As someone who experienced 12 years of Lutheran parochial schools, I have little sympathy for the prisoners at Guantanamo. (You have not known terror until you’ve had a six-foot-four-inch ex-Army chaplain, now a substitute religion teacher, ask you, age 11, whether you would like to share your “funny little joke” with the rest of the class or be sent to the front.*)
And so, when the government asked me, back in 2003, to come up with a list of appropriate “enhanced-interrogation techniques” to be used to elicit vital information from prisoners of the war on terror, I had no qualms about doing so, and submitted the following.**
- Prisoners will view nonstop episodes of That Girl until they admit that Donald was being kind of a jerk that one time.
- Prisoners will be subjected to random acts of karaoke. “Sister Golden Hair,” “All By Myself,” “My Heart Will Go On.”
- Prisoners will be told that, yes, your prison jumper does make you look fat.
- Prisoners will be tricked into thinking it’s 1971, and there is no such show as Happy Days.
- Prisoners will be denied access to the Qu’ran, and instead will be provided with Every Day a Friday.
- Prisoners will be forced to wear white after Labor Day, depriving them of their “fashion self.”
- Prisoners will be stripped of their given names and referred to solely as “Mr. Fancy Pants.”
- Prisoners will be asked repeatedly “Why are you hitting yourself?” until it becomes blatantly obvious.
- Prisoners will be kept on hold as they wait for Time Warner customer service to confirm that “sometime between 8 am and 10 pm” appointment.
- Prisoners will be split into two groups, which will then divide into factions, which will splinter into sects, which will form cells, which will result in the total isolation of individuals. In other words, within a month, they will all be Protestants.
After reading the results of the recently released reports, I have every reason to believe my suggestions were ignored. (And also that I enjoy alliteration.)
I leave you with this.
* I could never be sure if he meant the front of the class or the Eastern Front, his grasp of mid-twentieth-century history being notoriously “off.”
** This may have taken place in my mind.