Raytheon’s recent patent application for a new choking sound-cannon has gotten a bit of attention since Gizmodo picked up the story from New Scientist.
My soon-to-be-patent-attorney friend has chided me not to worry, because this is “just a patent application.” And here’s an example of how a little bit of legal education, which strictly de-emphasizes context and the analysis of power dynamics, can be a dangerous thing. There is a substantive difference between a patent application by a random would-be inventor working out of her garage and a patent application by Raytheon.
Raytheon is one of the largest arms dealers in the world. Raytheon has billions of dollars of US government contracts. Raytheon has current contracts to develop crowd control weapons, and is testing them on American prisoners. Raytheon has already developed crowd-control weapons from battlefield technology and sold them to domestic prisons for use here in the States.
Raytheon is girding itself for shifts in US government defense spending, partly by selling more war-weapons to other countries…
…but also by increasingly marketing to ‘non-military customers.’ Such as the Department of Homeland Security and prisons, public and private. These ‘non-military’ customers buy a lot of crowd-control weapons.
Another sonic weapon, developed by LRAD, has already been deployed against first amendment-exercisers here in the States.
It’s really not a giant leap of logic to imagine that this particular patent application might be something nasty, deployed for nasty purposes.
Oh, BTW? Raytheon has been repeatedly sanctioned for illegal and unethical practice – it’s the 5th-worst government contractor, according to the Project on Open Government’s misconduct database. Competing, of course, with the OTHER four major defense contractors.
“The one thing that everybody wants is to be free…not to be managed, threatened, directed, restrained, obliged, fearful, administered, they want none of these things they all want to feel free, the word discipline, and forbidden and investigated and imprisoned brings horror and fear into all hearts, they do not want to be afraid not more than is necessary in the ordinary business of living where one has to earn one’s living and has to fear want and disease and death….The only thing that any one wants now is to be free, to be let alone, to live their life as they can, but not to be watched, controlled and scared, no no, not.”
― Gertrude Stein, in September, 1943, on Vichy France
quoted in James R. Mellow, Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company
“The one thing that everybody wants is to be free.” But this seems to be true only in conditions of the most egregious oppression, the most heinous un-freedom. What does ‘everybody’ in the United States want now, today? What is ‘everybody’ doing for the sake of freedom? Even if only their own freedom, even if freedom in some restricted and unimaginative sense, even if only part-time? What does ‘everybody’ want before it’s too late?
Photograph: Petain’s Vichy cabinet. Reasonable-looking men.
Thanks to the Asia-Pacific Journal and Timothy Brooks for access to this photograph: http://www.japanfocus.org/-Timothy-Brook/2802
The assertion that a picture is worth 1,000 words always struck me as the shop-talk of a propagandist. A picture can strike where we are defenseless, and the pictorial media have been deployed so manipulatively in our era that looking can and should be thought of as a critical act, a skeptical one.
That said, these portraits of people from Cairo may well be worth thousands on thousands of words. Even through skepticism and resistance and all the defensive mental prophylactics, sometimes images of human eyes, human faces, human bodies with their scars and particularities, can be arresting, stirring. I love these faces – their ferocity and vulnerability and plaintiveness and strength. The photographer, Miguel Ángel Sánchez, calls the series The Soul of the World.