Monday, August 26, 2013

On Being Waterboarded (or: the Least Fun I've Had On Any Friday Night).

(Originally written on the 5th of August)

Ten days ago today two of my friends and I got waterboarded by each other and some more friends. The purpose of this exercise was to get a better idea of what exactly waterboarding entails. When I have an opinion about something, I'd like to know as much as possible about it. Not that I am under the illusion that what I have experienced is in any way the same as what an actual waterboarding victim would experience, but hopefully I've gotten a better understanding out of it. Since I do not even pretend to know the exact impact this had on my friends, I'll just tell this from my own, personal, perspective.

We had a makeshift table set up made of a wooden board and supported by two metal objects. We lay on it with ours heads just over the edge so that the angle would fit the purpose better (not that such a thing was really needed in my case, with me having a Kevin Bacon nose and all). The water was supplied by plastic jerrycans, large soda bottles and, in two instances, a fire hose. The participants (two at first, a third one joined in the third round) were given two wooden weights (one for each hand) to let go on the moment they wanted out. This was directly modeled after Christopher Hitchens' own, more impressive, go at waterboarding (which can be seen on Youtube).

The first try had a much deeper impact on me than I would or could have imagined. I thought that I could simply hold my breath, but there was an immediate feeling of drowning. It was not long before I started to automatically struggle, dropping the weights soon after that. It must've only taken a few seconds, but the shock after that overwhelmed me. Even after going outside and taking in some fresh air, I could hardly breathe. When I had somewhat regained my cool, I had a second go at it. One with a false start because I immediately fell back into the state of panic as soon as the wet towel was put on my face. I sat up, took some deep breaths and lay down again, this time to be waterboarded for a second time. At this point two people had been waterboarded twice. First my friend, then I, then my friend again (during my state of shock/panic attack) then me again. After this, a third person wanted in, and brought with him a T-shirt, to replace the towel that had been placed over our heads. Both friend A and friend B then tried out this method. I began to feel weak, shaky and, oddly, hungry. The adrenaline had dead down, I guess. After consuming a microwaved bapao sandwich and another beer I lay down and got waterboarded for a third time. This one was the absolute worst. The T-shirt wrapped tightly around my face, cutting off close to all air and letting in pretty much all the water immediately. I threw the wooden weights on the floor so hard, that one of them broke. I came up gasping for air and was shaking, filled with raging adrenaline up to ten minutes after. We then tidied up the place and went home to try and catch some sleep. I did not sleep well that night.

The following day was difficult. I had massive headaches accompanied by occasional black spots blurring my vision. I felt weak and didn't particularity feel like doing anything. When showering I actually felt a undertone of panic creeping in from somewhere deep inside. Throughout the day (and the one following it) I had pains in my throat, roof of my mouth and the cavities of my nose. And I'm still having trouble holding my head under my blanket when trying to sleep (I used to do that, mostly to block lights and sounds).

It is highly important to note that compared to actual waterboarding victims, I had it incredibly easy. I had the chance to opt out whenever I pleased. The truly inhumane part comes after the point where I had let go of the weights. And after that. Even now I can hardly imagine how excruciating that must be. No human being should ever be allowed to inflict such pains upon another human being. It is like Hitchens has said:
"If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture."

As promised, I will also address much lighter subjects on this blog.
In fact, I think I feel a Man of Steel review coming up...
See you next Monday!

-The Human Crayon.

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