Talk about your brilliant political timing. New York's Guernsey's auction house is auctioning off a privately owned collection of 16the century torture devices, with the proceeds going, wait for it, to Amnesty International and other organizations committed to preventing torture. You do the math.
The 252 devices include iron masks, boots, thumbscrews, foot squeezers, ropes, leg irons, chains, rings, manacles and "witch-catchers."
The exhibit brings an interesting issue to mind aside from the obvious one. It reminds us just how far we've come on torture, at least in the west. Some of this stuff is painful to read about, much less experience, which I can't say about water boarding or much else the US has been accused of (not that that justifies any of it - let's be clear - no fucking way). I mean come on, something called a "tongue tearer" for we nonbelievers? Makes me never want to say "ah, men" again. It could also have the opposite effect from the one the promoters desire, and cause less outrage at what has gone on recently, given how tame it looks to what has been considered fine torture in the past.
Still, I hope it has the intended result. Nothing about what went on with the previous administration bothered me more than its condoning of torture (with the dismissal of habeas corpus a close second). It took away the notion that we Americans are different than our opponents and enemies by more than just our uniforms and belief in the rightness of our cause. It took away any thought, childish or otherwise, that we were the good guys. No more could we get the advantage of having enemies surrender on the word that they'd have it better as our prisoner than as a subject of their despot. No more would we have the moral high ground. And all for something that has questionable value at best. The Jack Bauer scenarios are effectively just that, fiction, the sort of thing that happens with so little frequency that no cost is worth having them as an option. One might as well justify killing puppies on the off-chance God's a cat.
The sooner America no longer tortures, and stands strongly against it again, no weasel words, no politics, the better.