• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683.


‘But That Would Be Torture!’


I just received an object lesson into how easily we Americans are able to compartmentalize our principles and our sense of basic human decency.

My father, David Lindorff Sr., who is 89, recently took a bad fall, hitting the back of his head on the bedpost and suffering a concussion that has temporarily left him with some periods of confusion. In the rehab facility where he was recovering, he would sometimes, when he was tired and half-asleep, get confused about his location, and would try to climb out of the hospital bed he was in, putting him at risk of another serious fall.

I asked the nurse in charge of the floor, and later also asked the head of the facility, if he could perhaps have a safety strap placed over him so that he would not be able to inadvertently hurt himself, and in both cases received a shocked reply: “We do not restrain our patients here. That would be a kind of torture! We are a restraint-free institution.”

The revulsion in the director’s voice at the notion of even gently restraining a patient like dad in a bed for his own protection was so evident I was struck by its basic sincerity.

And yet, this is in a country where most of the citizenry is cheering the ongoing torture of captives in the government’s trumped-up “war” on terror. A country that also routinely–and again with the enthusiastic endorsement of the public–tortures many of the millions of human beings it incarcerates every year.

How can it be that there is such widespread empathy in America for the old and the sick and such revulsion at the idea of restraining them (even for their own good), and yet when it comes to actually torturing people considered to be “terrorists” — even before these people have had a trial — or people who have been jailed, even for non-violent crimes, many of the same people are happy to see them water-boarded, hung by the wrists from the ceiling with only their toes on the ground, placed for hours in stress positions, slammed against the wall, deprived of sleep for days on end, or in the case of common prisoners, placed in solitary, sometimes for months at a stretch, and shackled like slaves when removed from their cells?

It’s the same kind of moral disconnect that has people weeping and becoming outraged over the abuse of animals — for example the case of the Arizona pound that killed a badly injured cat brought in by a homeless man for treatment when it got caught in barbed wire — but then shrugging it off when they hear that another man in Arizona, picked up on a drunk driving charge, was placed in solitary and then left there, without trial or even access to a lawyer, for a year, or when they hear that a number of the so-called “terrorists” held at Guantanamo, sometimes for years, were captured and stolen away from their families in Afghanistan when they were just boys as young as 14!`

One of those boys, Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was 15 when captured, has not only been held at Guantanamo for for over a decade now, but was tortured repeatedly as a child by his US military captors, and ultimately was forced, after a sham military “tribunal,” to choose between endless captivity at Guantanamo or an admission of “guilt” and an additional sentence of 8 years with one more served at Guantanamo and seven more in his native Canada (he chose the latter).  His “crime”? He allegedly tossed a grenade at US troops who were entering a Taliban compound which they had already called in an airstrike on. As the US soldiers were checking out the bodies of the victims of that airstrike, and by some accounts, finishing off the wounded, boy-soldier Khadr, badly wounded himself, is alleged to have tossed a grenade that killed one US soldier. Note that had an American soldier done exactly the same thing under those circumstances he would almost certainly have won at least a Silver Star, and maybe a Medal of Honor, but because this boy was fighting with the Taliban, he was instead charged with murder.)

Meanwhile, I can’t get a nursing home to gently restrain my father at night, either by putting up the sides on both sides of his hospital bed or by placing a lose belt over him as he’s sleeping, because that would be “torture.”

Is this a crazy goddam country or what!

Dave Lindorff is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He lives in Philadelphia. 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook Is Listening to You
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid