Maxed Out 

A few bad apples…

Page 3 of 3

Zimbardo called a stop to the proceedings after six days! Things had gotten out of hand. Prisoners began to act like prisoners and, more disturbingly, guards began to act like guards. Even one of Zimbardo’s grad students overseeing the experiment got so wrapped up in it he began acting like a prison warden.

Guards abused, humiliated and degraded prisoners, particularly during the night shift when they thought no one was watching. They hooded them, made them perform simulated sexual perversions, administered corporal punishment and generally reduced them to non-humans.

So what’s that tell us about what’s going on in Iraq? What’s it tell us about the delicate line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour?

The monster lives within all of our souls. Our "morality" is situational. So is our sense of outrage. It’s easy to sit in our comfortable houses and watch television and tsk-tsk the actions of depraved psychos. It’s hard to remember they’re really just like us – whether they’re humiliating prisoners or beheading infidels… or swinging hockey sticks or bullying other 14-year-olds to death.

Whether the MPs or jumbo shrimp, er, military intelligence were in charge at Abu Ghraib isn’t really important. The situation in which this immorality is being played out was staged and scripted in Washington. Yet, Bush and Rummy can sit comfortably in DC, accept responsibility – which has just about completely devalued the meaning of that word – and say it’s all just a few bad apples.

Regime change, anyone?

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