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Gidney N Cloyd

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Elk Grove Vil, IL
Home country: USA
Current location: Here
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 03:07 PM
Number of posts: 18,533

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Why do so many Americans believe torture works? Partly because TV & movies portray it that way.

From TVtropes.org: (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TortureAlwaysWorks)
In the magical world of fiction, if torture isn't being just used to prove that the Big Bad is indeed big and bad (or that the Anti-Hero is indeed anti), it works as an instant source of 100% reliable information. The information extracted under torture is always accurate and important, even if the interrogator himself starts with no information at all and so has no way to know if the prisoner is telling the truth or lying. The possibility of having the wrong person, who will say anything under torture whether they know anything or not, will be excluded. Often as not, the victim is then released with no consequences to them if they lied.

The only times when torture doesn't work is when the tortured is just too Badass to be broken, and doesn't say anything at all. When characters object to torture, they are often portrayed as weak liberal Strawmen who "don't have what it takes" or "don't realize what's at stake". They only make moral criticisms, and never bother to point out that it's unreliable, presumably because they too know that it Always Works. Even when it doesn't work, characters who should know better assume that it will.


Some of their many, many examples from film, TV, and literature:


In Dirty Harry, San Francisco Police Department Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan presses down on the Scorpio killer's badly wounded leg (he was just shot with a .44 revolver) until he tells him where to find a girl he had kidnapped and left to suffocate. Naturally, he finds out where she is, only to discover that she has already died. The killer promptly walks away from the law by crying "police brutality", much to Harry's disgust.

In The Dark Knight, Batman uses it on a mob boss by dropping him from two stories up (conventional Batman interrogation techniques involve dangling the perp from twenty or thirty stories up until he talks) and breaking his legs.

LOST: The flashbacks of the Ben/Sayid torture episode, One Of Them, saw Sayid successfully torture a former superior officer of his to get the location of US soldiers. He used pliers to great effect it seemed.

Used on Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Buffy's interrogation subjects are usually demons, whose loyalties are extremely weak. Once she has someone at her mercy, it rarely takes more than a minute for them to start talking.

Played with in an early episode of Angel. Angel is tortured, and doesn't reveal what the bad guy wants. However, it's revealed afterwards that he was THIS close to do it, but the gang saved him before that point.

In his James Bond novels, Ian Fleming (who had prior experience in British intelligence) refers now and then to agents being tortured, on the implicit assumption that, indeed, anyone even a trained agent will eventually give up what they know given enough time and pain.


How many times have comedies worked in a line like "Ve haf vays of makink you talk"? That wouldn't be funny if it hadn't been a cliche already.

It's no surprise then that Americans largely believe that torture works. The explanation of why it doesn't is rarely presented and even more rarely heard. We're not exactly a nation of critical thinkers, either, so until media begins to portray torture honestly, until we make a point of educating ourselves as a society somehow, we have no reason not to continue to side with our own baser instincts, nodding our heads when our leaders casually tell us torture was the only way to get the information they needed before the next bomb goes off.
Posted by Gidney N Cloyd | Thu Dec 11, 2014, 12:17 PM (14 replies)

RWNJs _K N O W_ they were wrong on Fergusen so they're using Staten Island for cover.

I honestly think a lot of them were shocked at the blowback they got when they naturally sided with Darren Wilson. Usually they can do that with impunity and it surprised them. So they doubled down, got louder, and generally looked like even bigger, less rational assholes than normal (see Joe Scarborough's rant as exhibit A: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/scarborough-rants-against-rams-dems-for-hands-up-gesture-you-know-its-a-lie/), going so far as to rail against the Rams players' rights to express an opposing view.

But Garner in Staten Island? Virtually to the last bloviating RW commentator they're saying it's a miscarriage of justice. They're bending over backward to look reasonable. This is not evidence of evolving sensitivity, this is making a deposit on cover for the next time they express their true opinion on the inevitable next cop-executes-black person event.

Posted by Gidney N Cloyd | Thu Dec 4, 2014, 12:07 PM (19 replies)
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