Russ McSpadden writes at the Earth First! Newswire:
The first time I ever saw a drone I was sweating my ass off, hiking jugs of water through a cactus forest to drop in remote canyons for famished migrants making the deadly trek through the Sonoran desert. U.S. Customs and Border Protection surveillance drones patrol the skies along the border with Mexico on the daily. Like any good activist I gave the drone the bird and then quickly ducked beneath a cholla, which I don’t advise doing, as it is a cactus with a reputation.
Since his inauguration, noble peace prize winning president Barack Obama has increased the U.S. military’s use of drones and rewritten the rules of engagement in over a dozen countries around the world. Hundreds of civilians, including swaths of children and several dozen Al Qaeda operatives have been eviscerated by remote. Even four U.S. citizens have been assassinated by drones, violating due process and habeas corpus protections in the U.S. constitution. Reports put the ratio of civilians to “suspected terrorists” killed by drone strikes at about 50 to 1, meaning roughly 98% of the deaths are “collateral damage.”
In the domestic scene, sheriffs’ departments of dozens of municipalities across the U.S. are already using drones for surveillance and hundreds more are seeking approval for their use. If you haven’t seen a drone outside of CNN, don’t worry, you will. The Orlando sheriff’s department is currently awaiting permission to use drones over Disney, the privacy rights of Goofy be damned. And New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has called drones an “inevitability” in the Big Apple, saying “It’s not a question of whether it’s good or bad. I just don’t see how you can stop them.” Somehow I get the feeling the mayor said that under duress, as in, there was a drone standing behind him holding a gun to his head.
There are even those that would see drones used by wildlife officials to track and kill “problem” predators. In a 2011 L.A. Times article, Montana’s Democratic Senator Max Baucus is quoted cheerleading for drone use in that state’s war on wild wolves. Wait, wolves hunted down by robots from the sky? There are even autonomous pet drones that follow their owner around, like a puppy, and record their every move, like a fucking spook. And then there are the self-proclaimed anarchist beekeepers that claim to have downed a media drone in the U.S with, well, angry honey bees. Oh damn. This drone shit is a very, very serious matter.
Thus I offer this drone demonology, detailing some of the more fascinating, confusing and terrifying political, technical and cultural manifestations of drones in our world.
The Tragicomedy of Drone Pilots, Nintendo and Death from Distant Joysticks:
Lets keep things honest and sadly humorous for a moment. Drone technologies rely on a cultural laziness inherent in the first world. Graphically magical mass media technologies, from scoping out your travel destination with a drones-eye-view on Google Earth to sitting for hours with an Xbox, gorging on the blood-splatter of zombies, terrorists and other enemies-of-the-state through first person shooters, are a national past time in the Western dominated world. When I was a kid I loved to play F-15 Strike Eagle on my 8-bit NES and I used to pretend that I was controlling a real fighter jet that was actually out there in real combat. It was an obvious fantasy and premonition for a boy reared as I was on mac-and-cheese and GI Joe. I’d drink Dr. Thunder, eat Fritos and bag Libyan jets left and right, a 9-year-old Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in training. Had I maintained my childhood imperial innocence, well hell, current military technologies could have turned my boring and lazy boyhood dreams into a boring, lazy and murderous reality. The spoof documentary of the lives of drone pilots from Comedy Central below is a rather genius reading of the evolution of our lazy high-tech gamer culture into an all to real, cybernetic empire of comfy chair-bound assassins:
Read more here.