The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Great Debates

 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Prev Previous Post   Next Post Next
  #1  
Old 12-21-2007, 08:49 PM
Scylla Scylla is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
I waterboard!

So much talk of waterboarding, so much controversy. But what is it really? How bad? I wanted to write the definitive thread on waterboarding, settle the issue. Torture, or not?

To determine the answer, I knew I had to try it. I looked at my two small children. Surely, in the interests of science?.....

But alas, my wife had objections.

Perhaps her?

Sadly, she is proficient in Ju Jitsu, and I am unlikely to waterboard her.

That leaves me.


***

Seriously, I determined to give this a try, see how bad it was: Settle the debate authoritatively. Torture, or not?

I figure I would be a good test subject. I am incredibly fit and training for a 100 mile endurance run. The main thing about such an event is ability to tolerate pain. I am good at this. I am trained.

I also have experience with free-diving from my college days. I once held my breath for 4 minutes and two seconds. Once, while training as a lifeguard I swam laps without breathing until I passed out, so that I could know my limits.

To determine whether waterboarding is an acceptable interrogation technique or torture I must research it an then undergo it myself. Once I have done this, Elucidator Diogenes Tomndeb and all the rest of those liberal scum (no offense intended) must accept my now accept my now expert opinion.

So, here's what I would do. First I would google waterboarding to understand the basic concepts than I would try it on myself. First, self inflicted and then, if necessary, inflicted by my wife.(she has no problem torturing me. We've been married almost 15 years.)

These are the results of my research and experience:

The goal of waterboarding is to simulate drowning without the actual drowning or inhalation into the lungs. In order to accomplish this the subject is forced to lie on an inclined plane with his head lower than his lungs and then water is dumped onto his/her face (always keeping the lungs above the "Water line.") This simulates drowning and causes a panic.

There are some advanced techniques that make this more extreme, but that's the basic concept.

Easy enough to duplicate. I have an inclined weight bench and a watering can. No problem. I lie on this and tilt the watercan to pour water on my mouth and nose. Water goes up my nose causing me to gag and choke and splutter, but after a try or two I'm able to suppress my reflex, relax breathe in shallowly and then expel rapidly (shooting out the water) and maintain my composure. This is not too bad. with my diving experience, you would never break me this way. I can't beleive those AL Zarqawi guys were such pussies.

Back to researching the advanced techniques:

The first of these is wet rag in mouth. I try it. Ok, I can handle this too. It makes it a little bit more difficult to maintain control. I didn't realize it, but the first time around I was selectively breathing through either mouth or nose, to help maintain control. The wet rag eliminates the mouth as an option. You have to really concentrate to maintain control, breathing very shallowly on the inhale and not allowing yourself to exhale until you have a good lungfull with which to expel the water in you nose throat and sinuses. Then, you have to inhale slowly but fast enough to pull in a lungful of air before your nose throat and sinuses fill up. Difficult, but doable with some self-control. I can see where this would get very unpleasant if you lost control, but still, not terrible, not torture, per se in my book. It wasn't as bad as my vasectomy or last root canal, and not nearly so bad as the last OP I read by Liberal.


Next up is saran wrap. The idea is that you wrap saran wrap around the mouth in several layers, and poke a hole in the mouth area, and then waterboard away. I didn't reall see how this was an improvement on the rag technique, and so far I would categorize waterboarding as simply unpleasant rather than torture, but I've come this far so I might as well go on.

Now, those of you who know me will know that I am both enamored of my own toughness and prone to hyperbole. The former, I feel that I am justifiably proud of. The latter may be a truth in many cases, but this is the simple fact:

It took me ten minutes to recover my senses once I tried this. I was shuddering in a corner, convinced I narrowly escaped killing myself.

Here's what happened:

The water fills the hole in the saran wrap so that there is either water or vaccum in your mouth. The water pours into your sinuses and throat. You struggle to expel water periodically by building enough pressure in your lungs. With the saran wrap though each time I expelled water, I was able to draw in less air. Finally the lungs can no longer expel water and you begin to draw it up into your respiratory tract.

It seems that there is a point that is hardwired in us. When we draw water into our respiratory tract to this point we are no longer in control. All hell breaks loose. Instinct tells us we are dying.

I have never been more panicked in my whole life. Once your lungs are empty and collapsed and they start to draw fluid it is simply all over. You [b]know[b] you are dead and it's too late. Involuntary and total panic.

There is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It would be like telling you not to blink while I stuck a hot needle in your eye.

At the time my lungs emptied and I began to draw water, I would have sold my children to escape. There was no choice, or chance, and willpower was not involved.

I never felt anything like it, and this was self-inflicted with a watering can, where I was in total control and never in any danger.

And I understood.

Waterboarding gets you to the point where you draw water up your respiratory tract triggering the drowning reflex. Once that happens, it's all over. No question.

Some may go easy without a rag, some may need a rag, some may need saran wrap.

Once you are there it's all over.

I didn't allow anybody else to try it on me. Inconceivable. I know I only got the barest taste of what it's about since I was in control, and not restrained and controlling the flow of water.

But there's no chance. No chance at all.

So, is it torture?

I'll put it this way. If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I'd take the fingers, no question.

It's horrible, terrible, inhuman torture. I can hardly imagine worse. I'd prefer permanent damage and disability to experiencing it again. I'd give up anything, say anything, do anything.

The Spanish Inquisition knew this. It was one of their favorite methods.

It's torture. No question. Terrible terrible torture. To experience it and understand it and then do it to another human being is to leave the realm of sanity and humanity forever. No question in my mind.


Questions? Doubts?


P.S. Yes, I really did try it.

P.S.S. I understand that I took a shot or two at some other posters, but my hope is that this will be construed as humorous rather than genuinely insulting, and thus acceptable. If any offended parties take genuine issue, my sincere apologies, but I chose targets that I thought would appreciate rather than be offended.

Last edited by tomndebb; 04-30-2009 at 10:20 PM.. Reason: NOTE THE DATE OF THIS THREAD. !! SEE THE NOTE IN POST #480.
 



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:21 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.