R.E.M., Pearl Jam, AC/DC, Britney Spears, Marilyn Manson, Metallica and Bruce Springsteen. How's that for an all-star lineup? If you were fortunate enough to be a detainee at the terror suspect camp at Guantanamo Bay, you would have been treated to a playlist by these artists. At all hours of the day and night. At excessive volume. A November 2008 report by the Senate Armed Services Committee makes several references to the use of loud music as an interrogation tool. To say that the selection of songs was eclectic would be an understatement, given the inclusion of such gems as the Meow Mix cat food jingle, music from "Sesame Street," Don McLean's "American Pie," and the "I Love You" song from the children's show "Barney." We can only assume that they saved "It's A Small World" for those really hard cases.
Whatever happened to "if it's too loud, you're too old?" Back in 1989, the U.S. Army brought out the Marshall stacks during "Operation Just Cause" to drive Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega out of his refuge in the Vatican Embassy compound. Can you really play "Welcome To The Jungle" too loud? It was never made clear whether the opera-loving Noriega surrendered because of the cacophony, or because he was surrounded by hundreds of heavily armed American troops. Like the artists who are now protesting the use of their music as implements of torture, I fear we are coming dangerously close to the Ludovico technique, as witnessed in "A Clockwork Orange."
It also gives me pause to think of my sainted wife who, for the longest time, would instinctively reach for the volume knob on the stereo whenever Rush came on. When questioned about this habit, she claimed not to have any recollection of her actions. It was conditioning, she maintained. Ah, the power of psyops.