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‘The Chasers’ confront torture lawyer John Yoo in class

In this video, a satirical comedy group from Australia called the Chasers, confronts torture lawyer John Yoo during one of his recent classes at Berkeley. With a black hood over his head, the unidentified man stands on his chair, outstreches his arms and asks the professor, “How long can I be required to stand here ’til it counts as torture?”

Rather than respond, Yoo simply apologizes for having to end class. As he grabs his stuff and prepares to leave, the Chaser says, “If this is awkward for you, it’s very uncomfortable for me. I can tell you.”

The laughs that follow seem to be from a laugh track or from their TV show‘s audience rather than the students in the class, but I’m not entirely sure. One student can definitely be heard asking the protester to please leave. Pretty sad.

Before Yoo – one of the authors of the Bush administration’s torture policy – makes it through the door, the Chaser gets in one last barb. “I’d love to move, but every time I do my balls get buzzed.” The students then clap, and at the last moment, Yoo is saved by a woman (probably from the administration) who comes through the door to remove the hooded man.

Again it’s hard to tell whether the students are approving of the protest that was about to cut their expensive class short or somehow supporting their teacher. Unfortunately, my guess is that most of those who paid big money to learn from Yoo are not particularly disturbed by his disturbing history.

As a side note, I’m often turned off when I see protesters confront those in power – or more often former officials – face-to-face, because of how nasty it can get. (This video of Code Pink’s Desiree Fairooz and Medea Benjamin yelling “war criminal” in Donald Rumsfeld’s face at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner a couple months ago is the perfect example. It almost made me feel bad for Rummy, which is not the sign of a constructive protest.) But I think the fact that the Chaser remained calm and challenged Yoo somewhat comedically makes this particular interaction more enjoyable.