I'm a jaded bitch now, but once upon a time I believed the world would change. I even believed it might come about through music. And when I was 20 and a punk, and hating hard on Ronald Reagan, and about to be, but not yet, faced with the nightmare of AIDs burning its way across America while the government ignored it, I used to listen to a band called the Au Pairs.
Wikipedia tells me the Au Pairs were a bit in sound like Gang of Four and the Delta Five. Huh. At the time I'd have probably argued about that, but in retrospect, I guess it's true. They had an edgier sound than the Gang of Four, the lead vocal teased out in a different way, a bit more spare in their production.
But this isn't about their sound. It's about a song they wrote, and a news story I read last night, and how not only can't music seem to change the world for the better, but maybe nothing can.
The song is "Armagh," from the brilliant 1981 album "Playing With a Different Sex," and it was about a British prison for women in Northern Ireland:
We don't torture
We're a civilized nation...
This is the story, from ABC News:
The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of "combined" interrogation techniques -- using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time -- on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.
Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.
The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.
The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.
At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
But we're a civilized nation.