“Marginal Revolution” on torture in Turkish prisons:
‘The problem confronting the conscripts nonetheless extends far beyond commanders who are drunk with power. In perhaps the strangest twist in the story of the disko, [rights activist Tolga] Islam says prison guards themselves are chosen from the ranks of conscripts, often from the same group that they oversee — and sometimes torture. “These are people who have been taken from the same group of soldiers, some know each other. And what is most incredible is that, from what we understand, commanders don’t necessarily tell guards how to torture or how far to go. In the disko, they give them impunity to do what they wish.”
It is chillingly similar, Islam says, to a notorious 1971 experiment by Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo, where participants were randomly given roles as guards or prisoners in a mock prison. Within less than a week, the mock guards had quickly “become sadistic,” subjecting some prisoners to psychological torture. The experiment was shut down after only six days.
“The diskos are the perfect real life example of this experiment. Guards begin to think, ‘We have this person in our prison for 24 hours. Nobody will stop us if we torture him.’” That disturbing license for abuse leads prison guards develop their own practices of torture, from slapping inmates who make eye contact with guards to severe and prolonged beatings, deliberate malnourishment, confining recruits to cramped and filthy spaces, or leaving them shackled outside in the sun for prolonged periods of time.’
(Read the complete article here.)
Some people will torture, just because they can get away with torture.
Perhaps, contrary to our moral intuitions the degradation of another person is uplifting, for the torturer that is. We feel better because we can make another person feel worse. Some of us would expect the torturer to feel guilty, but all he was feeling was enjoyment.