Memo to Dick Cheney: We must shudder for the world we live in . . . | Street Jazz

Memo to Dick Cheney: We must shudder for the world we live in . . .



Dick Cheney has been making the media rounds lately, huffing and puffing about the CIA and how the lukewarm investigation into “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques ” - okay, torture - abuses is all politically motivated, and by golly, the CIA needs to do what it needs to do.

After all, it was all legal. And even if it wasn’t, in Cheney Land, anything a superior tells you to do is lawful.

Thinking about Comrade Cheney and his performance of late reminds me of Saul Levitt's 1959 play The Andersonville Trial, when the commandant of the infamous prison, Henry Wirz, was put on trial after the Civil War for atrocities committed there.

In one telling scene, the prosecutor, Colonel Chipman, is badgering Wirz about the camp, and Wirz, shouting that he was just following orders, asks, “Ask the men in this room if they would have done different!”

“And if they could not?” Chipman responds. “Then we must shudder for the world we live in, to think what may happen when one man may own the  conscience of many men. For the prospect before us is then a world of Andersonvilles, of jailors, concerned only with executing the commands of their masters.

“And, freed of his conscience, fearing only the authority to which he has surrendered his soul, might not man commit murder then?”

Well, Mr. Cheney?


The Andersonville Trial, William Shatner and George C. Scott Connection

A lot of folks recall the television production of The Andersonville Trial done in 1971, with William Shatner as Colonel Chipman and Richard Basehart as Wirz. The production was directed by George C. Scott, who had played Chipman in the original Broadway production.

I was once able to be listen to an audio copy of the Broadway play. Scott’s Chipman blows Shatner’s (as good as it was - and it was good) right out of the courtroom.


Quote of the Day - Jon Stewart on Religion

Religion makes sense to me. I have trouble with dogma more than I have trouble with religion. I think the best thing religion does is give people a sense of place, purpose, and compassion. My quibble with it is when it's described as the only way to have those things instilled. You can be moral and not be religious, you can be compassionate, you can be sympathetic - you can have all those wonderful qualities. When it begins to be judged as purely based on religion, then you're suggesting a world where Star Jones goes to heaven but Gandhi doesn't. - Jon Stewart (The Daily Show), quoted in Sojourners, July 2009


The Time Travel Question -  Hilary Burrage

Continuing the Time Travel series. Today we have present Hilary Burrage. Where would you travel to in the past, if you could, what might you change, and the best presentation of time travel?

Hilary, who lives in Liverpool, UK, is a consultant in regeneration, and a writer and teacher. She is also a classically trained singer and married to a member of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. She has a Master's degree in the Sociology of Science and Technology and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Those interested in learning more about her can check out her website at:

To respond to your question - I guess the late 1960s and the later 1990s were a very good time in the UK; both were periods of considerable hope for the future and it would have been nice to keep things that way (pre- all the challenges we now know were to come.. which also in some ways answers your question about what I'd have liked to change, had I known: NO Mrs Thatcher, NO Mr Reagan, NO Mr Bush....!)

More poetically, it would have been wonderful if Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (pl. see my blog for details) could have survived his pneumonia and lived for more than just 37 years. I guess that would have been a blessing for both our countries, had he lived up to his potential to ease 'racial' divides, through music. (I'm doing some work re: SC-T... fascinating.)

And I don't know about TV and film, but if you wanted to go for real romanticism, why not try the stories woven around King Arthur?

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