« I never thought I would want a particular car... | Main | What kind of math? »

September 29, 2006

There is no sin except stupidity

Oscar Wilde was right.

I saw "The Road to Guantanamo" on Wednesday. The movie tells the story of "the Tipton three", British guys with Pakistani backgrounds who spent two years in Guantanamo for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In October 2001 they went to Pakistan to celebrate a wedding and crossed the border to Afghanistan on a whim - without any idea what they were going to do there, let alone how they were going to get back. When they realized that they were in the middle of a war zone and that they weren't really doing anything to help, they tried to leave Afghanistan by jumping on board a truck that seemed to be heading in the right direction. Everyone on the truck was captured and the Tipton three were eventually sent to Guantanamo. Their only crime was stupidity.

At Guantanamo, the three were suspected of being members of Al-Qaida. They were repeatedly questioned and tortured. Although the torture in itself should be enough to provoke any believer in human rights, what really gets to me is the stupidity. It might be possible to start debates over the question: "Can torture be justified if it gives us answers that save innocent people?" But in this film, it is obvious that the people who are doing the torturing don't want truthful answers. They want to hear the answers that will put them in the correct position: they want to show the rest of the world that they have captured a terrorist, so they torment their captives until they "admit" to terrorism. They even say this outright: "Everyone cracks in the end." If everyone cracks, then what they say after cracking gives you no information whatsoever. When investigating crimes, is it not common practice to check suspects' stories? In the film, the Tipton three have solid alibies (they were doing community service in Britain at the time of their alleged terrorist crimes, so their alibi is the British police). If the US really wanted the truth about the guilt of these people, that would be easy. In other words: one can have a debate about whether the US is committing international crimes, but it is obvious that they are committing stupidity.

During the US presidential elections, I wrote an essay on who I would vote for if I could. In this essay, I argued that president Bush just seemed too stupid for me - whether or not I agreed with his views didn't even have to be an issue. At the time, I felt that it was risky to argue that "I don't like him because he's so dumb" and expect to be taken seriously, but now I realize that in this case - for once - "You're stupid!" is a very valid argument.

(Norwegian readers, remember the commercials for the University of Oslo? "Statsbudsjettet er helt dust!" "Hvis det er dust, er du fucka i huet!" Well, I've been studying at this university for over a year, and I'm defending that kind of argument now!)

PS. It appears that Anna cooled down enough after seeing "The Road to Guantanamo" to write about it before me, but her thoughts are in Norwegian. 

Posted by Julie at September 29, 2006 5:29 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry: