What happens when you waterboard yourself?

December 24, 2007

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for bringing this to broader attention. Click here for the entire post; the highlights are below. Posted by Scylla on The Straight Dope:

So much talk of waterboarding, so much controversy. But what is it really? How bad? …I determined to give this a try… Torture, or not? … These are the results of my research and experience: … The idea is that you wrap saran wrap around the mouth in several layers, and poke a hole in the mouth area, and then waterboard away. … It took me ten minutes to recover my senses once I tried this. I was shuddering in a corner, convinced I narrowly escaped killing myself.Here’s what happened: The water fills the hole in the saran wrap so that there is either water or vaccum in your mouth. The water pours into your sinuses and throat. You struggle to expel water periodically by building enough pressure in your lungs. With the saran wrap though each time I expelled water, I was able to draw in less air. Finally the lungs can no longer expel water and you begin to draw it up into your respiratory tract. … I have never been more panicked in my whole life. Once your lungs are empty and collapsed and they start to draw fluid it is simply all over. You know you are dead and it’s too late. Involuntary and total panic. … At the time my lungs emptied and I began to draw water, I would have sold my children to escape. There was no choice, or chance, and willpower was not involved. I never felt anything like it, and this was self-inflicted with a watering can, where I was in total control and never in any danger. And I understood. Waterboarding gets you to the point where you draw water up your respiratory tract triggering the drowning reflex. Once that happens, it’s all over. No question. … So, is it torture? I’ll put it this way. If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I’d take the fingers, no question. It’s horrible, terrible, inhuman torture. I can hardly imagine worse. I’d prefer permanent damage and disability to experiencing it again. I’d give up anything, say anything, do anything. The Spanish Inquisition knew this. It was one of their favorite methods. It’s torture. No question. Terrible terrible torture. To experience it and understand it and then do it to another human being is to leave the realm of sanity and humanity forever. No question in my mind.

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