Thursday, October 22, 2009

Musicians Speak Out on Using Music as Torture, Closing Guantanamo

From Lisa Derrick at La Figa:

Musicians, including R.E.M and Pearl Jam, launched a formal protest of the use of music used in conjunction with torture that took place at Guantanamo Bay and other facilities. And they’ve announced they are supporting an effort seeking the declassification of all secret government records pertaining to how music was utilized as an interrogation device.

Both Tom Morello and Trent Reznor–the music of Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails were used as part the torture of inmates–are involved in the campaign. Says Morello in a statement:

Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where human beings have been tortured – from water boarding, to stripping, hooding and forcing detainees into humiliating sexual acts – playing music for 72 hours in a row at volumes just below that to shatter the ear drums.

Morello, Rage Against the Machine’s guitarist, adds:

Guantanamo may be Dick Cheney’s idea of America, but it’s not mine. The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me – we need to end torture and close Guantanamo now.

Also on board united in finding out about the abuse: Jackson Browne, Billy Bragg, Michelle Branch, T-Bone Burnett, David Byrne, Rosanne Cash, Marc Cohn, Steve Earle, the Entrance Band, Joe Henry, Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, R.E.M., Rise Against, and The Roots. The campaign was organized by long time music fan and political organizer Trevor FitzGibbon.

You can go here to sign a letter, joining the musicians who are speaking out against torture and advocating the closure of the prison facility in Guantanamo Bay.

Here is what R.E.M has to say:

We signed onto the campaign in complete support of President Obama and the military leaders who have called for an end to torture and to close Guantanamo. As long as Guantanamo stays open, America’s legacy around the world will continue to be the torture that went on there. We have spent the past 30 years supporting causes related to peace and justice – to now learn that some of our friends’ music may have been used as part of the torture tactics without their consent or knowledge, is horrific. It’s anti-American, period.

and from the Roots:

When we found out that music was being used as part of the torture going on at Guantanamo, shackling and beating people - we were angry. Just as we wouldn’t be caught dead allowing Dick Cheney to use our music for his campaigns, you can be damn sure, we wouldn’t allow him to use it to torture other human beings. Congress needs to shut Guantanamo down.


ryanshaunkelly said...

Props to Tom, Trent, Marilyn, Michael, Eddie, & David.

Riding the storm out
Waiting for the fallout
On a full moon night in the Rocky Mountain winter ~

Joe Markowitz said...

Are these bands looking into whether they are entitled to royalties for the playing of their music to torture prisoners? I heard that some of the bands whose music was used without permission by the McCain campaign, I believe it was, sought compensation for that and donated the proceeds to the other side. Perhaps these bands should be seeking payment from the U.S. government and donating the money to Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch.

trey said...

I guess you can't really blame someone for not wanting his/her copyrighted product to be used against their wishes for something they disapprove of but its sort of a big pet peeve of mine that all these so-called bohemian type artists are almost always unanimous, 100%, dyed-in-the-wool lefties. Just for the sake of contrarianism (which is usually considered a virtue by bohemian types)you'd think there would be at least some consensus-opposing going on. And as a political conservative who basically leads a rather bohemian lifestyle, I can testify that though it may be somewhat lonely being a conservative bohemian there, however, can be some strong logical rationale for it nonetheless. Namely, bohemianism (and I don't mean this as an insult) is basically a parasitic lifestyle. It is dependent on a large mainstream population that feels strongly incentivized to spend much of their time being materially productive. The smart bohemian will find loopholes in the system and still be able to live a life with a fair amount of the leizurely pursuits he enjoys (like the arts and philosophy) and still allow the broad society to create enough wealth and throw off enough material excess that he can live materially like the kings of yore. And as it stands today (though the left can really do some smart, useful analysis and work on issues of mid-level importance like environmental protection and lifestyle tolerance), the left is ultimately beholden to various economically and educationally underperforming identity groups with no serious ideas about how to remedy this underperformance. Anyone who can see a few steps ahead and see the dangers inherent in having rapidly growing, economically-underperforming identity groups and a political system (democracy) that has large potential to devolve into economic growth-destroying socialism has good reason to fear.