“How soon are we going to have drones overhead with Tasers on them?”

Benjamin Wittes, a national security scholar at the Brookings Institution who has written extensively about drones, said he thought Mr. Paul’s marathon was a “dumb publicity stunt.” But he said it had touched a national nerve because the technology, with its myriad implications, had already deeply penetrated the culture.

“Over the last year or so, this thing that was the province of a small number of technologists and national security people has exploded into the larger public consciousness,” Mr. Wittes said…

“It’s not merely the black helicopter crowd of the folks on the far right,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups. “What Rand Paul had to say about drones absolutely fired up conspiracy theorists on the left as well as the right.”…

“First they said we are just going to use drones to observe stuff, and then they put Hellfire missiles on them,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “How soon are we going to have drones overhead with Tasers on them?”