Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Torture News

While I finish War and Peace at home, I am reading William Vollmann's Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means.

Which is good.

Which is not the 4000 page version, but the "condensed" single volume.

Which is not fun. The violence thing. The study after study of assault, of conquest, of liquidation, of infanticide, of patricide. The study of Cortes. Of Stalin. Of Pol Pot. Of murder by starvation, by hanging, by sword, by gun, by arrow, by work. Of war for land, for honor, for glory, for revenge, for faith.

And of torture.

Which ties all too well to every damn torture memo that I've read over the last two months, to every revelation of destroyed records, to every empty rationale for approving "new" methods.

Which ties all too well to this story that a former student sent me this morning: "The Torture Business."

And, see, I want to be shocked by this. I want to be stunned that no only can we torture, will we torture, will we attempt to figure out and justify torture methods that we previously shunned, but that we will also bid this work out to independent contractors so that said contractors, said business, can profit from our government's belief that torture is acceptable. That torture, in essence, can be profitable. The business of government is business, I guess, even when that business is torture, degradation, and dehumanization.

But I'm not. Not shocked. Not at this point. Angry, yes. Sad, yes. But not shocked. Which also makes me angry. And sad.

Read it, if you wish.

And read the Vollmann, too. It doesn't fit the beautiful spring that finally arrived here after 117 days of rain, but it is worth reading.

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