Won't Hurt Much, by Terry Jones, The Guardian-UK,
some time now, I've been trying to find out
where my son goes after choir practice. He simply
refuses to tell me. He says it's no business
of mine where he goes after choir practice and
it's a free country.
it may be a free country, but if people start
going just anywhere they like after choir practice,
goodness knows whether we'll have a country
left to be free. I mean, he might be going to
anarchist meetings or Islamic study groups.
How do I know?
thing is, if people don't say where they're
going after choir practice, this country is
at risk. So I have been applying a certain amount
of pressure on my son to tell me where he's
going. To begin with I simply put a bag over
his head and chained him to a radiator. But
did that persuade him? Does the Pope eat kosher?
wife had the gall to suggest that I might be
going a bit too far. So I put a bag over her
head and chained her to the radiator. But I
still couldn't persuade my son to tell me where
he goes after choir practice.
tried starving him, serving him only cold meals
and shaving his facial hair off, keeping him
in stress positions, not turning his light off,
playing loud music outside his cell door - all
the usual stuff that any concerned parent will
do to find out where their child is going after
choir practice. But it was all to no avail.
hesitated to gravitate to harsher interrogation
methods because, after all, he is my son. Then
Donald Rumsfeld came to my rescue.
read in the New York Times last week that a
memo had been prepared for the defence secretary
on March 6 2003. It laid down the strictest
guidelines as to what is and what is not torture.
Because, let's face it, none of us want to actually
torture our children, in case the police get
to hear about it.
March 6 memo, prepared for Mr Rumsfeld explained
that what may look like torture is not really
torture at all. It states that: if someone "knows
that severe pain will result from his actions,
if causing such harm is not his objective, he
lacks the requisite specific intent even though
the defendant did not act in good faith".
this means in understandable English is that
if a parent, in his anxiety to know where his
son goes after choir practice, does something
that will cause severe pain to his son, it is
only "torture" if the causing of that severe
pain is his objective. If his objective is something
else - such as finding out where his son goes
after choir practice - then it is not torture.
Rumsfeld's memo goes on: "a defendant" (by which
he means a concerned parent) "is guilty of torture
only if he acts with the express purpose of
inflicting severe pain or suffering on a person
within his control".
be clearer. If your intention is to extract
information, you cannot be accused of torture.
fact, the report went further. It said, if a
parent "has a good-faith belief [that] his actions
will not result in prolonged mental harm, he
lacks the mental state necessary for his actions
to constitute torture". So all you've got to
do to avoid accusations of child abuse is to
say that you didn't think it would cause any
lasting harm to the child. Easy peasy!
currently have a lot of my son's friends locked
up in the garage, and I'm applying electrical
charges to their genitals and sexually humiliating
them in order to get them to tell me where my
son goes after choir practice.
Cheney's counsel, David S Addington, says that's
just fine. William J Haynes, the US defence
department's general counsel, agrees it's just
fine. And so does the US air force general counsel,
fact, practically everybody in the US administration
seems to think it's just fine, except for the
state department lawyer, William H Taft IV,
who perversely claims that I might be opening
the door to people applying electrical charges
to my genitals and sexually humiliating me.
I'm going to round up all the children in the
neighbourhood, chain them and set dogs on them.
I might accidentally kill one or two - but I
won't have intended to - and perhaps I'll take
some photos of my wife standing on the dead
bodies, and then I'll show the photos to the
other kids, and finally, perhaps, I might get
to find out where my son goes after choir practice.
Terry Jones is a writer, film director, and
member of the Monty Python cast.