August 20, 2008

"The Waterboard Thrill Ride" art installation.

Artforum reports:
Inside the room, decorated with small placards of female Disney characters, a sad-looking plant, Coke machines, and a jukebox, two paramedics stood by a gurney behind the crowd of thirty or so spectators (many of them journalists). [Artist Steve] Powers introduced himself and the event by saying that he didn’t intend the Thrill Ride to be political art, but “more like life drawing,” a representational act that “couldn’t be pushed to the right or the left.” He praised Coney Island, where he has lived and worked for years, as a “good place to confront horror.”... Powers then introduced the professional interrogator, Mike Ritz, clad in black fatigues and combat boots...

The participants left the room for a minute, then burst through the door; Powers, now hooded, was roughly guided to the inclined waterboarding table... After about eight seconds, Powers began to twitch and jerk on the table, and Ritz quickly removed the rag. Dazed and flushed, the artist was led out of the room. Without fanfare or dawdling, though with some mutual mask adjustment, the interrogators repeated the procedure on three lawyers....
Oh, come on! If you want to people to be upset about waterboarding, don't demonstrate it on lawyers.
.... who had volunteered for the experience....
Really now?

So... this is art because.... ?

Make sure your explanation distinguishes the recent Christopher Hitchens waterboarding, which couldn't be art, because if it was, the copycat art project shouldn't get a write-up in Artforum.

This is art because... it was done by an artist.

You can always use that one.

104 comments:

Palladian said...

Tiresome.

Simon said...

It's art because it meets all four of the criteria for art. It is:

"1.Proletarian- art relevant to the workers and understandable to them.

2. Typical- scenes of every day life of the people.

3. Realistic - in the representational sense.

4. Partisan - supportive of the aims of the State and the Party.
"

What do you mean "those aren't the criteria for art"? We've been told what art is allowed to be. At least, it is these things in the eyes of the target audience, who will view it as speaking truth to power by highliting the evils of McBushco.

Henry said...

The Coney Island Cyclone is the most terrifying roller coaster I've ever been on. It has a tiny footprint, very steep verticals, and shakes when you ride through it like a driftwood wind tunnel.

It's not art, though.

Der Hahn said...

Oh, oh, I get it!!!!!! He's a tortured artist.

Palladian said...

lol

Titusshootsandscores said...

I love the Coney Island Cyclone. I love honky tonk boardwalks like Coney Island, Hampten Beach, Old Orchard Beach.

They are slowly but surely dieing away and that makes me sad.

The Waterboard Thrill Ride-not my idea of fun.

AllenS said...

Can I apply for an artist license. I'm not really sure how to waterboard someone, but I've always been pretty good at on the job training.

rhhardin said...

In Imus's last Andy Rooney interview, it came up that Rooney made furniture, and he offered to make something for Imus.

``How about a waterboard,'' suggested straightman McCord.

Ron said...

Gads, my instantaneous glance at the post title made me think Cedar Point had come up with an Abu Grahib(sp) rollercoaster or something...

Well, maybe in the next generation...

matthew said...

Of course it is art. Since we can't really define art, the "it's by an artist" is correct.

However, I think we can almost uniformly agree that it is bad art, keeping with the ever so true maxim - political art sucks.

Scott said...

This reminds me of the arguments tht professional journalists make, i.e., that they are entitled to special privileges because they are journalists, and that we (the great unwashed) have no right to question the judgement of our betters.

harrogate said...

As opposed to what the Installation is referencing, which seemingly you have no problem with.

Political art? "Tiresome."

American Torture?

'Well, there are a lot of considerations etc........'

Palladian said...

Oh harrowing little harrogate, are you saying that tiresome Brechtian agit-prop "installation" art is more nuanced than a serious question of morality, security and intelligence gathering?

If Obambi wins (looking dimmer by the day) expect all these grave concerns about waterboarding and whatnot to vanish overnight.

harrogate said...

I am not praising the installation. I am also not a fan of Obama. But the argument that American Torture is a question of "nuance" make both look damned good by contrast.

And you probably know it is specious to deny that American Torture during an Obama Presidency would make quite a few headlines.....

Joan said...

I know Hitch came down firmly on the side of "torture" just after his waterboarding experience, but I've been wondering lately if he is suffering any lasting effects. With the balm of time, has his opinion changed at all?

Is being really, really scared of dying for half a minute some time in your past the same thing as, say, never being able to lift your arms again? I'd really like to see a follow-up from Hitch and from these guys, too.

This business could be considered art in the sense that any performance is art, but in a lame, pseudo-snuff way. Yes, there are risks inherent in waterboarding, but if the artist (heh) or the volunteers thought the risk of death was substantial, they would never have volunteered. "Thrill ride" accurately describes how they're looking at the experience: the ultimate safe scare, when your reptile brain will take over and convince you that you're going to die, no matter how smart you are. The fact that they were willing to volunteer for the process makes me question whether even they think it really is torture. A horrifically bad experience? Yeah. A life-alteringly bad experience? No word on that yet, but we'd have to seriously question the sanity of anyone would volunteer for such a thing, and the humanity of people who would witness it for kicks.

Here's a thought experiment: substitute any one of the things - bones broken, bayonetting, repeated beatings, etc - that we know happened to McCain while he was a POW, and ask if this "artist" would volunteer to have any of those things done to him, and whether or not he'd have an audience to watch it.

harrogate said...

Joan:

Those who volunteered for the "waterboarding experience" weren't getting the real thing anyway, since they go into it knowing it isn't going to kill them.

So, here's a "though experiment" for you: Would being waterboarding be a "life-changing" experience for someone who thought at the time that they were actually being killed?

Don't strain yourself.

Peter V. Bella said...

Performance art. Remember it is a performance. No real artists or lawyers were injured or tortured in the making of this performance.

Palladian said...

"No real artists or lawyers were injured or tortured in the making of this performance."

Too bad.

Joan said...

Harrogate: Would being waterboarding[sic] be a "life-changing" experience for someone who thought at the time that they were actually being killed?

Harrogate, you don't get it. It doesn't matter what you believe before you're lying on the board. When it's happening, you think you're going to die.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew we weren't going to kill him. Top AQ guys are very familiar with US policies and procedures, and train their operatives how to game the system. He still cracked.

UWS guy said...

Most of McCains wounds were the result of his being shot down (and stabbed by a civilian--a civilian he was dropping bombs on remember--after crashing).

If we as americans have no problem water boarding/sleep depriving/stress positioning etc, and it's not torture...then why do we say that McCain was tortured?

This is actually a good point I think Andrew Sullivan makes.


You can either say that McCain was abused in this way and it was torture, and we do this to our AQ captives and it's torture (and we're willing to go to these lengths anyway--a position I hold). Or you have to say that waterboarding isn't torture and McCain was not tortured as a POW.

integrity said...

Joan, you don't get anything.

That you have access to children's minds is a crime, a real crime. One can only hope you get your karma in spades.

Ignacio said...

Robert Rauschenberg in 1949, when asked to do a portrait of Iris Clert, sent a telegram: "This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say it is."

All of this nonsense, descended from the Duchamp exhibition of a urinal, seemed "liberating" or whatever at the time, but by the time 1970s performance art was in full flower and Carolee Schneeman was fooling around nude on a trapeze and daring anyone not to find this "subversive and transgressive", there was no way to point to any self-proclaimed emperor, however obviously naked, etc.

Karen Finley shoving yams up her butt while screaming about being oppressed, what's-his-name putting a crucifix in a jar of urine, as long as it's SUBVERSIVE & TRANSGRESSIVE it qualifies as fighting the good fight, speaking truth to power, sticking it to the man.

UWS guy said...

When Picasso took apart a bicycle and turned it into a bull some people said, "That's not art, even I could have done that."

The answer to that is, "But you didn't."

m00se said...

UWS Guy - torture and napalm.

We and the bad guys both use it. The key is who is morally "right" in it's use?

Sully (and many others) have drawn a line in sand regarding "torture" because it's morally palatable to debate that non entity rather than wrestle with the deeper moral issues of fighting a limited war (as in Iraq/Afghanistan) vs. a total war (as in WWII or the free fire zones of the Viet Nam war).

Johann said...

It's not torture if being people are volunteering to have it done on them.

Argent Paladin said...

So, waterboarding for the sake of art is praise-worthy, but waterboarding for the sake of saving lives/protecting America is to be condemned? How does that work, exactly?

D said...

This only proves that waterboarding is NOT torture. When I see Hitchens and artists and attorneys volunteering to have their fingernails pulled out that will impress me.

Bob said...

USW - lets see. McCain was a uniformed pilot bombing a legitimate target (a power plant and not the farmer). Member of recognized military, with rank, flag denoting nationality, and carrying a Geneva ID. SOME of McCain's wounds were do to result of plane crash, but bayoneting & breaking of shoulder sockets were clearly not. He was denied medical care, denied religious services. Yes, I can see just how close this is to someone who has no uniform, has no legitimacy as a combatant, who has intentionally targeted civilian targets, and who got medical attention.

Now of course I am also sure that tens of thousands from left marched in denouncing the treatment of McCain and others. I remember all those protests of the torture of POWs. Could you point to those demonstrations? Where might I find those press releases by those on left protesting his treatment? I seem to misslaid those links. Surely that happened, right? I mean it can't be there wasn't any such protests. Next you'll tell me movie stars went over and met with that regime's leaders? I mean they went to demonstrate and denounce that treatment, right? Oh yeah, I forgot.

EDH said...

I believe under international law you cannot "consent' to torture.

Therefore, if waterboarding is truely torture, all waterboarding is illegal torture, whether for SERI survival training or art, consensual or not.

That consent has been observed with respect to waterboarding in military training and now art is to recognize a distinction between waterboarding and torture.

Whereas other acts of torture would never be considered okay because of consent, this "art" therefore demonstrates that waterboarding is not torture.

Ignacio said...

Picasso had quite a long history of established virtuosity and craftsmanship, doing the Tose and Blue period paintings for instance while still in his 20s, and never exhibited cans of his own feces as some have in recent times.

Much of this stuff just amounts to the equivalent of "I'm Chevy Chase and you're not" ......(if anyone can even remember those days in the late 1970s when Chase was hot and such a statement meant anything).

That's one issue. The other item seems at this point to have become kind of a joke. Scary or not, if people volunteer for waterboarding and even repeat the experience (Hitchens did) that's a little different order of business than having a cattle-prod stuck up your ass or having fingernails torn off or being gang-raped or seriously beaten so that bones are broken and teeth are lost.

Or the "telephone" -- which involves electricity applied to the testicles when they call you up.

Nobody volunteers for any of this other stuff. I'm missing something, obviously, when it comes the definition of torture in order to score cheap points.

garage mahal said...

If waterboarding isn't torture and it's saving so many lives, why [according to conservatives] has it only been used 3 times against an enemy worse than Hitler? And if it's so effective why didn't the Vietnamese waterboard McCain? That begs the question why John McCain was at least previously against waterboaring; why does John McCain hate America?

UWS guy said...

HITLER!!!

The Den Mother said...

To "integrity" (ah, the irony....):

Instead of a sophomoric (read: stupid and meaningless) comeback to Joan, why don't you state WHY you think she gets nothing? I realize that may be difficult, since her remarks are very logical, but pretend you're a grown-up and try to add something substantive to the discussion.

To "harrogate":

I'm not sure why you presume torture (which you believe waterboarding to be) would get much media attention during an Obama administration. It didn't get any attention during the Clinton administration.

To "uws guy":

You can only say that "most of" McCain's injuries were caused by being shot down if you consider his capture and everything that happened there a result of being shot down. It is not true that most of his injuries were incurred when he shot down. Most of his injuries were the result of having the shit beaten out of him for several years by Viet Cong sadists, who were most certainly NOT civilians. But you knew that already.

UWS guy said...

Water boarding is the least damaging yet most effective form of coercive interrogation that america practices, it is however, not the only form. We use stress positions and hypothermia as well as dogs and beatings.

Bob, I'm not sure why you're being sarcastic with me or using rhetorical questions. If you read carefully I fully agree with and accept what we as a nation has decided to do to protect ourselves. But I don't go around pretending we aren't doing something that we clearly are.

Some conservatives need to man up and take some responsibilities for our actions. We don't pretend that we didn't round up and imprison (and suspend habeas corpus) for Japanese americans living on the west coast. You can recognize that something is necessary without pretending that it is good.

Jesus Christ would not waterboard a man. But men are not gods, so we do.

Dave said...

The most tortured thing around is the logic being tortured by the Left.

Methadras said...

Little Miss Sullivan must be cooing with glee at this second demonstration of waterboarding. Angry at the first one with Hitchens because Andrew wasn't invited over for a drink first. I wonder how fast it will take for Sully to start equating the morals of torture against every day life? How long will it take him to start throwing around the word 'Christianist' as if it actually meant anything of relevance outside of his own sphere of non-influence.

The effectiveness of waterboarding has been rendered useless by disclosing it's actual practice and it's actual application. If the point of waterboarding is to compel it's recipient to divulge information before it occurs, then it's effective, but now that's it's been outed, it's a pointless endeavor. However, I'm sure the AQ handbook on torture is still being used, but then again, I don't see Little Miss Fancy Pants Sullivan flying out to Iraq or Afghanistan to meet with some AQ delegate and accuse them of using improper torture techniques. As a matter of fact, does anyone know if Sully has condemned AQ's torture manual or OBL for sanctioning it? Hmmm...

Methadras said...

Dave said...

The most tortured thing around is the logic being tortured by the Left.


Logic and the Left don't really go hand in hand. To the left, feelings trump reason. It's on display daily.

UWS guy said...

"Here is how then-Lt. McCain recalled what happened next: "I knew I was hit. ... I radioed Tm hit,' reached up and pulled the ejection seat handle. I struck part of the airplane, breaking my left arm, my right arm in three places, and my right knee, and I was briefly knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection. Witnesses said my chute had barely opened when I plunged into the shallow water of True Bach Lake. I landed in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the city, in the middle of the day." He adds wryly, "An escape attempt would have been challenging."

He recalls regaining consciousness when he broke the surface of the water, but, dragged down by 50-lbs of gear, rapidly touched bottom before he could kick off with his still undamaged one leg. Unable to pull the toggle on his life vest, he sank a second time to the bottom, then again reached the surface, and succeeded in inflating the vest with his teeth before blacking out."


It goes on to say that McCain was beaten by a mob of 20 or so people, kicked stabbed in the groin, spit on and beaten.

Clearly his worst wounds were from the crash (although being denied medical treatment caused lasting problems and nearly killed him.)

Don't be so smug towards me den mother.

Dogwood said...

Garage,

It is my understanding that water boarding was used at a point in the WOT when we A) did not know if additional attacks were imminent and needed to extract any relevant info very quickly, and B) our knowledge of Al Qaida's organization and operations was very limited and we needed to get up to speed very, very quickly.

Since then, most foreign fighters captured in Iraq sing like canaries once captured and the info they give is corroborated with other sources whenever possible before it is acted upon.

In other words, the tactics used are dictated by the situation on the ground, and water boarding was used when the situation was very dangerous and very uncertain.

UWS guy said...

Methadras why don't you just come out and call andrew sullivan a faggot?

Dogwood said...

You can recognize that something is necessary without pretending that it is good.

I don't think anyone is saying or has said that water boarding is a good thing to do. Necessary, yes, torture, no.

Personally, I don't define it as torture because it doesn't inflict permanent physical or psychological damage to the prisoner.

On the other hand, what Al Qaida does is torture for those very reasons. And for the moral equivalence crowd, here is Al Qaida's torture manual.

Water boarding is certainly an aggressive interrogation technique, but I don't believe it rises to the level of torture, so I find the moral preening on the issue over the top.

Tully said...

What, no bleachers for the cheering section?

TitusRideMeHard said...

I have done quite a few performance pieces and installations in my illustrious career.

A few examples:

Poop Paintings
Splewing on Tshirts
Booger Collages
Dancing to A Spoon Full of Medicine while in Marry Poppins drag in Washington Square Park
Singing The Star Bangled Banner with my Asshole
Peeing inside someone else butt
And wearing a tshirt at a gay bar, saying, "George Bush, best president ever.

Daring, sure, but I was making such important statements I didn't care.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Jesus Christ would not waterboard a man. But men are not gods, so we do.

Yes, we do waterboard people, but only because casting them into the fiery pits of hell for eternal damnation is not an option available to us.

Freder Frederson said...

I know Hitch came down firmly on the side of "torture" just after his waterboarding experience, but I've been wondering lately if he is suffering any lasting effects.

And this matters how? Where in the statutory or treaty definition of torture (not the made-up definition of torture by Bybee and Yoo), does torture require "lasting effects".

I believe under international law you cannot "consent' to torture.

You need to check the definition of torture. Your conclusion is flawed.

USW - lets see. McCain was a uniformed pilot bombing a legitimate target (a power plant and not the farmer). Member of recognized military, with rank, flag denoting nationality, and carrying a Geneva ID.

Please provide the section of the International Convention Against Torture or the Geneva Convention that makes these facts pertinent.

(Oh, and btw we did withhold medical care from detainees.)

It is my understanding that water boarding was used at a point in the WOT when we A) did not know if additional attacks were imminent and needed to extract any relevant info very quickly, and B) our knowledge of Al Qaida's organization and operations was very limited and we needed to get up to speed very, very quickly

Your understanding based on what. And again, where in the laws and treaties against torture do these circumstances make the least bit of difference.

Where does it say: "you can torture except when . . ."

UWS guy said...

Without using a euphemism, what is it if not torture?

Things (and actions) do not become something they are not just because they happen to someone other than you.

If a bunch of gang-bangers broke into your house and to extract the information of where your home safe was, repeatedly shoved your head into the toilet what would you call that?

One is done for a good reason (and by good people to bad men), one is done for a criminal reason (by bad people to good men)....the reasons and actors don't change what you're doing.
------

Here's another example. When America goes to war, we inform our soldiers to kill enemy soldiers. The enemy informs theirs to do the same. You cannot assert that only the enemy is "killing people"Both are commiting the same action. The morality of said action notwithstanding.

You may kill for a good cause or a bad, you may also torture in the same way, what you cannot do however, is say that you are not killing people in the former or torturing in the second.

Meade said...

"Oh, come on! If you want [...] people to be upset about waterboarding, don't demonstrate it on lawyers."

I had a divorce lawyer who failed to meet an evidentiary deadline who I'd like to see waterboarded for the sake of high art.

In fact, I'm upset that he hasn't been waterboarded. Worthless lazy ratfink.

Freder Frederson said...

Instead of a sophomoric (read: stupid and meaningless) comeback to Joan, why don't you state WHY you think she gets nothing?

Because torture has a statutory definition. Joan (or Yoo or Bybee) just can't substitute her own definition of torture to excuse what the U.S. government does just because she finds it convenient and thinks it is justified.

There is nothing in the definition of torture that requires it to be "A life-alteringly bad experience". She isn't allowed to make up her own definition of torture. And besides under that standard, law school or a divorce would qualify.

Dogwood said...

I don't consider aggressive interrogation to be a euphemism.

When the police question a suspect for 16 hours before he confesses, did they torture the suspect or just use aggressive interrogation to get the confession?

If I were to place interrogation activities/techniques on a continuum, routine questioning would be on the far left, and the Al Qaeda manual/Viet Cong techniques would be on the far right.

Water boarding isn't routine questioning, which is why it has only been used a few times, but it is not torture either. It is somewhere in between. Close to the line, perhaps, but not quite over it.

As for the gang bangers breaking into my house, I will operate under the assumption that they are going to kill me.

Al Qaeda leadership, however, knows we do not kill captives. In fact, I read one account of a captured Al Qaeda operative stating he wasn't going to answer any questions until he spoke to his attorney!

I'll try to track down the source for that one, knew I should have bookmarked it when I read it the first time.

Call water boarding torture if you want, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Freder Frederson said...

Water boarding isn't routine questioning, which is why it has only been used a few times, but it is not torture either.

You can keep saying it, but just you desperately wish it to be so, doesn't make it so.

Freder Frederson said...

Personally, I don't define it as torture because it doesn't inflict permanent physical or psychological damage to the prisoner.

Well, that may be your personal definition of torture, but it is not the legal one.

Bob said...

Freder - please refer to Geneva Convention III, 1929 on treatment of POWs. Section 4.2 specifically notes conditions required for POW status (rank, uniform, estaiblished military, blah, blah, blah). This is well tread ground.

Now you no doubt have "proof" of our denial of medical attention. You no doubt have pictures of GITMO prisoners being herded about with dysntary, broken bones, broken teeth, and untreated wounds.

Dogwood said...

You can keep saying it, but just you desperately wish it to be so, doesn't make it so.

Not really. I don't care if every detainee in GITMO was subjected to water boarding if those in charge believed doing so would extract useful information that would prevent further attacks and save lives.

However, at this point, we only have three confirmed uses of water boarding, so that is what we can speak to factually.

Bob said...

freder - you may assert waterboarding is torture but it is not in fact defined explicitly by statue.

"And again, where in the laws and treaties against torture do these circumstances make the least bit of difference.

Where does it say: "you can torture except when . . .""


Well actually Article 51.3 of the Commentary: IV Geneva Convention also covers this interpretation:
"Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.". In the words of the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC "If civilians directly engage in hostilities, they are considered "unlawful" or "unprivileged" combatants or belligerents (the treaties of humanitarian law do not expressly contain these terms). They may be prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action. "

As these prisoners were captured in either Afghanistan (where death stoning is permissable) or in Iraq (where capital punishment is also permitted) then I guess we should simply have executed them. I'm okay with that.

UWS guy said...

3 cases of confirmed torture. I'm fine with that actually, I wish those who are also fine with this would man up to it.

Dogwood said...

UWS,

You just want others to agree with your definition, but that has nothing to do with one's masculinity.

Good try though.

Seneca the Younger said...

Jesus Christ would not waterboard a man.

Hmmm.

Let me see: (1) Jesus, being omniscient, wouldn't need to. But (2) Jesus, being both omniscient and omnipotent, could make sure no one is tortured should He care to. While at the same time, (3) Jesus, being omniscient and having created the universe, knows everything his creations will do or have done; all of Time is laid out for Him as a single picture. So if torture exists at all, it exists as a consequence of His creation, and --- since, being omnipotent, He can at any time change anything He cares to change --- if it exists, it exists with His active cooperation.

So, it would appear that either torture doesn't exist, or Jesus would in fact torture a man. QED.

Maybe you're referring to my neighbor Jesus Maldonado, who is a kind and harmless old man who wouldn't hurt a fly?

Seneca the Younger said...

If a bunch of gang-bangers broke into your house and to extract the information of where your home safe was, repeatedly shoved your head into the toilet what would you call that?

Um, I'm not a lawyer, but it sounds to my untutored mind like breaking and entering, burglary, aggravated assault, simple assault, and battery. Probably parked illegally too.

On the other hand, when I was an undergrad long and long ago, the head-in-the-toilet part was called a "swirly".

The real difficulty here is that "torture" is a null word, full of sound and fury, but apparently incapable of definition. It's used entirely as a label to say "I don't approve of this."

UWS guy said...

There's a reason why you were called a sophist seneca...:D

Peter V. Bella said...

If a bunch of gang-bangers broke into your house and to extract the information of where your home safe was, repeatedly shoved your head into the toilet what would you call that?


Getting shit faced?

Freder Frederson said...

Well here is the definition of torture under the International Convention Against Torture:

"torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."

And the definition under the U.S. torture statute (18 USC 2340):

(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;"

If you don't think water boarding is covered by either definition, then I really would like to know how it doesn't.

Brian said...

My cousin volunteered for water boarding...and everything else that came with his distinguished service to our country. Of course, because he is a bad-ass soldier, he said that only a [kitty cat] would break from that.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Freder-

According to the UN Convention Against Torture,

...torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person...

but it does not define what counts as 'severe pain or suffering'. So you are correct, we do not get to make up our own definition of torture, but we do get to use our own judgement about the meaning of the phrase 'severe pain or suffering'.

In trying to answer this question myself, I go by the 'Would I be willing to submit myself to this to prove a point' test. I would submit to waterboarding to prove that it is not torture. I would not submit to having a fingernail pulled out, or electric shock to my genitals, or any of the other sorts of things traditionally considered torture.

I'm open to hearing other tests to differentiate between 'severe pain or suffering', which is torture, and only 'moderate pain or suffering', which is not. Any suggestions?

garage mahal said...

The real difficulty here is that "torture" is a null word, full of sound and fury, but apparently incapable of definition.

So McCain wasn't tortured?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Freder-

Sorry if my last post seems to miss your point, I was in the process of writing in reference to one of your earlier post, and submitted it without reading your post imediately preceeding it.

My previous post covers the UN version. The US version does define 'severe mental pain or suffering'.

However, note that 'severe mental pain or suffering' is defined only in terms of 'prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from...'.

In this case, I doubt that there is prolonged mental harm caused by a few minutes of waterboarding. I'm not saying that means that the waterboarding does not meet the legal definition of torture, as I don't know how to legally parse the phrases. What I'm saying is that if it meets the legal definition of torture, then the legal definition is wrong in that it does not match the dictionary definition.

StratGeo said...

Steve Power's Waterboard Thrill Ride may or may not be art, but it is definitely a political stunt. And, as I challenged Christopher Hitchens after he tried it, it is actually a stunt that proves waterboarding is a long way from real torture. How so? Because none of these people would ever volunteer to undergo anything in the Al Qaeda torture manual

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0524072torture1.html

These people volunteer for waterboarding because they know that, ultimately, it does know harm. They'll never volunteer for the blow torch and pliers treatment. Nor should they. But, waterboarding is a game they will gladly play, like the buffoons who eat cow rectum for money on random game shows.

Dogwood said...

Strat,

I think the critics actually undermine their position on waterboarding by voluntarily submitting to it.

In a perverse way, they are proving it is not torture.

Dogwood said...

Garage,

Here are snippets from the McCain Wiki entry starting immediately after he bailed out of his jet:

Although McCain was badly wounded, his captors refused to treat his injuries, instead beating and interrogating him to get information, and he was given medical care only when the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a top admiral.[33] His status as a prisoner of war (POW) made the front pages of major newspapers.[34][35]

McCain spent six weeks in the hospital while receiving marginal care.[30] Now having lost 50 pounds (23 kg), in a chest cast, and with his hair turned white,[30] McCain was sent to a different camp on the outskirts of Hanoi[36] in December 1967, into a cell with two other Americans who did not expect him to live a week.[37] In March 1968, McCain was put into solitary confinement, where he would remain for two years.[38]


And then this:

In August 1968, a program of severe torture began on McCain.[41] He was subjected to rope bindings and repeated beatings every two hours, at the same time as he was suffering from dysentery.[30][41] Further injuries led to the beginning of a suicide attempt, which was stopped by guards.[30] After four days, McCain made an anti-American propaganda "confession".[30] He has always felt that his statement was dishonorable, but as he would later write, "I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine."[42][43] His injuries left him permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head.[44] He subsequently received two to three beatings per week because of his continued refusal to sign additional statements.[45] Other American POWs were similarly tortured and maltreated in order to extract "confessions" and propaganda statements.

Yeah, he was tortured.

Chip Ahoy said...

Derived!

Lawyers, Ha! Waterboarding should be reserved for witches, like in the early days.

Proof that all modern art is degenerative. So insists Mona as she holds nothing but so much revulsion.

Methadras said...

UWS guy said...

Methadras why don't you just come out and call andrew sullivan a faggot?


Aside from stating the obvious, I really don't want to insult faggots if I had to characterize Ms. Sullvan as such. Can you imagine the hate mail I'd get then? [shudder]

ricpic said...

When's an artist going to have his head sawed off to protest the Mohammedan way of life?....no takers?...quelle surprise.

chickenlittle said...

StraGeo:

Thanks for the
link
, but I can already hear the other side arguing that the manual was just a hoax, a hypocritical example of a government-funded art project.

wlpeak said...

Here's some psyop agitprop for ya...
Abu Gareb was an inside job. Truther that!.

Potus sussed the press was making us look wimpy so our interrogations were flagging. So he schemed the reverse. Photos of 'torture' with extra plausible deniability....Breakfast of champions.
We get a semi-scandal and some lumps, but the locals suddenly are faced with arguing whether we're 'Just' to prisoners or Saddam II. A cognitive dissonance flim flam.

Waterboard? Is that like a wave runner?

Joan said...

“severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm (emphasis added)

Exactly my point. Is Hitchens still suffering from his waterboarding experience? Was he mentally scarred for life, or even for a week? What do the Rangers and other special ops guys say, who have experienced this as part of their training? I'm not saying there is no prolonged effect, I'm asking for some documentation here. I've never seen anything other than the acknowledgment that it is 100% terrifying and everyone breaks. What about afterwards?

matthew said...

Performance artists now-a-day are just cheap imitations anyway. Chris Burden already outdid these guys before (likely before they were even born) by having his assistant shoot him in the arm from 5 meters away for no good reason.

Pogo said...

I am forever grateful that creative types use the descriptive term "art installation" for their pieces, because it warns me -correctly, and every time- that the thingy they want me to look at is in fact not art at all, but crap, and a total waste of my time.

So the term serves as a useful signifier: Bullshit ahead, and I am spared.

It's just angry teenage notebook doodles, utterly forgotten before the doors close.

Fat Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fat Man said...

Scientists are now using lawyers instead of rats for experiments. They are at least three reasons. There are more laywers than rats. The lawyers will do things the rats won't do. The scientists get attached to the rats.

Peter V. Bella said...

I always thought waterboarding was a sport, a variation of surfing. Now, snowboarding, that would be torture.

Freder Frederson said...

Exactly my point. Is Hitchens still suffering from his waterboarding experience?

Except of course the definition includes actions that merely threaten to cause physical pain, suffering or death--and it doesn't even have be against the victim. Threatening a third part is enough to constitute torture under the statute.

Under the U.S. statute, a mock execution would clearly be considered torture, yet you are claiming that making someone feeling like they are drowning isn't.

Of course, a lot of people would volunteer to go in front of a firing squad if they knew that none of the guns were loaded. Does that mean hauling a man out in front of a firing squad and then not killing him isn't torture?

Anyway, Hitchens wasn't tortured. He volunteered to undergo waterboarding. If he had been subjected to it involuntarily, was not certain if he would live or die, and was told he would continue to be waterboarded until he told the people waterboarding him exactly what they wanted to hear, then that would be torture.

Freder Frederson said...

What do the Rangers and other special ops guys say, who have experienced this as part of their training?

They of course are not being tortured. They are undergoing waterboarding in carefully controlled situations for entirely different purposes and it is being carried out by people who are deeply concerned about their welfare. They are no more being tortured than a boxer is committing battery in the ring.

vbspurs said...

Inside the room, decorated with small placards of female Disney characters, a sad-looking plant, Coke machines, and a jukebox, two paramedics stood by a gurney behind the crowd of thirty or so spectators

Crikey. Sounds like my father's old surgery in Harley Street.

Cheers,
Victoria

Lawgiver said...

And the definition under the U.S. torture statute (18 USC 2340):

blah, blah, blah.....
(C) the threat of imminent death; or....


Gee, all those guys on death row are being tortured! My brother used to torture me, of course it was probably because I was evil and kicked him in the balls with my cowboy boots.

PatCA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PatCA said...

Oh, oh, the artist has shocked me! I feel so sad and ashamed, like a big-eyed Keane girl, for my country.

EDH said...

Jesus would not waterboard, perhaps, but what about John the Baptist?

Peter said...

I would smile while I ordered the torture, napalming or even nuking off all Islam to save just one of my grandchildren.
There! I admit it, I love my family more that I love those who attacked us. Happy now?
I also like a large caliber gun so I can shoot through any leftist that the Islamofacist should try to hide behind.

Methadras said...

Freder Frederson said...

Under the U.S. statute, a mock execution would clearly be considered torture, yet you are claiming that making someone feeling like they are drowning isn't.


I think you are objecting to the fact that the unwitting participant in said alleged torture doesn't know that he/she will become physically, emotionally, or mentally harmed by said potential torture and therefore under the U.S. Statue this would be considered torture. In the not knowing that you may or may not be tortured or may or may not be harmed under the conditions stated above, that, under your definition alone would constitute the criteria of torture. No? So in other words, the threat of torture is now considered torture, correct?

How about a compromise. We hire the appropriate lawyers to draft the appropriate warning labels and place them on anything remotely resembling a torturer, torture device, or torture procedure so that the torturee is fully informed of the risk inherent in their upcoming torture which would include the side effects of discomfort, thermal issues, insomnia, mania, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, breathing issues, coma, and possibly death.

I'm sure this will satisfy your legal nuance of what the legal loopholes of torture can entail. Now, did I just disclaim torture or the side effects of any number of medications peddled on TV?

Methadras said...

Peter said...

I would smile while I ordered the torture, napalming or even nuking off all Islam to save just one of my grandchildren.
There! I admit it, I love my family more that I love those who attacked us. Happy now?
I also like a large caliber gun so I can shoot through any leftist that the Islamofacist should try to hide behind.


Here, here. Never let it be said that a terrorist sympathizing leftist always turns to the letter of the law to hide their affinity for generators of evil to defend. Afterall, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Michael McNeil said...

For the sake of science Christopher Hitchens actually had himself waterboarded not just once but twice. After the first time he wondered if his panicky “gag reflex” as he called it would really be uncontrollable if he knew in as advance what to expect and could attempt to fortify himself against it.

So, under the “damp cloth” he went a second time, to emerge just as sputtering in watery terror as before — concluding that yup, it's torture all right.

Despite Hitchens' conclusion, I think his actions, as opposed to words, belie that determination. How many non-imbecilic persons would agree to undergo real torture — joints pulled apart on the medieval rack, say, or bamboo slivers driven under the nails, or impaled on a stake (through guess which orifice) — and then (still not sure if it's torture) have it done to them again!

Once maybe (if one is really an idiot), twice never. Ergo, fear and panic inducing as it may be, waterboarding cannot be “torture.”

bearbee said...

Is Hitchens still suffering from his waterboarding experience? Was he mentally scarred for life, or even for a week?

He briefly explains that he is (continues?) experiencing residual effects of waterboarding.

Note: YouTube actual waterboarding - Christopher Hitchens is WATERBOARDED

Meade said...

If Hitch would just lose some of that truncal obesity, he would breath easier.

Pogo said...

If successful, and I suspect they will be, the effect of the anti-waterboarding efforts, and especially the demand for lawyers for illegal combatants, will be a simple one:

There will be no prisoners; all will be shot.
Problem solved.

For the left to think something else will happen is naive.

knox said...

When's an artist going to have his head sawed off to protest the Mohammedan way of life?....no takers?...quelle surprise.

Decapitation aside, these "transgressive" artists are not only too chickenshit to protest Islam, they're not even creative enough to think of it.

Mr. Forward said...

"Most of McCains wounds were the result of his being shot down (and stabbed by a civilian--a civilian he was dropping bombs on remember--after crashing).

If we as americans have no problem water boarding/sleep depriving/stress positioning etc, and it's not torture...then why do we say that McCain was tortured?"
UWS guy

"In August 1968, a program of severe torture began on McCain.[41] He was subjected to rope bindings and repeated beatings every two hours, at the same time as he was suffering from dysentery.[30][41] Further injuries led to the beginning of a suicide attempt, which was stopped by guards.[30] After four days, McCain made an anti-American propaganda "confession".[30] He has always felt that his statement was dishonorable, but as he would later write, "I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine."[42][43] His injuries left him permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head.[44] He subsequently received two to three beatings per week because of his continued refusal to sign additional statements.[45] Other American POWs were similarly tortured and maltreated in order to extract "confessions" and propaganda statements."
dogwood

Just wanted to put these two comments together so everyone can appreciate what a specious twit uws guy is. Go soak your head.

knox said...

When Picasso took apart a bicycle and turned it into a bull some people said, "That's not art, even I could have done that."

The answer to that is, "But you didn't."


Sure we've all heard that before. Maybe it is art, fine. But it feels so very been done before it has little or no merit. Any discerning viewer would say "yawn, great shock value... try a little harder next time."

Pogo said...

"The answer to that is, "But you didn't."
Knox, exactly.

Novelty, rulebreaking, and adolescent emotionalism do not art make.

memomachine said...

Hmmmm.

Anybody notice the silliness of a form of supposed torture that people line up and *volunteer* for?

bearbee said...

Erotic asphyxiation?

bleeper said...

These guys could get a little edgier by, I don't know, flushing a koran down a toilet? That would be a lot more interesting, at least the reaction would be interesting to behold.

Step up, "artists", there are plenty of people out there you can shock.

sfcmac said...

Oh ferchristsakes. Anyone who gets their panties in a wad over the torture of terrorist scumbags, in the process of extracting information to SAVE AMERICAN LIVES, has never been on the receiving end of their attacks. Either that, or 9/11 didn't hit close enough to your own back yard. IMO, we shouldn't take prisoners, if you get my drift. But, I'm a former Soldier, not a bleeding heart 'activist'.

Crimso said...

"If you don't think water boarding is covered by either definition, then I really would like to know how it doesn't."

How about incarceration? It would undoubtedly (in my case) entail "severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, [...] intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as [...] punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed."

So by alleging mental suffering as a result of incarceration, I can accuse the government of torturing me? Would you, Freder, experience any "mental suffering" by being incarcerated?

jmatt said...

"This only proves that waterboarding is NOT torture. When I see Hitchens and artists and attorneys volunteering to have their fingernails pulled out that will impress me."

Ya know, that's a good point. If the method in question was, say, hooking up your genitals to a car battery, NO ONE would volunteer for that out of journalistic curiousity. That's how you *know* it's torture.

Bob said...

Freder - as the US definition of torture states "prolonged" can you define that? 30-seconds doesn't seem to fit the bill for "prolonged". And should we be charging college students for war crimes now when, as part of a fraternity hazing, then shove some pledge into a toilet for a swirlie?

And, since any AQ terrorist now knows the fact that US waterboards doesn't that now mean that they are basically volunteering for it? I mean they now know how this is going down, right? And we of course will have doctors there as it is administered to ensure their safety. So really its just like we give them just a slice of Ranger training :)