Waterboarding Paperdolls

Words are tricky. We live in a sound bite culture, only 22 seconds to make a difference, so every utterance must be full of impactful drama and intrigue. Our knowledge is unprecedented and anything we don’t know is just a search engine away. I love this. It is fantastic to be caught up in the midst of every crisis, educated in every debate, and a trivia whiz. But as we take in all this knowledge like a Dyson on steroids, it is easy to trade education for thinking. We casually throw buzzwords and useful statistics around without real thought for the implications of such statements.

I got an up close look at such implications today when my niece and my daughter were waterboarding their paper dolls. They wanted to get the dolls soaking wet to destroy them slowly and watch them fall apart. It was very harmless; they were just looking at the effect water had on the paper, but it opened my eyes to something. Well, it further illustrated the point I began to argue in my last post about my Barbie bags. As a society, we have become so entrenched in a right vs. left argument that right vs. wrong is no longer the fight.

We right-wingers have been in the unfortunate position of defending waterboarding. I stand by the fact that waterboarding is an effective method of getting information without inflicting long-term damage, but this isn’t a fight I want to have. This is why we have a military and a CIA and the FBI. They understand the threat, they understand the options, and they understand the stakes. I want to know that these officials are people I can trust and then I want to refrain from defending any interrogation methods within earshot of my children. I want those trained to keep me safe to be able to do their jobs. War is not for the faint-hearted, which is why the average civilian should not dictate how it is conducted.

This is why our words are important. We call waterboarding torture, but it is not. It pales in comparison. But because the label is out there, we are unwittingly involved in a debate over torture. I never want to be the person who says yes to treating a human being that way. Because of this mislabeling, though, that is exactly what I am.

Against the automatic weaponry of the media’s exaggerated vocabulary, I have defended torture, turned my back on genocide, and scoffed at fascism. If we are to have any unity as a nation, we need to define horror as it really is. There are horrible things happening, things we should see as a universal threat. George Bush was many things, but fascist is not one of them. It undermines true fascism to label a conservative war-time president as such. The Iraq war was controversial, but it was not genocide. Sudan suffered from genocide. That is evil. In this modern day of information, the soundbite has distracted our humanity.


4 Responses to “Waterboarding Paperdolls”

  1. May 27, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Try having trained military personel water-board you and then get back to us on your thoughts about it.

    Michael Kontras

    • 2 aimiesuzyj
      May 28, 2009 at 4:48 am

      I do not need to experience it to be certain of how unpleasant it would be. However, I find it highly preferable to the hot anal probe Iranians seem to be fans of. And I am a huge fan of not having bombs detonated in our cities. See? There it is again. I have to defend deplorable behavior against those who put our security second to terrorists rights.

  2. June 13, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    You make an important point but if you don’t think water boarding is torture, you are wrong. We must draw distinct lines and treat others as we want to be treated ourselves. That’s what the Geneva Convention was about. Remember, we weren’t water boarding paper dolls.

    • 4 aimiesuzyj
      June 14, 2009 at 5:29 am

      That is kind of my point. Water boarding does not actually fall into the forbidden category of interrogation methods in that no permanent damage is done. It is scary and painful. The problem is, I feel it is necessary. We are dealing with an enemy that is not interested in the Geneva convention and that uses such interrogation tactics as raping and killing a victim’s family in front of him. I do not like defending cruelty. I do not like violence. This is why I avoided the military myself. However, I am glad that the military is there and is protecting me.
      What I tried to say, and I believe failed to, in this blog is that our dialog as Americans is so open once we have chosen sides it becomes easy to defend unsavory behavior in the name of our perceived “team.” I would like to leave this discussion up to those who are qualified to have it and leave it out of my personal life – conversation, radio, possibly even news. The drawback is that we need to know we can trust those who are qualified to make reasonable decisions. It is sticky, as I said.

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