In this video, a satirical comedy group from Australia called the Chasers,
confronts torture lawyer John Yoo during one of his recent classes at
Berkeley. With a black hood over his head, the unidentified man stands
on his chair, outstreches his arms and asks the professor, “How long
can I be required to stand here ’til it counts as torture?”
Rather than respond, Yoo simply apologizes for having to end class.
As he grabs his stuff and prepares to leave, the Chaser says, “If this
is awkward for you, it’s very uncomfortable for me. I can tell you.”
The laughs that follow seem to be from a laugh track or from their TV show’s
audience rather than the students in the class, but I’m not entirely
sure. One student can definitely be heard asking the protester to
please leave. Pretty sad.
Before Yoo – one of the authors of the Bush administration’s torture policy
– makes it through the door, the Chaser gets in one last barb. “I’d
love to move, but every time I do my balls get buzzed.” The students
then clap, and at the last moment, Yoo is saved by a woman (probably
from the administration) who comes through the door to remove the
Again it’s hard to tell whether the students are approving of the
protest that was about to cut their expensive class short or somehow
supporting their teacher. Unfortunately, my guess is that most of those
who paid big money to learn from Yoo are not particularly disturbed by
his disturbing history.
As a side note, I’m often turned off when I see protesters confront
those in power – or more often former officials – face-to-face, because
of how nasty it can get. (This video of Code Pink’s Desiree Fairooz and Medea Benjamin
yelling “war criminal” in Donald Rumsfeld’s face at the White House
Correspondents’ Dinner a couple months ago is the perfect example. It
almost made me feel bad for Rummy, which is not the sign of a
constructive protest.) But I think the fact that the Chaser remained
calm and challenged Yoo somewhat comedically makes this particular
interaction more enjoyable.