Debate Magazine

Terry Jones' 'If Fish Can Feel Pain, Then Maybe Iraqi Children Can, Too'

Posted on the 19 September 2011 by Mikeb302000
Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, wrote this really good editorial about realising that humans have feelings as well.
By Terry Jones (yes, the Python, not the asshole US preacher)
The Observer, Saturday 3 May 2003 20.59 EDT

The recent report by the Royal Society suggesting that fish can feel pain will come as a severe blow to all those anglers who have hitherto operated on the principle that fish are incapable of feeling anything. It comes as an even bigger shock to those of us who have for so long applied the same principle to human beings.
If fish can feel pain, does this mean that a 13-year-old child, picked up in Afghanistan, hooded, flown several thousand miles to Cuba and kept in a chicken coop, may also experience physical sensations bordering on the uncomfortable?
Like Tony Blair, I thought the Guantanamo Bay camp was 'an unsatisfactory situation', but it never occurred to me that the human beings in there would be capable of feeling discomfort.
In much the same way, I suppose, George Bush must have assumed that all those prisoners on death row, whose death sentences he signed as Governor, would never undergo distress at the prospect of imminent death. Like him I always firmly believed that human beings were incapable of feeling any unpleasantness.
Otherwise, I used to point out, why would civilised people like Donald Rumsfeld even contemplate dropping cluster bombs all over the Middle East where kids will pick them up or tread on them and get blown to pieces or have their legs ripped off? If fish can feel, there must be a strong possibility that small Iraqi children will be unhappy at losing bits of their bodies.
If fish can feel, perhaps we should rethink some of our other policies. I mean maybe it's not such a good idea to dump mentally ill people on the streets in the hope that some passers-by will give them 'community care'? Just suppose that - like fish - the mentally ill can feel miserable?
At least there is no suggestion that fish suffer from the cold and wet, so there's no problem in leaving the mentally ill out on the streets through the winter, but that's not the point. The point is that we ought to re-examine some of our long-held and most cherished assumptions.
Like, for example, the idea that being out of work is just something that happens to some schmucks but has no bearing on their quotient of personal contentment. If fish can feel, maybe George Bush should be more worried about the US unemployment rate reaching 6 per cent than about how fabulous it is that his military can drop so many bombs and fire off so many missiles in such a short time.
If fish can feel, perhaps Tony Blair should reconsider his support for a US administration that is publicly pledged to visiting war and destruction on any other country that dares to oppose them.
If fish can feel, perhaps we ought not to allow the men and women who currently run the White House to run the world in the way that they clearly intend.
If fish can feel pain, perhaps it's time to govern human affairs on the principle that human beings feel pain too.
Seel also:
  • Rule of Reciprocity

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