Posted by: Ali Davis | August 31, 2011

Shun Cheney

I read this piece by the fantastic Dahlia Lithwick today.

She points out that the appalling decision not to pursue legal action against the architects of our nation’s torture program (not to mention our made-up reasons for killing thousands of people in a war of aggression) has left the whole country with a stain: Now we all know  — everyone knows — that our laws and highest ideals don’t actually matter as long as the person shattering them is powerful enough.

Or if prosecuting him wouldn’t be politically polite.

We can’t pretend to be a nation that upholds the law. We can’t say that human life and human dignity are priorities for us. Our failure to prosecute Dick Cheney and the rest of the Bush clan disproves those claims every single day.

But the fact that the current administration refuses to punish him legally — I say “punish” rather than “prosecute” because we all know he did it. He admits it himself. He’s just pretending that suddenly claiming torture isn’t torture makes it magically true. — does not mean that we cannot punish him at all.

And I don’t just mean refusing to buy the stack of lies held together by wood pulp and a binding he’s been trying to sell.

Or by turning off any show, anywhere, that has him on, though that would be a start. (And, really, why does anyone continue to invite him on shows? What new thing do people think he could possibly say? Are they watching because they think some intern will trip while carrying a hypodermic full of sodium pentathol?)

Dick Cheney deserves a good old-fashioned public shaming.

He and those who aspire to follow in his slime trail need to understand that war crimes carry social consequences, even if they don’t carry jail time.

He needs to be shunned.

If you’re in a position to be in such places, leave any event he attends. Refuse to sit next to him. The only proper response to Dick Cheney’s “Hello,” or “Nice to meet you,” is “You are a war criminal and a torturer.”

And don’t worry: the rest of us can participate too. Dick Cheney should never again be able to attend a public event without being hissed like a villain in an old melodrama. Don’t even waste your vocal cords on booing him.

Dick Cheney should never again be able to speak in public without being hissed. Cheney should never again be able to approach someone and be sure of being acknowledged as a fellow human being.

Such a practice is not being impolite to an old man. Polite people do not allow tortures to remain in their midst.

If there is one thing in this entire world Dick Cheney cares about, it’s his legacy. Otherwise he wouldn’t bother releasing a book full of self-justifying lies.

We must, as a nation, let him know that even though his physical body is above harm, his legacy is not.

Let him watch it crumble as his days wind down.

Eventually, if we commit as a nation to shaming and punishing Cheney the only way we can, the media and even the Beltway pundits will pick up on the public disgust and censure and stop inviting him to whisper his foul lies over the airwaves.

And then Cheney will not, as he hopes, get to spend the rest of his days playing Wise Elder Statesman.

He will go down to his grave a reviled torturer.

As he should.



  1. I enjoyed this-Very Good Read Ali- We need to prosecute to the full extend of the law. By not doing so, good, decent and
    innocent people become complicit by default.

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