South Park Baathists

“South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker tell The Telegraph that they got a signed picture of Saddam Hussein from some Iraq Marines.

During his captivity, US marines forced Saddam, who was executed in 2006, to repeatedly watch the move South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut, which shows him as gay, as well as the boyfriend of Satan. He was also regularly depicted in a similar manner during the TV series.

Question: Does this constitute torture?

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Popular Culture, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    A better question, what purpose did it serve? The answer to that will give you the answer to your question.

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    No.

  3. While it was undoubtedly unpleasant, I think dealing with people like Saddam is part of the risk you sign up for when you join the U.S. Marines. Therefore, I would consider it a part of doing an unpleasant job, not torture.

  4. Bithead says:

    No.

  5. Wayne says:

    Michael
    I am not sure what purpose showing the movie served.

    As for torture verses softening techniques, interrogation techniques, etc. Surely you are not suggesting any technique that causes mental anguish is torture? Lawyers try to rattle witnesses by playing mind games. Hostage negotiators often try to make hostage takers uncomfortable. Timeshare salesman use techniques to confuse and overload buyers brain including having a number cruncher throw a bunch of numbers and question at the prospective buyer in rapid succession in order to confuse them. Yes these are extreme examples but by many of the left whose definition of torture is “causation of mental anguish” my examples would be fit the definition of torture since they all are design to cause mental anguish. I do not consider these examples or the movie deal as torture. Do you?

  6. Ken says:

    No, it was simply a tactic to demean and humiliate him, which he deserves as a despot who executed political opponents.

  7. chsw says:

    It may be torture if it was combined with the “Barney” song – and anything out of his secret police’s tortures book.

  8. sam says:

    Well, if you wanna hear about torture. In the movie, “One, Two, Three,” the Horst Buchholz character is forced by the Stasi to listen for hours to an “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” 45 played off-center until he confesses. That was torture

  9. Franklin says:

    No.

    As for Wayne’s examples: obviously none of those are torture, although two of them border on unethical.

  10. Idiot says:

    This is mindless. Did it make Saddam cry? Should I worry about the feelings of a person who put his own people through shredders? Does this in somehow diminish the US? Hardly. So Saddam was made to watch himself as a satirical bottom. Again, who cares? Barney Frank, not there is anything wrong with it, advertised himself as a “hot bottom” at one time.

    I think our concern about this non-sense says more about the US and the West in terms of our seriousness in dealing with our adversaries in that we are more concerned about their feelings and trivial legalities than our ultimate success in battle and thereafter.

  11. Yes, but did he change?

    Or as Satan himself said, “Without evil there would be no good so it must be good to be evil sometimes.”

    But seriously, unless I missed your tongue in your cheek, questions about whether this was torture or not illustrate just how diseased the entire conversation has become.

  12. 1ifbyC says:

    This “torture” question is out of control. Why we care so much of the feeling of evil men who would just as soon cut ones head off as talk to you is so far beyond my comprehension. Why we care what the “world” thinks of US is immaterial. What is material is protecting us from evil and men bent on our total destruction. I for one, would torture a man to get information on where my wife or children were if they had been taken by one of these “humans”. If we want to win this war against men that have no value on life we had better start playing by the rules they have set forth. When the government tie our military’s hands then sends them in to fight, is that not torturing our troupes? Or does that make it fair because we are afraid to be the warriors, the great nation, the great people we are. Torture. Please.

  13. Michael says:

    Why we care so much of the feeling of evil men who would just as soon cut ones head off as talk to you is so far beyond my comprehension.

    We don’t care about them, we care about us. The torture question is about us.

    I for one, would torture a man to get information on where my wife or children were if they had been taken by one of these “humans”.

    Yes, but would you do it for fun? After all, if someone deserves torture in your mind, do you really need more justification?

    If we want to win this war against men that have no value on life we had better start playing by the rules they have set forth.

    Funny, we beat Nazis without having to commit genocide. We beat communists without having purges. What makes Islamists so different?

    Torture. Please.

    Who? Your wife and children, perhaps? (sorry to make it so personal, but you don’t seem to care who gets tortured, as long as you’re hurting someone. Being a husband and father myself, I can’t help but worry that you’d be okay with it happening to mine.)

  14. Christopher says:

    lol! All these responses are hilarious! The liberals especially. Wow, liberals such idiots!

  15. sam says:

    lol! All these responses are hilarious! The liberals especially. Wow, liberals such idiots!

    So, the other, nonliberal comments, being likewise hilarious, are coming from idiots, too, only not liberal idiots, do I have that right? (Oh, and glad to see your mom gave you back your computer priveleges, Chris.)

    I was going to mention the Cretan Paradox here, but then I thought, well it’s not really a paradox, more like a Cretin Affirmation.

  16. G.A.Phillips says:

    Did I ever mention that the last few parts of Team America is my favorite movie and or moving visual image accompanied by sound.

  17. Franklin says:

    By the way, I took JJ’s question as tongue-in-cheek. Was it? Others took it rather seriously so I gave a serious answer.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe that JJ agrees that some of the tactics we have used constitute torture, but I seriously doubt that he thinks this particular tactic is torture.

    As for the torture argument, it’s plainly illegal under our treaties. Many if not most interrogators think it is also ineffective – in fact we went to war with Iraq based partly on false testimony extracted with torture. It also appears to me to be immoral to torture people before they’ve been proven to be guilty of anything. Regarding the ticking-bomb scenario, it’s extraordinarily rare; I could see a rare exception for that case, sure, but prove to me that it has ever happened.

  18. Bithead says:

    Funny, we beat Nazis without having to commit genocide.

    Oh, really?

    It’s amazing how detached from reality some folks get on this subject.

  19. Michael says:

    Oh, really?

    It’s amazing how detached from reality some folks get on this subject.

    While Dresden is a terrible event, it doesn’t qualify as genocide. Neither, I would add, were the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  20. Michael says:

    Regarding the ticking-bomb scenario, it’s extraordinarily rare; I could see a rare exception for that case, sure, but prove to me that it has ever happened.

    You don’t need an exception for the ticking-bomb scenario. Are we seriously worried that someone would allow a bomb to go off just to avoid breaking the law?

  21. Bithead says:

    While Dresden is a terrible event, it doesn’t qualify as genocide. Neither, I would add, were the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Hmmm.

    gen·o·cide (jÄ›n’É™-sÄ«d’) Pronunciation Key
    n.
    The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.

    If your argument, as I suspect, is centered on the word ‘entire’, (Neither Dresden or Japan succeeded in the alimination of the whole of the race or the culture) I suggest that’s lame in the extreme. Witness, the Rwandans, and the jews still exist as such, though in reduced numbers.

    If that isn’t your argument I’d be interested in hearing what your definition is for the word.

    Are we seriously worried that someone would allow a bomb to go off just to avoid breaking the law?

    I’d say the chances are rather high. I’m sure I’ll be told the two situations aren’t related, but I suspect they are radically so… it goes to a pattern of thought… or more correctly, non-thought that drives such chocies.

  22. Michael says:

    If your argument, as I suspect, is centered on the word ‘entire’…I suggest that’s lame in the extreme.

    Actually, my argument is centered around the phrase “systematic and planned”, as in, neither Dresden nor the Japan attacks were intended to exterminate a race or nationality. In Nazi Germany and Rwanda that was the intent, even if it wasn’t achieved.

    I’m sure I’ll be told the two situations aren’t related

    Your links points to a story about a girl who died in a house fire. Either the link is wrong, or you and I have grossly differing ideas of what “related” means.

  23. tom p says:

    Michael, I hate conceding a point to Bit, but…

    While Dresden is a terrible event, it doesn’t qualify as genocide. Neither, I would add, were the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Leaving aside the term “genocide”, the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo (not to mention H and N) were both “systematic and planned”, and as such, could well reach the level of war crimes. Lemay was not prosecuted only because we won.

    But, do we really want to go as low as our enemies or are we better than that?

    As to the “ticking bomb” scenario… torture has only proven itself reliable at producing what the torturer has already decided he wants to hear. Nothing more. If he wants to here that a bomb is planted in downtown Baltimore, he won’t stop until that is what he hears.

    Never mind that it is actually in downtown Seattle.

  24. Michael says:

    the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo (not to mention H and N) were both “systematic and planned”

    And yet, still not genocide. Genocide has a very specific meaning.

  25. Bithead says:

    Your links points to a story about a girl who died in a house fire. Either the link is wrong, or you and I have grossly differing ideas of what “related” means.

    I strongly advise you to look again at the context of the story in relationship to your question. The child died because nobody was willing to bypass the police who showed up. Nobody wanted to disobey “the law”. I suggest to you that with respect to the attitude on the law itself, those two situations are directly related.

  26. Michael says:

    The child died because nobody was willing to bypass the police who showed up. Nobody wanted to disobey “the law”.

    The linked article didn’t say anything at all about police being there, or other people being there. Are you just making shit up now?