PR or Despair?

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
June 12 2006 6:26 PM

PR or Despair?

Bloggers ponder the suicides of three Guantanamo Bay detainees; some kick back to watch the World Cup unfold while others strain to hear a ring tone that's supposedly inaudible to most people over 40.

PR or despair? Three detainees hung  themselves with their bedsheets at Guantanamo Bay on Saturday. Although there have been numerous suicide attempts there in the past, none has been successful until now. Mark Denbeaux, an American lawyer representing one of the dead men, said that his client didn't know that he was due to be released and killed himself out of despair.

Several bloggers are looking askance at the administration's response. Noting that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy called the joint suicide a "good PR move to draw attention," British philosophy professor Chris Bertram quips on Crooked Timber,"I wonder what she says when she's being undiplomatic." On Balkinization, David Luban harshly criticizes other U.S. officials who have been dismissing the coordinated suicides as a ploy. He explores the suicides' potential impact on judicial decisions and writes, "the principle seems to be that anything that makes us look bad undermines national security, and therefore the worse our conduct, the more it has to be insulated from accountability."

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But Hot Air's right-winger Allahpundit disagrees: "A deputy assistant secretary of state called the three suicides yesterday 'a good PR move' which of course is precisely what they were. Why else would the victims have coordinated their actions? They wanted attention, they got it." Another conservative, Rightwing Nuthouse's Rick Moran, notes that President Bush has recently spoken out against Guantanamo and points out, "Much as we loathe the men who have sworn to kill us all, we simply must come to grips with the idea that if we aren't able to kill them on the battlefield, they must be granted some of the rights guaranteed by international law and our own constitution." And on Pesky'Apostrophe, Mac, a liberal, admits, "[I]f I were in the same situation - having no rights whatsoever, knowing that you might potentially be stuck in that prison without benefit of a day in court, and maybe being detained for no real reason at all, well ... I'd probably look for an out, too."

Read more about the Guantanamo suicides.

Olé olé olé: The 2006 FIFA World Cup commenced last Friday in Germany. While many Americans are sour about the United States' early loss to the Czech Republic, others are more interested in the event's political significance. On conservative blog Publius Pundit, Stefania Lapenna rejoices at the sight of Iranians waving their country's prerevolutionary flag and singing its former national anthem despite the presence of the Iranian vice president at the stadium. Many bloggers are shaking their heads at the news that Somalia's new Islamic government has banned showings of the games. "No doubt, the Islamic clerics in Somalia were merely reacting with disappoint to the news that Iran was routed by Mexico earlier in the afternoon," snarksPaxPlena's conservative Tory.

Of course, the World Cup has a lot more going for it than political significance. Through the Looking Glass' Alisa, a New Mexican living in Mexico, reports, "a fellow expat , working as an engineer for a toluca-branch cement company, received a corporate announcement on thursday stating that "all employees were entitled to either A) have a TV installed at work with the games playing or B) stay home and watch the game ... with their bosses' approval." And The Huffington Post's Barry Yourgrau writes, "I don't speak Spanish, but I do like to listen to some of the Hispanic play callers. Not the overrated Andres Kantor, but a couple of guys, Argentineans I think, who are so gloriously baroque and hambone, drawing out terminal vowels in spasms of drama, that it's a treat."

Read more about the World Cup on Technorati. Wired explains how to watch live streams of the matches. On Mighty Optical Illusions, Croatian Vurdlak presents a soccer-ball challenge. And on Slate, Dave Eggers tells "the true story of American soccer."

Hangin' on the telephone: The New York Times reveals a new fad among stylin' teens: a cell-phone ring tone that's supposedly inaudible to most people over 40.

Most people who can hear it hate it. "If I were in high school, and some kid had this sound as a ringtone, I would have to hit them in the face hard with a textbook. Seriously. Why can't they just put the phone on vibrate, like everyone else?" asksThe Coffee Break's Djkibblesnbits, who was "coiling in horror" after listening to it. Independent Sources' Chad concurs: "I guess it was just a matter of time before someone said, 'Hey, that sound is giving me a headache I bet it would make a great ringtone.' " And youngster Ben Vankat disses the NYT for coming late to the story then  confides, "Honestly, I wouldn't hear it if it was a ringtone. It isn't a loud beeping, like I imagined. More like a steady high-pitched whine. If nothing else, I can use it to annoy the dog, who seems to have a serious distaste for the noise."