Sunday, July 19, 2009

I Want My Daddy Rights!

A couple of months ago, President Barack Obama authorized the release of formerly classified information. It revealed methods used by U.S. interrogators to question suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Members of Obama's administration, certain leaders in Congress, and many members of the media and public have described some of the actions used by these interrogators as torture. Included in this list of "atrocities" are methods such as sleep deprivation (not allowing suspected terrorists to get a good night's rest), constant exposure to loud noises, relentless questioning without breaks, and a denial of freedoms critics claim violate prisoners' constitutional rights. As I listened to the president and others condemn the use of such "un-American" methods, the ugly reality suddenly hit me: My children are guilty of torture! Sound ridiculous? Not really. Let's break it down according to the Obama administration's standard:

1. Sleep Deprivation:
Of my three kids, only my oldest can read. Yet, somehow, all three collaborated to write the book on sleep deprivation. When you have young children, you live your entire life in a haze of exhaustion. Sleep becomes almost as rare as an intelligent political opinion out of Hollywood. There’s always a diaper to change, a nose to wipe, a catastrophe to attend to, or a spill to clean up. You get the older kids naked for bath time, then, as soon as you turn your back to attend to the baby, they disappear out the bathroom door. You stop what you’re doing and chase them into the bedroom, only to be greeted by the sight of tiny butts and testicles flopping about in a pile of your previously clean laundry. Then there are meal times, story times, prayer times…all good stuff, but stuff that takes energy. Parental naps are experienced slightly less often than sitings of the Loch Ness Monster. Meanwhile, nighttime slumbers are usually interrupted by a screaming infant, a three-year-old's nightmare, a six-year-old's "need" for a cup of water, or a little Howard climbing into bed and wedging him or herself between Mom and Dad. Even if you're not initially awakened by the tiny intruder, you inevitably open your eyes around three in the morning to find your child's sleeping body lying perpendicular to yours. He or she takes up the whole mattress except for the foot and a half they've left for you and your spouse along the very edges of the bed. Unable to turn over without falling off or crushing the child, you lie there on one side, attempting to steal a few more Zs while trying to keep your teetering body from falling to the toy and cracker infested floor below. Then, after finally reaching a place of deep sleep, you're awakened moments later by rambunctious little people who are shaking you and chanting, "We want waffles! We want waffles!..."

Just like the prisoners at Guantanamo, you find yourself worn down by the lack of sleep. The only difference is that suspected terrorists can, at least, give up information that will bring an end to the suffering. With small kids, there’s nothing you can do. I’m more than ready to tell them anything they want to know, but the horrible reality is that they don’t want anything except more of my time and energy. They just keep wanting, needing, demanding. They don't care that Daddy is just one more sleepless night away from running down the street naked and yelling at the top of his lungs "I’m Batman!"

2. Loud Noises:
Likewise, the Obama faithful have stated that pumping loud music and other sounds into suspected terrorists' cells to help obtain information is also "torture." If this is true, then, once again, I must turn in my own kids. I especially feel compelled to turn them in given that I'm clearly the one they are torturing. You think its cruel to crank up a little Aerosmith or AC/DC? Try driving six hours in a minivan while your six-year-old continually hits repeat on the Hannah Montana CD. Talk about being ready to spill your guts. Now I know why spies carry cyanide capsules in case they're ever captured. Or how about the joy of driving around town while some mysterious, noise-making toy lost in the dark corners of your vehicle plays "Pop Goes the Weasel" every time you turn left. Then there's the singing Elmo your two-year-old can't get enough of, the sound metal spoons make when pounded against a table, and the Little Musicians drumset the kids' sadistic uncle gave them in an effort to get even with you for all the times you bugged him as a kid. And those are just the artificially produced noises. We haven't even discussed the cries, whines, screams, tantrums, and continual shouts of "Mine! Mine! Mine!" that consistently ring through my cell (oops, I mean house).

Obama calls cranked up rock music torture. I call it escaping for a few hours in my car. If the government really wants to prevent another terrorist attack, all they need to do is give a group of two-year-olds some silverware, a hard surface, a few singing toys, and a play area in one of their interrogation rooms. Trust me, if their prisoner isn't giving up the details to some planned attack within twenty minutes, he doesn't know anything.

3. Relentless Questioning:
Finally, there is the issue of relentless questioning. Once again, certain leaders and citizens seem very concerned about the way suspected terrorists are questioned. Many are worried that continual questions for hours on end without proper rest or a break could cause psychological damage. Well, let me put all doubts to rest and assure you that it most assuredly causes psychological damage! I know this because--you guessed it--I am a victim. As a parent, you are constantly hit with a barrage of questions, only a handful of which you have any idea how to answer. "Daddy, what are you doing?... Why are you doing that?... Can I have a cookie for breakfast?... Why can't I have a cookie for breakfast?... Daddy, who makes cookies?... How come they don't make any cookies for breakfast?... Daddy, can I have some milk?... Daddy, can I have some more milk?... Daddy, how come you said a bad word when you spilled the milk?... Daddy, how can Big Bird talk?... Can he fly?... Why do boys have penises?... Does Big Bird have a penis?... Daddy, are we almost there?... Are we almost there now?... How about now?... How about now?... How about now?..." After a few hours of such questioning, your brain has been turned to mush. Your ability to think or engage in rational thought has been totally depleted. Once able to discuss and analyze situations, you're reduced to a babbling, drooling, and thoroughly confused shell of the man you once were. Now, phrases like, "Because I said so," and "Go ask your mother," are the only intelligible words you can utter. Are such methods too cruel for Gitmo? Obama thinks so. All I know is, I've been subjected to such interrogations for years and I've never plotted to blow up anything.

The evidence is irrefutable. I rest my case. On behalf of fathers (and mothers) everywhere, I hereby call on the federal government to provide relief! Clearly, under the Obama administration's definition of torture, we, as American parents, have had our civil rights trampled on. How can it be said that we have freedom of speech when we can't hear what we're saying above the screams, yells, and chaos within our own homes. Who can claim that we have been given due process when little people within our own families have taken simple freedoms from us like sleeping when we want, working when we want, or going out for a quiet dinner when we want? And don't even get me started on the whole "cruel and unusual punishment" thing. What have we done to deserve facing the odor of our diaper-wearing toddlers first thing in the morning (a.k.a. the gas chamber) or the torture of trying to install car seats on a ninety degree day? I believe I speak for all fathers when I say: WE WANT OUR DADDY RIGHTS! If people suspected of plotting to kill innocent civilians are entitled to sleep, consideration, and a number of other creature comforts, then, certainly, millions of law-abiding parents must be.

So the next time you hear Nancy Pelosi or some other so-called "leader" or political pinhead crying a river over the "violation of rights" at Gitmo, take a moment to think about it. We, after all, are fathers and mothers. We endure sleep deprivation, noise, questions, and sacrifice our freedoms for the people that we love more than anything in the world. Torture? I think not. So give me a break, Mr. President. I only hope that our current government's willingness to protect the "rights" of the people who would hurt my children doesn't interfere with my rights and responsibilities to protect them.

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