Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Talking About Torture

First, my apologies for being so silent this month. It's not that there aren't things I want to write. I just found myself immersed in a project for work that ate up all my time. Now that I have at least somewhat caught up on little things like sleep and family, I can once again start to share with y'all!

So we're back to one of our long-time topics here, torture. To summarize for those who arrived late: I'm against it.

But the "debate" goes on. The release of the White House "torture memos" this month has made quite clear that some truly despicable acts were approved and applied. I can think of no explanation for waterboarding someone dozens of times that doesn't involve sadism, desperation, or cluelessness. All of which are completely inexcusable.

Probably the most bizarre aspect of the discussion to me is the focus on whether these tactics "worked." As if somehow, some nugget of information extracted by torture justifies grossly immoral, inhuman, and patently illegal behavior. The "effectiveness" of torture (about which I have ranted many times) is a completely tangential issue. Torturing people is wrong, and to claim that it is necessary or otherwise justified just defies both rationality and decency.

The worst and most lasting legacy of the last few years may not be the state of global economic ruin; that will recover. But the pervasive post-hoc justification of unthinkable, unspeakable acts will be hard to wean people from. A generation that grows up believing that ends justify means will be difficult to live with.

The always excellent Tom Tomorrow gives a good slant on the torture "debate" in this week's comic.

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