A dissident poet and journalist were sharing the same cell in a small totalitarian country in the "free world," when the guards threw in a beaten-up leader of the political opposition.

"Maybe that will teach you a lesson in opposing General Caesar's martial law government," the guard said.

"What is the news from the outside world?" the journalist asked.

"The United States has a new foreign policy," the opposition leader said. "Human rights will no longer have a high priority."

"No kidding!" the poet said. "What does."

"International terrorism is going to take place of human rights as America's first concern."

"I guess that leaves us out," the journalist said. "Or rather in."

The poet said, "I always suspected the United States wouldn't stick with human rights for too long. It never did play in Peoria."

The opposition leader agreed. "I was arrested two hours after Haig made his declaration about the new American policy. General Caesar would never have dared to do it if he thought human rights was still a U.S. concern."

The journalist said, "I can see putting human rights on the back burner, but why replace it with a war on international terrorism? What's he going to do -- bomb Rome if the Red Brigade kidnaps a judge, or waste Belfast if the IRA blows up a department store?"

"He didn't spell it out," the opposition leader said, "but i think it has something to do with the hostage fever in the United States. He was enunciating the new 'get tough' policy of the Reagan administration. Haig probably believes protecting human rights is a sign of American weakness, and that showing you're going to be tough on terrorists proves you're a hard-liner."

"It makes sense to me," the poet said. "Besides, as long as Caesar swears fidelity to Washington, Haig feels it's nobody's business who the general throws in jail."

"I wish you would look at it from our point of view and not his. Caesar plays rough with anyone who opposes him."

"I just had a thought," the poet said. "Since we're not going to get the Reagan administration too excited about or plight as political prisoners, why don't we send out word that we're being held hostage?"

The opposition leader said, "That's not bad. Americans get very upset these days about anyone being held hostage."

"But we're not American hostages," the journalist protested. "We're hostages in our own country."

"We'll say we're Americans. This will bring all the media down here and then General Caesar will have to open his jails to prove we're not. Once the American pulbic sees what Caesar has been doing to us, Haig may have to deal with human rights issue here, whether he wants to or not."

The journalsist said, "It's worth a try. I'll smuggle out a letter to Amnesty International saying General Caesar is holding 500 American hostages in his dungeons."

"Haig's going to blow his top when he finds out it was all a trick to get the United States to recognize human rights."

The poet said, "Yes, but for him it will just be his blood pressure. For us it means our fingernails."