Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Brad DeLong links to a new blog by Arthur Silber, Once Upon a Time... About culture and politics, and the narratives that inform them. Silber touches eloquently on several important points in the current torture controversy (Can you even believe that there is a controversy about torture?) and the power of the stories we tell about ourselves. He refers to the Suskind interview in which a Bush aide is quoted as saying, "We create our own reality." You've heard Bush say, "We don't use torture." No matter what horrifying treatment of prisoners is described, it isn't torture because we're doing it and "We don't use torture."

The torture methods under discussion were learned from Communist interrogators not for gathering intelligence, but to force compliance. Silber says of the torture methods, "Make no mistake: this is sadism for its own sake, with no further aim or purpose." It reminds me of the NPR story tonight about the teenager that died in a fraternity hazing incident.

"It's kind of like the medieval castle dungeon," says Keeney. In February, at the time of Carrington's death, the dark and dirty basement would have been very cold, says Keeney. Repeatedly scribbled on the walls was the phrase, "In the basement, no one can hear you scream."

Carrington died during Chi Tau's "Hell Week." Junior fraternity brothers were in charge and were told to be tough on the pledges. ... The two pledges were ordered downstairs and told to do
calisthenics in raw sewage that had leaked on the floor. For hours, according to district attorney Mike Ramsey, they were interrogated and taunted. There were forced pushups and trivia quizzes. Through it all, the Carrington and Quintana were ordered to drink from a five-gallon jug of water, which was filled over and over. Fans blasted icy air on their wet bodies. They urinated and vomited on themselves. Then, according to DA Ramsey, something went terribly wrong.

Carrington collapsed and started a seizure. Fraternity members didn't initially call an ambulance. By the time they did, it was too late. Carrington was taken to Enloe Medical Center, where his heart stopped. At about 5 a.m. he was pronounced dead from water intoxication, which caused the swelling of his brain and lungs. Not a single fraternity brother was there, a fact that still haunts his mother.

Read Silbers blog. It's worth it.

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