Torture — The Satire

If the vexing question of torture is not resolved by appropriate jurisprudence, it may meet its final demise at the hands of satire.

According to Reuters, human-rights advocates are fighting torture with unusual arguments, including the copyright laws. You read that right. Apparently, they are urging on behalf of Guantánamo prisoners that blasting loud music at prisoners for long periods is torture. I can relate to that. Been in any elevators with piped-in music, or on hold on the phone? Endless playing of Eminem’s music, one detainee related, was the hardest thing he had to endure. “After a while, I felt pretty much dead,” he is reported to have told inquirers. He began to hallucinate — “the music,” he said, “stripped away the last sanctuary you had in your mind.” Lawyers are considering suing the United States government for copyright infringement to end their use of music in their diabolical efforts.

Consider the possibilities. Depending on the prisoners’ tastes, inquisitors can pipe in rap or John Cage until the inmate cracks. “Stop the jargon and electronic music — I confess.”

If music doesn’t work, investigators might try reading stressful literature to inmates. Enough chick-lit or Ezra Pound cantos and many prisoners will throw in the towel: “OK, OK, I’ll talk. Stop it.” Government lawyers will argue that this technique is protected by fair use, and is not copyright infringement.

If that doesn’t work, prisoners can be shown endless reels of avant-garde films, with permission from the patriotic movie lobby, until the prisoners break. “No more Jim Jarmusch — I’ll talk.”

There is a lesson here. We don’t use the arts enough.


This is the seventh in a series of articles on the subject of torture.


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