Sunday, December 7, 2008

24: The Inquisition of Galileo Episode?

The Bush Administration’s “mishandling” of terror suspects is now universally compared to Grand Inquisitor Tom├ás de Torquemada’s handling of the Inquisition. Will a 24 episode based on this be still topical?

By: Vanessa Uy

I’ve thought about the concept almost three years ago after getting hooked on the Bush Administration’s War on Terror-inspired TV series 24. After witnessing scene after scene of CTU agent Jack Bauer interrogating suspects with wanton disregard on their Civil Liberties, one of those ideas flashed in my head. What if CTU agent Jack Bauer worked for the Inquisition back during the days of Galileo?

Even though the Inquisition might be busy prosecuting their warrant issued against that sodomite Caravaggio. At about the same time, the discovery of indisputable proof by Galileo that the planets orbit around the Sun is seen as the most heretical idea in his time. Just like Osama Bin Laden’s violent campaign of establishing a global Caliphate, is seen by Bush Administration Neo-Conservatives as “heretical” today. And the same still holds true today as it is back then; the powers-that-be still relies on an army of underlings to do their “dirty” work.

Imagine the scene as “Inquisition agent” Jack Bauer threatens to throw Galileo from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa wile held at gunpoint with a Bohemian made blunderbuss (a 17th Century equivalent of today’s Czech made sig sauer handgun). While Jack Bauer says to Galileo: “Why won’t you recant your heresy?” Then Galileo says: “My discovery is not heresy, and I will not recant.” Uttered as a show of defiance. As Inquisition agent Bauer threatens Galileo on which will hit the ground below first, a large silver coin or Galileo himself to demonstrate an earlier experiment done by Galileo on the top of that same tower.

As what everyone knows today as it is back then, confessions obtained under duress are seldom truthful. The one interrogated usually will say anything – truthful or not – in order to end on-going torment or to avoid one in the first place. But given the slow pace of 17th Century Italy; a 24 episode based on that period would surely be seen by 24 fans as “boring”, when compared to the present-day equivalent. Given that legal precedents that we in the civilized West now take for granted like the Fifth Amendment rights, individual Civil Liberties, and the Posse Comitatus Act were virtually nonexistent back in the 17th Century, our fictitious Inquisition agent Jack Bauer could practically do anything that he pleases. Even doing the right thing. Its the sort of thing that could "irk" outgoing US Vice President Dick Cheney don't you think?