Wednesday December 10, 2008

Is anyone at Guantanamo Bay sending checks to ASCAP?

A story came out this week that absolutely lit up our submission queue, involving the use of a variety of music at the notorious prison camp limbo that is Guantanamo Bay. Why are we getting so many emails about "Musicians don't want tunes used for torture"? Well, here are the first two paragraphs:

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - Blaring from a speaker behind a metal grate in his tiny cell in Iraq, the blistering rock from Nine Inch Nails hit Prisoner No. 200343 like a sonic bludgeon.

“Stains like the blood on your teeth,” Trent Reznor snarled over distorted guitars. “Bite. Chew.”

Nine Inch Nails, AC/DC, Queen, Pantera, Eminem, songs from Sesame Street and Barney, all get blasted for periods of sixteen hours a day at prisoners in the camp, and several of the original artists have spoken out against the use of their music in this setting. Alternately, the article quotes the bassist from Drowning Pool as being supportive of the use of his music as an element of psychological distress against prisoners. He thinks that playing Drowning Pool to Gitmo prisoners is helping to prevent another 9/11. Yup.

The former prisoner that the Associated Press spoke to went into further detail, and from the sounds of it, was at least familiar with NIN's catalog before the ordeal:

He said he was locked in an overcooled 9-foot-by-9-foot cell that had a speaker with a metal grate over it. Two large speakers stood in the hallway outside. The music was almost constant, mostly hard rock, he said.

“There was a lot of Nine Inch Nails, including ‘March of the Pigs,”’ he said. “I couldn’t tell you how many times I heard Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You.”’

Kind of brings an exchange to mind...

Alex: No. No! NO! Stop it! Stop it, please! I beg you! This is sin! This is sin! This is sin! It's a sin, it's a sin, it's a sin!
Dr. Brodsky: Sin? What's all this about sin?
Alex: That! Using Ludwig van like that! He did no harm to anyone. Beethoven just wrote music!
Dr. Branom: Are you referring to the background score?
Alex: Yes.
Dr. Branom: You've heard Beethoven before?
Alex: Yes!
Dr. Brodsky: So, you're keen on music?
Alex: YES!
Dr. Brodsky: Can't be helped. Here's the punishment element perhaps.

Unfortunately, there's probably not much anyone can or will do about the situation, which in the grand scheme of things, is just a small stain amongst the larger injustices perpetrated at places like these.