Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Is There Ever a Case For Torture?
"Moral High Ground" VS "Anything Goes"

ALa71 VS. Jericho Brown

ALa: Just so the readers (and I) know...are we beginning this 'discussion' on the premise that you believe that torture is never an acceptable method to be used against another human being?
Jericho: Depends what constitutes torture…
ALa: Not Abu Gharib 'torture' ...real torture...
Jericho: Like needles under fingernails, that kinda shit?
ALa: Yeah...full on torture...
Jericho: First off, I do not think the government should EVER sponsor that kind of treatment. I don't care if it's Hitler. Seriously. That's for the other inmates to do, and as far as I’m concerned, what went on at Abu Gharib is just as bad, if not worse because of what it did to our already-sagging image over there.
ALa: OK, let me start with making a distinction ...I am in no way advocating torture as a means of punishment - only torture as a means of extracting information...
Jericho: Fine.
ALa: What does 'fine' mean?
ALa: This is never going to work...
Jericho: Why not?
ALa: You're too flighty
Jericho: I’m totally invested in this, RIGHT NOW.
ALa: And two seconds from now?
Jericho: You have my complete attention
ALa: haha
Jericho: C’mon already!
ALa: Then answer my question boy!
Jericho: What does fine mean?
ALa: Yes, does fine mean you agree on my distinction or that you would use torture for information too? What do you believe?
Jericho: You mean, do I think torture should be used to extract info? If we are talking about needles under nails and electrical cords attached to balls, then no…"Stress positions", yes. "Messing up sleep cycles", yes.
ALa: What is the premise for saying 'no'... to the 'real' stuff?
Jericho: The premise is that the information gathered under extreme duress like that can not be considered reliable. I know if I had electricity surging through my nuts I'd tell the guy doing it whatever he wanted to hear. And it's inhumane.
ALa: Yeah, but what if it's not circumstantial information but immanent information...time sensitive information...
Jericho: Just because it's time sensitive does not mean that it will be accurate when obtained through severe torture. But let me get to what MY basic premise here is:
The Geneva Convention clarified what is and is not acceptable for gov'ts to use as means for extracting info or punishment. The reason I think it is imperative for America to stand by these guidelines is that, as the most powerful nation on earth, we have a duty, a moral obligation to set an example. Even if the enemy we are fighting at the time doesn't abide by those same regulations doesn't mean we should chuck them out the window ourselves. As example setters we have that duty.
ALa: So your premise is based on 'humanity' and ‘morals' ...meaning really 'the sanctity of human life' then?
Jericho: Everything we do should be based on that sanctity....and I see where you're going with this already, but go ahead anyway.
ALa: Ok smarty pants...
Jericho: 8-|
ALa: Anyway...so you capture a man... -He has put a dirty bomb somewhere in Philadelphia...Should you let thousands (millions) of innocents die to respect the 'rights' of one guilty man?
Jericho: And you know he has done this for sure?
ALa: Yes, he has delivered a ransom note asking for the release of Palestinians from Israel’s prisons or the bomb will detinate at a specified time...you know that it is him...
ALa: Not implying he's Muslim or anything...
Jericho: The point here is not whether torture should be used in such circumstance because it is better to hurt one man than let thousands be killed.....the point is whether it is reliable for extracting information. And I think that when a gov't crosses that line, it ends up on the level of the terrorists we hate so much.
ALa: But isn't our moral obligation to the greater good... if we can sacrifice one to save many...
Jericho: The greater good than that greater good is the non-crossing of lines that will demonstrate too many of the world's uneducated and propagandized (both in 3rd world countries and those under the GOP influence in this country) that anything they can think up is acceptable activity. It is not. But anyway, let me give you a hypothetical:
Someone sick piece of shit has kidnapped and done horrible things to your child. At worst, he's going to get 20 years in prison (your child is still alive). You find out you can get revenge on him (something I know I'd want to do). Do you go to that courtroom with your gun and shoot him, knowing you'll get arrested and possibly given a 5 or 10 year sentence? Is it justified for you to get that sentence if you decide to go through with it?
ALa: That isn't a good hypothetical because I said not as revenge -How about this...they catch your child's kidnapper and the child is still alive somewhere...do you torture him to get the info? The child will die if not found...
Jericho: The point is not that it's revenge, the point is that, no matter how justified you might think you are in doing that to him, the rule of law says you aren't allowed to do it. Who are we to skirt that rule of law?
ALa: Answer my question!
Jericho: Answer mine! I was first...
ALa: It is revenge -the child has already been found in your scenario --in my scenario you have the chance to save the life of the child...
Jericho: You can't answer whether it is ever justified to take the law into your own hands?
ALa: Look me 'in the screen' and tell me you aren't going to be hooking up electrodes to that kidnapper and holding his head under water until he talks...
Jericho: I’m not answering until you say 'yes' or 'no' to my question...
ALa: Do you smoke pot? Isn’t that taking the law into your own hands?
Jericho: You still haven't said yes or no...
ALa:Yes
Jericho: Yes, we should be able to take the law into our own hands? So you should be able to shoot someone who deserves shooting (revenge or not) and not have to go to jail?
ALa: Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Mandella and Thoreau all did it for the greater good… It’s called civil disobedience -but this is getting off the point...
Jericho: There’s a difference in the non-violent protest they used and what we're talking about and you know it!
ALa: None-the-less, It’s still breaking the law...
Jericho: You still haven't answered me.
ALa: If it's self defense or in defense of another -Yes!
Jericho: Should you be able to take the law in your own hands and not face penalty, regardless of your rationale for doing it?
ALa: That is very situation-specific...
Jericho: Ok, so the scenario I laid out, you would accept going to jail for it?
ALa: Should a woman be put in jail that killed her husband that was raping her son? NO... Should a woman go to jail that finally killed the husband that beat her and her kids daily? NO...
Jericho: Should a person go to jail that shoots that asshole that sodomized his/her son? No. BUT they still would...
ALa: This is really off topic... Would you use torture to extract information about where your child was being held by a confirmed maniac?
Jericho: And the reason they would (go to jail) is because the gov't wants to show the rest of the public that you are NOT allowed to take the law into your own hands. And that's exactly what the US does every time it tries justifying defying Geneva Convention standards.
Jericho: It’s totally ON topic.
ALa: Geneva does not apply to terrorists -read it...
Jericho: Uh-huh. It obviously does apply in some way, or the administration wouldn't be backing off their earlier assertion that they didn't need to abide by those rules. Read This...
ALa: "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, and unwillingness to dirty one's hands...” Michael Levin (Read His Essay)
ALa: If YOU had caught Mohammad Atta on the morning of 9/11 the towers would still have burned -if I had caught him there would be a chance they could have been saved…or at least evacuated...that's the bottom line...
Jericho: There might have been a chance....or he would have been tortured and given complete bullshit info that would have led to nothing but the decreasing of our standings as human beings. I’m sorry, but this country is based on freedom from that bullshit. You guys want to take it back to the Spanish Inquisition and we all know how successful they were in outing the tens of thousands of witches and heretics. If we truly want to maintain the moral high ground we're so convinced we have, we HAVE to walk the walk.
ALa: So then your changing your argument, now it is actually about world opinion and not 'morality' or 'human life'... doesn't human life trump what Europe thinks of us?
Jericho: It’s about actually BEING moral, not just SAYING we are...
ALa: How is it moral to let thousands die if there was a chance you could have saved them? That is the definition of immoral...
Jericho: And the stress stuff they can do to people, with sleep deprivation and loud music and temp change could be just as effective, if not more, in making someone talk, there is STILL no proof that torture is in any way effective.
ALa: Stress positions can't work for an immanent attack!
Jericho: Neither can torture!
ALa: For a child held by a maniac?
Jericho: You just assume it MIGHT. We MUST maintain the moral high ground!
ALa: It’s worth the chance for that child's life...there are not many that could withstand torture -especially if they think it would get worse if their information was wrong...
Jericho: Me: Moral high ground You: Anything goes
ALa: No -You letting an innocent child die a horrific death that you could have prevented is NOT the moral high ground...
Jericho: I had nothing to do with the child dying. The killer did that. Now, would I not torture someone who had my kid? Of course I would torture him. But when you give that power to the state...it opens up a Pandora's Box that can't be closed.
ALa: But you may have been able to stop it -you then become an accessory to murder...it is your moral obligation to do anything it takes to save that child… That’s hypocritical then... every child has a mother and father...it's always someone's kid!
Jericho: You don't become an accessory by not stooping to the level of the most depraved, sick fucks on the planet....should we begin beheading war criminals to show the assholes that have been doing it to us that we can play the same game? No. Why? Because that just gives them license to do it even more.
ALa: NO once again you are delving into torture as a punishment (with beheadings) and I am proposing it as an antidote for the prevention of greater evil...
ALa: Are you mad at me yet?
Jericho: No.
ALa: Damn!
Jericho: But I’m worried you're going to edit out my best stuff...
ALa: I won't edit anything... You're all over the place though and I think deep down you agree with me -but I guess the readers can decide...
Jericho: Let me ask you this: Should there be ANY lines drawn in the scenarios you are talking about? And who should decide when it is or is not appropriate to use torture?
ALa: Yes...it is only appropriate in extreme cases where lives are on the line...
Jericho: I don't agree with you, either. The fundamental difference here is that I disagree with the state having that kind of control over who is and is not a candidate for torture.
ALa: Where we have definitive proof that this person could make the difference of life and death...
Jericho: Who gets to decide that the threat is imminent? How is it prevented from being abused? This is why I say that it's a Pandora's Box. Because once that line is crossed and torture becomes institutionalized...it all goes down hill...
ALa: Pandora’s box? Maybe... Who decides? Not sure...Those (extreme) situations don't happen all that often -But with the ACLU looking to protect every terrorist that seeks to kill us and the possibility of a dirty bomb or anthrax and small pox becoming more real each day -it's something that we need to think about...
Jericho: Good ending. Wait, I have something for you...
A Gift for ALa
ALa: Very funny...

(Test your Abu Gharib knowledge at Mudville Gazette -thanks to Kat for the link...)

1 comment:

ALa said...

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