And no, this isn't about comics.
I can't remember the first time I heard about the Stanford prison experiment, but I will be hard-pressed to forget the thing. For those of you who may not know what it was: a study meant to probe the human response to captivity, which had to be halted six days into a 2-week experiment when the "guards" -- picked out of the same pool of students as the prisoners -- got too sadistic.
It was the first thing I thought about when I saw the photos of the abused Iraqi photos ("Torture at Abu Gharib," New Yorker, May 10, 04). The second, of course, was to wonder why the brutal idiots thought taking photos of their abuse was a good idea before remembering, "They were morons! Duh. There's a reason someone called them 'the six idiots who lost us the war.'" Pictures provide a flashpoint for outrage in a way words often don't.
(And damn, am I remorseful I didn't bookmark that idiots cite when I ran across it. Did anyone else see it?)
Now ... well, I think "A Wretched New Picture of America" (WaPo, May 5, 04) more or less sums it up.
Reading other reactions has been food for thought: Christopher Hitchens' fiery fury practically glows in Slate and Wonkette takes the piss out of Rush Limbaugh's defense of the guards' behavior as the "need to blow some steam off."
ETA: Howart Kurtz's daily media column has a good survey of coverage on this whole thing.