Photo: janoma.cl / flickr
If you ever thought the mind numbing quality of children’s TV shows was a real and tangible thing, you may have been right as Sesame Street songs have been used since 2003 to “break” prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, Al Jazeera reports. Prisoners were attached to chairs, left alone with the music blaring through headphones for up to days on end, Human Rights researcher Thomas Keenan elaborated.
A former detainee at Bagram and Gitmo, Moazzam Begg, told Al Jazeera that the educational children’s music was played piercingly loud and said “it was probably some of the worst torture that they faced.”
The fact that former detainees place the audial barrage among waterboarding and advanced sleep deprivation as some of the worst torture at Gitmo weighs particularly heavily on the conscience of Christopher Cerf, the musician who composed much of it.
Cerf sought to understand how his life’s work — which included such relevant tracks as “I’m Gonna Get to You,” “Don’t Touch Me,” and (at least for Omar Khadr) “How Hard It Is To Be 15” — could be used for torture.
Cerf composed more than 200 songs over 40 years at Sesame Street, written with the original intent of musical reading education.
That his work was used for gulag-style re-education does not sit well with Cerf, who made the film Songs of War in an attempt to understand why the music was so efficient at breaking the spirit of prisoners.
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