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Bono Speaks Out Against Torture -- And Gets Censored

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On September 27th, here in Philadelphia, the Liberty Medal for 2007 was awarded to Bono and his organization DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa), for their work in fighting AIDS and poverty in Africa. Each year, the National Constitution Center awards the Liberty Medal to a person or persons for outstanding work in advancing the cause of liberty around the world.

While Bono's entire acceptance speech was quite good, I was particularly moved when he spoke out against the use of torture. He said, "You do not have to become a monster to defeat a monster."

Indeed. Very well put.

And I wrote those words down right after I heard them, because I was so impressed and wanted to share the wisdom.

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However, two days after the event, I downloaded the official video of Bono's speech at www.libertymedal.org. And I discovered that the official video had been edited so that it no longer contains the references to torture, or other portions of the speech that apparently were not acceptable to The Powers That Be. Furthermore, the edited version seems to over-emphasize the few gratuitous positive comments that Bono made regarding the current Bush administration. (By the way, George Bush Sr. presented the award.)

Not being a conspiracy theorist, I began to question whether I had heard it all correctly the first time.

Fortunately, I discovered that Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News heard the same speech that I heard, and he wrote about it in his blog at www.attytood.com. Bunch's blog entry about Bono's speech fills in some of the gaps that are missing from the official video, including the context surrounding Bono's "monster" comment.

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So, thanks to Will Bunch, here is what Bono had to say about torture:
Today I read in the Economist an article reporting that over 38 percent of Americans support some type of torture in exceptional circumstances. My country? No. Your country? Tell me no. Today, when I receive this great honor, I ask you, I implore you as an Irishman who has seen some of these things close up, I ask you to remember, you do not have to become a monster to defeat a monster. Your America's better than that.
Yes, that is exactly what I heard.

But, in the official video, all is missing except the last two sentences.

Yes, this is America, land of the free. Or so it once appeared to be.

Let's face it: When you feel you must censor the acceptance speech of a Liberty Medal recipient, something is seriously wrong.



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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

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