Do not read this post or look at the photos if you think you will irreversibly upset by torture techniques.
This is a supplement to my last post, in which I described a museum exhibit about torture. Interestingly, the museum—the Casa Sephardi in Granada, Spain—offered no spin on the exhibit. It wasn’t a “human rights” museum, it made no call to action at the end. It also did not make light of torture. It was just straight-out torture, torture, and more torture, leaving interpretation and follow up to the visitor.
There were creepy masks people were forced to wear to be humiliated (as in women who had allegedly been unfaithful to their husbands).
The pig mask was, of course, specifically designed to humiliate Jews, who don’t eat pork. These masks may look kind of funny (as in humorous), but they weren’t. As you can read in the paragraph in the first photo, they often also had spikes in strategic places, cut into victims’ necks, and the wearers typically died of starvation.
This confirms another lesson about torture that is relevant today: Torture is rarely used to get security information from terrorists to prevent attacks. It’s almost always used to punish people and to intimidate others not to rebel. It puts a chill on entire communities, who stop speaking out and being politically active. It’s the favorite tool of dictators.
To reinforce my point, here’s a photo of a set of branding irons. The “crimes” for which people were branded included “slave”, “blasphemer”, and “rogue.” Really—Rogue? I can think of a dozen friends of mine who would have been branded by now. I could have been branded as a blasphemer a hundred times over.
The exhibit proceeded to get worse and worse.
It included the iron maiden (not the rock band), thumb screws, chastity belts (for men and women; with and without spikes), the saw (victim hung upside down and sawed down the middle starting from the crotch), the iron bull (victim forced inside a hollow iron statue of a bull under which a fire was slowly built), the rack—with a without spikes—which pulled the victim’s spine and other joints apart one by one; the cage, in which victims were locked and suspended from a bridge where they were exposed to the elements and starved to death.
I will leave it to your imagination to figure out how the spike was used:
I didn’t take photos of most of it; it was just too horrible to share.
If you have read this post, you are either very brave or a weirdo. Or you are one of the over 50% of Americans who think that torture is okay. If, like me, you don’t agree, please go to the Center for Victims of Torture website and sign the Reject Torture declaration. Thanks, and I promise that the next post will be about Italian food or art or something more uplifting!