The Teacher & Water-boarding!

In an op-ed column in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., of 20 November, Roger Guffey, a retired high-school math-teacher, condemned President Bush for water-boarding three terrorists, claiming that water-boarding is torture, a no-no in a Christian nation, Guffey’s accurate non-definition of this country, simply a nation in which millions of its citizens claim to be Christians.

Strangely, Guffey used as an example of torture the depiction of Christ’s treatment in the movie The Passion of the Christ. He attempted to compare this with water-boarding and, citing scripture, declared that it produced nothing from Christ since Christ, representing no government or military power, did not furnish any useful information, though no questions amounting to any sort of strategy or national defense were asked him because he was consequently and absolutely no threat and not even handled clandestinely. Rather, he was simply beaten and berated in public, hardly a water-boarding chamber.

Actually, Christ was a slave in the Roman Empire and by virtue of his ability to command a following was to be exterminated. Ironically, Pilate, the Roman head honcho, was perfectly willing to let Christ go on his way, proving that Christ offered no civil threat and certainly did not deserve torture, not even a good stoning. The religious establishment was out to get Christ, however, considering his brand of the faith as threatening to the religious hierarchy’s power, and Pilate, not caring one way or the other, aided and abetted in letting the torture and crucifixion be carried out…anything to keep the religious zealots happy, off his back and out of his sight.

In the Merriam-Webster Collegiate, 11th Edition, torture is defined thusly: to cause intense suffering to: to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain: to twist or wrench out of shape. Water-boarding neither injures nor kills nor wrenches anybody out of shape and is therefore not torture. Guffey mentioned that Sheik Khalid Mohammed was water-boarded 183 times, but the man has been routinely in the news for years, complete with his picture and has never shown any sign of either being hurt, twisted out of shape or, obviously, killed. Guffey said the water-boarding didn’t work but the truth is that the Sheik, after enduring the water-boarding until he got tired of it, coughed up valuable information, well documented in the media. Water-boarding is also employed in the training of segments of the U.S. military but it’s doubtful that Guffey would accuse the government of torturing its own.

Guffey predictably attempted to use the scriptures to make his point, but did not mention that Jesus Christ made a whip with his own hands and at least on one occasion lashed a group of people with it, driving them out of the temple. Would Guffey, a self-confessed Christian, consider that to be torture? No wonder the Pharisees (religionists) wanted to get rid of Jesus…he was messing up their game! Nor did Guffey mention that Christ, shortly before he died, instructed his followers to secure swords even if having to sell part of their clothes was necessary in order to get the cash. It’s doubtful that he meant for them to use the swords as toothpicks.

The test of Guffey’s position would come, of course, when Guffey would have to decide whether or not to water-board a terrorist known to have vital information concerning the safety (or imminent death) of Guffey’s family. Especially considering the fact that water-boarding neither injures nor kills, what would he do? Indeed, even if water-boarding were torture, what would he do? This corner has no problem with that answer, just as George Bush has stated he would have no problem if faced with the same circumstances regarding the nation’s safety again. In a perfect world (Guffey’s world?), this would not be the case but this world ain’t Camelot, not by a long shot.

Guffey the math teacher sees water-boarding and torture as lines that intersect, with that point of intersection representing evil. Actually, the two elements are parallel lines that by definition never intersect and therefore never represent evil. If Guffey would not water-board in order to protect his own wife or children or siblings or parents, he says more about himself than about water-boarding, the government or most anything else.