This post is a crosspost from my "main" blog. The entry was originally posted two days ago (because, again, I win at remembering to crosspost these things) at Jayeless » What was that hideous noise?
A few weeks ago I wrote about the "mosquito", a weapon gaining currency in the UK as a device to be used against young people. Essentially, it plays an extremely high-pitched noise, so high-pitched that those aged over 25 cannot hear it, whenever young people are partaking in suspicious anti-social activities like standing still. Because God forbid that ANYONE would EVER stand still. In this day and age, we keep going and going day and night that's how busy we are, and no one ever stands still without malicious intentions!!
Anyway. The manufacturer of this weapon seems to be in two minds about the whole thing. On the one hand, the manufacturer is keen to trumpet just how effective the weapon is -- because it almost got banned in the EU for being a violation of human rights, it has to be effective, right? But then on the other hand, the manufacturer doesn't want to be known as the guy who aided and abetted gross violations of human rights, so they tried to play down its effectiveness at the same time. They made a whole bunch of claims about how ineffective their product really is, such as:
- it sounds just like a mosquito
- the sound only becomes unpleasant after 5-10 minutes of exposure
- not all teenagers can even hear it
LIES, ALL LIES. Well, maybe point #3 isn't a lie -- some teenagers are deaf, after all. But points #1 and #2 are definitely lies, at least judging by The Oatmeal's Teenager Audio Test.
See I stumbled upon this test somehow, and foolishly I thought, "Hey, I might as well find out what that supposed mosquito sound sounds like. Know thine enemy and all that." And I pressed the button to play the MP3 to find out.
I was not prepared for how horrible the noise was. Since it's marketed as something that sounds like a mosquito, I was prepared for, you know, SOMETHING THAT SOUNDED LIKE A MOSQUITO. That thing did not sound even remotely like a mosquito. I'm struggling to think of an adequate analogy, but it's a bit like a train screeching to a halt while you're standing on the platform. Except it's much higher-pitched and much louder. So maybe it'd be more like the train screeching to a halt while you were lying under the train.
Within about one-fifth of a second I slammed down on the "I CAN HEAR IT!" button repeatedly to make the noise go away. (I didn't have to hit it repeatedly, I just did in case it'd make it go away faster.) As you might have noticed, one-fifth of a second is quite a small fraction of a second, but it is an even smaller fraction of five to ten minutes.
Let me tell you, if I had to listen to that noise for five to ten minutes, I think I'd burst into tears and start pleading with whoever was playing it to tell me what I had to do to get it turned off. The noise is that bad.
So funnily enough, hearing the actual noise involved in "mosquito" weaponry did not change my mind about its morality. Stories have emerged from the UK about children unable to sleep at night, desperately trying to cover their ears, because some idiot neighbour has installed this hideous device on their property and it has kept going off. Devices and high-pitched noises like this can be -- and inevitably will be -- used against people under the age of twenty-five who have done nothing wrong and don't deserve to have that noise assaulting their hearing. They could easily be used as devices of torture in war (for instance, where US soldiers at Guantánamo Bay now use -- or have in recent times used -- Barney the Dinosaur's "I Love You" to try to break their inmates, they could also use this). I could even envisage unscrupulous teachers using them against their students, having lost all faith in the normal disciplinary system.
I admit, if such people really want to harm youths with high-pitched noises they can produce them regardless of the existence of this product. However, I feel the "mosquito" device legitimises the use of such techniques. Before it might be that such techniques would be considered torture, but now the EU Human Rights Whatever has declared it totally acceptable... well, how can you consider it torture? Even if that's exactly what it is? The EU said it's okay!
But it seems to me that one middle-aged person has gone up to another middle-aged person and made the kind of decision that may benefit middle-aged people, with no risk to them if it doesn't anyway (except losing £350). What's the betting that the EU people who said the "mosquito" was okay were not young enough to be susceptible to it? But where's the consideration for those of us under the age of twenty-five -- don't we get the chance to say this thing is wrong?