Sunday, April 06, 2008

United We Stand...Against Torture

This morning, I headed for the plaza in my hometown, Healdsburg, population 11,000, in northern California’s fabled wine country.

I was met by my friend, Caroline. We held up our “Torture R US” signs and our breath, not knowing how we would be received. Soon we were joined by my blogging buddy, Chris (The Democratic Activist); and my friend, Ann, who showed up with her camera and legal pad with the goal of submitting an article about our efforts to our newpaper of record, the Healdsburg Tribune. I handed out my flier.* By the time we split up, there were about 10 of us.

What an experience! People stopped, asked what we were doing, and ended up staying and talking with us. Ann interviewed numerous people, including a Canadian who had been a translator for the US Army in World War II; an English businessman who was willing to talk with us (but didn’t us to use his name out of fear that his traveling from country to country could be curtailed); a 23 year old man from Lake County who wondered what we were doing; and a woman, new to Healdsburg, who had just joined the Healdsburg Peace Project. All were opposed to our country’s use of torture. In an hour and half, we only talked to one person who regretted that the US doesn’t torture more.

What I learned today:

1. Our “Torture R US” signs provoked questions, but there are better slogans. For right now, I like “United We Stand…Against Torture.”

2. None of the three presidential candidates oppose the use of torture by our country on their websites, Obama, Clinton, and McCain. I urge you to contact your candidate and ask him/her to take a position on our country’s use of torture.

3. Even though torture is a serious subject, it’s possible to enjoy taking a public stand against it, especially when others join in.

I hope you will pick a slogan opposing torture, make a sign and handout*, encourage a few friends to join you, and find a street corner in your town to spread the word. I plan to show up a couple of times a week until our country stops torturing.

* Here's my handout:

Why I’m protesting our country’s use of torture
1. This is a democracy. We citizens are responsible for what our government does. I believe that torture is wrong in all circumstances and refuse to remain silent in light of our government’s ongoing insistence that it has the right to use torture.

2. Memos produced by Department of Justice to justify torture have recently been released. These memos confirm that elected officials and their lawyers approved, even encouraged, the use of torture.

3. On March 8th, President Bush vetoed a bill which would have specifically banned the following: Forcing a prisoner to be naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner. Placing hoods or sacks over the head of a prisoner, and using duct tape over the eyes. Applying beatings, electric shocks, burns or other forms of physical pain. Waterboarding. Using military working dogs. Inducing hypothermia or heat injury. Conducting mock executions. Depriving a prisoner of necessary food, water or medical care.

Gail Jonas, Attorney at Law, resident of Healdsburg for 42 years,,, 707.431.8451.

(photo thanks to Ann Carranza - double click to enlarge)

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