Wednesday, June 16, 2004

More From Monty

Monty Python alum Terry Jones is at it again with another comically insightful column in London based newspaper, The Guardian. In this bit, Jones details how he received parental guidance from Donald Rumsfeld and other administration lawyers in order to extract information from his son, "Because, let's face it, none of us want to actually torture our children, in case the police get to hear about it."

Jones describes the comfort he received from Rumsfeld and company:

"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.

Mr 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.'

Couldn't be clearer. If your intention is to extract information, you cannot be accused of torture.

In 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!

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