Can you see me??!?!??!

Wednesday, 12 May 2004

Power is intoxicating.

I revisited the Stanford Prison Experiment, which ran for a total of 6 days in 1971, with a total of 9 guards, and 9 prisoners. Even at the end of this period, every participant in the experiment was fried in one way or another.
In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress.

Not that there should be any sort of excuse for the horrific stuff that's happened in Abu Ghraib (and more places each day it seems), but I can't help but think that unconditional power these soldiers were given was just too much for them to handle. To appear as if you are enjoying inflicting degradation on another human like that seems to me like being high as a kite with no sense of self-responsibility. Drunk on it.

Does that mean you can enter into some sort of drunk's defense for these people?

I know that some Australian defendants have argued "I was too drunk to know what I was doing" in the past, so I read through a Victorian Law Reform Committee review of "the law relating to criminal liability for actions performed while in a state of self-induced intoxication". Here are a few excerpts:

Conduct Element

1.21 The conduct element of an offence requires either a positive act or an omission to act and it also requires that a defendant acted voluntarily, that is of his or her own free will.

Mental Element

1.28 To establish the mental element of an offence, it must be shown that the defendant had a guilty mind or an evil intention.

To hold your thumbs up in a photograph where you stand in front of a pile of naked men seems like a "positive act" in the most bizarre sense. What's not clear is whether the perpetrators' intoxication was self-induced.

Does this make any sense?
Posted at 8:41 pm
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