torture is evil unless we’re doing it

It was a unique moment today, killing time between rehearsals and reading the latest issue of Dance Australia while dozing on the sofas at ADT, and in its pages mostly notable for being the Who Weekly, New Idea, and Girlfriend of ballet and contemporary dance in Australia was the unequivocal and damning repudiation of the Australian Government’s treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks, and subsequently the concise and absolute moral standing I’m more accustomed to seeing in intelligent and responsible blogs than in a magazine.

All this was for Honour Bound, choreographed by Gary Stewart and directed by Nigel Jamieson. I’ve reprinted it (as usual without permission) here because Dance Australia doesn’t have a web presence and otherwise the article will go mostly unnoticed outside of the quite specific magazine readership, and also because it’s surprising and gratifying to see such a moral and political stand being taken by a publication I usually consider a bland waste of trees.

It is also especially pertinent on a day when slimy despot G. W. Bush, his insipid, sycophantic cohorts, and various spineless cretins, self-serving nepotists and other miscellaneous scum have managed to pass an ‘anti-terrorism’ bill that spuriously legalises what is nothing other than torture and gross violation of human rights. One of the best political blogs in Australia, The Road to Surfdom gives a rundown on how this bill eliminates the idea of rape as torture, and No Quarter illustrates why the blandly named water-boarding is one of the most viciously effective forms of torture ever devised.

By then he has allegedly graduated from Al Qaeda training camps and fought alongside the Taliban, but at issue here isn’t whether David is bad, mad or simply misunderstood. Every was has its justifications on every side; what is crucial for the restoration of order is the victorious power’s respect for the rule of law. In Guantanamo and elsewhere, the US government has made open mockery of its own decreed standards of decency. The 700 detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison have been denied their entitlement to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and humane treatment in incarceration. As Alfred W McCoy put it in Melbourne Magazine The Monthly in June this year, “whatever Hicks might have been before he reached Guantanamo, his four-year stint of brutal beatings, endless solitary confinement and mock trials has transformed him into an unlikely symbol for the sanctity of human rights”.

— Dance Australia

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