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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?

July 8, 2008 — 5:49 pm
Comments: 24

Here, kid — go play with a nut on a string



Behold, conkers. Horse chestnuts. Allen brought them up. British schoolchildren once played a game where they threaded chestnuts on a string and took turns swinging one against another until one or the other cracked.

Apparently, the main thrill was getting your knuckles rapped with a near miss. Which is why I say “played” — HealthNSafety Nazis have outlawed them in many school jurisdictions. Or mandated — yes — safety glasses.

Wikipedia (where I nicked these nifty photos) has a surprisingly interesting article on the game, including trivia. Which is how you know a Brit must have written the article: International Conker Championship trivia. More lily-gilding than most Americans can manage.

Go read it. It’s too hot in here to excerpt.

Incidentally, sending me home with a pocket full of conkers every Fall, as Uncle B does, is muy illegal. You’re not supposed to smuggle nuts across international borders. I told him he’d made me an accidental scofflaw. And he said, “what’s a scofflaw?” And I had to explain that scofflaw is a bogus, make-believe word for people who broke a bogus, make-believe law.

— 3:42 pm
Comments: 9