Sunday 21 January 2018

Water-board game slammed as 'tasteless'

BAD TASTE?: A character at The Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm, which has been slammed for ‘water-boarding’ simulation
BAD TASTE?: A character at The Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm, which has been slammed for ‘water-boarding’ simulation

Rachel Lavin

Visitors to Irish 'scare attraction' The Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm, near Kells, Co Meath, were offered the option of paying an additional €7 to be 'water-boarded' as a part of an extreme over-18s entertainment service.

As part of the 'Alone' event, visitors can sign a waiver and agree a safe word before entering a converted shed on their own. Actors would then simulate the experience of water-boarding by placing a hood over customers' heads and pouring a small amount of water over their mouth, among other scare tactics.

John Brick, a human rights lawyer who works with victims of torture, condemned the practise as 'tasteless', saying it represented a 'casualisation and trivialisation' of serious crimes.

"If you really think about torture as a reality, you would never think to use it as a form of entertainment," he said.

Water-boarding, which is defined as a form of torture by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, was used by US Forces on detainees in 2002 and 2003.

"When you hear water-boarding expressed as a form of harmless entertainment, it's just really a step too far - and it's not something that can ever be casualised or treated as a harmless past time in any context. Torture is a terrible reality for people in many, many countries around the world."

However, Ben Dillon, co-owner and director of the Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm - which expanded to include the 'extreme scare attraction' service this year -said: "It's not tasteless. It's just a different form of entertainment and people don't have to do it if they don't want to.

"It's a simulation of water-boarding. They're put into a chair, the hood is over their head, like a pillow case, then a cup of water or less is put from the top lip down.

"It's a mouthful of water trickling down the bag, so they can breath. It's only a simulation, it's an illusion - it's not proper water-boarding."

He claimed that they have had "no problems so far" with the Alone service and that the goal of The Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm is to "give you an exciting and exhilarating adrenaline-fuelled ride, like none you have ever experienced. Our only intent is to simulate danger - you would be in a controlled, safe environment."

Greg Straton, of Spirasi - a rehabilitation organisation that aids survivors of torture living in Ireland - said the service "does raise the question about desensitising what is quite a serious thing."

Sunday Independent

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