Thursday, November 14, 2013

Less than human (torture)

Communities in the Western World are cracking down on sex-offenders. These days, their names go down in an official Register – for life, sometimes. If convicted of a sex-crime against children, they must not live near a school or (sometimes) even be near a school. The Police must keep track of where they live. In some US states their names and home addresses must be open to public enquiry. Recidivism is rife among sex-offenders, apparently. They just can’t (most of them) hold themselves back from indulging their weaknesses.

I wonder if the same self-indulgence occurs among those who make careers of torture and mutilation. US and NATO drone-pilots, for instance, and prison guards at Guantanamo and other torture-camps – do they suffer withdrawals symptoms when they are back home in civilian life?

Do the pilots miss the thrill of taking close-up videos of body-parts of all ages and sexes being splattered around village streets? I’ve read some pretty gruesome descriptions of such mutilations – both of the original targets and their families and of the rescuers caught by the “double-tap” follow-up rockets.

Do the torturers miss the thrill of physically restraining their victims, and of hearing the cries of pain and anguish? Surely they must. For psychopaths – and we can take it for granted that torturers are psychopaths – the adrenalin rush must be like a powerful drug. Every day, a new fix. Just like for addicted sex-offenders.

What do they all do when their tours of duty end? Some sign on as security contractors to Armies and their corporate sponsors; some join domestic Police Forces (which would explain the growing brutality of those) or become Prison Officers. But most of them just take up ordinary jobs and keep their heads down, like their Japanese and German exemplars did after World War II.

Isn’t it in the public interest to know where they work and live? What a shock it would be, to discover one of them behind you in the supermarket line, muttering with impatience, or sitting at the next table in a restaurant. These are people whose lives have for years been focussed on committing horrific acts of extreme violence against civilians. Their minds are filled with a thousand images of bleeding meat and screaming children – bleeding and screaming that they themselves have been responsible for.

Being psychopaths, they must hunger for fresh images. They can’t look at a stranger – especially an unarmed and helpless one – without assessing the stranger’s capacity for agony. “Hmmm. I don’t have official status any more, but I have a sharp knife and a basement. I wonder if I would feel the same rush as I used to do. Well, there’s only one way to find out...”

Why are people like that allowed to prowl the streets? They are infinitely more dangerous than most sex-offenders.

When a professional torturer greets a friend or acquaintance, he shakes hands with the same hand that he twisted a victim’s throat or gut or balls with, following an eager wait for the doctor to revive a body for another session. (In the armies, all the torturers are professionals; they’re all well paid, with generous pensions and medical benefits.)

A blog-post of mine last April (The war against women) speculated that the only safe perpetrators and witnesses of atrocities were those whose memories keep them awake at nights. Those who sleep soundly are the psychopaths, who aren’t capable of remorse. They are less than human, which is what makes them such excellent mutilators of minds and bodies.