24.10.09

The Guitars at Gitmo

This sounds a bit weird even if it has tragic resonances. One can imagine that in Guantanamo Bay some kinds of music might be considered torture simply because of their quality. Here we are talking decibel levels to “help break uncooperative detainees”.

Musicians have joined the coalition that is backing Barack Obama’s shut down plan for the camp for terrorist suspects. The group is depending on the National Security Archive in Washington to file a Freedom of Information Act request. The executive director says, “the US government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture”.

In interviews some prisoners have complained and one of them spoke about the stress caused because he believed music was forbidden. He has spent seven years in jail. Is it not possible that the years have caused his aural immunity to be affected and resulted in the high degree of strain?

One is not justifying any manner of torture, but these are suspects. Therefore, no sort of force is to be used anyway. The Gitmo persecutions go way beyond Marilyn Manson and the Meow Mix cat food jingle and have already been deemed as gross human rights violations.

If loud music has been used as an interrogation tool, then what about the other tools? This is at least more humane. How many of the suspects have broken down and confessed because of the music?

I am sure people who know more about these things have research documents to back up their claims, but if we flip the discussion then would not loud music anywhere be deemed as torture? Are not such concerts, therefore, making people bondage?

Jayne Huckerby, research director at New York University’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, says that music was not used as a “benign security tool,” but as a way “to humiliate, terrify, punish, disorient and deprive detainees of sleep, in violation of international law.”


I do not understand how music can be a benign security tool. I have met a couple of prison officials here in India and they have used music with prisoners as a meditation device or even to soothe truant criminals. I am afraid this is probably one more exercise in intellectualising an act of power play by the authorities, and it includes the government.

Music is probably a ruse to divert attention from the gruesomeness of the other ones and prevent those from being brought to the forefront and discussed again. Closing down a prison does not condone what has happened there or the paranoid political ideology that prompted it.

Would those guys in prison clothes shut their ears, go down on their knees and spit out bile?

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Here is Eminem singing Criminal:

A lot of people ask me stupid fuckin' questions
A lot of people think that what I say on record
Or what I talk about on a record
That I actually do in real life, or that I believe in it
Or if I say that I wanna kill somebody, that
I'm actually gonna do it, or that I believe in it
Well shit, if you believe that, then I'll kill you
You know why?

Cuz I'm a criminal
Criminal
(You goddamn right)
I'm a criminal
Yeah, I'm a criminal

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