Slavery = Torture? (Winter Blog 2)

Here is an image of a slave auction, which shows how the slaves were treated as less than human. I think that I may use this image as part of my essay.

This is another image of an auctioning, again showing the status of the slaves as less than that of the whites.

The image shows how the slaves were treated as less than the whites, as the man is being sized up to see how much he is worth.

The image shows a woman being put up for sale, showing her status as a possession.

This image shows the slaves as lower than the whites, as evidenced by the highest black still being lower than all of the other whites visually. This is also the image I may use for the essay that I have to write.

This image shows the slaves as being crammed into a cart, with an equal amount of or less space than most animals are given, visually showing that they are less.

Now, on to the main part of the blog. These past few weeks in HumCore, we have been discussing both racism and torture. Initially, I was confused as to why these two topics had been put back to back. After all, what does water boarding have to do with keeping people as things?

I then thought back to how we defined torture in lecture. We had looked at both the Oxford English Dictionary definition (part of which was “The infliction of severe bodily pain, as punishment or a means of persuasion“) as well as the definition that the UN Convention Against Torture had come up with (“by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity“)

After looking again at both definitions of torture, I realized that the way many slaves were treated could be considered torture. At the very basic, they often “had severe bodily pain” afflicted on them by their owners, or the foremen that the owners put in charge, in the name of punishment. Often, these punishments would not even be proportional to the infraction that was committed. Sometimes, the slaves were punished even if they hadn’t done anything wrong, and the owners would just come up with something so they could hurt them. What makes the slavery worse is that it was done “with the consent or acquiescence of a public official” in the sense that the government had sanctioned the practice and allowed it to be made into an institution. According to the UN Convention’s document, that fits with what torture is. Essentially, the institution of slavery perpetuated torture on those in bondage.

Compounding the inhumanity of this situation, the torture really had no other purpose than to inflict punishment. Today, torture often has the additional purpose of gleaning information from hostile groups in order to keep ones country safe. While any people do not agree with torture, it is still used with mild effectiveness, and is not truly purposeless. In the process, there is some tidbits of information gleaned, that when pieced together, lead to information relevant to the big picture. Torture under the banner of slavery is just used to punish others, seemingly for the perverse pleasure of those who committed the punishments.

In the end, slavery not only is bad for reducing humans to less than they are, but for also perpetuating purposeless torture.


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