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…a popular blogger who goes by the name Weasel…

Omigod, omigod, omigod! Canada’s National Post links my Hitchens remark! Okay, it’s a National Post blogger…and, okay, he’s being critical of me, but…still! w00t!

Jonathan Kay (said blogger) has a long post praising Hitchens for his courage. I’m a footnote (a footnote! You hear that, Ma?). He says of my remarks:

The logic here is faulty: Hitchens agreed to waterboarding because he knew that he could end the experience at any time — and that he was not truly in the grasp of interrogators seeking to terrorize him into a confession. To cite his willingness to try the experience as evidence that waterboarding isn’t torture is spurious. It is also a study in circular reasoning: By this logic, no interrogation technique can be shown to be torture by a journalistic investigator — since the very act of investigation is taken as proof against torture.

But my logic isn’t faulty, Jonathan. That’s exactly what I’m saying: no technique that a journalist endures right the way through for mere journalistic purposes can be classed as torture. Certainly not if he takes seconds.

Look, if we live long enough, all of us have experiences that are torturously painful: an accident; a terrible medical procedure; the death of someone we love. We all know what torture is because everybody gets a taste. Torture is that thing nobody would take if they didn’t have to.

If somebody’s life depended on it? Yes…if you’re strong enough. To write an article about “dear me, how horrible that was”? Nuh-uh. No way. The very fact that he didn’t puss out kills his argument.

Weasel’s new-and-improved, succinct definition: torture is that which
is so awful, you’ll make it stop if you think you can. Hitchens had
an easy out and he didn’t take it. Is that any clearer?


Comment from Lokki
Time: July 8, 2008, 6:27 pm

‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.’

The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O’Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.

‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.’

He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.

‘In your case,’ said O’Brien, ‘the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.’

A sort of premonitory tremor, a fear of he was not certain what, had passed through Winston as soon as he caught his first glimpse of the cage. But at this moment the meaning of the mask-like attachment in front of it suddenly sank into him. His bowels seemed to turn to water.

‘You can’t do that!’ he cried out in a high cracked voice. ‘You couldn’t, you couldn’t! It’s impossible.’

‘Do you remember,’ said O’Brien, ‘the moment of panic that used to occur in your dreams? There was a wall of blackness in front of you, and a roaring sound in your ears. There was something terrible on the other side of the wall. You knew that you knew what it was, but you dared not drag it into the open. It was the rats that were on the other side of the wall.’

‘O’Brien!’ said Winston, making an effort to control his voice. ‘You know this is not necessary. What is it that you want me to do?’

O’Brien made no direct answer. When he spoke it was in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected. He looked thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were addressing an audience somewhere behind Winston’s back.

‘By itself,’ he said, ‘pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable — something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed. It is the same with the rats. For you, they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand, even if you wished to. You will do what is required of you.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 8, 2008, 6:44 pm

Brrrr…feel free to go back to the “dangerous toys and the kids who loved them” thread, Lokki. I had a ping and felt I had to pingback.

Booze! More boooooooze!

Comment from Farmer Joe
Time: July 8, 2008, 6:51 pm

I think we should offer Kay a chance to test his theory. I’d suggest that we wire his nuts up to a car battery and start the big ol’ plastic shredder in the background. Then we give him a chance to affirm or recant his opinion.

Comment from Machinist
Time: July 8, 2008, 6:57 pm

This person says that knowing the intentions of the interrogators determines if this is torture or not. By that standard, leaving someone in a comfortable room could be torture if the person did not know the intentions of the people holding him. This attempt to call any unpleasantness torture ends up making the word meaningless. The sad thing about that is that there are indeed people out there using torture on others. This manipulation diverts attention from the true evil. I have not seen any journalist or Democrat offer to endure even a few minutes of what John McCain suffered as they dismiss his courage, regardless of the intentions of the interrogators.

Comment from XBradTC
Time: July 8, 2008, 7:38 pm

Well, off the top of my head, I’d like to see Hitch try “the rope trick” (ask McCain if you don’t know what that is), or the bamboo cane to the soles of the feet. How about bamboo slivers under the fingernails? Maybe cigarette burns? Repeated rape? Or just a good, old fashioned beating.

Then, let’s see how that stands up to waterboarding.

Comment from XBradTC
Time: July 8, 2008, 7:38 pm

And can we waterboard Jonathan Kay, not because we want any information, but just because…

Comment from porknbean
Time: July 8, 2008, 8:07 pm

Hitchens is a brave man: I doubt one journalist in 10 would be willing to endure a similar experience in the name of journalism.

That is because, these days, the lot of you so-called journalists are a bunch of liberal pussies, who write more about their feelings instead of doing the proper adequate journalistic research instead.

I wonder if Jonathon goes by the name ‘Seth’ on occasion? Because I would really like to ask that turd if he will recant his ‘Bush lied to go to war’ after Canada is now in possession of Saddam’s yellow cake.

Comment from Jill
Time: July 8, 2008, 10:14 pm

High five, Swease! >runs and reaches up to hand-slap, misses hand totally, bounces down flight of 22 stairs<

i’m fine…aaaagh…really…oooof…don’t anybody get up…

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: July 8, 2008, 10:30 pm

Don’t ya hate it when that happens, Jill? Spritz some Bactine on it, have a nice cold glass of Bosco, and you’ll be right as rain.

Comment from See-Dubya
Time: July 8, 2008, 11:52 pm

Wow, I’m hangin’ with the popular girls! Blogging is so much better than high school.

Comment from LemurKing
Time: July 9, 2008, 12:01 am

I spent over an hour with my multiple-compounded arm stuck in a veneer dryer while standing on someone’s back to keep the pressure off my upper arm.

I have had worse pain, but it’s not (just) the pain that is the torture. It is not having any damned idea just how long the ordeal will last. It took another hour to get to the hospital and another 30 minutes to get the authorization to pipe in enough demerol to kite me to the limits of space.

It’s the time and not knowing. If they’d told the reporter “Nah, you won’t stop this, we’ll let you out after we come back from dinner – might be after dinner tonight… might be tomorrow night.” THEN see if he thinks it is torture.

Comment from Jill
Time: July 9, 2008, 1:04 am

Wow, a cold glass of Bactine and a spritz of Bosco and I’m good as new!

Lemur, I’ll share with ya if’n it would hep yew.

Comment from Allen
Time: July 9, 2008, 1:19 am

Jill, did you conk your head?


Comment from Jill
Time: July 9, 2008, 9:39 am

Several times, Allen.

Just an aside that nobody probably really cares about: being from Pennsylvania, home to the most famous groundhog (i.e., rodent) in the world, we see women from Ohio (i.e., flatlanders) with much disposable income wearing conk necklaces at Penn State vs Ohio State (Buckeyes) football games. We call conks buckeyes also. They actually make a fairly attractive necklace when strung and interspersed wit’ other beads.

Conks have a cool surface; they feel pretty sweet under your fingers.

Okay – as you were.

Comment from Randy Rager
Time: July 9, 2008, 10:45 am


America’s Hat is inhabited by people that think they have a real country? When did that happen?

Comment from Dave in Texas
Time: July 9, 2008, 12:03 pm

Kay seems unclear on the concept.

Comment from Lemur King
Time: July 9, 2008, 2:01 pm

Would bactine have helped? I would MUCH rather have had that!

The only good thing about the whole experience was I came out of it knowing just exactly what I was made of.

Next time, I’ll call you regarding the bactine. Doesn’t it sting though? I don’t like ouchy things. What’s Bosco?

Comment from iamfelix
Time: July 9, 2008, 4:10 pm

For LK: Bosco

Comment from Lemur King
Time: July 9, 2008, 4:33 pm

Sounds good. Probably stings less, too.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 9, 2008, 4:37 pm

Jesus! All I did was go to the Bosco website and I could have sworn I saw a bear flying a toy aeroplane!

That’s strong medicine!

Comment from iamfelix
Time: July 9, 2008, 8:42 pm

^LOL at Uncle B. 🙂

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 9, 2008, 9:12 pm

Here’s Christopher Walkin about Bosco:

“When the time is right, I have my boys pull his head out and sit him on the sofa and get him a towel and some Bosco. He has Bosco in his cupboard. I respect that. That bought him some points. I’m a Bosco man myself. Some guys like Ovaltine. That’s okay, I guess. I shot a guy in the face for drinking Ovaltine. Once. But I was young. Full of hormones. Exuberant. I would never do that now. Today I would be satisfied with slamming his head on the counter a couple times.

So I sit next to Steve and put my arm around him, and I ask if the Bosco is to his liking. And of course, it is. I showed my boys the right way to mix it. None of that business with the dark smear around the bottom of the glass, with spoon marks in it. The key to a good Bosco is thoroughness. The KEY, amigo.

I have a rule. If I see streaks of undissolved syrup in my Bosco, I got to snap somebody’s pinky toe. I don’t care whose. Finding the culpable toe is not my department. They can draw straws if they want. But somebody’s toe is going to snap. When they hear that snapping sound, it really drives the message home. Call it a mnemonic device. Snap two or three pinky toes at one shot, and you’ll be drinking well-mixed Bosco for a good five years before you have to snap another one.”

More of that here: Eat What You Want and Die Like A Man

Comment from iamfelix
Time: July 9, 2008, 9:37 pm

My brother’s favorite Walken — He hounded me to buy CW’s SNL vid so I could see it. Now every time I watch it, it’s stuck in my head for a week.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: July 10, 2008, 6:22 pm

“I don’t like your tone, it’s all wrong. Do it again and I’ll stab you in the face with a soldering iron.”

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