The Torture Culture
Ok, here’s the deal. Torture does not work to get information. Period. You do not torture people to get information, you torture people to send information, or rather, to send a message. What is that message?
We Torture People
That’s all the message is.
America is a torture culture. The majority of Americans accept torture, they think it’s ok. This extends right through the society. Sure, it is in its rawest form in places like SuperMax security prisons (23 hour a day isolation is torture), Bagram and Guantanmo, but it extends down. Glenn Greenwald recently wrote a piece on how Bradley Manning is being kept in constant isolation, refused sheets or a pillow, not even allowed to exercise:
Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture. In his widely praised March, 2009 New Yorker article — entitled “Is Long-Term Solitary Confinement Torture?” — the surgeon and journalist Atul Gawande assembled expert opinion and personal anecdotes to demonstrate that, as he put it, “all human beings experience isolation as torture.” By itself, prolonged solitary confinement routinely destroys a person’s mind and drives them into insanity. A March, 2010 article in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law explains that “solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture.”
Ariz. Rep. Michele Reagan, R-District 8, is better known for fighting for new laws, but now, she is speaking about her fight against a lawsuit.Reagan is being sued by her mortgage company after she questioned who owned held the note on her home.
“It’s really scary,” she said, “I think that this really needs to be brought to light that this is happening to people in Arizona.”Reagan had wanted to find out she and her husband, David Gulino, could refinance their south Scottsdale home.
“In doing research, I began to wonder if the lender even owned the note to my home,” she said. “So I sent them a letter and asked them and asked them several things. I want to know who owns my property. Am I paying the right person?”
Soon after, Colonial Savings filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Reagan and her husband. The company says the couple is trying “to rescind their home loan,” or back out on the loan.
“We’re not interested in walking,” Reagan said. “We’re not interested in saying we’re not going to pay. We just need a little help with the interest rate.”“I’m current on my loan. Never missed a payment. We’ve never been late. We were sued for asking too many questions,” said Reagan.
Suing someone who has done nothing wrong, putting them through all that, isn’t about stopping them from defaulting, it’s about sending a message: “this is what we do to people who dare to challenge us in even the smallest way.” Win or lose, the banks have sent a message, and they can easily afford harassing lawsuits, while ordinary people can’t.
Torture is just an extension of bullying, and the message of the bully is always “I can do this, and no one will stop me.”
The porno-scanners and the gropes (which definitely include touching your genitals, btw, I have been “padded down”) are also along these lines. They won’t stop a determined terrorist, but they do send a message: we can do this and no one will stop us. And if you fly on a private jet (ie. you’re rich or important), hey you don’t get groped or scanned.
Likewise, Paypal, Visa, and Mastercard shutting down Wikileaks donations was about sending a message. “It doesn’t matter if what you’ve done is against the law or not, we will shut you out of the modern economy, and no one will stop us.”
In the modern world you’re either a someone or a no one. If you’re reading this, odds are that you’re a no one. And if you’re a no one, you’d better do what you’re told and you’d better not resist, or they will punish you whether it’s just or not, whether it’s legal or not, whether it’s torture or not.
This will only stop when the price for doing it is too high, personally, for the someones.