Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On Torture

It is impossible to mock torture because torture itself is derision. It repudiates our commonly held value of physical sovereignty. Such antics as Limbaugh slapping his face and calling it torture, or Hannity offering to be waterboarded for charity are simply of the ignorance of those who have never felt powerless, hapless and without recourse to any manner of relief from being brutalized.

Torture never takes place in the sanitized atmosphere of the torture memos’ “calibrated waterboarding.” Torture sessions are never clinical. Torture takes place in a climate of lewdness, accompanied by jeers, sniggering, sweat, yelling and small and large acts of verbal and physical humiliation. Torture is of the cesspool of human pleasures; it shares the same fountainhead as slavery, serial killing, pedophilia, rape and battering, as well as the financial indifference that does not spare a second of concern over a widow on a pension whose savings will be dissipated in a ponzi scheme. Torture destroys what is supposed to be the inviolate link of human to human, that which makes us one species.

The perfect illustration for torture is the photo of the female soldier delighted by a wall of naked buttocks at Abu Ghraib. No pain here; just the destruction of the human sense of self-respect – both of the tortured and the torturer.

Torture survivors can tell you how a perfectly calibrated double open-hand slap over the ears can burst eardrums. Torture survivors can tell you how many mild open-hand slaps on the cheeks will ultimately bruise the jawbone, dislocate the jaw or shatter it into 14 small fractures. Torture survivors can tell you of the intense pain caused by irrational act of torturers plucking one’s eyebrows and eyelashes, a hair at a time. Torture survivors can tell you of the incandescent pain of hot candle wax dripped on the fingernails. Torture survivors can tell you of how the whole body convulses, the brain clamps down in panic over 15 seconds of water in the nose and mouth and lungs. No air, no air – your entire body screams. And if the dead can speak, they will tell you how difficult it is to calibrate human pleasure at such sessions of sadism, and of how an un-calibrated half-a-sec can lead to death.

Torture is derision. One cannot scoff at it. -- ##


Sheridan said...

You write eloquently about torture. Have you been tortured?

Ninotchka Rosca said...

Almost everyone who was "detained" during the Marcos era was tortured; quite a number did not survive.

In any case, this is really not about me -- but about how we can move from the barbaric assumption that it's okay to inflict pain upon another human being, so long as he/she is helpless.

Albert B. Casuga said...

It's good to know you are as militant as you have always been regarding these matters, Ninotch.

We've grown older physically, but the brave mind will live forever.

How have you been? Since your "Bitter Contry", I have not been able to read your work, but now that I have your blog, I will renew my "subscrption".

Torture -- Mr. Obama abjures it in his policy speech. I am sure American Home Defence has better means of defending the USA. Torture, in the end, will not defend the taxpayers. It is indefensible.

Check out my litblog:

Be happy.