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.