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Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:04 PM

"Safe" Violence results in Target Creep

1) Weapon X kills indiscriminately or unnecessarily
2) Technology leads to a narrow-targeted or less lethal weapon, Y
3) People use weapon Y like crazy because it is "safe"
4) The gain in safety is eroded by the greater use of weapon Y

Classic example: Tasers. Police start out with no way to project force at a distance except their sidearm. This means a lot of people getting shot. Tasers are developed as a non-lethal way to do the pacification job of a sidearm. The world is now a safer place...

...except that since the taser is "non-lethal" cops do not merely use it in situations where they would have shot somebody. They use it in situations where they would NOT have shot somebody... in situations where it would be crazy to shoot someone. (Belligerent elderly woman in wheelchair armed with knitting needle, someone "mouthing off", etc.)

Result: More cop violence than before, with cops tasing anyone who they find the least bit irritating or inconvenient.


Football. Men played without helmets. The death toll in college football was immense, mostly from skull fracture. (It was a national scandal. Men died every week.) Helmets are added, making the game 'safer.' Then helmets get so good at preventing skull fractures that players start using the helmet as a weapon, driving their head into people. They didn't do this before because it would have killed them. There are no skull fractures in football today, but with the better helmets you can now get hit in the head 500 times without dying, so cumulative concussion syndrome becomes commonplace.

The 'safer' violence expands the incidence of violence.


"Smart" bombs are vastly safer than non-guided bombs. We no longer need to blow up whole cities to get one munitions factory or level entire neighborhoods to target one man. There is much less collateral damage than there would be with old-fashioned bombs... assuming that the smart bombs were only used where un-guided bombs would have been used in the past.

But the smart weaponry is so targeted that we start using it in situations where nobody would have used bombs in the past. We think nothing of targeting one house in a row of houses, one car in a flow of traffic. The standards of certainty in targeting go down. Since the strike will 'only' kill ten people, instead of a thousand, we become willing to bomb on mere suspicion.

We are more and more willing to bomb residential neighborhoods, bomb next to schools, until bombs become our answer to every situation, including situations where nobody would previously have even thought of bombs.


This OP is not for or against tasers or hellfire missiles or football helmets. Just talking about the fact that 'safer' weaponry tends to lead to wider use of weaponry.

Meanwhile, the least discriminating weaponry (nukes and infectious bio-weapons) tend to not be used at all.

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Reply "Safe" Violence results in Target Creep (Original post)
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 OP
Blecht Feb 2013 #1
Kalidurga Feb 2013 #2
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #3
NightWatcher Feb 2013 #5
Kalidurga Feb 2013 #6
kenny blankenship Feb 2013 #8
kenny blankenship Feb 2013 #4
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #7
LineNew Reply .
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #9

Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:07 PM

1. Good summary of the situation (nt)

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:10 PM

2. Interesting but, it still seems prudent to have less lethal weapons.

What would be even better would be non lethal weapons. Say a drone that can incapacitate a target and they can be taken from the scene and arrested without killing innocent bystanders.

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Response to Kalidurga (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:22 PM

3. The less lethal weapons are wonderful in the abstract.

I would rather be tasered than shot.

The point is that our odds of being tasered are much higher than our odds of being shot ever were.

My ods of being killed by a cop may be lower, but my odds of a cop doing violence to me are higher.

It does not need to be that way. If taser use was allowed only where gun use would have been allowed previously it would be great... but that's not the case.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:45 PM

5. Makes you miss the good ol days of pepperspray

OC spray used to be the go to, but not they'd just as soon taze ya as talk to you.

I've been sprayed and hope I won't be tased

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:58 PM

6. I have no doubt police violence has gone up...

But, if lets say I knew that if I was tasered it would mean someone else wasn't killed, I guess I would take the tasing. Also as you say better to be tasered than shot, recovery time if you survive tends to be quicker. It looks painful either way though.

Maybe we should just have LE carry pugil sticks and just have a few very well trained officers carrying guns into call situations where a gun might be warranted such as a domestic violence call or a call where shots are heard.

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Response to Kalidurga (Reply #6)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 01:37 PM

8. These "safe" weapons make violence more acceptable - that's why they exist

It's a mistake to see these material, technical "developments" as progress. They are invented to impede and reverse progress.

If only Bull Connor had had sound cannons and pain rays instead of water cannons and police dogs, the "white moderates" Dr. King famously despaired of in his Letter From Birmingham Jail could have continued looking the other way. The conspicuous use of violence by the system to maintain itself, the visible traces it left, made the injustice of it impossible to deny.

Pain rays can't be seen on videotape. Waterboarding doesn't leave scars or mangled joints. Tasers don't leave bite marks. "Stand off" weapons used by the military and crowd "dispersal" gadgets like LRAD used by police forces exist to make the brutality of coercion whether abroad in the imperial periphery or at home against the domestic population invisible and thus deniable. Because the bully can say Where are the piles of charred bodies ? Where are the bleeding protesters? I'm not doing anything wrong! he can continue to push people around and prey on them with impunity.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:41 PM

4. One of the first uses of smart bombs was in the 1972 Easter Offensive in Vietnam

The US was trying to knockout bridges used by the North Vietnamese. (I don't know how successful it was) but there you have the inaugural use of precision guided munitions. (There were actually some primitive attempts at remotely controlled "flying bombs" in WWII, but they were one-off weapons and the use was the same) It shows you what the initial purpose and intent behind the things were. They were invented for a clearly identifiable technical reason: to destroy hard targets (not soft targets like people) that were especially difficult because of their particular shape or size.

By the Gulf War though, and especially afterwards, the smart bomb was being used to sell the US public, which had enough of war after Korea and Vietnam, on the idea that we could wage wars without the traditional horrors of civilian casualties. It's value had changed from achieving a technical goal and was now primarily political - smart bombs were for use on domestic public opinion. Because they would hit only military targets and bad guys, as we were told over and over, and because such weaponry and other "stand off" weapons would allow us to fight wars with minimal casualties to our own forces, the American public was encouraged to feel there was no guilt anymore in starting war.

Having led the public to shed its horror of war, US political elites shifted to preemptive war as official doctrine, whereas 30 years before they were compelled by public opinion to mouth sentiments decrying war as the worst of all maladies plaguing humanity, a Pandora's Box of evil, to be avoided at all costs. 50 years before they were hanging individual German and Japanese leadership figures for having started a war, and accompanied the verdicts with pronouncements such as "to initiate a war of aggression therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." They still profess to love peace, while dropping bombs all over the place. War is so commonplace now they don't even bother to declare them anymore. It's war everywhere all the time, apply as needed .

Yes, we've come a long way baby, and we wouldn't have gotten here without our gadgets!

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Response to kenny blankenship (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 01:01 PM

7. A strange fact...

According to the Air Force history of our 2003-whenever Iraq war, the majority of air-borne bombs we used were 'dumb' bombs.

One would never have guessed that from the TV coverage.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:36 PM

9. .

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