Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I'm watching an interview with Christopher Hitchens about his water boarding experience. He's saying it's definitely torture, because it was a really really unpleasant experience.

I have a bit of a problem with that... after all, he DID it. There's no threat of death, its safe, its just scary. The fact that he was willing to do it at all says a lot about the practice.

I'm guessing there are lots of interrogation methods or criminal punishments that Hitchens doesn't at all consider torture, but that he would never in a million years willingly submit to.

I'm not saying its NOT torture, just that I have problems with his logic.


Mozglubov said...

But according to what I read, there is a threat of bodily harm. Aside from death due to either asphyxiation or cardiac arrest, the subject can also suffer from respiratory damage as well as severe injury from struggling against the bonds. Also, when Hitchens did it he had a lot more assurances of safety, something he pointed out in his article, which essentially made it mostly safe for him. When actually being interrogated, prisoners may not have the procedure halted in time, dramatically increasing the risk of injury or death.

Jolly Bloger said...

Yes, he certainly participated in a watered down (haha) version, and he says himself that it would be far worse without the assurance that he could stop any time he wanted.

I'm not making a claim about whether or not water boarding should qualify as torture, or what should be done about it if it were torture. I'm just saying, to willingly participate in an activity and then say that it is so bad there should be international sanctions against its ever being done is iffy logic.

Mozglubov said...

Fair enough. Still, I think it shows a bit more commitment to journalism than is often shown these days, in which he made the best efforts he could (at least as far as I can tell) to fully understand what is involved with the issue in order to more competently comment on it. Either that or it was sensationalism at its most extreme...

By the way, brilliant pun.