So we get this story today with this headline:
Activist Tells of Torture in North Korea Prison
And I have no doubt he was tortured. But we know the NYT is a real stickler for the word "torture" and refuses to use it in its news pages for waterboarding, hanging people in stress positions for long periods of time, freezing people to near death, and all the techniques the Bush administration used against prisoners under its control in the war on terror. So presumably, this time, we have evidence that the torture used in this case by North Korea was much, much worse (if indeed that's possible).
But all we find out in the NYT is that Park was subject to "beatings, torture and sexual abuse." We know that beatings and sexual abuse were never described as torture by the NYT when it came to the US. So what do we know about the rest of Park's treatment?
We know only what he tells us - and that is "sexual torture."
“As a result of what happened to me in North Korea, I’ve thrown away any kind of personal desire. I will never, you know, be able to have a marriage or any kind of relationship.”
Again, the North Korean regime is arguably the most evil and disgusting one on earth and I'm sure Parks' treatment was horrifying. And maybe it was more extreme than the stripping, sexual humiliation, rape and sexual abuse at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib. And perhaps the abuse in general was worse than was credibly reported at Camp Mercury and Camp Tiger and Camp Nama, under Stanley McChrystal's eagle eye... but the point is: we don't know, and neither does the NYT.
But they use the word "torture" plainly, clearly and loudly, in a headline no less, because the treatment was inflicted by a foreign power. When it comes to torture by the US, the euphemisms and circumlocutions and Orwellianisms come flooding in. And if you haven't seen this NYT "torture euphemism generator" from Boing Boing, here it is. Hilarious and utterly depressing about the rank cowardice and chauvinism of a major and great newspaper.
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