Fata Morgana (chimerically) wrote,
Fata Morgana

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torture and "fun"

I just discovered this article - "Regarding the Torture of Others" - by Susan Sontag, who wrote the photography book I've been reading in my photography project. It appeared in the New York Times on May 23, 2004. It gives a lengthy yet riveting critique of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
Even more appalling, since the pictures were meant to be circulated and seen by many people: it was all fun. And this idea of fun is, alas, more and more -- contrary to what President Bush is telling the world -- part of "the true nature and heart of America." It is hard to measure the increasing acceptance of brutality in American life, but its evidence is everywhere, starting with the video games of killing that are a principal entertainment of boys -- can the video game "Interrogating the Terrorists" really be far behind? -- and on to the violence that has become endemic in the group rites of youth on an exuberant kick. Violent crime is down, yet the easy delight taken in violence seems to have grown. From the harsh torments inflicted on incoming students in many American suburban high schools -- depicted in Richard Linklater's 1993 film, "Dazed and Confused" -- to the hazing rituals of physical brutality and sexual humiliation in college fraternities and on sports teams, America has become a country in which the fantasies and the practice of violence are seen as good entertainment, fun.

I'd want to see more evidence that this acceptance of violence is actually growing (for example, abuse, rape, and domestic violence seem to be less acceptable than they used to be - or at least there are more recourses for victims), but it does seem to be much more public, with Cops, reality shows, news sensationalism, internet porn (much of which is violent and/or derogatory), etc.

Here's a second quote:
The notion that apologies or professions of "disgust" by the president and the secretary of defense are a sufficient response is an insult to one's historical and moral sense. The torture of prisoners is not an aberration. It is a direct consequence of the with-us-or-against-us doctrines of world struggle with which the Bush administration has sought to change, change radically, the international stance of the United States and to recast many domestic institutions and prerogatives.


[T]here can be no doubt that the photographs damage, as Rumsfeld testified, "the reputation of the honorable men and women of the armed forces who are courageously and responsibly and professionally defending our freedom across the globe." This damage -- to our reputation, our image, our success as the lone superpower -- is what the Bush administration principally deplores. How the protection of "our freedom" -- the freedom of 5 percent of humanity -- came to require having American soldiers "across the globe" is hardly debated by our elected officials.

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