Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Torture and Its Justifications.

There is a good discussion going on at SC&A regarding the issue of torture and its application by a 'civilized' nation. Is there a such thing as justified torture?

Some comments I found of interest:

Most of me believes that to purposely inflict pain on another human being in the name of a 'cause' is wrong, wrong, wrong. It reduces us to the level of those we claim to have risen above.
There is, however, a part of me that would willingly and enthusiastically inflict pain upon anyone who had deliberately laid any kind of violent hand on my children, or threatened them in any way. Such people forfeited their basic civil rights when they, of their own free will, chose to wreak harm on the innocent.
I supposed one could use the second analogy to apply to anything. . . .
The core of me would have trouble rationalizing it, but that other part of me wouldn't.

And my answer is no, absolutely not. No to half drowning people over and over again. No to handcuffing people in extreme positions over and over again. No, no, no. We will inflict worse damage upon our society than they ever can if we, as a country, say these practices are allowable...
In the end, remember, it is humanity which must win. In the end, it will be the great mass of humans who will either reject terrorism as a legitimate tactic or decide to embrace it. In the end, do unto others as you would have them do unto you is a very good rule because it does seem to work out that way in practice. We cannot make the case that we have a better way if we will not live in a better way.

I think torture as an institution is wrong, and it's dangerous if used often or as a first resort. It breeds resentment and fundamentalism and rebellion and all kinds of other badness.

There is obviously no easy answer. How many individuals does this apply to? 1 individual? 2? 10? an entire community? And how broad does this go? When is someone a material witness? How much information do they need to know and how much proof does the government need that a person knows something before the government can torture an individual for information? How far out may the string go? Can you seek information from someone who knows someone, who knows someone who might be a threat?

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