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September 03, 2004

Unbelievable: experimental weapons on hand at RNC

Breaking news: our friend Kevin Slavin (known to many nonfamous nonstrangers as "the man in the 'hate fuck' hoodie") reported on Boing Boing last night that the NYPD showed up at a protest in NYC last night with an experimental long range acoustic device (LRAD) most recently used on insurgents in Fallujah.

Earlier this month, the New York Police Department showed off a machine called the Long Range Acoustic Device, developed for the military and capable of blasting at an earsplitting 150 decibels -- as loud as a firecracker, a jet engine taking off or artillery fire at 500 feet, according to the Noise Center at the League for the Hard of Hearing. The NYPD said it would use the machine to direct crowds to safety if there's a terrorist attack or remind protesters where they're allowed to march. Police said they wouldn't use the earsplitting screeching noise feature at the convention. "It's only to communicate in large crowds," Inspector Thomas Graham of the police department's crowd control unit said.

Luckily, they didn't use the device and our friend Kevin can still hear. But you should definitely read the BoingBoing article to see how much the police enjoyed showing off their new toy-- which looks like something that belongs on the Death Star. Of course its specifications are secret but some "non-lethal" sound weapons have been reported to deafen targets--and to add insult to injury, the sounds can cause you to lose muscle control. That's right, peaceful protesters... "The Man" can now shut you up, deafen you, and make you shit your pants.

Remember the good old days when we used to make fun of the Soviets' Orwellian use of loudspeakers to broadcast propaganda? The presence of this kind of sonic weapon on our own streets is far, far sadder and a real comment on the commitment to free discourse in our fading democracy. Peaceful protesters now know that their chants will be met by a military technology that can not only drown them out but could deafen them.

The only thing worse than hearing W repeat "Americans are safer" and "we've turned the corner" 1,000 times? Hearing them repeated at 150 decibels. Welcome to the future, friends. If you plan on protesting, bring your earplugs.

Posted by jay at September 3, 2004 11:19 AM | TrackBack
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