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Music no longer hath charm

No - this isn't from The Onion - it's from Wired:

Reprieve, a British human rights law group that represents over 30 Guantanamo Bay detainees, is planning to work with musicians to lobby President-elect Barack Obama to end the practice of sonic torture by military interrogators.

Earlier this month, Reprieve and the U.K. Musicians Union launched Zero dB, a "silent protest" over the use of music in interrogations. According to Reprieve, many of its clients have been subjected to hours of music played at deafening volume -- sometime for days or even weeks on end. And the BBC has reported on a particularly insidious practice: using the theme songs from Sesame Street and Barney to break the will of prisoners.

This has musicians furious. Last week, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails even suggested he might pursue legal action to stop the practice.

What we have here is the convergence of two interesting ideas. First, the fact that groups like Nine Inch Nails are freely admitting that their music is a form of torture. Second, the fact that "torture" has been defined down to such things as forcing people to endure Nine Inch Nails songs against their will. I'll admit that this whole thing has me confused.

Another thing -- does this mean that PBS is torturing our children whenever they air Sesame Street and Barney?

The worldwide civil rights community isn't amused though, and considers audio torture to be a particularly cruel form of psychological manipulation.

But seriously - the theme from Barney?

Should you wish to torture yourself of someone you love, Mother Jones has put together a handy Torture Playlist. Please consult UN guidelines before using.

PS - If you're a record company talent scout, then under the Geneva Conventions you have been systematically tortured. Really. Especially if you work for a Christian music label.

PPS - Or a low budget wedding photographer...

PPS - One more (some NSFW ... you were warned)


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Comments (13)

It's kind of perplexing, th... (Below threshold)

It's kind of perplexing, the Torture Playlist. There's some good stuff on there. Much of it thematic torture, which I have to think, can't the prisoners just zone out the words? If they even understand them?

Imagine being a paraplegic,... (Below threshold)

Imagine being a paraplegic, neglected in a nursing home. Nurse Cratchet leaves you alone with a hi-fi set playing the Sesame Street Theme 45rpm record with the "repeat" arm "up". It's not even that loud.
By the 45th session, you wish to die and take Nurse Cratchet with you. If it be to hell, so be it, as long as the Sesame Street Theme is not playing when you both get there.

To be fair to Laprarie, I don't recall him authoring a patented Wizbang "woe is me/ I'm sick" post. And maybe he's a audio athlete; half Vulcan, like Spock.

Can we get someone to decla... (Below threshold)
Ken Hahn:

Can we get someone to declare that playing your car radio at 100 db is torture? Or at least assault?

This has musicians... (Below threshold)
This has musicians furious. Last week, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails even suggested he might pursue legal action to stop the practice.

Heh. If ass-clowns like Reznor object to their work being used as torture, maybe they should stop producing such gawdawful crappy music to begin with.

I ride the Washington, D.C.... (Below threshold)

I ride the Washington, D.C. Metro daily with people who are willingly - nay, insistently - torturing themselves!

Time to ban the iPod!

if you're going talk... (Below threshold)

if you're going talk about his response, at least post reznor's comments: http://ninblogs.wordpress.com/2008/12/11/regarding-nin-music-used-at-guantanamo-bay-for-torture/

This thread, including the ... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:

This thread, including the original post, is replete with facile, flippant comments. They ignore the simple fact that sleep deprivation accomplished by playing loud music is a form of torture. It was used by the KGB and the Japanese during WWII. Mehachem Begin, the former prime minister of Israel was tortured by the KGB in this manner.

Sleep deprivation brings on a form of psychosis. Despite the fundamental issue that torture is immoral, what actionable intelligence do we hope to get from a psychotic prisoner?

This writer is a jok... (Below threshold)

This writer is a joke. This article is a joke. This site is a joke for posting it.

There is only one sentence in the entire mess that actual speaks some truth, and that was the jab at the Christian music industry, but thats neither here nor there.

Note to aspiring internet writers: take a cultural or political subject, one that you know absolutely NOTHING about (that part is crucial), and write an article on it that is less than 200 words so you can fit absolutely no substance in it, dont do any research or fact checking, DONT have a real point or direction to what your saying, and then add a lot of trendy links to other sites with other articles that have nothing to do with the original topic. Then throw in a couple wise cracks so you seem like you actually know what your talking about and so that people will believe you because hey, this guy knows sarcasm - he MUST be intelligent!

And voila! You will be published. There you go writers. The keys to internet success. Your welcome.

But be fair warned, you may have problems sleeping at night if you are astute enough to realize that every day all you do is contribute to the ignorance of society. If you can ignore that, well then get writing and submit a resume to Wizbang.

Dave,Sleep depriva... (Below threshold)


Sleep deprivation and other forms of psychological manipulation have been primarily used to break prisoners down and keep them from organizing. Maybe the thought of radical Islamic terrorists organizing themselves while in captivity doesn't bother you, but obviously our military doesn't think too highly of it.

As far as the use of psy-ops is concerned, I have trouble feeling sorry for those being held in Gitmo. I'm willing to acknowledge that the US and her allies made mistakes in the capture and interrogation of terror suspects in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Gitmo prisoners are there because they are valuable and effective terrorists and too dangerous to be released. And as far as I am concerned, when you sign up for a war primarily against civilians, you should be ready to face what you have coming to you if you are captured. Or perhaps Che Guevara's solution -- lining up prisoners and then emptying a pistol into the backs of their heads one by one -- is a better way?


I'd like to send you some Christian CD's. What's your address?

One more thing -- a bunch o... (Below threshold)

One more thing -- a bunch of artists throwing a hissy fit isn't going to make a diddly-squat's worth of difference if US military personnel are set on using audio-induced sleep deprivation as a technique to break resistance in captured terrorists.

You can just as easily use white noise, or synthesized sound, or have military personnel write and record their own songs.

Perhaps I should have said this last night, but it was late and the absurdity of the whole thing -- especially since Western youth voluntarily put on the headphones and blast themselves into a semi-comatose state on a regular basis -- was just too much.

Mike,Your lack of ... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:


Your lack of compassion, while sad, is irrelevant.

"And as far as I am concerned, when you sign up for a war primarily against civilians, you should be ready to face what you have coming to you if you are captured."

Would that apply to John McCain dropping bombs on North Vietnam, or the Israeli pilots now causing inevitably extensive civilian death and injury by firing missiles and dropping bombs on a crowded city? Would it also apply to the Allied pilots who fire-bombed downtown Dresden or those who dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Is inducing psychosis in captured enemies, or torturing them in other ways by inflicting severe pain and fear of death, wrong, or not? Odd that someone who listens to Christian music, and therefore would be assumed to believe in absolute standards of morality, should argue situational ethics.

"a bunch of artists throwing a hissy fit isn't going to make a diddly-squat's worth of difference if US military personnel are set on using audio-induced sleep deprivation as a technique to break resistance in captured terrorists."

Yes, that's true, but a red herring. The artists are doing what they can to protest something that is wrong and beneath our standards as a civilized nation. Your attempt to compare a captured enemy at the complete mercy of his captors to someone listening to headphones in the comfort of his home is the kind of morally obtuse flippancy I noted earlier.

I suspect in your daily life you are a far better person than that.

Hey whinny liberal doofusdu... (Below threshold)

Hey whinny liberal doofusduff stupidheads where were you went the vietcong were torturing the POWs dring VIETNAM? why were you not making a big time case about this you sniveling wussietards huh,huh,huh?

Spurwing,Torture i... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:


Torture is wrong no matter who does it. It was wrong when the North Vietnamese were doing it to John McCain and other POWs and its wrong when we do it to detainees at Guantanamo or else where.






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