spin cycle: never mind the sound cannon

Welcome to the first installment of Spin Cycle, where we shake our collective fist at people who are bullshitting us in the news.

Today we are going to talk about sound cannons.

First of all: Yes! There is such a thing as a SOUND CANNON. The science of how it works is pretty cool, but the name tells you everything you need to know. It’s like a regular cannon, except it shoots sound instead of cannonballs.

The Chicago Police have apparently gotten their hands on one of these things in preparation for some large protests that are about to happen.

So, to recap: We have a large, tense political protest and a military-grade weapon. If this combination of things sounds dangerous to you, the spokesperson for the Chicago Police would like you to forget about the sound cannon. It is, she says, “simply a risk management tool.”

Ooooh, risk management. Right. Very boring. When you put it that way, a sound cannon is essentially the same thing as health insurance.

I don’t mean to pick on this lady. We all say dumb things at work sometimes. It’s just that I live in Chicago, which means that the Chicago police may — at any time, really — decide to blast me or someone I know with a goddamn sound cannon, and she’s trying to convince us it’s some kind of dull bureaucratic necessity. Okay? It’s a military-grade weapon, not a fucking seatbelt.

Look, I’m glad it’s not my job to make sure no one burns the city down this weekend. But it’s important for everyone — especially the people wielding the giant weapons — to be honest about what they’re doing.

Consider the difference between these two questions: Is it okay to manage risks? Is it okay to assault thousands of people at a time in the name of public safety?