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The Misuse of Music Act
A new organisation of musicians has written to Barack Obama protesting against the use of music to torture detainees. Also: a closer look at the individuals behind the recent An Bord Snip report, which recommends systematic fleecing of the poor in order to keep fat-cats in the style to which they’re accustomed.
Eamonn McCann, 06 Aug 2009
Maybe music can’t save your mortal soul, but it shouldn’t be used for damnable purposes either. So says Peter Gabriel in a letter to Barack Obama demanding an end to “torture music” by military interrogators.
The technique involves music being played at mind-bursting volume through speakers clamped onto the ears of detainees. The letter has been co-signed by Dizzee Rascal, Graham Coxon, Doves, Suggs, Massive Attack, The Alabama 3, Ash, James Lavelle, Matthew Herbert, Mr Scruff and many others.
“We are, of course, against all forms of torture, but as musicians we are particularly concerned about the misuse of music and that this practice might slip under the radar unless you explicitly condemn it,” Gabriel tells Obama. “The practice is an abuse of our rights as well as, of course, the rights of the prisoners who are subjected to it. We ask you to send a clear message and explicitly outlaw the use of music to ‘break’ and interrogate prisoners.”
It’s tempting to have fun at the idea of music being used to break detainees. Sure, a couple of days of Daniel O’Donnell would mash the brains of even the hardest suspect, and so forth. But, actually, it isn’t funny.
Clive Stafford Smith, who has represented many inmates of Guantanamo Bay, says: “This technique and others like it can inflict permanent damage on the mind. But because it leaves no visible scars, there is a real chance that President Obama will consider it harmless. It is not. It causes...effects which can last a lifetime.
“It is a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, and an affront to musicians everywhere.”
Reprieve has launched an online “silent petition” against music torture. You can sign up at www.zerodb.org. Or email email@example.com. Irish musicians are earnestly urged to give their support.
A change in the layout of the local shop means I can’t leaf through the Sunday Indo and slip it back onto the shelf any more. So imagine my surprise when recently I chanced on a copy and discovered Eoghan Harris giving his opinion on this and that. I had assumed he’d been serving a period of silence. I picked up the ‘paper the Sunday after news that Sarah Palin had resigned as Governor of Alaska. Back in August ’08, it might be remembered, most commentators reckoned John McCain had shot himself in the kneecaps by putting Palin a dicky heartbeat away from the presidency. But not Eoghan.