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([personal profile] pat Dec. 26th, 2008 12:05 am)
An individual let slip that he was privy to knowledge he should not have. He is subjected to conditions which are, by his definition, torturous. He is desperate to make the treatment end.

"Who told you that..." his interrogator demands.

The person considers. Telling the truth is impossible. He would either not be believed, or his treatment would be even worse.

So he lies, naming an innocent colleague as the source of his illicit knowledge . Viewers are subjected to the sounds of the colleague screaming in desperate confusion as he is beaten.

Can you identify the movie?

It is from A Christmas Story. Ralphie, having uttered "the queen-mother of all four letter words," stands next to the sink with his mouth full of Lifebuoy facing his stony-faced mother who demands "Where did you hear that word?"

The true answer, his father ("My old man worked in obscenities the way other artists might work in oils or clay") , is clearly not going to be acceptable. Ralph instead names his innocent classmate -- his friend -- Schwarz. Ralph's mom calls Mrs. Schwarz, and after their brief conversation, we hear Schwarz wailing as he is being beaten for something he not only didn't do, but has no concept of.

I posit that Jean Shepard, who wrote the source story and the screenplay, has a much clearer grasp of human nature than the writers of 24 or any other fiction where torture proves to be an effective means of obtaining information.

This is why laws against torture are so damnably vital. Because, under the right conditions, we are all capable of returning to being frightened children. Because of that, we are all vulnerable to being a namer or a named.

Laws against torture protect innocents.
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