Commentary: Guantanamo's not-so-easy listening music

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

How easy it is to generate a few chuckles over music that is "torture" to listen to – whether some execrable blast of big-hair heavy metal, mindless elevator fodder, saccharine Vegas-style crooning or "Bolero" for the gazillionth time.

But what if the music, whatever its style, really is used to torture someone? What's so funny about it then?

Assaulting a prisoner with sound may not amount to torture in the classic sense. No racks, pincers, branding irons. Yet not only can loud noise be painful, but sounds repeated incessantly can become disturbing to the point of agony.

At the Guantanamo Bay prison, detainees endured just this sort of regime. The aim was to destabilize, demoralize, unhinge. To "prolong capture shock." This was music deployed as an instrument of coercion. So were thumbscrews.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.