Monday, March 08, 2010

Normalizing Torture

I'm busy as heck this week but will try to post some DRFBs at least; meanwhile, let me use a time-honored blogosphere copout and just say What Digby Said about the what-took-them-so-long recent media attention to the growth of tasering:

It's all part of the great normalizing of torture in our country, a slow but steady erosion of the moral consensus that people in authority cannot force others to submit to their will using physical pain. Police brutality wasn't fought only because it caused lasting injury. Many people, after all, survived the beatings they took by police. It was determined that it was illegal for police to use pain ("excessive force") to get people to comply. Shooting people with electricity is inflicting excruciating pain and should, therefore, by definition be called excessive force. Instead, in true Orwellian fashion it's touted as a alternative to excessive force and praised for the fact that it can be used on anyone with few ill effects. Huzzah, a torture instrument that everyone loves.
I've often thought that was the whole point of the horrors of Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, etc.: not to collect intelligence(don't make me laugh), but simply to get people used to shrugging, or even laughing, when they hear about people being shocked, frozen, sleep-deprived, threatened with vicious dogs, or even beaten to death while in custody. Get people used to torture in the name of security, and the better easier it will be to use it on Americans who aren't of The Body when the time comes.

If you think that's unthinkable, then read Naomi Klein. It's pretty clearly been thought every other place people working (supposedly) for the USA have schooled people in pain.

Here in SF, our new Chief of Police just got voted down (in a narrow 4-3 outcome) on allowing the SFPD to use Tasers. At least one local columnist is outraged that the police are not being given these "humane" tools -- despite the pain and suffering and the numerous deaths they have caused.
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