Disabled people have had experience with what could be called torture. Indeed, there has always been a saying in the movement that torture can be justified by calling it a “corrective procedure.”
So writes Lisa Blumberg in Torture and Disability Rights on today’s Ragged Edge Online. Blumberg refers to the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts, where disabled students (some of whom have autism) were punished by having electric shock administered to them (see N.Y. report denounces shock use at school and Yes, it is shocking: More on the Judge Rotenburg Center’s use of electric shock, my earlier post).
Blumberg further notes that
People with orthopedic “deformities” who were clapped in casts with their muscles pulled in impossible directions know about “stress positions”. People who as children were displayed and photographed in hospital amphitheaters for all to see may have had memories stirred when they read of the scandal at Abu Ghraib [sic]prison.
Disability rights activists should see torture as a matter that involves us — regardless of whether it occurs here or in the context of the war on terror.
What if, Blumberg notes, an interrogator takes a prisoner’s not answering a question due to difficulties hearing or processing language as “intransigence”? For a detainee who has a disability or other health problem, “simulated drowning and induced hypothermia, which may invoke extreme stress and discomfort in a totally able-bodied person” can be fatal.
Disability rights are human rights.