Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

21 March 2010

Reading about Torture.

I suppose it seems a little silly to say that reading about torture is difficult. I mean, suffering the experience of torture is difficult. But I am finding that reading about horrific acts of torture, while not quite traumatizing, is really difficult to do. It makes me very tired, as though my body is resisting taking in the information, and I am also finding that I need to take breaks while I read about it.

This post doesn't really have any content other than this, but I feel like it's worth saying, and I wonder if one of the reasons that torture so frequently goes unpunished is because people like me would simply rather not think about it. Certainly it is much easier not to think about the things that governments, state apparatuses, and ordinary people do to human beings.

I guess that isn't much of a positive review of a book, and now when I tell you that John Conroy's Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: the Dynamics of Torture - an Examination of the Practice of Torture in Three Democracies is an extraordinarily humane, responsible look at torture practices in three so-called first-world nations, it might sound like faint praise. But Conroy's book is powerful, gripping, and haunting, and if you are interested in the way that violence is used to get so-called intelligence or the ways in which violence is justified in the service of humanity, you should definitely give it a look.