http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Denial_System

The ADS works by directing electromagnetic radiation at a frequency of 95 GHz[3] toward the subjects. The waves excite water molecules in the epidermis to around 55 °C (130 degrees Fahrenheit), causing an intensely painful burning sensation. While not actually burning the skin, the burning sensation is similar to that of a light bulb being pressed against the skin.[3] The focused beam can be directed at targets at a range of just under half a kilometer, or 500 yards[4]. The device can penetrate thick clothing, although not walls
Non-lethal ... and yet for how many of us is there the eerie (and unsavoury?) image of Martian tripods unleashing raygun pain (if not death)upon the man in the street?

Obviously I can see the benefit of avoiding military or police having to fire deadly bullets into protesting crowds ...

But what about the temptation to use "pain rays" on people who just want to protest a government's policies etc? (Anti-Global Capitalism protests, or anti-War protests, or Civil Rights protests?)

Some governments would never dare shoot bullets at their citizens ... but to what extent will "control" be used to prevent demonstrations when the issue isn't "blood in the streets" but rather "we only made them feel uncomfortable enough to go home" etc?

Anyhow, I was just wondering what do folks here think about a "pain ray" and its possible uses?

Where's the threshold between "non-damaging control" and "torture" here? Is inflicting PAIN without dealing with the consequences acceptable?