Un-American

I just made my first attempt at poached eggs.  Not too shabby.  They were a bit ugly, though.  But not bad for a first try.  Vinegar is the key.  Well, it helps anyway.

Anyway, this torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops and contractors has been in the news all week.  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men have repeatedly said that this behavior is disgusting and un-American.

There are a lot of lefty commentators pointing that American abuse isn’t so un-American.  And I would like to point out that the conditions in American prisons are brutal, abusive and in many cases inhumane.  In fact, I don’t need to go very far for an example.  Besides, sure those hardened criminals and … uh … weed smokers earned their time in jail by our laws and they’re adults who made bad decisions and will now suffer the consequences.  But surely, surely, the American way is to at least treat our wayward, misguided children with love – albeit tough love – and compassion.

But here in America within a radius of 60 miles of where I’m sitting while I write this…

Review of Youth Detention Contract Sought; Ehrlich Looks to Dismiss Company in Light of Abuse Reports at Juvenile Center
By: Darragh Johnson and Lori Montgomery
The Washington Post, Jun 13, 2003 Friday

CHELTENHAM– Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has asked attorneys to review the state’s contract with the private company that runs a juvenile detention center in Baltimore County in the wake of reports that children there have been tortured, sexually abused and intentionally intoxicated by staff members.

The Hickey School’s population of 265 boys, who are ages 12 to 18, has about 2.5 incidents a day of assault or use of force, the report stated. Since the beginning of the year, more than 20 cases of suspected child abuse or neglect have occurred. The report, first disclosed in the Baltimore Sun, specifically noted these, among other incidents:

In January, a staff person grabbed a youth by the arm and threw him into a bathroom, where the boy hit a sink and hurt his back. A week later, a “disturbance labeled a ‘riot’ occurred” after a staff member used a fire extinguisher or “some type of club or pole” to threaten the youths. Two boys were injured and taken to the hospital.

In February, a youth who went missing was found driving a car that was registered to a staff member with whom he allegedly was having sex. In March, a boy at Hickey reportedly was found locked in a room with a blood-alcohol level of 0.25, according to the report – – three times the state’s legal limit for drivers.

On three occasions in April, the report noted, staff members beat youths in the Roosevelt Hall section of Hickey, forcing “them to hold a live electrical cord in the shower, allow[ing] other youths to beat them, and prevent[ing] them from receiving the necessary medical care as a result of the beatings.”

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But here’s what I get out of this whole prison/torture phenomenon because that’s what it is.  It’s a natural by-product of war and dehumanizing other human beings.  Dehumanizing human beings does something to us.  When we snatch things from other people we lose something of ourselves.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment : A Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment Conducted at Stanford University but our government officials should take a look.  Skip ahead to the Conclusions section.  It’s sobering and profoundly disturbing.

“How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please join me on a slide tour of describing this experiment and uncovering what it tells us about the nature of Human Nature. “

War is hell.  Americans are human beings, too.

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