Great Pretzel Swallower's
But enough about minor players. As I study The Photo, I can't help but think of our avenging hero, our smirking leader, the Great Pretzel Swallower, wounded in action while watching TV. I could never imagine our Commander-in-Chief in battle (too dangerous!), but I can easily see him in the role of the cocky Marine with the pole in his pants, as President of Yale's mystical, medievalesque Skull & Bones Society, subjugating the freshmen initiates in some quasi-ceremonial, beer- and coke-soaked parody of the heroic and obscene rites of war.
Then there's the embarrassing fact that we never did catch Osama. So we got these guys who we're vaguely referring to as higher-ups in the Taliban and Al Qaeda network. Notice how the fantasies about Bin Laden and what we were going to do to him have disappeared? I had my own Osama Fantasies, visions of forcing the big pig to have a sex change operation, then sending him back to the Taliban to live as woman. But no more. Now Osama appears to have either died quietly of kidney failure or slipped away to the suburbs of Zürich. This is not a sexually satisfying ending. This doesn't make an American feel his dick at all! So here we are then, putting these Orange Men through their paces. They are our "Osama Surrogates." Our terrorist punching bags. Our bitches. Our Thanatos Therapy. Like the woman at home beaten by her husband when he loses a fight at work.
Another reason for calling them Prisoners of Love: As reported by Molly Ivins, Retired US Army General Bernard Tranor said "Well, they like to spend a lot of time on their knees anyway."
Oh, yeah. On your knees. I know you love it. I'm your Mecca now, baby. Pray to me.
But calling them Prisoners of Love is kind of sappy, and implies some modicum of consent. So, they're calling them "detainees." Sounds rather French and not so bad, like being a "guest." Remember when that other Evil-Doer Saddam Hussein called American hostages "guests"? That went over real well.
This is not going over well either, this hardcore Pentagon Porn. After all, one person's porn is another person's outrage. Government leaders and people around the world are outraged by The Photo, disgusted by our cocky, international law-breaking display of power over our virtually kidnapped captives. Aroused or not, they are not amused. Suddenly, we are losing the PR War.
Quick, Rummy, get re-write! Fire the dude who released The Photo! What happened to the old Pentagon PR team that brought us food packets and smart bombs? Did they all go on vacation? Do they think this War is over? This is just soooo embarrassing. Not for the stupid Taliban with the bare asses. For us. It's one thing to be exposed. It's another to expose yourself.
America is choking on this one like a pretzel we chewed too fast.
"Probably unfortunate" was how Rummy dryly described the incident, then protested that the detainees weren't trussed up in their S&M outfits all that long, and we shouldn't jump to conclusions from this one photo. Perhaps, we should see their other outfits. Perhaps, we should see their cages.
We're told their conditions are not "comfortable" (why should a terrorist be comfortable?), but they are "humane." They are being fed bagels and cream cheese (not so culturally sensitive, but never mind), granola (is that for the Marin County Talib?) and Fruit Loops. Hey now, some of their starving refugee relatives would give up their Kalishnakovs to get their lips around a plastic spoonful of Fruit Loops.
Desperately seeking spin, and having gone a little fruit loopy, Rummy, Asscraft and the gang have tried calling the Orange Men "illegal combatants." But illegal according to which law? The country they were living in was invaded. Maybe they were on the wrong side, maybe they didn't have uniforms, and maybe war itself should be illegal, but as long as it isn't, those guys are as much legal warriors as any. And if they've done something illegal, why haven't they been charged?
Americans are not exactly storming the Pentagon over this, but some are pretty appalled. A coalition of lawyers, clergy and professors, led by LA civil liberties attorney Stephen Yagman (best known for cases involving police abuse), and including former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and USC law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, filed a petition in a US District Court demanding that the detainees be identified, taken before a court and told of the charges against them. What, give them due process? Well, why not? They're not Prisoners of War.
While we try to figure out what they are and what to do with them, we are holding them like sheep bound for slaughter or chickens in a coop. Rummy says all the S&M gear was for safety purposes only. The warden at Camp X-Ray, Colonel Terry Carrico, was a bit more forthcoming, saying he was determined at all times to maintain what he called "positive control" over the prisoners. If that includes mind control, it explains the earphones.
We hear that they are here to be interrogated. That's when they try to get the chickens in the coops to lay eggs of information, rewarding them with extra Fruit Loops and chicken feed if they tell tales that will, without a doubt, be used against them.
Yes, I know, these are Evil-Doers, terrorists. They're dangerous. They could hurt somebody. I sure wouldn't want any of them busting in on my broadcast studio, guns cocked, like about 20 members of the LAPD did a couple years ago (yes, my lawsuit is still pending. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get involved).
Rummy, ever the avuncular pragmatist, reminds us that these guys are not just bad, they're frenzied lunatics, every one of them a bomb waiting to go off, a dickhead ready to explode, a Hannibal plotting to bite off your face if you loosen his surgical mask, ready to take you down if you take off his mittens, able to hypnotize you with his eyes if you remove his blindfold. Maybe so. But don't all violent prisoners have that potential? Should we treat all violent or potentially violent prisoners like this? Apparently, some folks at the Pentagon think we should. And if you've ever been through Men's Central Jail in LA, you know that that's how it's already done (though the blindfolds and earphones are illegal).
It's enough to make you toss your cookies. But I have to chuckle when I think of some of my sex therapy clients, the guys with the extreme submissive male/male fantasies-and there are a lot of them--who have been looking at The Photo and going day-glo green with envy. Some have already called asking for a "Guantánamo Roleplay." The desire to be a victim-a terrorist martyr--is as at least as strong as the desire to be a hero, a winner, a tyrant. It's all an embrace of Thanatos, Death (either killing or dying), as opposed to Eros, Love, Sex, the Life Force, the Bonobo Way. Far better to roleplay it with a sex therapist (or your lover) than play it for real on the World Stage.
Now, don't get me wrong. Legal or not, I don't trust these detainees for a second. I don't like their philosophies. I don't like their religious fanaticism. I don't like their attitudes toward women or sex. I don't like their culture of violence (their behavior would be at least as sadistic if the positions were reversed). I don't like their mangy beards.
But we can't play S&M games with people just because we don't like them. We can't kidnap them, torture them, and hold them captive without saying what we're going to do with them. Well, we can, and we are. And we shouldn't, and we know we shouldn't, but we will. At least, until somebody figures out what the hell to do with the bastards. But what about in the meantime? We can't kill them. We can't really torture them because the whole world is watching. We can't put most of them on trial. We can't get much evidence on any of them (unlike the Israelis who collected mounds of evidence on the Nazis that they "kidnapped" and tried for war crimes). We probably can't get them to say much of any value in terms of preventing further terrorist attacks, and in any case, we can't interrogate them forever. Rummy! Get re-write! We're about to choke on a pretzel we can't cough up!
It's all about exerting power through Thanatos instead of Eros. Since the Horror of 9.11, everyone's been praying to someone. Now it's my turn. I pray to Eros, Aphrodite, Darwin, Gandhi, Margaret Sanger, my Mom and Josephine Baker: Let us follow the Bonobo Way and stop acting like baboons. Let us stop eroticizing violence and war, and try eroticizing sex and peace. It's much safer. At this point in our evolution, it might even be better, PR-wise.
Amen. And A-women too.
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Ripper: Were you ever a prisoner of war?
Mandrake: Ah yes I was. Matter of fact, Jack, I was.
Ripper: Did they torture you?
Mandrake: Ah... yes, they did. I was tortured by the Japanese, Jack, if you must know. Not a pretty story.
Ripper: Well what happened?
Mandrake: Oh... well... I don't know, Jack. Difficult to think of under these conditions. But, well, what happened was they got me on the old Rangoon HNRR railway. I was laying train mines for the bloody Japanese puff puffs.
Ripper: No, I mean when they tortured you, did you talk?
Mandrake: Ah, oh no, I ah... I don't think they wanted me to talk, really. I don't think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having... a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.