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Torture: the bright side

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 17 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6473
  1. Liam Farrell, general practitioner, Crossmaglen, County Armagh
  1. drfarrell{at}

“She preferred the timid touchings of the eunuch to the ponderous bollocks of the Roman Emperor,” said Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a metaphor for the empire’s descent from barbarian virility to effete decadence. And we are learning nothing from history, because MI6 recently admitted that it regards torture as illegal and abhorrent, and I’ve been left yearning for those golden days of redneck vigour and bigotry, when Ad extirpanda, a papal bull promulgated in 1252, authorised …

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