Somewhere Between Jack-In-The-Box and Iron Maiden
I am deathly terrified of clowns. It makes no difference if the clown is leeringly horrific a la Pennywise or seemingly innocuous a la Ronald McDonald. To me clowns represent stark terror and I absolutely cannot stand them. This would, of course, mean that going to the circus--something most people seem to enjoy--would literally be torture for me.
And there's part of the problem when we debate the now-infamous torture bill. One fellow's torture is another fellow's circus. Some people look at the various types of torture in question and claim it's "not so bad." Glen Dean is not alone when he claims that it sounds no worse than his fraternity pledge week. Of course you never know. Waterboarding could be some guy's weekend thrill.
I've remained silent on torture because I'm in the unfortunate position of realising that it is a reality so far removed from my work-at-home-with-two-puppies-at-my-feet world that I cannot even fathom what those lives are like. And I also feel this tacit understanding that I owe my comfortable life (at least in part) to people who are trained to torture, have tortured and in some cases have been tortured. They are Orwell's rough men standing ready who guard the peace of my sleep. I cannot make light of that with easily-made pronouncements shot like rubber bands from behind the safe wall they put in place.
The thing is, I think that torture is wrong in the same way that killing is wrong. Yesterday, a conversation about the death of Glen's dog turned into a lambasting of Glen as a person, purely because of his writings on the torture bill. One well-meaning but misunderstanding person said Glen and all torturers should be shunned. Of course ignoring the ultimate irony that shunning is itself an internationally recognised form of torture. There was deep truth in her statement, however. On the inside of nearly every human being is a line. And in the human mind when that line is crossed a form of torture is justified. Few admit it to themselves but it's easy to see when you juxtapose the BoySex Congressman story with the torture one. I've seen more than a few people claim that child molesters should be castrated--many of whom have vocally decried the "torture bill". Molesting children is a torture-line for many folks.
In that same conversation someone asked me how we should handle torture and those who torture. I still have no firm answer because as I said earlier I cannot speak firmly to a world so removed from mine. The mores of my world say that torture is wrong. But the mores of the world where torture is a life-saving reality call my comfort into question.
In my world I only know one response to torture that makes sense. There's a story about a man being put through the paces of the worst possible torture devised by man. Partially skinned alive, with acid thrown in his open wounds and forced to pace with weights strapped to his body for hours in the hot sun he didn't break. Until he said "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." Compassion in the face of reality. That's the only response that makes sense.
Photo Credit: Chirpy.co.uk