Convo speaker to discuss torture and violence
RELEASED: February 21, 2008
Darius Rejali, a professor of political science at Reed College, is a nationally recognized expert on government torture and interrogation. His writings appear regularly in "The New York Times," "Newsweek" and "The New Yorker."His book titled "Torture and Democracy"was released in 2007.
Rejali will speak to Centre students and the community at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 25 in the Vahlkamp Theatre on campus.
According to Rejali, torture and violence have changed in the last 100 years. For centuries in some countries, public floggings and the scarring and disfigurement of "traditional" torture served as a deterrent and a public reminder of authority.
Modern democratic society has changed that, Rejali says. "As societies have become more open, the art of torture has crept underground and evolved into chilling new forms, often undetectable, that define torture today. It might make Americans uncomfortable, but the modern repertoire of torture is mainly a democratic innovation."
Rejali maintains that democratic societies, where social pressure for "clean" and undetectable torture is the greatest, became the greatest innovators in new forms of what Rejali calls "stealth torture."
"The disturbing political implication of clean torture is that we are less likely to complain about violence if it's committed by stealth," Rejali says. "Indeed, we are less likely even to have the opportunity to complain. This isn't because we're indifferent—although it's certainly possible—but because we're often uncertain whether violence occurred at all.
"We are, in effect, illiterate in stealth torture, and this has political consequences. When people can't speak intelligently about cruelty, they aren't likely to be able to protect themselves against tyranny at home."
For more information about Rejali's presentation, contact Andrei Maximenko, visiting assistant professor of international studies, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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