Sunday, February 10, 2008
So, it's torture if no one laughs at you to lighten up?
ANY TIME SOON? Three guesses when this was written (no peeking):
Torturing the terrorist is unconstitutional? Probably. But millions of lives surely outweigh constitutionality. Torture is barbaric? Mass murder is far more barbaric. Indeed, letting millions of innocents die in deference to one who flaunts his guilt is moral cowardice, an unwillingness to dirty one's hands. If you caught the terrorist, could you sleep nights knowing that millions died because you couldn't bring yourself to apply the electrodes?
Here's a hint (that's only any good if you knew once but have since forgotten): The man who wrote it calls homosexuality "Non-Euclidean Sex" (and if you don't know why that's funny, it's time to learn).
Just as torture is justified only to save lives (not extort confessions or recantations), it is justifiably administered only to those known to hold innocent lives in their hands. Ah, but how can the authorities ever be sure they have the right malefactor? Isn't there a danger of error and abuse? Won't We turn into Them?
Questions like these are disingenuous in a world in which terrorists proclaim themselves and perform for television. The name of their game is public recognition. After all, you can't very well intimidate a government into releasing your freedom fighters unless you announce that it is your group that has seized its embassy. "Clear guilt" is difficult to define, but when 40 million people see a group of masked gunmen seize an airplane on the evening news, there is not much question about who the perpetrators are. There will be hard cases where the situation is murkier. Nonetheless, a line demarcating the legitimate use of torture can be drawn. Torture only the obviously guilty, and only for the sake of saving innocents, and the line between Us and Them will remain clear.
There is little danger that the Western democracies will lose their way if they choose to inflict pain as one way of preserving order. Paralysis in the face of evil is the greater danger. Some day soon a terrorist will threaten tens of thousands of lives, and torture will be the only way to save them. We had better start thinking about this. [emphases added]
Philosopher Michael Levin had those words published June 7, 1982. It spooks me how prescient he was, using only calm observation and simple logical extrapolations. If that's all it takes to see the future, we're in more trouble than we like to admit.
As spooky as the efficacy of this armchair Nostradamas routine is, our government can be excused for not taking it to heart enough to prevent 9/11. But surely they've learned their lesson?
Hayden said Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002 and 2003. Hayden banned the technique in 2006, but National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell told senators during the same hearing Tuesday that waterboarding remains in the CIA arsenal -- so long as it [has] the specific consent of the president and legal approval of the attorney general.
That prompted Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to call on the Justice Department to open a criminal inquiry into whether past use of waterboarding violated any law. The Pentagon has banned its employees from using waterboarding to extract information from detainees, and FBI Director Robert Mueller said his investigators do not use coercive tactics in interviewing terror suspects.
Durbin, already frustrated with Attorney General Michael Mukasey's refusal last week to define waterboarding a form of torture as critics have, said he would block the nomination of the Justice Department's No. 2 official if the criminal inquiry isn't opened. [ea]
(deep breath) Not only is Dick Durbin, an actual Senator, still against torture, he's insisting a team of lawyers scour the entire law looking for any excuse to prosecute the waterboarding of three top terrorists. And he's got his little fists all balled up because the Attorney General isn't ready to start freely affixing the word "torture" to mere botheration w/ the same ease we use "Xerox" instead of the verb "copy"?
Here's something you need to know vividly: Because lawmakers are more interested in looking good than doing good, they'll choose the former over the latter when push comes to shove. A few years back in my hometown, legislators held hearings on banning fatty goose liver*around the same time they turned School Zones into fund-raising speed traps by enforcing the 20--mph limit "at all times", not just school hours. Local talk radio blew a gasket accusing them of wasting time, and rightly so. Lars Larson isn't big on "why", but I was, and it didn't take me long to deduce that foie gras must have seemed like it'd be an easy bullseye in the eyes of the Caffeine City. When it came to an issue like letting the FBI run a terrorist attack drill downtown, anything beyond a lot of hemming and hawing was just too risky.
So maybe Dick Durbin is just an ideological wuss. More likely, he's also ideologically insane. The only way waterboarding could be objectionable in general is if discomfort doesn't occur in nature and can only be wrought through a kind of mechanical alchemy comparable to perpetual motion, and to introduce someting so foreign and awful into the world is godlessly inhumane. The only way it could be objectionable in the three cases cited is if there is no Islamic (ist, whatever) terrorism at all, and the entire War on Terror is a Wag the Dog-style frame-up.
At this point in the "torture" discussion, the objection "How are we supposed to maintain our moral authority when we torture" is raised. No one who raises it is ever satisfied w/ the correct answer: BECAUSE WE'RE NOT NEARLY AS AWFUL AS THEM. Here we run up against Tony's Law, How much proof could you need? It doesn't matter how many examples one cites, or how egregious those examples are; batshit cultural relativism (Tony's Law) flares up, and any objectively evil conduct is sniffed away w/ a "how naive and backward to judge another culture" attitude.
Look at that last example again. The only thing close to Mutaween in our part of the world is the FCC, and if those dinosaurs started enforcing their decency guidelines in public conduct, it'd be a Cannonball Run between me and thousands of others to get to Washington and burn down the entire 1200 block.
Here's the point: Like all old jokes, it's not funny anymore that our elected officials are so retarded. It's not OK that they can all be assessed on a scale w/ "Lazy" on one end and "Stupid" on the other (sure, you can think of exceptions, but enough to disprove the rule?}. It's not worth the satire fodder to me anymore. No more shrugs and wry grins at this.
"I'd rather get force-fed to death than support PETA."
*And this controversy over "humane" treatment of livestock? We're going to kill them! They're alive to get killed and feed us! But Christ forbid they have a bad time beforehand? NUUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!