What happens when a talk show host gets waterboarded to see if its REALLY torture — someone who had believed it wasn’t? Mancow Muller of Chicago’s Big 89, WLS-AM Mancow & Cassidy show decided to do it so his listeners (and viewers like you) could see it.
What did he conclude? “It is way worse than I thought it would be…I don’t want to say this. I do not want to say this. Absolutely torture. That’s drowning.”
Here’s the You Tube so you can watch it and draw your own conclusions:
The Chicago Sun Times’ piece here includes videos of two others who thought they’d give it a whirl in past months, Playboy.com journalist Mike Guy and journalist Christopher Hitchens. Here’s Hitchens who says it’s baloney to say it “simulates” drowning. “It is drowning…” he says:
(So far Sean Hannity, who suggested he might undergo it since it’s really not big a deal hasn’t tried it and to the best of anyone’s knowledge former Vice President Dick Cheney hasn’t tried it, either.)
NBC Chicago has a must read piece. Here’s a part of it:
With a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on hand, Mancow was placed on a 7-foot long table, his legs were elevated, and his feet were tied up.
Turns out the stunt wasn’t so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.
“It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke,”Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back…It was instantaneous…and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.”
“I wanted to prove it wasn’t torture,” Mancow said. “They cut off our heads, we put water on their face…I got voted to do this but I really thought ‘I’m going to laugh this off.’ ”
Last year, Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens endured the same experiment — and came to a similar conclusion. The conservative writer said he found the treatment terrifying, and was haunted by it for months afterward.
“Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture,” Hitchens concluded in the article.
However, these demonstration videos are a bit misleading: the people being waterboarded here aren’t in captivity. And the waterboarding is being done under controlled circumstances (varying in each demonstration). They also know that they won’t be waterboarded until they pass out, puke their guts out, or die. Not so for those who undergo the real thing. But, then, the debate isn’t over that: it’s whether it’s a valid or moral means of reliable information extraction.
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.