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Can we at least fire this one media lackey?

When the revolution comes, media lackeys will not be lined up against the wall. I have a better idea, inspired by Robert Johnson of Business Insider, who actually wrote an article titled THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GITMO STRIKE: Detainees Are Treated Absurdly Well. He had the gall to write this:

While indefinite detainment without trial may be morally offensive…

Whoa, whoa, WHOA. Robert, I’m going to have to stop you right there. Indefinite detainment without trial IS morally offensive, so why are you writing a defense of it? Don’t you think that clause just brings your whole argument to a screeching halt? The “While…” tells me already that you are about to completely ignore the morality of the issue.

But go ahead, continue.

…the overriding philosophy on base these days is to treat the detainees really well. Compliant detainees enjoy a selection of six balanced meals, 25 cable TV channels, classes, and an array of electronic gadgetry and entertainment. I’m talking about a Nintendo DS for every compliant detainee, plus Playstation 3 access with a library full of video games.

OK, you seem to think that is sufficient to offset the immorality of indefinite detainment. Which is where my idea comes from: after the revolution, you, Robert, will be confined in a small room with a television, some holy books, a healthy but bland diet, and some video games. You’ll be happy, I presume? It’ll be just like a long, very long, vacation at a secluded island resort!

Except, you know, you actually wrote that the detainees are treated absurdly well, and also wrote this about the guards’ custom of taking apart copies of the Koran.

Zak demonstrated why Koran inspections are important, taking a hardcover Koran, flipping it upside down, and showing the wide opening under the spine.

Last time they stopped Koran searches, he explains, several detainees stashed medication in these tunnels of paper and then took the medication all at once in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Suicide is another effective way of getting media attention, and there remains a rumor among detainees that three simultaneous suicides would force the Pentagon to close Guantanamo — despite three suicides already happening in 2006.

It’s a bit odd, don’t you think, that while on this long vacation with good food and lots of video games, the residents are in such despair that they’re trying to kill themselves.

I’ll warn my wife. Next time I get a few days off and am lounging about eating and playing video games, it’s really a sign that I’m miserable and should be on suicide watch.

Comments

  1. imthegenieicandoanything says

    “Conservatives” talk like this because they, having no connection with reality that doesn’t involve their personal discomfort or pain, are inhuman, thoughtless (or, if retaining some small vestige of conscience, sadistic) human monsters.

    As BG said, they are a sort of “bad animal.”

    May I never talk in person to anyone this empty: I might untie the knot that keeps the human skin balloon they are inflated.

  2. unclefrogy says

    the intensity of the rationalizations engaged in by conservatives to try and prove black is white is astounding. The reason for doing it is predictable while being appalling.

    uncle frogy

  3. CaitieCat says

    It’s horrific. I used to respect and admire the US. I thought that stuff on the Declaration of Independence, and the Statue of Liberty, and all that guff about truth and justice and opportunity for all, when i was a kid in the UK in the 70s, I thought they were true. Then I moved to Canada, and along came the Internet to put the US in my face all the time…and wow, it’s just not any of those things anymore.

    Would it be too on-the-nose to say they’re trying to sell it as Potemkin-on-the-Seaside?

  4. Ulysses says

    While indefinite detainment without trial may be morally offensive…

    May? MAY??!? There’s nothing may about it. Being taken from your home country and imprisoned for years on suspicion of being a suspect is against both US and international law. So it’s illegal. Being questioned using “enhanced coercive interrogation techniques” is also illegal, especially since the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war, as well as the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, international laws to which the US is a signatory. But that’s just the legal aspects. Torture and indefinite imprisonment without trial are immoral. I strongly believe Johnson would think so if it happened to him so it should be immoral if it happens to anyone else.

  5. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Forget the small room and video game, PZ, and send him to the Isle of Wight instead.

  6. Rich Woods says

    If this is true…

    enjoy a selection of six balanced meals, 25 cable TV channels, classes, and an array of electronic gadgetry and entertainment. I’m talking about a Nintendo DS for every compliant detainee, plus Playstation 3 access with a library full of video games.

    Then can someone please arrange to have a couple of my friends sent to Gitmo? Obviously life there is better than life in the UK, where recent welfare cuts are pushing people below the breadline because our superbly knowledgeable government insists that it is possible to live on £53 a week while still spending money on searching for jobs which aren’t there.

  7. says

    Patrick McGoohan seemed to have a pretty comfortable life in The Village, but everyone was still rooting for him to outrun the balloons and get the fuck out of there. What was that about “Give me liberty of give me death”? I’m almost sure that’s supposed to be a Great American Value, such as is alleged to be sacred to conservatives. Freedom for me, but not for brown people with funny names, I guess.

    I hereby sentence Robert Johnson to being forced to watch the entire Prisoner series while undergoing the Ludovico Technique.

  8. robro says

    What is with Business Insider? Just a week ago they ran that preposterous article about Joseph Mastropaolo on humans living with dinosaurs. Co-founder Kevin Ryan is on the board of Human Rights Watch! Maybe he wasn’t watching? The CEO and E-in-C, Henry Blodget, has a checkered past having been barred from working in securities by the SEC because of some skullduggery. They appear to both be out of Yale…maybe they were in Skull & Bones and they’re following some their predecessors footsteps.

  9. yubal says

    Maybe someone should calculate how much money the federal budget saves when they close Gitmo and send those “terrorists” without evidence for guilt or legal possibility to stand trial trial back home. And compare that to how much it cost to lock them up indefinitely.

    That money issue would be (sadly enough) an argument both parties in the senate would consider relevant.

  10. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    “Suicide is another effective way of getting media attention…”

    Oh, those silly detainees, always wanting attention. Killing yourself: totally just like a toddler tantrum, or a cat meowing loudly.

    But seriously, if things are so awesome and resort-like and comfy, why is it a vitally important concern that so many of them are trying to kill themselves? But then, this is a scummy little twerp who thinks indefinite detention is something that can ever be justified.

  11. says

    I’m reminded of the conservative argument that Blacks LOVED slavery and resented the 13th Amendment, because as slaves they were given food, clothing, shelter and had steady employment.

  12. tsig says

    While shooting someone in the head may be morally wrong we offer them six different funeral options all fully halal compliant.

  13. says

    Video games *completely make up for being torn away from their mothers, wives, and children, with no fucking idea how their families can survive without them*.

  14. gridironmonger says

    This is a different manifestation of the same garbage we’ve seen from conservatives/Repubs on issue after issue (abortion, gay marriage, etc.), and the common factor seems to be dehumanization/lack of empathy. They think the policy is just fine because it isn’t hurting THEM; but the minute it does they pretty reliably change their tune.

  15. barfy says

    Gitmo IS absurd.
    But, then, so are your jejune objections.
    America has every right and reason to declare war against Al Quaida and its operatives…the illegal aspect is that we didn’t.
    The “detainees” should have been either classified as criminals of war, in which case, of course, they should still be held, as I, you and everybody in between has not heard Al Quaida surrender or make peace, OR they should be tried as terrorists.
    So, yes, Gitmo is absurd. But, not as absurd as letting most of them go.

    My empathy is real. I truly feel that most of those held at Gitmo are being held illegally. I also believe most of them to be actively hostile, religion-crazed dangers to civilized society. I also believe that they are entitled to humane treatment – not derision or abuse.
    And, PZ, do you really think that you understand what makes these prisoners commit or contemplate suicide? These same people helped organize suicides to fuck virgins in heaven. That’s not how I define despair. What makes think this is any different AT ALL?

    It’s a fine mess America has gotten itself into, that not one single one of you can appreciably or responsibly answer.

  16. imkindaokay says

    I’m talking about a Nintendo DS for every compliant detainee, plus Playstation 3 access with a library full of video games.

    a ps3? that’s overly harsh isn’t it?! no halo, no gears of war, no secure online gaming!
    jheeeeeeez give ‘em an xbox at least!

  17. DLC says

    So, you’re to be imprisoned for n years without trial , without legal counsel and without appeal.
    But you get a PS3 and an outdated stupid holy book. Fuckin’ a. sign me up.

  18. Infophile says

    @17 barfy:

    The “detainees” should have been either classified as criminals of war, in which case, of course, they should still be held, as I, you and everybody in between has not heard Al Quaida surrender or make peace, OR they should be tried as terrorists.

    In order to be classified as prisoners of war, they would have to have been either captured in uniform, or on the battlefield as part of a unit that typically wears uniforms (ie., if you happen to be a soldier and in the shower when a stealth unit captures you, you’re still a POW). While Al Qaeda has identifying symbols that could be used to decorate uniforms (marking of allegiance are all that’s strictly required), they never use them. As such, no one imprisoned at Gitmo was caught while in uniform, and few were even caught on battlefields. As such, they can’t be classified as POWs, as we can’t prove they’re members of Al Qaeda – the only reason POWs can be held without trial is that, being caught in uniform or as part of a unit, there’s no doubt of their involvement.

    This isn’t the case for Gitmo detainees, so they’re being held with no proof of their involvement in Al Qaeda. We therefore should conduct criminal trials in order to prove their involvement in Al Qaeda or any specific crimes they’ve committed. There’s no middle “illegal combatant” ground, much as the Bush administration would have you believe otherwise. If they don’t qualify as POWs, they’re entitled to the rights guaranteed to suspected criminals (habeus corpus, fair and speedy trial, jury of their peers, etc.).

  19. naturalcynic says

    If I’m not mistaken, some of those who are still being held [about 3/4 of the original prisoners have been set free] have been adjudicated as non-a-Q. They can’t be set free since no country will accept them.

  20. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I also believe most of them to be actively hostile, religion-crazed dangers to civilized society.

    Why?

  21. borax says

    So the compliant detainees are treated well (except for being held without basic rights). But what about the non-compliant detainees? I bet that those guys don’t get to play video games.

  22. says

    Rich Woods

    because our superbly knowledgeable government insists that it is possible to live on £53 a week while still spending money on searching for jobs which aren’t there.

    I’ve often thought that, when elected to office, politicians should have to give up all their possessions and be paid a wage equal to the minimum amount they think is reasonable for a person to live on. If they think £53 is sufficient, then why should they themselves have any more than that?

  23. congaboy says

    “At Gitmo, we’ll spoil you with a selection of over 5 balanced meals. Compliant, well-behaved guests receive access to TV and an array of other electronic devices. Relax in your own private meditation chamber and then enjoy minutes of sunshine (viewed through one of our 3 ambient light portals). You’ll feel so spoiled you’d almost think those locks are to keep people out. At Gitmo, you’ll enjoy your stay so much, you may almost be tempted not to try to commit suicide.”

  24. AsqJames says

    I also believe most of them to be actively hostile, religion-crazed dangers to civilized society.

    Why?

    I know this one!

    Because “civilised society” kidnapped them from their home countries and locked them up for years, along with a minority of real religious fanatics, and without any access to moderating influences in the outside world (lawyers, family, etc).

    If you tried to design a process intended to make people hostile and religion-crazed, you’d be hard pushed to come up with anything better.

  25. Rich Woods says

    @LykeX #26:

    I’ve often thought that, when elected to office, politicians should have to give up all their possessions and be paid a wage equal to the minimum amount they think is reasonable for a person to live on. If they think £53 is sufficient, then why should they themselves have any more than that?

    It’s even more telling that a significant proportion of the bastards weren’t satisified with their MP’s salary (~£56000, IIRC) and fiddled their expenses for years. Only three ended up in jail; most got off by apologising and returning some of the money. Now listen to how many of them vilify the unemployed and disabled as shirkers, scroungers and benefit cheats. Fucking hell, there aren’t enough lampposts in Westminster to hang the thieving hypocrites from.

    Anyway, I’m getting off-topic. Sorry.

  26. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Gitmo IS absurd.
    But, then, so are your jejune objections.
    America has every right and reason to declare war against Al Quaida and its operatives…the illegal aspect is that we didn’t.
    The “detainees” should have been either classified as criminals of war, in which case, of course, they should still be held, as I, you and everybody in between has not heard Al Quaida surrender or make peace, OR they should be tried as terrorists. – barfy

    You’re an ignorant twerp, barfy. The USA could not declare war against Al Qaeda, because Al Qaeda is not a state. Infophile has already pointed out why the Guantanamo detainees cannot be POW’s (and there’s no such thing as a “criminal of war”). The only moral or legal course is to give each detainee a fair trial (by which I don’t mean a military tribunal) or immediate release and adequate compensation. Of course, if evidence sufficient to convict was available, they’d already have been tried.

  27. says

    I also believe most of them to be actively hostile, religion-crazed dangers to civilized society.

    Yeah, I also believe that the moon is made of cheese.
    Who thef uck cares what your evidence-free beliefs are?
    But if by “civilized society” you mean the USA then by now they have made themselves some bitter enemies with lots of very, very justified hatred

  28. ck says

    Well, Johnson makes it sound like a pleasant place to spend a few weeks at. After a couple months, I imagine depression would set in for most people even if they were “compliant” for the duration. Isolation, lonliness, feelings of futility, and of being trapped are not conducive to good mental health, even in those who are not predisposed to depression. So, I can’t say I’m exactly surprised that people are attempting suicide.

    What is it with these conservative idiots who think that unemployment and being idle for extended periods of time is pure pleasure? Why do they work if they think unemployment is so great? Most of the people I know that have had periods of unemployment agree that it might be fine for a short time, but working at your chosen occupation has benefits far beyond just the pay cheque.

  29. trucreep says

    Knowing he can rest his head on his pillow every night and sleep well convinces me he is scum. What a fucking disgrace. It’s not just conservatives, any one who is not disgusted by what we’ve done needs to take a step back and think for a second – think if you’re a sick fuck like Johnson or if you’re being willfully ignorant of the fucked up shit we do in the name of America. The men who did so much to found this country would be sickened by what we’ve become.

  30. says

    The men who did so much to found this country would be sickened by what we’ve become.

    You mean the ones that held slaves, or the ones who dispossessed the native peoples? Humans have always been shitty to outgroups, while proclaiming (and, occasionally, even practicing) the noblest ideals of conduct towards their ingroup.

    We should all (ie. Westerners — I’m not a USAian) be sickened by how far short of our highest ideals our societies continue to fall. The Enlightenment is still very much a work-in-progress.