26 December 2008

A Duel To The Pain

To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose....The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right....Your ears you keep and I'll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, "Dear God! What is that thing," will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever. _PrincessBride
The US Justice Department has its own ideas of what "to the pain" might mean. In order to use pain as a non-lethal weapon against crime, the US DOJ research labs are developing a "pain beam" weapon for use by its agents of the law.
The research arm of the US Department of Justice is working on two portable non-lethal weapons that inflict pain from a distance using beams of laser light or microwaves, with the intention of putting them into the hands of police to subdue suspects.

The two devices under development by the civilian National Institute of Justice both build on knowledge gained from the Pentagon's controversial Active Denial System (ADS) - first demonstrated in public last year, which uses a 2-metre beam of short microwaves to heat up the outer layer of a person's skin and cause pain.
'Reduced injuries'

Like the ADS, the new portable devices will also heat the skin, but will have beams only a few centimetres across. They are designed to elicit what the Pentagon calls a "repel response" - a strong urge to escape from the beam.

A spokesperson for the National Institute for Justice likens the effect of the new devices to that of "blunt trauma" weapons such as rubber bullets, "But unlike blunt trauma devices, the injury should not be present. This research is looking to reduce the injuries to suspects," they say. _NewScientist
Only two cases of second-degree burns have been recorded from thousands of experimental uses of the pain beam. I have had worse from an afternoon in the sun, as have many of my readers, no doubt.

We all know, however, that such weapons always find their way outside of official channels, in the hands of well to do criminals who have a flair for organisation and bribery. Thieves and rapists are already using Tasers to bring their victims to submission. What sort of uses will criminals find for pain beam devices?

Sure, you may see this new P-beamer as a torture weapon, in line for use at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, or perhaps for the secret dungeons under the White House. But what about using it as a proper dueling weapon, for the satisfaction of matters of honour? Is it possible that the fear of pain might encourage better manners among the teeming and worthless generations of psychological neotenates and the academically lobotomised? Could such P-beam devices find a use in today's high schools and universities, as a way of encouraging learning and discouraging delinquency and boorishness? Perhaps, perhaps, and thanks for suggesting it.

Because here at the top secret government labs, we are just the same as all branches of government. We're here to help you. And the bigger and more powerful we grow, the better equipped we will be to provide assistance. Don't worry. Just be good, and we will make sure you are happy. Or, we will at least not beam you.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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