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Waterboarding "Thrill Ride" Hits Coney Island

Waterboarding "Thrill Ride" Hits Coney Island: Political Art?


Folks trekking out to Coney Island are looking for a little summer diversion involving water — but the newest attraction to grace the boardwalk takes that expectation and adds a political message. Called the "Waterboard Thrill Ride," the sideshow is decorated with SpongeBob, advertises that "it dont [sic] Gitmo better" and charges $1 for a look through a barred window onto what appears to be an interrogation scene.


Robots portray a prisoner and an interrogator. After the dollar is paid, the lights come on and the prisoner begins to convulse violently as water is poured on his face. The artist behind the installation says its aim is to provoke people into thinking critically about the technique.

He says, "robot waterboarding became a way of exploring the issue without doing any harm. It's putting a unique experience on the table. And it doesn't take a great leap of the imagination to look in there and say: 'That's really what's going on? That's crazy.'" And who doesn't fancy a little torture demo with their corndog?


There's a video of the "ride" in action, including reaction from some bystanders, some of whom hadn't heard of waterboarding before. In that sense, is it a decent public service — or does it turn a serious message into a silly sideshow?

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