I’m not much interested in taking my ’taters through a tube, but I think I could handle it if necessity required. Unpleasant? A bit. Torture? Definitely not.
Unless you’re rapper/actor Mos Def (now Yasiin Bey), whose videotaped demonstration of the force feeding techniques used on hunger striking detainees at Guantanamo Bay has gone viral (warning: It does make for uncomfortable watching.). The outcry and the ongoing hunger strikes have prompted calls for the end of the practice from human-rights organizations, media personalities, and legislators on Capitol Hill.
Last month Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) sent a letter about to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, expressing her concerns with force feeding “not for reasons of medical necessity but as a matter of policy that stands in conflict with international norms.” Now Feinstein and Senator Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) have written a joint letter to President Obama, expressing their support for a federal judge who earlier this week called force feeding “a painful, humiliating, and degrading process.” But the senators don’t want to stop it; they just want to complain about it.
Meanwhile, upwards of 350,000 people in the United States alone are taking their meals through a tube as I write. And unlike Mos Def, they don’t get weepy about it.
It’s an issue ripe for exploitation and misrepresentation. I get to the bottom of it in my piece on the home page today.