This was going to happen in some college town the way things were going, but UVA's home town of Charlottesville is now a drone-free zone.
The resolution, passed Monday, "calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court," and "pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."
I guess that's full employment policy for city pilots. On the domestic level, civil-liberties groups are fearful of eyes in the sky on too regular a basis; it was a civil-liberties maven who spearheaded the Wahoo ban.
However, I don't see that much, if any, of a difference between an old-school bear-in-the-air police plane or helicopter than a drone. If the cops see something naughty going on from the air in your backyard, that doesn't strike me as an unreasonable search; that doesn't change if the aircraft in question has a pilot or not.
There does seem to be something...unsporting about drones. "Be a man and fly over yourself" seems to an underlying theme, especially when it applies to using armed drones to take out al Qaeda types.
I'm reminded of the Bill Maher quip about modern Air Force pilots dropping bad juju from 5 miles up being cowards compared to the 9/11 bombers; the latter takes more guts, even if it was badly misguided at best. Add the even more remote nature of the modern drone compared to the stealthy manned bombers of the turn of the millennium and that yeller meme is amped up a notch from that.
The rifle was sneered at when introduced; real warriors used arrows, not bullets. Rifles didn't require as much skill as a bow, which reduced the value of the warrior class as an elite. It also allowed to rain down death at a longer distance which was harder to counter at first.
Some of that might be at play here; drones seem wimpy, somehow.
However, do we want to have live pilots delivering the bad juju? Do we want the occasional death or capture of a pilot if a plane gets shot down or crashes due to malfunction or other accident? Not if we can help it.
The judge, jury and executioner nature of the "kill list" rubs our due-process sensibilities the wrong way; however, having a cruise missile or manned bomber deliver the rough justice won't change that problem. To the extent that things are dealt with from a military perspective rather than a judicial one, "taking out" an enemy combatant is legit; we're not in position to drive up to their hide-out in the back country of Yemen or Pakistan and serve them a warrant.
That warfare approach is the real issue, not the drones. Drones just add that odd, unsporting sense of detachment that will help sway public opinion against both domestic police surveillance use and international military combat use.