Monday, January 02, 2006


I was in the barbershop the other day and a bunch of guys were talking. It started on sports, then at some point someone made a flippant remark that ‘so and so should be tortured, after all Cheney says it is okay’. I kept my mouth shut because I am always politically out of step in my neighborhood, and the conversation went on about torture for a bit. Finally the younger barber made a half-hearted stab at brainstorming how anyone could okay the idea of torture. He said, “I guess somebody will say that maybe if they’d tortured the right guys they might have stopped September 11”.

I don’t even think it was his view, he just was thinking out loud. Well, the group jeered, and the kid barber nudged my arm and said what do you think? I promise I would have had no audience if I had volunteered what I think, but having refrained and then thought for a second before answering, I had the room at attention for a minute.

“The problem with torture is the same problem it has always been.” I said. “I bet if each of us knew as much as could be known about things that are known to be happening in the world, we would all be able to come up with twenty or thirty people who ought to, maybe even must be tortured into telling us everything they’ve ever known, thought or dreamed about. The problem isn’t who deserves it, but who decides who deserves it. I mean, I know I’d pick the right guys to torture, but who knows about YOU FUCKERS!” Well, there was a pause, and then one of the firemen from the station across the street laughed. And then everyone else laughed. But they laughed kind of thoughtfully. When it quieted down, the fireman said, ‘Let me guess, Special Forces?’ I just laughed. It was pleasant to be able to explain why I don’t feel quite like most people in my neighborhood, but also to show that I am not supporting torture.

"It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.” Julius Caesar

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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