Message in a Bottle

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Terry Jones wouldn't torture his Son

Python Terry Jones shows his relief that he wasn't torturing his son when he tried a lot of stuff to find out what his son does after choir practice:
GuardianUlimited:I 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.

I hesitated to gravitate to harsher interrogation methods because, after all, he is my son. Then Donald Rumsfeld came to my rescue.

I 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.

The 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".

What 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.

Who would have thought that Rummy would revolutionize pedagogy?