>In case you missed it, the other night Sean Hannity told Charles Grodin he would submit to waterboarding (for charity, of course, or to help the troops’ families), as he doesn’t believe it’s torture. Here’s the video:
The next night, Keith Olbermann called his bluff, offering $1000 for every second Hannity endured. A website has even been created where you too can get it on the act of donating money for Hannity’s big event (as if it will actually happen). Of course you read commentary around the blogosphere, and everyone is full of suggestions for other people who should be waterboarded as well, and while I don’t really want to get into that, I think O’Reilly ought to be targeted for this kind of shit he vomits forth on a regular basis.
I’m sure the networks behind all this grandstanding are eating it up, and that makes me sick too, and pretty much all these assholes make me want to puke. Besides, this “waterboard a ‘journalist'”(a word which is a stretch when any of these blowhards are involved) thing has already been done. Christopher Hitchens did it for Vanity Fair last summer; he wrote an article called “Believe Me, It’s Torture” that ran in the August ’08 issue. I urge you to read it; Hitchens is a fantastic writer. Here is an excerpt:
You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The “board” is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered. This was very rapidly brought home to me when, on top of the hood, which still admitted a few flashes of random and worrying strobe light to my vision, three layers of enveloping towel were added. In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.
Sounds like a gas, eh? Here’s the video:
I’ll be curious to see a) if Hannity actually does it, b) what his excuse will be if he doesn’t, and c) what he’ll say about it afterward. I suspect that if we get to “c” he won’t change his tune, because he has his image to protect. And he should be called on it, but I think Olbermann being involved just makes any chance that Hannity would be honest about null. Too much ego and pride involved among these haircuts.
What a lot of these “my ass it’s torture!” types fail to realize is that it isn’t necessarily any single one of these things that is torture in the same sense as something medievel like having your thumbs screwed or rocks piled on you, or hot pokers slipped into any part of your body. It is the combination of all the little things that cause the shock. The sensory deprivation, the isolation, the fear, all of it in combination. It works to achieve pure overload; Naomi Klein touches on it brilliantly in the first 50 pages or so of her magnificent work, Shock Doctrine, and it is friggin’ harrowing. Anyone who can look at these tactics and not see torture is psychotic and should probably be put in a padded cell. Their attitude is more deeply offensive to me than just about anything I can really imagine.
Note: the music playing during the Hitchens waterboarding trial/torture segment sounds suspiciously like Enigma, a musical entity that was often played by the yoga instructor I tortured myself with a couple years ago. Coincidence? I think not. . . .