Teddy Bears, Torture, and the High
Last week, British school teacher Gillian Gibbons was pardoned and released
from jail by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir with notice that her visa was
cancelled and she was to return to Britain immediately. Her crime, allowing her
7 year old students to name a teddy bear “Mohammed” after one of the students in
Most Americans find this laughable but Islamists in the Middle East are
always looking for something to be offended by when an “infidel” is involved.
You can name your child Mohammed, but not a teddy bear, a sin punishable by
death. Aren’t you glad you live in America? So why weren’t the Muslim children
punished for being the ones who actually did the naming? That’s easy - because
they’re not the infidel, they’re Muslims.
The hypocrisies of Islam are almost as astounding as the hypocrisies of
Islamic prosecutors were pushing for a sentence of 40 lashes and 6 months in
confinement. Government sponsored protestors were sent out into the streets
demanding she be executed with public stoning, beheading, or other punishments
common to Islam. She was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment before the pardon. It
was only free world attention to the matter that saved her.
In order to administer 40 lashes, it has to be done in smaller segments and
spread out over a period of days to avoid killing the subject. Stoning is faster
but still involves a great deal of pain and humiliation until death occurs.
Beheading is fast if done right but not very pleasant and its effects are
usually terminal. Non of these punishments are considered “torture” by
Islamists. They are a normal part of Islamic culture.
At the same time Gillian Gibbons was waiting to see what fate awaited her,
John McCain was giving a lecture on waterboarding during the Republican debate,
an interrogation technique that is proven to work without harming the subject.
McCain contends that pouring water on someone’s face is “torture” and should
not be allowed during the interrogation of Islamic terrorists who support the
aforementioned actions as a part of their culture. McCain would sooner see
Americans die than subject terrorists to having water splashed in their face.
In his answer to a question on waterboarding, and in response to Mitt
Romney’s refusal to call waterboarding torture, McCain said:
We're not going to do what Pol Pot did. We're not going to do what's being
done to Burmese monks as we speak. I suggest that you talk to retired military
officers and active duty military officers like Colin Powell and others, and how
in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by
Americans on people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond
McCain then accused Romney of not knowing what waterboarding is and Romney
replied that he did. McCain went on:
Then I am astonished that you would think such a -- such a torture would be
inflicted on anyone in our -- who we are held captive and anyone could believe
that that's not torture. It's in violation of the Geneva Convention. It's in
violation of existing law... And, governor, let me tell you, if we're going to
get the high ground in this world and we're going to be the America that we have
cherished and loved for more than 200 years. We're not going to torture
Gee, I didn’t know that Pol Pot used waterboarding on prisoners or that
Burmese Monks were being subjected to it. The Geneva Convention, to my
knowledge, has never outlawed waterboarding and the only law against it was the
creation of some liberal judge on the Court. This country does not torture
people. That is a fact. McCain’s argument is irrelevant legally and applies only
to those in whose opinion waterboarding is considered torture. Opinion does not
Stephen King had this bit of wisdom to add to McCain’s position:
“If the Bush administration didn’t think waterboarding was torture, they
ought to do some personal investigation. Someone in the Bush family should
actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George... I suggested
Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought
it was torture.”
Frankly, I would have expected something a little more intelligent and
creative from the great Stephen King. Waterboard Jenna just so that she could
give her opinion on it? Now that would surely settle the matter.
Is McCain right? He says waterboarding meets precisely the definition of
torture. If we consult various popular dictionaries we find this:
Torture: Function: noun
1 a: anguish of body or mind : agony
b: something that causes agony or pain
2: the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing,
or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure.
1 The infliction of severe pain as a punishment or a forcible means
2 great suffering or anxiety.
1 a. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or
b. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of
waiting in suspense.
3. Something causing severe pain or anguish.
One version of Webster’s additionally includes this entry:
Especially, severe pain inflicted judicially, either as punishment
for a crime, or for the purpose of extorting a confession from an accused
person, as by water or fire, by the boot or thumbkin, or by the rack or
This last entry refers to “old English” punishments but includes the only
mention of “water” found. In this case it refers to drowning. Perhaps this is
what McCain saw under the definitions of torture. I have omitted definitions
that do not refer to human suffering such as “torturing a word” to change its
meaning and so forth.
The one thing that all definitions of human torture have in common is severe
pain and often injury to the body. This can include the twisting or breaking of
limbs, crushing, burning, drowning, cutting, poking and prodding, and other
methods of physical harm to cause severe pain or death. The key word here is
The act of waterboarding involves placing a cloth over the subject’s face and
pouring water over it to simulate drowning. It is not actual drowning. It causes
no real pain. It leave no harmful effects on the body. It does frighten the
begebies out of them. It does not match dictionary descriptions of torture but
it does get subjects to talk. It works and does not violate Geneva Convention
rules which do not apply to terrorists in any case.
Special Forces candidates all go through waterboarding as a part of their
training. Does McCain really believe that we should not be using a proven method
of interrogation on terrorist that we use to train our own people? McCain seems
to bond with those on the left who insist that any discomfort during
interrogations is torture. He is the only Republican candidate for president who
sees it that way.
McCain says we need to maintain the “moral high ground” by avoiding
discomforts such as waterboarding being used on people who see lashing, stoning
and beheading not as torture, but a normal part of their society. McCain doesn’t
seem to realize that we lost the moral high ground long ago when we began
compromising on American values and started worrying more about what others
think of us instead of standing up for strength, freedom, liberty and doing what
The way for America to regain the moral high ground is for people like McCain
and the Democrats to stop accusing Americans of torture, and start supporting
the policies of the country in foreign affairs. It is the unjustified criticisms
and denigration of America by politicians on the left and their media that has
caused America to lose the moral high ground.
It is also the result of our liberal society which has rejected the moral
standards that once made America a clean and safe place to live. We lost the
moral high ground when we started teaching sex and anti-American views in our
schools along with coddling criminals. If we can’t respect ourselves, then why
should we expect others to respect us? There is no moral high ground without
Will our politicians ever understand that every derogatory word they speak
about our country is heard and used as propaganda by our enemies to defeat us in
the war on terror? The enemy needs not create anti-American propaganda for their
war. They only have to repeat what Democrats say in Congress and in the media
and that is just what they have been doing. Not only has McCain joined them, he
has made it harder for interrogators to protect us from future attacks.
If naming a teddy bear gets you 40 lashes in Islam, what methods would they
use to break a subject during interrogations? Does McCain really think that by
avoiding waterboarding we can protect Americans from more severe interrogation
methods overseas? Does he really think that by being weak and nice to
terrorists, it will restore America to the moral high ground? Doesn’t he know
that Islamists are laughing at us over our excessive concern for the human
rights and comfort of captured terrorists?
Islam does not respect weakness and American concern for their comfort. They
respect only courage, conviction, strength, and fear. We cannot afford to appear
weak or afraid to use whatever method necessary to get information from them
when captured. They will not talk unless we put the fear of fire and brimstone
If they go in knowing that they will not be harmed, they will come out after
revealing nothing. This we cannot tolerate nor should we. Perhaps interrogators
should take in with them a teddy bear named Mohammed. Would McCain approve of