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article imageNew York's Famed Amusement Park Adds New Attraction: Gitmo-Style Waterboarding

By Nikki Weingartner     Aug 8, 2008 in Travel
Known for its hotdogs and attractions, New York's Coney Island now has a waterboarding thrill to add to its list. Is it the expression of American art or does it border on inappropriate? After watching a convulsing prisoner, try the cotton candy.
This famous tourist attraction is more than just a name. This seasonal beachfront neighborhood features many rides and attractions, like the circus sideshow that boasts;
Witness Donny Vomit performing death defying acts of bravery! See Angelica do the stunning fire dance with your own eyes! Sigh as Heather Holliday, the world's cutest female sword swallower performs her miraculous act.
There is even a freak bar to quench your thirst and enjoy some entertainment of a different sort.
The intended purpose of Coney Island was to defend American art forms, in all their uniqueness through innovative exhibits and performances. Its Mission Statement clearly states that it "seeks to revitalize the community from which it takes its name, attracting international recognition and visitors while providing low-cost services to a mass, working class New York City audience, including the young and the old, the art and the family oriented."
Their innovations just got a little more unique, as Coney Island defends another American art form: Waterboarding.
For a mere $1, visitors can activate a robot simulated waterboarding technique. The family oriented attraction watches a hooded man pour water on the face of a restrained prisoner wearing an orange jumpsuit, similar to those worn by the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. He is laying on a tilted board with a towl over his face. While the dark hooded executioner pours water up the nose and in the mouth of the prisoner, convulses in simulated pain for about 15-seconds until the ride shuts off, awaiting another person to feed the machine.
As explained by Reuters:
The scene using robotic dolls is an installation built by artist Steve Powers to criticize waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique the United States has admitted using on terrorism suspects, but that rights group say is torture.
The attraction's sign reads "Waterboard Thrill Ride", with the words "It Doesn't Gitmo Better Than This" coming out of the mouth of a cartoon character that looks like Spongebob Squarepants being tied down.
Some critics say it will have psychological ramifications for those in the area who view the "Waterboard Thrill Ride". Passersby can see first hand that the attraction is anything other than positively attractive, according to a local who was quoted in the Reuters story as saying "Anyone can see this is painful from 50 feet away." It has the potential to bring up painful memories of the torture experienced by individuals and family members during times of war and international conflicts.
Still, some find it a "twisted" learning experience that may be necessary.
Understanding the controversial technique is one thing but using a popular cartoon character as a means to attract visitors to take a peek may be stepping over the line of innovative as many very young children are fans of the happy little sponge. Adults have the ability to walk away, whereas little folks may not understand or adolescent aged visitors who are running around may not understand what the attraction means and unknowingly witness something that traumatizes them. Often, children do not speak of horrible things they witness.
Innovative and artsy, that is what Coney Island is all about.
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