French humanitarian group Première Urgence sets up shop in Second Life
Discussion on constitutionality of Guantanamo Bay at 1:30PM EST today in Second Life

"Virtual Gitmo" to focus on legal and political issues of US detention of alleged terrorists

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At the Non-profit Commons meeting this morning, avatars Ping Rao and Nonny Writer talked about a new project to stimulate dialogue about America's "War on Terror." USC Institute for Media Literacy and the Seton Hall School of Law will be launching on Monday a "Virtual Guantanamo" to focus on public policy issues surrounding the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.  The first in a series of monthly discussions about various political, legal and ethical questions surrounding the detention center, the program on Monday will center on constitutional questions relevant to Guantanamo. It looks like this will be a mixed-reality discussion, taking place both at Seton Hall and in-world at a simulated Guantanamo detention center. 

Guantanamo_002_pingrau_nonny_writ_2 The larger purpose is to increase public discussion about Guantanamo. “What we hope to create is a virtual platform where people from around the world can gather together to discuss important social justice issues,” said Prof Mark Denbeaux, who also is the author of the “Guantanamo Reports,” detailing the status of detainees at the military prison camp. “As an Internet-based virtual world, Second Life will allow us to conduct a broad and diverse debate on a wide range of political, legal and international issues.”

That's this Monday, September 17, beginning at 10:30AM PST at IML sim (teleport SLURL).

Nonny and Ping (pictured right) were kind enough to gave me a quick tour of the camp, which you can see pictures of after the jump...

Although perhaps not ready for release on Monday, Nonny and Ping explained to me that they wanted avatars to begin their "virtual Guantanamo" experience within a military cargo plane as a detainee headed to the camp. I tried out the prototype of the cargo plane and found it a jarring experience. Here is a quick video that gives you an idea of what it's like:

Your avatar dons a HUD that puts you through a fairly unpleasant exercise of lying shackled on the floor of the plane, having a hood thrown over your head (completely obscuring your vision from your SL client), and hearing rough voices telling you to be quiet. It's very immersive and unsettling.

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When you are unhooded, you are given a pair of orange coveralls to wear as you crouch within a concrete, outdoor cell that we've seen so many times on the news.  You can stand up and open the door of your cell, which initiates a short video showing actual detainees in the same situation.  Walking past the razor-wired fence prompts other videos of detainees and a father talking about how his son was detained for no reason.  It's all very sobering.

Certainly an interesting way to set the stage for a discussion on the morality, legality and efficacy of Guantanamo.  I will be curious how this effects the tone of the discussion on Monday.


Seton Hall School of Law on Second Life: Constitution Day Program on Interrogation and Intelligence Gathering to be Featured at Virtual Guantánamo Bay Detention Center

From Press Release

Newark, NJ – Seton Hall School of Law will be partnering with the developer of a Second Life platform on September 17 to provide a virtual environment for people to join in on its Constitution Day program on “Interrogation and Intelligence Gathering.”

The program, developed by Professor Mark Denbeaux, will be webcast in a virtual Guantanamo Bay detention center on Second Life. The session is part of a Seton Hall Law pilot to provide an online platform for the discussion of constitutional, political and international issues.

The virtual detention center was developed with funding from the MacArthur Foundation and Bay Area Video Coalition by Nonny de la Peña, producer and director of the documentary “Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties,” and Peggy Weil, professor of interactive media at the University of Southern California.

“What we hope to create is a virtual platform where people from around the world can gather together to discuss important social justice issues,” said Denbeaux, who also is the author of the “Guantanamo Reports,” detailing the status of detainees at the military prison camp. “As an Internet-based virtual world, Second Life will allow us to conduct a broad and diverse debate on a wide range of political, legal and international issues.”

Seton Hall Law plans to offer monthly programming on Second Life focused on issues ranging from intelligence gathering, to forensics testing, to the global war on terror, said Denbeaux. The Constitution Day session is the first of the programs to be offered on Second Life.

De la Peña added, “What we’re building is an environment where people can talk and work on problem solving in a global community.”

The virtual Guantanamo Bay center allows visitors to walk through the experience of military detention and features clips from de la Peña’s documentary.

In addition to the Second Life webcast, the Constitution Day program will be webcast to participating colleges and universities across the nation. The program, which follows on the heels of Seton Hall Law’s successful “Guantanamo Teach-In” last year, is being offered to assist colleges and schools with meeting the U.S. Department of Education regulation requiring that all educational institutions receiving federal funding must provide students with instruction on the U.S. Constitution each September 17.

To view the program on Second Life, participants will need to create an account and go to “Gone Gitmo” at SLURL http://slurl.com/secondlife/IML/182/211/122 or simply plug in the Second Life coordinates: 164 186 123. Space to participate in the Constitution Day program on Second Life will be limited based on the specific capabilities of the Guantanamo Bay platform the day of the webcast.

For more information on the Constitution Day program, please visit http://law.shu.edu/constitutionday.

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