Sunday, March 30, 2008

"...This place is a prison and these people aren't your friends..."

I really had to force myself to get all the way through the presentation about the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) for a couple of reasons: it's disturbing how willy-nilly researchers were allowed to conduct experiments with human subjects in pre-IRB days and it's ironic how similar the situation in Abu Ghraib was to what went on during the SPE. It has been proven that certain guards in the Abu Ghraib prison did have backgrounds spotted with abuse, emotional problems or even substance abuse problems. The past experiences of those guards could explain their behavior in Abu Ghraib, but how do we explain improper behavior by guards who had no prior record of being an abuser of some sort?

The SPE proved that an environment like Abu Ghraib could turn anyone into an abuser. The simulated prison situation at Stanford was nothing compaired to the situation in Abu Ghraib so if regular people off of the street turned into jerks in a simulated situation, it's no wonder even "good cops" turned bad.

It's really hard for me to place myself somewhere on the "bad apples" v "rotten barrell" continuum. I generally do believe that the majority of humanity is decent. If I were asked a week ago where I stood on the BA v RB continuum, I would have said that it's only a few bad apples who tarnish the shine of humanity. Now, however, having watched Ghosts of Abu Ghraib I'm beginning to think that maybe there is a darkness that is a natural part of human beings. Who is to say that any person regardless of class, sex, age, race, etc wouldn't act the same way? The SPE makes me fear that if I, a highly competitive person who has a really strong urge to "win," were in that guard v. inmate situation, I would end up being the bad cop.

I guess then, the long answer to the question about the BA v RB continuum is that maybe we're all part of a rotten barrell. Maybe our inate nature as human beings is actually quite dark and it is only our constant fight against that darkness that lends us all to our tendency to strive to be "good."

Monday, March 17, 2008

"But come ye back"

This is worth a second post of the day:

Thanks for the link, I.T.

"...Once I built an ivory tower so I could worship from above..."

Not to belabor the point I was (ineffectively) trying to make in class today... but the whole "Bush Vetoes Bill Banning Torture" thing really, really frosts my cookies (mmm cookies...) I see the point several people made that worrying about US citizens' opinions about the torture norm might be less important than worrying about whether or not our government is following the norm. Clearly, the two go hand in hand. Here you have the (arguably) biggest world power condoning the use of torture to further its agenda in the GWOT and it's just supposed to be acceptable to the American public because Bush vetoed a bill on torture? Nevermind the fact that the veto is antithetical to an international norm?

This is the kind of rhetoric being put out there into public discourse:

"This is no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe," the president said. (Source)

Like Dr. C said -- whether or not there is proof that it works, torture is still wrong according to the international norm. We shouldn't be asking how effective torture is or if it is in fact keeping America safe. We should be asking ourselves and our leaders why we are having a debate to begin with about whether or not it is ok. Of course it's not ok. Like Alex Bellamy pointed out in the article we read for class, there is really no evidence that the torture of the Algerian "ticking time bomb terrorist" yielded any information that was more effective than the routine search of the man's property by police--further proof that not only is it not ok, but odds are, torture doesn't achieve anything other than tearing away at the morality of a state and its representatives.

It will be interesting to see if and how a new administration will change the nature of the discussion about torture. I grew up hearing my mother say "I don't care if Bill Clinton had an affair. I didn't elect him as a moral leader. I elected him to run our country." She has changed her tune a bit. We're not talking about extramarital affairs anymore. We're talking about torture and death and a loss of a most basic understanding of what humanity is at the hands of the current administration.

Maybe this time around, we will be electing a moral leader, not just a political leader.

And now I need to go find myself a cookie.

I iz scared K, I�ll come out for cookie.
see more crazy cat pics

Sunday, March 2, 2008

"And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives... where we gonna be when we're 25..."

Lately all I can think about is graduation... with every assignment I complete, I think "well, I'll never have to do that again..." Such a bad attitude. But at least I'm honest about it.

It's quite ironic, though, that I just realized that the deadline to apply for graduation was Friday. Did I apply? Of course not.

Also? Let's not forget that I still haven't passed the evil, hateful, terror-inspiring, anger-evoking, wretched, wretched class that is Macroeconomics.


Speaking of rage, anyone who graduated from high school in 2000 or later is going to hate me for this... but here you go. :-)

Good luck trying to get that song out of your head.

Who wants to go to Shady Grove on Wednesday again and drink wine to celebrate Spring Break?