are correct.