Sesame Street Songs As Instruments Of Torture?

Songs of War, a recent documentary produced for Arabic news agency Al Jazeera, explores claims that music from Sesame Street as well as heavy metal and rap songs were used in the torture of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.

After being alerted that some of his educational children’s music was used as a weapon of war, GRAMMY award-winning songwriter Christopher Cerf set out on a mission to learn more about what he believed to be an “inhumane” use of his work. Al Jazeera’s cameras followed as Cerf personally interviewed former soldiers and detainees.

According to the report, prisoners, shackled and held in private cells, were subjected to near-deafening music from Metallica, AC/DC, Marilyn Manson, Drowning Pool, Eminem, Bruce Springsteen and Rage Against The Machine in addition to popular children’s classics from Sesame Street and Barney the purple dinosaur.

Loud music played repetitively over many hours or even days would induce sleep deprivation, resulting in weakness, disorientation and feelings of powerlessness. The technique, put to use by American soldiers in 2003, was reported to have been first used on American soldiers during the Korean War in the early 1950s. Tortures employed by the U.S. psychological operations units included stripping detainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, disrupting their sleep, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures.

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