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Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


The Daily Telegraph
Good ol' girl who enjoyed cruelty


May 7, 2004

POINTING crudely at the genitals of a naked, hooded Iraqi, the petite brunette with a cigarette hanging from her lips epitomised America's shame over revelations US soldiers routinely tortured inmates at Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad.

Lynndie England, 21, a rail worker's daughter, comes from a trailer park in Fort Ashby, West Virginia, which locals proudly call "a backwoods world".

She faces a court martial, but at home she is toasted as a hero.

At the dingy Corner Club Saloon they think she has done nothing wrong.

"A lot of people here think they ought to just blow up the whole of Iraq," Colleen Kesner said.

"To the country boys here, if you're a different nationality, a different race, you're sub-human. That's the way girls like Lynndie are raised.

"Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you're hunting something. Over there, they're hunting Iraqis."

via boing boing


The article quoted is just as derogatory and racist as they claim the US soldiers are. But then, what else would one expect from the Telegraph?

I do feel like a turkey sometimes but I don't think I'll go anywhere near that Corner Club Saloon just to be on the safe side.

Conrad Basra wrote a pretty good piece on why on the larger issue of education, (or lack there of), may be are undoing on the war on teror.

Why do you even blog this, Joi? Without any commentary from yourself? The article is obviously overgeneralizing and stereotyping communities, if not completely stupid and racist.

And a whole lot of people still think the earth is flat. Stories like this are meant to generalize about an entire group of people based on a small subset of them.

I walk in areas that are hip deep in confederate flags, with road cleanup by the KKK. Does that make every person in the country in Missouri or the Ozarks or St. Louis, poor white trailer trash? Or just those few that are scared of their own shadow.

The young woman was stupid, cruel, and most likely following orders. Before we paint the entire countryside of West Virginia with hick in-bred brushes, let's keep this in mind, hmmm?

(Not surprised this was pointed out by the chi-chi California clever folks at BoingBoing. It would be right up their Big City point of view. Kind of surprised you passed it on, Joi. You know how cultural misunderstandings can occur.)

It is very disgusting turning on conservative American talk radio programs ... Rush Limbaugh suggests people have thick skins - that these are no more than college pranks. Many of the commentators seem to feel this was a good thing (!)

Seymour Hersch, who did the NYer reports, is suggesting he has come across much more of this - he is checking sources and will publish what check out.

I don't think the article paints an entirely accurate picture of West Virginia, a place I think fondly of from my Civil War books, but I do think this country needs an solid over-reaction to counter the over-reaction to 9/11 and this turn of events is as good as another. Hopefully, we'll be back to where we were.

Isn't The Daily Telegraph an Australian news site? Why do you expect it to be derogatory and racist?

I don't think the article is trying to say that the US soldiers are racist or that all of WV is either. It focused on one town (1,300 ppl) in WV and gave an overview of what kind of community that one soldier grew up in. I

The rest of the article points out that orders were given from higher up and that the blame was being put on the lower ranks only.

In retrospect, I admit that this article is a bit "derogatory" but not "just as derogatory and racist as they claim the US soldiers are." I guess the reason I pointed to this is because I had a sense that all of America was in shock about the incident and it was shocking to hear that some people didn't see what was wrong with it.

I really do not think the "they were just taking orders" defense works here. There is no way that these people did not know that they were breaking the law, whether they acted without authorization or were obeying illegal orders, this abuse was criminal. Pointing out where people are from is besides the point. The military is an institution that does not allow people do behave the way they were raised, to behave the way that they did back home. All of the training they get is designed to make them behave in ways that they have not behaved before, i.e. to kill people without hesitation.

So in that respect, this article is really just designed to be sensationalistic. To make people nob their heads and say "see, trailor park trash."

Human nature explains it best. When most any human is put in the position of a prison guard, they can be tortuous. Even students of one of America's most prestigious universities (Stanford) would torture and put in humiliating sexual positions their fellow students when assuming the role of a prison guard. Social psychologists documented this in the 1970s. Sadly, society learns slowly.

Yes, it is perhaps human nature, which is why so many prison watch dog groups exist. It is also the reason that the prisons in Iraq should have been monitor more closely and reports of abuses should have been addressed immediately. The guards who committed the acts are guilty, but so are their leaders. The bottom line, Rumsfield did not think it was important.

As to human nature, one should revisit Stanley Milgram's prison/obedience experiment at Stanford. FYI, Stanley is most famous for his six degrees of separation experiment.

Following quote from one of the participants could have been uttered by Lynndie England:

"I was sick to my stomach. When it's happening to you, it doesn't feel heroic; it feels real scary. It feels like you are a deviant." - Professor Christina Maslach, UC-Berkeley

Oops. To be more precise, it was a variation of Stanley Milgram's obedience experiment which involved make-belief electic shocks

Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We’ll take our chances — just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go

Latest post at Riverbend's blog

Well said

Jessica, I presumed it was the british Daily Telegraph, my mistake. Still found the article just as bad as the apparent 'quotes' it contained though.

I guess the reason I pointed to this is because I had a sense that all of America was in shock about the incident and it was shocking to hear that some people didn't see what was wrong with it.

Joi, we are a country of 290 mm people. Besides Rush Limbaugh and her local town paper, I have not heard from a single person who did not see the stupidity in the actions of these soliders. The posts from the past two weeks with zero commentary, referencing obscure publications (the Americans continue to snipe children one) are becoming a bit trollish.

One of Rumsfeld's statements today really stands out in defining the zeitgeist. To paraphrase... We are conducting a war with peacetime constraints, with people running around with digital cameras instantly distributing them to the world... This statement said in real frustration shows that he has a disdain for democracy and a man out of step with the way the world is moving... With all the power the Pentagon has their will is being matched by the times we live in. It's a good day.

"all of America was in shock about the incident"

No, not all. In polls 75% say they've followed it and and fully 1/3 say the soldiers shouldn't be charged.

This 1/3 has a strong overlap with Bush's idiot base of course.

I am so on a plane back to Japan on 11/3 if this crew is kept on. Looking back on the past 3 years, I just feel like the Sarah Conner character at the end of Terminator 1.

From Troy's ABC article:

"There is broad agreement, though, that the scandal is a legitimate one. Only seven percent of Americans say they're "not concerned" about it. Instead 39 percent are "concerned," a quarter "upset" and another quarter downright "angry."

Anger peaks, at 34 percent, among those who are following the scandal most closely, and it's lowest, 14 percent, among those who are not following it closely. Similarly, among those who are following it very closely, 26 percent say Rumsfeld should resign; among those not following it closely, this drops to 10 percent. "

Out of the many people (and celebrities) I heard say they would "move to Canada" if GWB was elected, not a single on followed through. Troy, be sure to give us a post on 11/3.

I will, asshat.

Don P.-

Maybe you were thinking of the Zimbardo experiment. I've been thinking about it too, lately.

Joi, I'm GLAD you pointed to this.

What, all of a sudden white America is getting nervous about being painted with a racist brush? Come on!

You know what, there are plenty of Americans who think the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. I've talked to them. Believe it--the cult of bush runs wide and strong and the God Bless America And Fuck Everyone Else crowd DOES live loud and proud in pockets across the country. Yah, West Virginia. Yah Geogia. Keep going. You'll find more.

You better damn well believe the brown skin plays a part in all of this. It's part of the reason we're over there. No one in the axis of evil looks quite like "us," eh? Ain't that a hoot.

Meanwhile, wasn't something going on in Sudan [[]]?

wag the dog, flog the "detainees" -- YES, SORRY FRIENDS, THIS IS what America has become. Our little west virginia turkey/iraqi shooter is a hero in her hometown, and in lots of hometowns across this country.

More photos, worse photos, and videos showing the rape of at least one female detainee, improper acts with a dead body, and forced sex with young boys are about to leak out.

Think Bennett, Reynolds and Limbaugh will cop then?

All is fair in war. O save the world o great leaders of the west.

bite my ass.

And for crying out loud, she's not "pointing" at their genitals, she's MOCK MACHINE GUNNING them, blowing them off.


Dubya's excuse will be:

Us 'Merkins ain't ter blame fer thet Iraqi torture, it was England!

The Daily Telegraph article was shocking to say the very least. I know not all West Virginians share the attitude expressed by the people quoted.
Although I wouldn't go as far as saying that Charles Graner was her first love -->
I think Ms. England requires professional help, I doubt she will be getting that. I guess growing up in a trailer park de-sensitizes you from pain, anguish and suffering.

Here's someone else who's not upset.

Rush Limbaugh on radio
CALLER: It was like a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men --

LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?

via Eric

..."You ever heard of OxyContin? I think I'll take another."

I think it was Bill Maher who said that Limbaugh is living proof that it is possible to "work high". Perhaps that's true, but I think that the comment above is proof that Rush has to either change or increase his meds.

You can count Kentucky as containing one of the "Bush" pockets where there are many who don't think the Soldiers did anything wrong.

I was stunned and literally frozen watching a local early morning news show present ther results of their online poll asking viewers to weigh in on whether the soldiers involved should recieve a Court Marshall. A whopping 68% thought nothing should be done about it.


I hate being called a redneck and get defensive about my home state, but I have learned a great deal about he people I share an address with. There is truely no limit to the damage stupid people can do.

Stupid people indeed... That's my pet name, for liberals and other bleeding hearts, who want to "civilize" war.
War is hell, my friends, and fellow citizens...utter and complete hell. Many of those people interred at Abu Ghraib prison, are insurgents, and terrorists... and so they deserve whatever hell we put them through, simply put.
Our United States Army can't afford to be the "good guy"...and expect to accomplish it's objectives in Iraq. I think I can speak for a large segment of America, when I say that we are tired of being dicked around, by Islam as a whole...and we're wanting something done about it.
We've seen our soldiers killed, our civilians murdered, and our children slain...and for what? Now, when we retaliate, and we attempt to prevent yet more atrocities, by aggressive interrogation techniques, we get second guessed, and sucker punched by liberal, bleeding heart "rights activists". Let's talk about rights for a moment, shall we? I say that if you are a terrorist, or anyone aiding and abetting terror, in the form of wholesale human slaughter....then you HAVE no rights.... and why? Because you've deprived innocent people of THEIR right to a natural life. What about the rights of all those people who died in the World Trade center attacks...or all those Military personnel who died in the Pentagon...? Those people had rights too, didn't they?
We ALL have rights.....the right to a safe world, in which to raise our children, walk our dogs, and live our lives.
To anyone who would interfere with those peace and the pursuit of happiness, I say that death is just damned near too good for you...and that if you get tortured in the interest of obtaining information that saves lives, and prevents chaos...then you took the risk, by becoming involved with Terrorism. I do not care if the Terrorist is a Shiite, a Sunni Moslem, or an I.R.A. gunman in Ulster....Anyone who thinks nothing of killing innocent men, women, and especially a DISEASE.
That is what Terrorism IS's a disease that feeds poverty, and fear...a disease spread by Sociopaths who masquerade as religious leaders. Until we've rooted out religious hatred and intolerance in the middle east...and until the Mullahs stop preaching that children who kill westerners, in the name of Allah become kings in the afterlife....we will have terrorism, and killing, and chaos.... So all of you so called "experts" and "Do gooders" please do the United States Military a favor....Replace your ignorant skulls BACK in your collective rectums, from whence you removed them...and ignore what happened. In brief, Terrorists should get what's coming to them. If we make their stay in captivity like an all expenses paid vacation in the Bahamas, (with the tab picked up by all of us OH so generous taxpayers) I feel it would only encourage yet more terrorist acts...don't you? Nope....let's just leave things as they are, and even the score....treat terrorists just like what they are....SCUM! EXCREMENT! and let the world's Terrorist wannabe's SEE them being treated like dirt...Let that be a deterrent. I'm all for trying the scum, and hanging them in public...from a very sturdy gallows, and filmed on worldwide Television. Let them die with pig entrails wrapped around their necks, so those who watch KNOW they can't ever make it to paradise.... Because paradise isn't any place for murderers or those who conspire to commit or aid in commiting murder.

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Tit For Tat? from Sacrificial Rabbit
May 7, 2004 5:35 AM

Over on Joi Itos Blog, there is a lot of talk about the yuckay that is the torture of Iraqi prisoners. This post in particular i Read More

Joi Ito pointed to the article from the Telegraph, which interviews the mother of one of the women involved with the photos of the torture of the Iraqi prisoners. First: Why the focus on the women soldiers? Why not the men? Or both? Second: Remem... Read More

Good ol’ girl who enjoyed crueltyPOINTING crudely at the genitals of a naked, hooded Iraqi, the petite brunette with a cigarette hanging from her lips epitomised America’s shame over revelations US soldiers routinely tortured inmates at Ab... Read More