Anyone who’s ever sat up close and personal near a howling infant on a seemingly never ending international flight more than understands that certain human sounds are more than capable of motivating those on the receiving end to do or say just about anything to mercifully bring the irritating earwig to an end. Case in point would be an off-the-cuff and cavalier comment made by the editor of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) during a live broadcast.
As reported by the left-of-center Mediaite.com news portal and also by The Wall Street Journal, both on July 26, 2015, while appearing on the Fox News Channel panel-discussion show Journal Editorial Report, WSJ editor Nancy Rabinowitz and WSJ reporter Mary Kissel found themselves joining in the political back-and-forth revolving around the declared candidates of both parties in the upcoming presidential election. Kissel got the ball rolling by saying of Hillary Clinton, “when she gets in front of the camera, people don’t like her. She doesn’t have the political skills of Bill. She is grating and hard to listen to.”
Not much later during the conversation, Rabinowitz gave her assessment not only of Clinton’s personal presentation, but also of the impact of her voice upon the human ear. As quoted, the editor of the WSJ stated, “This is a person not only who does not light up the room, a person who is difficult to listen to.” Not quite done, she added, “I used to think if you wanted to extract information from terrorists, put them in a room with Hillary Clinton and force them to listen to a speech and they’ll tell you everything after that.”
Long seen by political pundits of having a grating voice, the Washington Free Beacon has gone as far as having a permanent link of their main webpage of “The Hillary Laugh Button.” As the WFB touts the satirical page, “It’s Hill-Ar-Ious”.
In what ostensibly was a joke by Rabinowitz, it turns out that what comes out of the human mouth actually has a history of being used against terrorists. Justin Caba opined on the Medical Daily on Jan. 20, 2015, that the CIA has quite the track record of using music as an example of what the spy agency unofficially calls “no touch” torture. Caba cites examples of blaring Heavy Metal music used to psychologically break detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Caba penned that the likes of Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, and Metallica as examples of the standard fare on what he termed the CIA’s “torture playlist.” However, it turns out that the melodious strains of head banging music isn’t the only thing that gets under the skin of Islamic jihadists. Caba notes that “the most popular song used to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detention centers in Iraq or Afghanistan was ‘I Love You’ by Barney the Purple Dinosaur.”
While some in the music industry have voice opposition to their music being used as “torture,” James Hetfield, co-founder of Metallica, may have revealed a patriotic streak regarding his music being used to break up terrorist plots. As Hetfield said with a certain air of pride, “We’ve been punishing our parents, our wives, our loved ones with this music forever. Why should the Iraqis be any different?” Hetfield said in a radio interview. “It’s the relentlessness of the music. It’s completely relentless. If I listened to a death metal band for 12 hours in a row, I’d go insane, too. I’d tell you anything you wanted to know.”
Yet perhaps what may be the most imaginative use of music to get into your enemy’s head was when “unidentified” hackers managed to break into Iran’s nuclear program during the summer of 2012. Widely believed to be the handiwork of Israel’s Mossad, a computer virus was launched at two Iranian nuclear research facilities that likely resulted in frayed nerves. Reportedly, the virus programmed AC/DC’s rock anthem “Thunderstruck” to play at random times at random workstations. Of course, at full volume.
Other than catching Iranian nukies by surprise, the AC/DC power chord rich tune would sometimes play for only a few seconds, sometimes for hours. To add insult to injury, the song was also set to loop itself so it played over and over and over with the hapless Iranians having no way of turning the song off.