Friday, April 19, 2013

Drone Protest vs. Slog Drone

rom:  SLOG News and Arts

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COMMENT - Another Post by Eli Sanders regarding his pet drone, which clarifies issues which should be integrated into the debate.   Sander's post questions the assertion by his subject, Paul Constant, that his rights were violated while the SLOG Drone photographed him peacefully reading in the park.  As absurd as Constant's assertion seems, in this context it is being used to deflect the substance of debate away from the real issues.  

This is a technique routinely used to silence objections to actions which do violate our civil liberties.  Quoted toward the end of the article is this, from, "Government entities have far greater powers than private individuals, and without strong regulations, there is the clear potential for government misuse of drones in ways that would harm people. The ACLU was very disappointed that legislation to provide reasonable regulations for government use of drones statewide, which had strong bipartisan support, did not pass in Olympia due to opposition by Boeing. We will continue to push for legislation next session in Olympia." 

Doug Honig, communications director of the ACLU of Washington since 1990, contacted for this commentary, said the quote is accurate, as provided by Sanders. 

Regulatory limitations have not proven to limit abuses by government, however, and other methods for ensuring compliance with the civil liberties of individuals, should include strict liability for violations by those acting under color of law, in this journalist's opinion.  

The same would be true for war contractors, of course.  What would the liability be for hundreds of dead civilians?

Article - Drone Protest vs. Slog Drone 

The view from the Slog drone

  • The view from the Slog drone. In the background, a sign reading: KILL DRONES NOT PEOPLE
I took the Slog drone down to yesterday's anti-drone protest at Westlake Plaza, and to answer your first question: No, I didn't fly it. Just carried it around in a cloth shopping bag, showed it to a few people, took it out for a moment and let it see the stage.

The first speaker was Peter Lumsdaine of the Alliance to Resist Robotic Warfare and Society. (He asked that I link to the group's e-mail address as they don't have a web page yet.) "We need to look very, very carefully at this idea that there are good drones and bad drones," Lumsdaine warned. 

Lumsdaine sees drones ushering in a "new era of planetary history," perhaps "a Terminator future" in which drones will "autonomously enforce their own agendas and their own programming." 

He said this prospect, as well as the way the U.S. government is already using drones for overseas strikes, tell him that "we need to move from education to action, and we need to move from protest to resistance." 

If people don't start to push back against drones, Lumsdaine was saying, it may soon become too late to do anything. For inspiration, he cited the Luddite Uprising.

Another speaker, Bill Ditsler, referenced a statement President Obama made about the bombings in Boston. "Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians," Obama said, "it is an act of terrorism."

Ditsler then said of Obama: "He must know he's talking about himself."
After that, a young woman read a list of names of children she said were killed by Obama's overseas drone strikes. Others mentioned last week's McClatchy expose. Lennon's "Imagine" was played. So was Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land."

Jeanette Bugay, 64
  • E.S.
  • Jeanette Bugay, 64
I showed the Slog drone to protester Jeanette Bugay, 64, and she said: "They don't seem that dangerous."
There are lots of different types of drones, I told her. This one is about as far from a Predator as you can get. "It does look like a toy," Bugay said. "Something children could play with." Still, she told me, "You have to be careful with them."
I wouldn't disagree.
It did seem to me, however, that the anti-drone language at this protest was a little too sweeping. There are a lot of non-scary, and potentially very helpful uses of drone technology. And even Bugay, when she got to thinking about it, brought up a military use for drones that she would have approved: "A drone to come after Hitler."

Dorli Rainey
  • E.S.
  • Dorli Rainey
Dorli Rainey, well known for her front-line role in the Occupy protests, took a less flexible stance. She told the crowd: "Drones are now worse than atomic bombs, because they can go anywhere they like."
Rainey also expressed doubt that the Seattle Police Department is done trying to use drones in this city, and she warned of the day when "drones will evolve into little tiny things that can go through small openings." Like your mouth, she suggested. She worried, too, that in the future babies will be implanted with GPS trackers.
As the group of about 50 marched around downtown during rush hour, past a Boeing office they said had a role in drone building, they chanted: What do we want? No more drones! When do we want it? Now!
Also: Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Killer drones have got to go!
Forrest Taylor, 16
  • E.S.
  • Forrest Taylor, 16
The second chant seemed better than the first in the precision-targeting department. Because, as protester Forrest Taylor told me, not everyone at the march was ready to get rid of all drones.
Taylor himself was holding a sign that read "NO DRONES," yet he was very excited to see the Slog drone—said he had seen one like it online and thought it was cool. "The sign is obviously oversimplified," he told me. "We don't want the missile part of drones. But I don't believe any technology is harmful in and of itself, unless it's used as force against people."
Taylor is 16 years old, and currently studying at the University of Washington as part of an accelerated learning program, and he said he didn't think much of the Luddite references from the earlier speaker.
Would Taylor like to own a drone just like the Slog drone? "Actually, yeah, I would, absolutely," he said. "There are lots of things it could be really useful for—photography, mapping. I'm very interested in technology. It just depends on what the technology is used for and who's using it."
Marching down Fourth Avenue
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  • Marching down Fourth Avenue



  1. Sorry if I offended you with my comments. He seemed far more interested in drone tech than, you know, what we were actually protesting.

  2. Hi Forrest, I was not offended at all. This site is up to skewer drone contractors in various ways. One of these is to expose their hypocrisies and stop the use of drones for any purpose which is not peaceful and in accordance with simple decency and the Constitution. Green Hills Software has a lot to hide and I am outing them using facts and humor. Thanks for commenting. All the best, Melinda