Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Signs of our times...

A new video game named “The Torture Game 2” has debuted recently. It is available for free and it allows you to... well, torture the lead character to death. The player may use any of the following to commit the torture: chainsaw, razor blade, spikes, pistols and a variety of other devices.

In the words of the reviewer: Sure, it’s a computer game in which you, the player, are asked to do horrible, unspeakable, and totally sick, sick, sick things to a defenseless man-like person tied up in some dark room from which he has absolutely no hope of escape. And, sure, one of the horrible, unspeakable, and totally sick, sick, sick things you might, perhaps, do to this man is put a chainsaw to his neck until his head falls off. And while you could choose to do nothing worse than splatter him with paint, most players probably won’t stop there. I didn’t. Curiosity got the better of me and before I knew it I was jabbing giant spikes into his belly, peeling back his face to the bone, and sawing the poor guy’s head from his neck. Because I could.

On torture by Dr. Inge Genefke (Founder of Copenhagen's Rehabilitation Center and Council for Torture Victims) in Vol 74 No. 2 of the New Letters magazine. Translated from the Danish by Thomas E. Kennedy.

The problem with torture is that when you even open the door an inch and say it is acceptable to torture a terrorist to get information about plans that will lead to deaths, it is soon impossible to shut that door again. How much torture can we use on terrorists? Is it also permissible to also threaten their families? And in which cases is torture permissible? The answer is that when you begin to use torture, it will automatically spread, and suddenly we have betrayed all those rights which belong to civilized society.

I remember two brothers who were ordered to beat one another in prison. The torturers knew that the one who hit hardest loved less. The one who hit least was trying to protect the other. Later, they tied the gentler brother to a chair and forced him to watch while the torturers poked out the eyes of the brother who had hot the hardest. They knew that for the sensitive brother, it would be a trauma he would never get over. I met that man, the one who had been forced to witnessed this atrocity, and it was as though he had turned to stone. He only sat there, staring.

Trevor Paglen: KEYHOLE/IMPROVED CRYSTAL Optical Reconnaissance Satellite (USA 129) near Scorpio, 2007; C-print; image from Bellwether Gallery, New York.

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