Christopher Hitchens: putting water where his mouth is

Say what you like about the “odd couple” journalistic brothers Peter and Christoper Hitchens – they are “up for it”.

Peter, for example, renowned mauler of all things liberal, will always go on the radio to debate, for example, why the death penalty is, in his view, a jolly good idea. I seem to recall him turning out to spar with me on a quite humble radio station. I was thinking: “hang on, isn’t this the famous Peter Hitchens phoning in to this tiny FM radio station with me?”

Similarly, his US-based brother, big-time debater and hot shot Vanity Fair writer Christopher, is also pretty intrepid.

He’s made news today by talking about how he took on the challenge of being waterboarded after he’d apparently said it’s not real torture and then got the inevitable riposte: we’ll, how would you like it?

So, how did he like it? In a word, he didn’t like it. At all. It’s not some lightweight “simulation”, he says, but “you are drowning – or rather, being drowned". "If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such things as torture", he says, pretty unequivocally.

I’d say that being strapped down to a board that slopes backwards (so the water pours up your nose and into your throat) and then having pints of water carefully poured into your facial orifices is most definitely torture.

As some readers of this blog may remember, Amnesty recently put together a filmic simulation of waterboarding called “Stuff Of Life” as part of our Unsubscribe campaign. Courtesy of YouTube and a lot of interested newspaper sites, blogs and even cinemas, literally millions of people watched it.

I’ve been in a big cinema in central London (the Prince Charles) and have seen the impact of this amazing 90-second film – it's pretty stunning.

Check it out if you haven’t yet seen it. Watch it again if you have.

As Malcolm Nance, a US security expert who advised us on the making of the film says: “Having trained American operatives to withstand waterboarding, I can assure you that this truly scary film is right on the money – this is what it’s like.”

So – unlike Hitchens – don’t actually try waterboarding at home kids!

Instead, try watching the Amnesty Stuff Of Life film and then see if you can resist joining our Unsubscribe campaign.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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