RE: Creative cruelty and responsibility: Photos from Iraq

From: White, Phillip (
Date: Mon May 03 2004 - 08:08:03 PDT

    Judy wrote:

I have heard that the information derived from this kind of mistreatment is
completely unreliable. If so, what are the real pragmatic goals? or WHERE?
-- embedded in a broader political arena, in countries outside Iraq.

     and Eugene responded:

Probably, it works like testing in education. It is well known that testing
is not reliable as the assessment of students' knowledge and/or learning but
it is easily achievable. At the end of the day, testing - whether reliable
or not - produces sorting that serves for the purpose of stratification. The
"pressured" interrogations produce information that can be later analyzed
and (mis)used by military and politicians.

     I agree, Eugene - when I read Judy's observation it confirmed my own thoughts from past readings in either Harper's or the Atlantic, that torture is ineffective and the information is unreliable. which reminded me of methods used by schools to discipline students - the methods are most usually ineffective, and quickly become a dialogue (to coin a new phrase, homoglossic) in which all the participants know their roles and ventriloquate an unchanging dialogue that is more ritualistic than attempts at new understandings and relationships - not unlike Gutierez's description of discourse in the high school classes where the teacher practices teaching and the students practice studenting - with little emphasis on learning and the new relationships that necessarily emerge out of the new learning.

     i think that what happened in the Bagdad prison is a micro example of common forms of activity here in the states - what Judy described as "good ol' times" - frat house hazing, police abuse, etc. etc. - and, Eugene, I have seen photos of lynchings in which the white participants were positively beaming with smiles, even pointing towards the lynched body as if illustrating a redeeming moral lesson.


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