Thursday, May 06, 2004

Prison Abuse

Why did guards in Iraq treat iraqi prisoners the way they did? It was unjustifiable under any circumstances. Any the US admits it happens with Bush publicly apologizing several times: [NYTimes] including once on arabic television. But one might ask why such things happen.

A 1971 Standford study regarding the psychology of prisons claims an answer: [NYTimes] or for the actual study see [Stanford Prison Study]. In such situations where unequal power dynamics are present, it seems people seem to become naturally violent. Similar themes were touched on in Philip Gourevitch's book [ We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda]. In the end it seems that ordinary people are capable of horrible things and blurs the distinction between "normal" and "monster." But what really is "normal" anyway. It seems it can only be defined by what it's not...

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