November 01, 2006

Jonah Goldberg Gets Mail...

Jonah,

I was recently reading Richard Norton Smith's biography of Col. Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. It seems that when McCormick was a student at Groton he was subjected to the school tradition of "pumping." In this quaint ritual the initiate had his head held under a pump and water was forced over him until he felt as if he were drowning. Waterboarding isn't torture, its just part of the New England patrician experience. A more recent Groton alum tells me that with the advent of indoor plumbing the pump is no longer used. The initiate has his head held in a toilet and is flushed instead. Just thought it might add something to the debate..

Man, I've read a lot of excrement in the blogosphere, but this item just might take the cake (though Glenn Reynolds' comparison of Iraq to South Philly gives a good run for the money). I mean, "(w)aterboarding isn't torture, its just part of the New England patrician experience"? How stupefyingly inane can these clowns get? Goldberg says he is posting this "without comment". Permit me to comment then Jonah: your correspondent is a total idiot, and it's risibly boorish and outrageously inane for you to even begin to take your pen-pal seriously, as evidently you do, having put this claptrap on your main page. But perhaps I'm surprised because I went to Andover, where quaint Grotonian mores of proctors waterboarding students never quite took off. Yes, Groton was always a tad too British, if you know what I mean, what with all the canings and such, so that perhaps your correspondent is on to something--it's important that we build character among our Boston Brahmin youth, after all, when not extracting actionable ticking time bomb intel from KSM, that is... (Hat Tip: Cunning).

Posted by Gregory at November 1, 2006 05:51 AM
Comments

It goes very well with Tom Maguire's joke a few weeks ago in "Just One Minute" about waterboarding as a frat-house activity. (I suppose, though -- given the nature of Jonah's mother -- that he should receive some credit for not engaging in Black Masses.)

Posted by: BruceMoomaw at November 1, 2006 08:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

well said. Here's the problem with the issue of torture. Supporters of things like waterboarding claim that this technique is harmless, nothing worse than hazing rituals. Well....if that's the case, why would you think they would work on hardened warriors? How effective would they be on extracting information from people who do not wish to give it to you, if the techniques are as harmless as hazing rituals that Boy Scouts, as well as New England doctors go through?

They play down the effects of torture, but play up their supposed benefit, i.e. they really have no idea what they are talking about.

Posted by: Dan at November 1, 2006 11:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I also don't quite grasp the logic that if frat brothers/public school boys are doing it, obviously it must NOT be torture.

Posted by: Antiquated Tory at November 1, 2006 12:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For a guy who looks like Piggy, Jonah's awfully comfortable with a Lord of the Flies world.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim at November 1, 2006 12:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ask them bluntly: why do you advocate North Vietnamese torture techniques? Do you advocate them because your rich college secretly practiced techniques similar to North Vietnamese torture? Did your rich college or your fraternity have a preponderance of sadists with unhealthy attraction for North Vietnamese torture techniques?

Posted by: Paul Smith at November 1, 2006 01:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmm...hazing as another rite of passage alongside say, fake IDs for beer...'low-level' torture as all of a neat blend with it...and South Philly merging with Iraq. All this really speaks volumes about how wonderful these savants think American society is, and of what they apparently find tolerable (and what, by implicaton, they expect others to put up with) for the benefit of living in American-style democracy.

Hearing them talk at both their most low-voiced and solemn, and at their most shreikingly outraged, you'd thought that being American meant never shrugging your shoulders at anything. I mean, get a load of the cataracts dumped forth in the run-up to the invasion on any one of a number of their blogs and such. But boy, was I ever wrong. It must be a reflection of how much disposable freedom and wealth they permit themselves, to throw around their moral and intellectual loose change on bile like this and keep straight faces securely glued to their smug, smarmy, squirrelly little faces.

What this really demonstrates is how much sustainable violence, gee-whiz sadism and politicized equivalent of snuff have become so much (yawn) political porn. "Waterboarding?" Just another sideshow...

Posted by: sekaijin at November 1, 2006 03:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmm...hazing as another rite of passage alongside say, fake IDs for beer...'low-level' torture as all of a neat blend with it...and South Philly merging with Iraq. All this really speaks volumes about how wonderful these savants think American society is, and of what they apparently find tolerable (and what, by implicaton, they expect others to put up with) for the benefit of living in American-style democracy.

Hearing them talk at both their most low-voiced and solemn, and at their most shreikingly outraged, you'd thought that being American meant never shrugging your shoulders at anything. I mean, get a load of the cataracts dumped forth in the run-up to the invasion on any one of a number of their blogs and such. But boy, was I ever wrong. It must be a reflection of how much disposable freedom and wealth they permit themselves, to throw around their moral and intellectual loose change on bile like this and keep straight faces securely glued to their smug, smarmy, squirrelly little faces.

What this really demonstrates is how much sustainable violence, gee-whiz sadism and politicized equivalent of snuff have become so much (yawn) political porn. "Waterboarding?" Just another sideshow...

Posted by: sekaijin at November 1, 2006 03:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

You know jolly well that Dubya went to Andover too. So let's put the responsibility for all this where it really belongs. Why didn't you teach him to take responsibility for his actions? And didn't you have a American history course? Your fellow alum doesn't seem to be aware the Constitution has a purpose greater that historical display.

Glass houses and all that...

Posted by: Adams at November 1, 2006 04:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I graduated from Groton in 1982 and I can assure everyone that while there was a certain amount of sadism among the students (as might be expected at a boarding school with long winters) anyone would even attempted waterboarding a fellow student would have been expelled.

The Dean of Students, who was in charge of student discipline, was not known for his sense of humor when charges of student abuse were brought to his attention. I had a rougher time than some (being the smallest in my class and a smartass was a dangerous combination) and the Dean used to check in on me to ensure that the teasing / abuse stayed within limits.

Posted by: Francis at November 1, 2006 07:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...while there was a certain amount of sadism among the students (as might be expected at a boarding school with long winters).."

ah the memories....

Posted by: greg djerejian at November 1, 2006 09:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg: "ah the memories" about boarding schools & long winters; or as George Orwell put it:
"Such, such were the Joys"!

Silly me, I thought the worse thing that happened at boarding school was when the students did themsevles up in blackface for school theater!

Did not realize that these future leaders were being abused so that they could abuse others in turn when they had grown up & taken power!

Posted by: David All at November 1, 2006 10:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Am I the only one who caught the sarcasm?

Posted by: eCAHNomics at November 1, 2006 10:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is nice to hear that Groton and Andover were somewhat policed by the faculty at that time. I graduated from Deerfield in 1988 and similar things were still very much going on. The faculty, for the most part, could not have been less interested. It wasn't "a certain amount of sadism", it was a whole lot of seriously weird behavior. Seriously weird to the point that I brought it up when called for security clearances a few years later for some of these jokers. I don't know if things have changed with the girls and all of the rules that came with the girls, but it would not surprise me if the girls had adopted the same traditions and freshmen girls were now also getting brown swirlies. These traditions were so entrenched (and yes, it really did seem to me to be a New England thing) that they were seen as part of the whole prep school experience. Not being a Yankee, I saw it as, you know, assault. Something worth shooting someone over. But for the kids up there, it was just the way the world worked. I guess from that environment (and that was Bush's environment, not Midland or Houston), if thinking what you went through was "harmless fun" gets you through the night, you have a vested interest in not referring to similar things as "torture".

Posted by: Todd at November 2, 2006 03:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Upon the conclusion of WWII, the United States prosecuted, convicted, and jailed (for terms exceeding 20 years) Japanese accused of waterboarding Americans during the war.

The Japanese defense counsel's plea, "Don't you know we're in a war," was ignored by the American judges.

Posted by: MD at November 2, 2006 01:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In the 1970s, at my boarding school (Deerfield's arch rival) in northern Massachusetts, sadism was usually confined to Senior Week, in which packs of seniors roamed the school giving wedgies to any junior unlucky--or brazen--enough to be outside after study hall.

There were rumors of "flushies" or "swirlies" (imagine those during the long-hair days), but I never witnessed or was subject to one.

The main difference, of course was that hazing was usually a one-shot, and was subject to extreme consequences if overdone.

Posted by: Tom S at November 2, 2006 03:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Posted by: Spooler_Go_23 at November 10, 2006 01:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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