Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Morong 43 and Euphemisms
Two priests came to visit their bishop who is suffering from cancer. When they inquire about his illness,- the result of medical tests and other diagnosis, the old prelate said, “I exactly do not know. All I got from my doctors are euphemisms.” As they walk out of the room, one of them unknowing ask the other, “Have you ever heard of cancer of the euphemism before?”
I really do not know if this anecdote really happened but it is indeed “torturous” to imagine that euphemism is part of the human anatomy. Euphemism is a part of every language that as we all know is a substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit. Like “reasonable restraint” and “acceptable mental anguish”, words from the statements of Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato when asked if the Morong 43 were tortured by the men of the 2nd ID of the Philippine Army in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr., stated in a news report that such statements, “...seem to be taken right out of a Guantanamo torture manual.” Reyes also said that blindfolding and handcuffing prisoners for 36 hours are a violation of the recently signed anti-torture law or the RA 9745. In Guantanamo, torture was euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques”.
But even before the Iraqui war, the dreaded Gestapo during the World War II, also employed a thing called “refined interrogation techniques” and became the favorite euphemism of their officers then. They call it “Verschaerfte Vernehmung”, an insidious German phrase. Regardless of the term they use, the Nazi secret police indeed practiced torture in the eyes of the civilized world. Because torture in whatever name degrades the humanity of a person whether he is a rebel or a soldier.
The military must now define “reasonable restraint” and “acceptable mental anguish”. Does it mean, in plain English, being tied and forced to assume stressful bodily position, electric shock, prolonged interrogation, denial of sleep and rest and deliberately prohibiting your detainees from communicating with their relatives?
Since 9/11 torture once again placed at the center stage of international debates. But the first thing we must do is to call it by its proper name. According to Edward Peters, professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania : “Now that torture is visibly and terribly back on a number of agendas, historians and everyone else must call it by its proper name and face it for what it is, for a denial of human rights is now tantamount to a denial of humanity.”
And torture is more lethal than cancer for it denies the dignity of man…
(Photo from www.bulatlat.com)