Translations by Jim Hicks.
I know the difference between an interview and an interrogation. The questions of an interview—even hostile questions—are asked in order to learn something. They want to know a point of view, a story, an idea. In an interrogation the questions are asked, not in order to learn anything, but to get confirmation of something thought to be known already. It’s a search.
I’ve been subjected to both sorts of questioning.
An unexpected variation on this theme took place this past week, on the twentieth of May, in a room crowded with the faces of friends: neither interrogation nor interview. What took place was a linguistic debate about an interesting verb, “to sabotage.” About what this verb means in the dictionary, about what I mean by using it, and about what the accusation claims, in mistaking its meaning. In the unseemly setting of a courtroom, the interpretation of a verb was reasoned out. And a criminal conviction was at stake, not a modified definition.
In support of the prosecution’s thesis, reference was made to my statement, “That’s what the shears were for.”
Shears: large scissors sold in hardware stores, used by gardeners and mechanics. There was no difference between the two sides about the interpretation of the word.
Are shears a tool for sabotage? Could the future TMA—the Train of Modest Acceleration between Lyon and Turin—be sabotaged by shears?
With my full faculties for comprehending and contesting, I say, “Obviously not.” Shears used to damage a fence of the construction site in question perform a symbolic act that in no way could sabotage its operation. In the remaining sentences of mine under indictment, there occurs no other hardware or armory.
On the twentieth of May in the year two thousand and fifteen, the following personnel were present at the public’s expense: two state prosecutors with their security details, the judge with court stenographers, and military police. I’ve tried in vain to count up total expediture of public funds in that place and time. Still lacking in this total is the value in a waste of time and resources taken from other more important and urgent causes.
I’ve recognized my role as cause and pretext for this expense.
I’ve repeated to myself that, in case of a conviction, I will not contribute to any further waste of this kind by appealing the decision.
Though it may not register on a first read, I wrote the above lines with an unshakeable sense of sadness.