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Episode 171 - Dr. William Wipfler: Human Rights and Torture (part 1 of 2)

Monday, July 06, 2015, 8:51:02 AM

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In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration's thirty articles outline twenty-four basic rights afforded to all people simply because they are human beings. In this episode, Dr. William Wipfler, having spent more than 60 years advocating for human rights, discusses his human rights work, the issue of torture, and his belief that human rights abuses must always be confronted.

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Average Rating: 4stars  sw 521 podcast review, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

By Angela Tinder :

In this podcast, Dr. William Wipfler talks about his experience working in South America in the early 1960’s. As he was talking, I was trying to match up his timelines with what I knew about the events happening in the world around the same time. Dr. Wipfler’s stories jumped between countries and dictators, back to American institutions and political figures. I did not recognize the names or the conflicts he described, but that was less important than the lesson, “Never be silent about the violation of human rights.”
After his description of the use of torture in 1960’s South America, Dr. Wipfler goes on to criticize American policies that have used legal arguments to rationalize American’s use of torture. Dr. Wipfler discusses the dangerous precedent set when our powerful nation condones human rights violations. Dr. Wipfler ends his discussion by challenging the listener to think critically about American military strategies that continue to injure and kill civilians.
I enjoyed this podcast and it did get me thinking more about the contradictions between United States rhetoric and behavior surrounding human rights. I would have liked to hear Dr. Wipfler talk more about his experience working with NGO’s in South America in the 1960’s. And although it would have been hard to hear, I would have liked to know more about the actual experiences of victims of torture in 1960’s South America. I am sure he avoided descriptions to make the podcast easier to listen to, but I felt like I needed to know so I would better understand how and why his passion for human rights work developed. Finally, this podcast would benefit from some more historical information to help less-educated listener understand the domestic and foreign policy context surrounding regimes that were using torture in 1960’s South America. That would have allowed the listener to compare and contrast the circumstances with the conditions in Bush/Cheney and present day America.



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