Music has probably been used as a weapon of war for as long as we’ve waged wars. The Scots marched with their highland pipes and drums because they believed the music would pump up their warriors – and if their enemies got a little freaked out by the sound, well, so much the better. But using music as a weapon of torture, even as form of “torture lite,” as it’s been dubbed, crosses a line.
Of course, if someone offers you a choice of being waterboarded or having to listen to Metallica at bruising volume all day and all night, most of us would choose the music. But as an apology for torture – because that’s what it is – that simply doesn’t cut it. In this case, music is not being used as music, as one of mankind’s most expressive forms of communication. Instead, it’s being perverted, used as a sonic cudgel. And as with all forms of torture, it says more about the torturer than the victim.