The broomstick torture of Abner Louima by New York policemen was a rarity in that a court case, a cop’s confession and news coverage forced us to learn all about it.
For the most part we don’t want to know about official torture in the modern world – our world – even when the facts have been established. For example, about electric shock in a Chicago police station to the face and genitals of a murder suspect; or the Israeli military’s bone-breaking assaults on Palestinian men in the early days of the 1980s Intifada; or the British bag-over-the-head beating of Catholic men in Northern Ireland.
The reporter John Conroy, unblinking in the pursuit of the sickening details, finds lots more about torture that we don’t really want to know: he says most of us could be torturers. Most people identify more readily with torturers than with their victims. Most torturers can count on going unpunished.
We’re talking about “Unspeakable Acts” by ordinary people – in this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)