....LMB: "Tortured Context"....

May 08, 2004

Many Americans are suddenly up in arms over the Iraqi prisoner torture, but let's step back a moment. As some of you may recall, prior to the torture, the United States INVADED IRAQ, DROPPED BOMBS ON ITS PEOPLE, AND SMASHED THE PLACE TO BITS. And before that, the United States led a strict economic embargo of the country which led to the DEATHS OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS WHO COULDN'T GET FOOD OR MEDICINE. During this time, the US was also patrolling the "no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq, DROPPING BOMBS ON A REGULAR BASIS. And, before that, in Gulf War I, the United States INVADED IRAQ, DROPPED BOMBS ON ITS PEOPLE, AND SMASHED THE PLACE TO BITS. And before the Gulf War, the United States SUPPORTED IRAQI DICTATOR SADDAM HUSSEIN, WHO KILLED AND OPPRESSED MILLIONS.

But somehow, most Americans didn't seem to upset by the rest of that. If Iraqis had worn black hoods and posed for photographs earlier, then maybe Americans would've gotten outraged sooner.

Also, it seems sad that more Americans don't realize that the way the guards are acting in the Iraqi prisons aren't that different from the way they act in American prisons. Yes, I suppose that's different because unlike the Iraqi prisons, we know that all of our prisoners are guilty, because they've gone through our impartial, non-racist justice system, that is never biased for or against anyone, no matter how much or little money they have in the bank. So the people in our prisons are obviously bad and deserve whatever they get. Cuz they're bad.

On a related topic, check this press release from the anti-prison group the Pennsylvania Abolitionists, which claims that one of the men prominantly featured in the humiliated Iraqi prisoner photographs is currently working as a guard at a prison about an hour outside of Pittsburgh.

(I highly recommend Christian Parenti's Lockdown America on the subject of American jails)

There's a lot of talk about whether or not the Iraq abuse is widespread, or was limited to just a few soldiers. Well, it certainly seem to be widespread, but it might go even wider.

"This is the new gulag" writes Sidney Blumenthal, and in a way, he's completely right. The United States has created a small network of foreign prisons that have nothing to do with law, in three countries (Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq) holding perhaps as many as 12,000 people. Anyone the US government wishes to confine in these prisons can be held, with no charges, no sentence, no parole, no release date, and no rights. About the only consolation is that the torture probably isn't as bad as it would be in a prison in a military dictatorship.

Although Americans don't want to look this problem in the face, there it is. This is how the world sees us: an arrogant power that has no regard for other people, that will not hestiate to use violence on a whim. And honestly, although it isn't popularly known here, that is much of American history. That's "why do they hate us" in a nutshell. Americans are frequently kind, generous, compassionate people. But the fact that you help little old American ladies across the street is lost on people who live in other countries, who's death squads are armed with American weapons, who's homes are destroyed by American corporations, who's families are killed by American bombs. Most Americans aren't even aware these things are happening in other countries, yet they are being done in our name.

If Americans truly want to show their committment to freedom, democracy, human rights, and compassion, it is our duty to take back the power from these American predators. Ain't no other way.

Posted by Jake at 05:10 PM | TrackBack (1)
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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