Using music as torture

I know I'm arriving late to this game, but that doesn't dilute my rage.

An issue has been rearing its ugly head in the media again, and I think it's time you noticed.

I'm talking about music torture on detainees. In summary, reports have surfaced (again) of the military playing music at ear-splitting levels to torture detainees in Guantanamo and Iraq. Reports said they've played anything from Rage Against the Machine to Barney and Sesame Street.

As I see it, the military could have used any sort of sound/screeching/high pitched noise for torture. But instead they chose popular music from American culture. In fact, they picked out songs that they deemed were "torture" on their own ears.

Now I'm not the biggest Rage Against the Machine or Barney fan, but this still makes my blood boil. What the military is doing is destroying their own culture in the eyes (and ears) of another culture. By using popular American music as torture, the people who are supposed to protect us are waging war against their own culture.

My husband is a big metal fan. I am not. I was still disheartened to see that look in his eyes when he noted that the military was destroying the image of entire genres of music (specifically metal and hard rock). If you know a metalhead, then you know that sometimes they have to defend their genre of music quite a bit (us technoheads have the same problem). So (in my opinion) when the military approaches another culture and uses metal as a means of torture, then that is a war on metal music. And evidently they're waging war on Barney and Sesame Street as well.

The other sickening aspect of this issue is the musician response. Yes, they're speaking up now, but they weren't at first. Andy Worthington noted a couple of exceptions, Tom Morello and Trent Reznor seemed to react immediately to the news a few years ago. But it hasn't been until recently that other artists have joined the fight with a formal protest.

Personally, I always found myself in a unique position when commenting on the war. I was born (and have lived) in Kansas, but I have also seen glimpses of the first Gulf War when I lived overseas. I am both American and Arab. But when I read about issues like this, I am musician first, and I am mad as hell.


Shelby 12 years, 7 months ago

Would you be as pissed if they were to use something along the lines of Right Said Fred or that Barbie Girl song or Mr. T's "music" or Kid Rock or T-Paine or Paramore or Disturbed or Hoobastank? Would you rather they be selections from those of the "aggressors'" culture?

Just curious. I don't really have a problem with this. I don't equate it with an attack on one's own culture.

chewyfally 12 years, 7 months ago


I'm angry no matter where the music comes from (like I said, they could have used a noise, and instead chose MUSIC).

I just think it adds an extra sting when they use American-made music. I think they fail to see what a large attack that is on their own culture.

I am, however, curious about the specific tracks they've picked. It seems they're using that as a chance to be critical on those specific songs. But that's just a theory of mine.

knayte 12 years, 7 months ago

Yeah I don't really see it as an attack on our culture. I don't think it should be done at all, but I think they used American music probably because our culture is one thing they hate about us. We're the decadent Great Satan, our immoral music is created by homosexuals, Jews, and impure women, right? So if you're gonna blast music into their ears 24/7, why not use Queen.

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