Democrats & Liberals Archives

Christians Are Really More Likely To Torture?

As an atheist, I long ago ceased being surprised when some atrocity or other was committed in the name of whichever supreme being happened to be most convenient at the time. Wars, genocides, ethnic cleansing - it just seems par for the course now. But I was genuinely shocked to read a CNN report of a Pew Forum study that clearly indicates that if you’re an Arab with (or even without) a secret, you don’t want the guy on the opposite side of the plastic wrap to be a Christian.

That's because the Pew study shows that 62% of evangelical Christians believe that torture is often justified (18%) or sometimes justified (44%), compared to 15% and 25% respectively for 'non-affiliated' Americans.

You can read the news story here for an unbiased report. Since this is an opinion piece, I won't even pretend that you'll get that in the rest of this article.

I find it hard to suppress my indignation at this. Since the country is overwhelmingly religious, I must infer from these results that there are literally hundreds of millions of people around me who think it's ok to use grisly and vicious techniques on suspected (and I use the word advisedly) enemies of our country.

The church-going Myer family, over the road, where my kids go on play-dates every day? The charming southern couple next door? The guy two doors down who bought a Hummer when gas was $4 a gallon? Statistically, two out of those three believe that we, God's divine country, should be allowed to inflict pain - and plenty of it - on other human beings.

Ask them about kittens. Is it ok to tie them up, douse them in lighter fluid, stand back and throw a match? What about little Billy, who's been picking on my own son - do I give him a good kicking and send him home with a few paltry bruises? Should we torture our own citizens, or just the other guys?

Seems silly, doesn't it... after all, what does torturing animals have in common with torturing bad (or maybe not) guys? It's laughable!

Except it's not. There is no demarcation line here. If we think that torturing people is ok, then what torture do we use? What crosses the line? We can't, and don't, know, because once we're treading that path the line can be moved any time we like. It used to be waterboarding, but now there are clear signals from the White House that our torturing techniques went even further. The line just got pushed another few feet.

We are less human when we walk that line. And the real paradox for me is that it's religious folk, with their pack mentality, who blindly follow the leaders who set us on this path and support philosophies that are so opposed to those of their prophet.

Maybe when your daughter is heading off to the prom with her date sometime in the future, you should check to make sure he's an atheist. Because you never know what those crazy Christian sadists might get up to.

Posted by Jon Rice at May 22, 2009 3:59 PM
Comments
Comment #281897

Jon, integrity is having one’s habits, behaviors, and choices in line with one’s philosophy and values.

There are few persons, religious or atheist, who are capable of integrity in their own minds, let alone their lives within society. It is a bogus argument to lay at the feet of one group or another the critique of lack of integrity, as this is a common and general condition of humanity.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 22, 2009 5:18 PM
Comment #281898

David - assuming that I go along with your assertion (and I’m inclined to) then it should be clear that you are reinforcing my point. I was using the stats that I quoted from the Pew Review purely because they do indeed indicate that while both sets, religious and otherwise, have some predisposition to welcome torture, it is the religious group that has more of that propensity. Yes, humanity has a lack of internal and external integrity - I’m just arguing that it’s a matter of degree. According to these statistics, the evangelical Christian is more predisposed to be lacking integrity than the atheist.

Posted by: Jon Rice at May 22, 2009 5:25 PM
Comment #281903

I read a lot in a ex military forum and I have noticed this oddity first hand.
The same folks that post that the “Evil ACLU” is taking away their rights as christians will be in the next thread posting that water boarding is not torture and if it saves one life torture is fine.
The christians that feel there should be separation of gods and government will call it what it is —Evil
—Savage

Posted by: A Savage at May 22, 2009 6:12 PM
Comment #281906

Jon, There is what you call integrity and then there is intellectual honesty. Why, since abortion and euthanasia have been written off as matters of mere convenient disposal of the vulnerable and unwanted, why is so called torture such an abomination to you? Especially since waterboarding is commonly used as a training technique with our own troops? This then becomes a distinction without a difference.
Of course, the islamo-fascists don’t believe in torture, they just blow up or behead innocent civilians. Now that’s integrity for you.

Posted by: John Adams at May 22, 2009 7:07 PM
Comment #281907

J.A.
Good comment.

Posted by: KAP at May 22, 2009 7:15 PM
Comment #281908

Mr. Adams - you haven’t inquired as to my stance on abortion or euthanasia. Your inferences could be completely wrong (and in fact are). Nor did I mention anything about how I feel about other religions in my post. Your inference could be wrong (and in fact is). Intellectual honesty has to be prefaced by intellectual curiosity, otherwise, as I say, you could be wrong (and in fact… well, you get the picture).

Posted by: Jon Rice at May 22, 2009 7:18 PM
Comment #281920

There was a good exchange between Ann Coulter and Joy Behar. Behar asked Coulter if she wanted to be waterboarded. Coulter admitted she would not, but then asked Behar if she wanted to be aborted.

This sanctimonious talk about torture is getting old. We all agree in 99% of the cases torture should not be used. Some of us pretend that you never would use harsh techniques no matter what. To save my children’s lives, I would die and I would kill. Sorry if that makes me primitive. Those of you who would let your kids die rather than hurt a terrorist; I respect your willpower, but not your morality.

I also am suspicious of the outrage. Talk is cheap. Just as we find those who yelp loudest about helping the poor and demanding higher taxes are least likely to give money to charity or volunteer their own time, or many liberals are the kinds of people who love all mankind but often cannot think of very many people they really like, I suspect many torture opponent are more into the brave theory of opposing when they have nothing personal at stake.

Even if we accept all the innuendo about torture, it was not done to many people and was not routine. There are only a couple hundred terror suspects at Guantanamo all together. Beyond that, many of the torture techniques were less stringent than a fraternity hazing. One brave terrorist was tortured by being threatened with a caterpillar. I don’t know if it was the furry kind.

BTW - speaking of silly assumptions, the description of the “Christian neighbors” (the sterotypical Myers and the southern couple) and the obvious dripping hatred for them because of their beliefs fits well into that idea of loving all mankind, except for anybody actually nearby.

Posted by: Christine at May 22, 2009 9:54 PM
Comment #281922

Christine: dripping hatred? We’re very good friends with our neighbors, with little regard for their beliefs or otherwise. They’re nice people, good people. I like them a lot. That’s the point I was making; 2/3 of those nice, good people who you’re happy to let your kids spend all day with, would tolerate torture. The same is true for 40% of atheists. I am merely pointing out that good people, churchgoing and otherwise, can harbor opinions that shock me. Once again, the comment infers far too much from my posting, and tries to use those inferences to slight me. Far better to use facts than fiction if you want to prove me wrong.

Posted by: Jon Rice at May 22, 2009 10:23 PM
Comment #281923

Sanctimonious talk about turture is getting old?

Wow! How soon we become jaded. Do you watch a lot of violence in your entertainment?

Frankly, I think you just made Jon’s point…

Posted by: Marysdude at May 22, 2009 10:30 PM
Comment #281926

Christine,
“To save my children’s lives, I would die and I would kill. Sorry if that makes me primitive. Those of you who would let your kids die rather than hurt a terrorist; I respect your willpower, but not your morality.”

This sanctimonious propping up of strawmen has got to stop, too. For God’s sake, if it will save your children’s life, go ahead, torture to you heart’s content. But if it doesn’t come to that, I hope you’ll forgo the torture. This is a nation based on principles of justice, not principles of vengeance or fear. Otherwise, adulterers would still be stoned.

Jon makes a great point about humanity. And wouldn’t you rather have us act in humane ways? I don’t know about you, but I do have something personal at stake in the torture (and yes, that’s what it is;torture) debate. This is America. Even G.W. Bush himself said: “America does not torture”. If the beacon of freedom for the entire world is known to use barbaric methods while interrogating prisoners, does that not make it easier for the less morally advanced nations to rationalize so doing? To OUR people? Ouch. It reminds me of the age-old child’s rationale…”but BILLY does it!!!”. Time for us to grow up.

Posted by: steve miller at May 22, 2009 11:19 PM
Comment #281927

Jon,

We were all sold fear like a bad used car.
There was a terrorist on every corner, it was suggested that we rat on our friends if they did anything even the slightest out of the ordinary.

It was the patriotic thing to do.

I mean after all, the President was a God fearing, church going Methodist.
Why would he have a reason to lie?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 22, 2009 11:21 PM
Comment #281928

Jon, I don’t have evidence to the contrary, but, I doubt FREC’s are any more disposed to torture than anyone else. I think they just lack a certain sophistication to be able to hide their lack of integrity as well. Allow me to explain.

I can’t condone torture at all, either religiously as a Buddhist or intellectually as an ethicist. However, if my daughter had been raped and murdered when she was young and it was I, her father who apprehended the individual leaving the scene, I know my own passions well enough to predict that the perpetrator would likely never have reached the police with genitals intact, and though less likely, with his life intact.

This is what I mean by the general level of integrity of human beings on this issue. The closer one empathizes with the victims of terrorism, the more likely one is to be drawn in favor of torturing terrorists.

The less intellectual one is, the less awareness of the need to maintain contradictory appearances in rhetoric and speech. Believing absolutely that the law and judicial system should administer justice in a dispassionate and humane way obligates me to abhor torture and condemn it, even if it were to be perpetrated by myself in retaliation for harm to one of my loved ones.

I would argue Fundamentalist Right Evangelical Christians actually have more integrity on this issue as their passions to torture are more in line with their thinking that terrorists are not humans or children of Christ or God. They are evil, and therefore abrogate all rights to humane treatment. There is more integrity in this view than in my emotional disposition and my intellectual.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 22, 2009 11:26 PM
Comment #281929

Jon

It is too simple a world you are talking about. People have different definitions of torture and the circumstances.

Most people would probably oppose torture as punishment or in routine matters. But is making a person sit in one place for 12 hours torture? Ever been on a transatlantic flight? You infer they tolerate grisly tactics. They may merely tolerate something like making the person sit for a long time or scaring him with a cateriller.

When you accuse your friends of being tolerant of torture, get the terms right. In Guantanamo, we have maintained a perfect head/body ratio. Those who claim torture seem to have no permanent disabilities or scars. They seem to have gained weight. If torture means scaring people with caterillars, I think we might find more people willing to tolerate it. Most people have probably experienced it and are not impressed.

re my inferences, you might watch your implications. Rereading what you wrote, I am still infer hatred in what you imply and I think many reasonable people might come to that conclusion. It is hard to believe that you could tolerate those who advocate grisly tortures that outrage you so much. Wouldn’t your tolerance be morally suspect? If that is not what you meant to say, perhaps you should rephrase. It is, after all, your responsibilty to be clear.

Posted by: Christine at May 22, 2009 11:30 PM
Comment #281936

I have always been astounded at the capacity of so called Christians for hypocracy. I like Ghandi’s response when asked his opinion of Christianity. He said the Christianity was a great religion, that he would probably convert to it if he ever met a Christian.

Posted by: bills at May 23, 2009 1:11 AM
Comment #281937

Christine,

Your reply above appears incredibly naive.

Physical torture is the willful infliction of pain. Psychological torture is the willful infliction emotional and psychological pain.

In America, the willful infliction of pain upon others is against our laws and values. Even our retributive justice system doles out punishment by imprisonment and deprivation of liberty, but maintains that the willful infliction of pain without provocation or in the absence of threat on prisoners incarcerated after being found guilty of the worst crimes, is illegal.

To willfully inflict pain on others without due process of law is an even greater abridgment of our laws and values. In the case of hundreds of detainees, and thousands of American criminal prisoners, innocence is later proven or demonstrated. To authorize torture of any kind without due process is to authorize the torture of innocents along with the guilty. Our system of justice is not infallible. Our system of apprehending and detaining suspected combatants or terrorists is no doubt flawed in far, far more cases, since our soldiers are not trained nor able in field conditions to follow the protections required by domestic law to protect the innocent from wrongful detention.

There is no legal or ethical basis on which to defend torture. And torture is the willful infliction of pain to achieve some objective. There are many names for torture, parental abuse, spousal abuse, child neglect, animal neglect, and they are all illegal and prosecutable under our domestic laws. There is no logical or ethical case to be made to treat foreign subjects any differently. If they deserve to be punished, let it be under due process, humanely.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 23, 2009 2:49 AM
Comment #281939

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9TzGGsVt60

There’s a lot I could say about some comments by torture supporters. Here’s another, equally stupid, scenario: what if your children were kidnapped in the Middle East, the kidnappers think they have some knowledge of the President’s whereabouts. They decide to waterboard your kids. Is it torture?

There’s some more I could say….and it wouldn’t be very nice. So I won’t say it. I’ll quote David in the post above. He hit the nail on the head. Although it needs to be said more forcefully, it should drive home, to all but the most unwilling, what America is about.

“In America, the willful infliction of pain upon others is against our laws and values. Even our retributive justice system doles out punishment by imprisonment and deprivation of liberty, but maintains that the willful infliction of pain without provocation or in the absence of threat on prisoners incarcerated after being found guilty of the worst crimes, is illegal”

Posted by: steve miller at May 23, 2009 9:18 AM
Comment #281941

I think Jon makes a valid, if less than fantastic point. I’m not sure one can assume that evangelical Christians are less intellectual or more honest.

Some people are more rigid in their thoughts on societal rules, and more rapid to dismiss the humanity of those they see as a threat.

We all have violence, anger, and fear within us. All cornered animals have the propensity towards rage. Even two legged ones. The degree of pacific nature one feels in the face of threat is likely a matter of genetic aggressiviness mixed with culture.

Posted by: gergle at May 23, 2009 9:27 AM
Comment #281944

When we use the term torture, I think we speak about state sponsored ugly. David wants to castrate someone who abuses one of his children…that’s called revenge, and if he did it he would and should be punished for it, but if the state did it, we’d call it torture, and we would be right to do so. David’s definition is correct, and Jon is correct in his assumptions about Christianity being cold process. It was so in the beginning of the religion and it is true today. There is something about the bible that creates this acceptance of ugly as tolerable.

Posted by: Marysdude at May 23, 2009 1:18 PM
Comment #281947

David

YOu have to be more precise. Is torture something like you would experience on a long airplane flight, a college hazing or boot camp? In those cases, I do indeed accept it as an interogration technique.

Is it inflicting serious injury, maiming,or killing? In those cases I reject it.

Steve

If the terrorist believe my children have information that could save thousands of lives, I suppose they will take what steps they deem necessary.

The terrorist, however, have no problem killing, beheading and maiming. When they beheaded Daniel Pearl or others, they did not do this to gain information or prevent deaths of others.

Marysdude

The ability to make reasonable distinctions is important. Do you think Christianity is uniquely violent or do you extend that to all religions or all belief systems?

And when you talk re the beginning of Christianity, what do you find in the teaching of Jesus that is particularly cold or ugly? Perhaps you are thinking of the Hebrew Bible as the beginning. Christians (of which I am not one, BTW) see Jesus as both a break, fulfillment and modification of that tradition. The Hebrew Bible in indeed full of acts of revenge and genocide. The New Testament, not.

Consider Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Maybe it is just people that are corrupt. Ostenibly Atheists regimes run by Stalin or Mao killed many millions. Most religions are meant to modify the savage nature of humans. They don’t succeed, but it is probably worth the effort.

Posted by: Christine at May 23, 2009 5:28 PM
Comment #281950

>Most religions are meant to modify the savage nature of humans. They don’t succeed, but it is probably worth the effort.
Posted by: Christine at May 23, 2009 05:28 PM

Christine,

If they don’t succeed, they are probably standing in the way of success.

It was not in the name of atheism that the two despots you mentioned did their do-badness, but it is mostly in the name of one religion or another that other do-baddies do theirs. Stalin was an atheist, but mostly he was a power hungry a—hole and a sadist.

Posted by: Marysdude at May 23, 2009 6:57 PM
Comment #281951

Christine,
What does whether or not the terrorists kill indisciminately have to do with OUR values? There seems to be the inference that since they are evil, we can be too. I was trying to see if you were able to turn the tables, scenario-wise, and then see if waterboarding was ok, if done by them on your children. Your response seems to indicate that you would expect them to. There was no “saving of thousands of lives” in my (admittedly dumb) scenario; the terrorists only want to ascertain the president’s whereabouts so that they can assassinate im. Here’s a thought: what if your children were held by the government of a country that was regarded as civilized, but not a U.S. ally. How does the idea of another government waterboarding people they suspect may have information sit with you?

Your answer was a non-answer. I hope enough people can be persuaded to believe that waterboarding is torture to make sure WE do not resort to it, whatever evil crazies may do.

Posted by: steve miller at May 23, 2009 7:40 PM
Comment #281953

Christine,

“Is it inflicting serious injury, maiming,or killing? In those cases I reject it.”

Does torture need to inflict “physical” injury to be considered torture?

Lop off a leg, a hand, a finger?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 23, 2009 8:47 PM
Comment #281954

The United States considered water boarding torture and prosecuted Japanese torturers during WWII. If during WWII it was considered torture when done to American soldiers what has changed that our country no longer considers water boarding to be torture? To side step the issue with meaningless excuses such as “Beyond that, many of the torture techniques were less stringent than a fraternity hazing. One brave terrorist was tortured by being threatened with a caterpillar. I don’t know if it was the furry kind.” does not address the real issue of water boarding as torture. If we accept torture as a means of gathering information from “terrorist” how much longer before we accept the use of water boarding on American citizens to gain information in criminal conspiracies? After all it would not be considered cruel or unusual.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 23, 2009 10:50 PM
Comment #281955

Marysdude

People do bad things. Christians would say that they are all sinners and should try not to sin. It obviously doesn’t work all the time.
I agree that Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, Kim, Che, Castro etc don’t do the bad things in the name of atheism. The only time I know of where significant people were killed in the name of atheism was during the terror phase of the French Revolution. But the lack of religion certainly doesn’t seem to mitigate the killing. You probably know that Mao is the all time record holder for killing. Of course, he had a lot of people available to kill. Stalin is second place and only then do we get to a kind of neo-pagan (i.e. a type of religion) Hitler.

I think our separation of church and state is a great idea. The state should not have the power of religion and vis-versa. It is better if the state doesn’t have so much power in general and religion cannot use the power of the state.

Steve

We stopped using waterboarding back in 2003. I would not use any kind of torture in 99+% of the cases. I am intellectually and morally honest enough to admit that I would not rule it out in cases where I thought it was the only way to save many lives. You are willing to allow thousands to die for a principle. I am not. That is a difference between us.

I cannot think of a situation where it would be justified or necessary to waterboard me, since I cannot think of a situation where I would not voluntarily cooperate with someone trying to save thousands of lives. If I ever become so morally corrupt, I would deserve it.

If terrorists wanted to torture me to find out how to kill the president, I do not think it would be justified, but I also don’t think they would hesitate for a minute to do it.

Re the terrorists being really bad – I am countering the argument that they are encouraged to be bad because of what we have done, the blame America first idea.

Rocky

Yes. I think that torture has to inflict physical injury. Otherwise there really is not much to it. According to the torture memos, some of the torture consisted of sexy women arousing the terror suspects or scaring one guy with a caterpillar. I don’t think these things are torture.

J2t2
Waterboarding was stopped in 2003. See above what I wrote to Steve. It is a bad thing. That is why we stopped it. However, if I thought it was the only way to save thousands of lives, I would do it. We accept killing terrorists with drones. Personally,if I had the choice between being killed in a firely attack or being waterboarded, I would chose waterboarding.

Posted by: Christine at May 23, 2009 11:53 PM
Comment #281956

Christine,

“Yes. I think that torture has to inflict physical injury. Otherwise there really is not much to it.”

So what you’re saying is that you don’t believe that there might be such things as psychological torture?
And if that is the case mental injury is out of the question right?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 24, 2009 12:27 AM
Comment #281957

Christine said: “YOu have to be more precise.”

No. I don’t. What I offered was precise, logically, ethically, and morally. Greater precision is not needed. The kind of precision you seek would have to be found in the courts should the disputed need arise.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 24, 2009 12:27 AM
Comment #281959

Christine,

“Personally,if I had the choice between being killed in a firely attack or being waterboarded, I would chose waterboarding.”

Would you choose it if you didn’t know it wasn’t going to end?

BTW, I wonder when Hannity is going to go through with his boast that he would submit to water-boarding, and take Olbermann up on his offer.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 24, 2009 12:32 AM
Comment #281960

David

By the definition you gave, I would conclude that waterboarding is probably torture, but that the other harsh techniques were not. W/o greater precsion, such an interpretation is clearly as logical as any other.

We may find this in future courts. But don’t count on your implied definition holding up in a real court.

Rocky

I think the concept of phychological torture is too slippery. Any kind of detention could be called torture by that definition.

re the waterboarding, three terrorists were waterboarded and we stopped doing it in 2003. If that is your criteria, you have won. It is finished. Those guys are still alive and so are many Americans who did not all victim to terror attacks.

Posted by: Christine at May 24, 2009 12:47 AM
Comment #281962

Christine and David,
I think we would all protect our children. No doubt about that. I almost killed a man when I found out he tried to rape my wife, but also other girls. Luckily he was smart and took his own before I found out.

There is a difference between protecting, punishing, and torture. Protecting has the obvious meaning, you protect to prevent an act. You punish for past acts to again hopefully avoid future acts, and sadly for the victims sake. Torture is for pleasure or propaganda. It has no other use. You would never need to “torture” someone to protect your life, or your children.

Why is torture useless to extract information?
1.The Torturer (“Trained” torturers) only have a 50% chance of telling when a person “broke” to tell the truth. A polygraph is not much better at 61% chance.

2. Tortured individuals speak gibberish after they are tortured, it is difficult for concentration of any kind besides fear, panic, or pain. Then when they want the torture to stop, they will make up whatever you can believe

3. You have to first know they are hiding something to begin with. Which means 1 of 2 things. You know this information because the person told you something about it, in which case it may or may not be lie. A good way to waste resources. 2nd. The information was gathered by another person or thing which leaves you a different trail to follow. And again that person may or may not be truthful.

Posted by: kudossupreme at May 24, 2009 6:08 AM
Comment #281966

I wonder how many torture apologists actually see nothing wrong with torture…I wonder how many torture apologists thought they’d spend their days explaining why torture is not torture…I wonder how many torture apologists thought they’d spend their days explaining why torture is acceptable under several circumstances…I wonder…I wonder…

Torturers do it for two reasons, i.e., they are too lazy to investigate or interrogate the right way, and/or they get off on it. Extreme interrogation methods are torture, or they would not be labeled extreme.

Posted by: Marysdude at May 24, 2009 10:09 AM
Comment #281969

Christine,

“I think the concept of phychological torture is too slippery. Any kind of detention could be called torture by that definition.”

So by your criteria it doesn’t exist?

“re the waterboarding, three terrorists were waterboarded and we stopped doing it in 2003.”

And you know this how, exactly?

The Bush administration took us to Iraq based on lies and exaggerations based on fear, not facts.
Did you believe them then?
If not, then why do you believe them now?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 24, 2009 11:51 AM
Comment #281973

Christine,

It is obvious from your reply to me above, that you believe torture is justified. Your comments neither accept the definition I provided, nor, do they accept the premise of motivation as determinant in whether an act is torture or not.

A doctor may amputate a diabetic’s limbs to save their life. A brutal person may amputate that same diabetic’s limbs for retribution for raising the cost of medicare premiums. Intent and motivation are all that separate these two acts, one as noble, and the other heinous. Exactly the same act.

The willful infliction of pain upon another, physical or psychological, for the inflictor’s benefit, is torture. When a government willfully inflicts pain upon others for the government’s benefit, that government is engaged in torture, regardless of the method of inflicting pain, be it caterpillars in the dark, or waterboarding.

I am reminded of Mao Tse Tung’s reeducation camps in China’s revolution, in which pain and privation were employed by the government to create citizens unwilling to criticize the government that tortured them. Mao’s government was engaged in torture by this definition. And by this definition, the Bush government was no different than Mao’s.

Your comment’s unwillingness to accept this definition on its intrinsic merits, relegate your comments to defending torture as a tool of the state, and in a democratic society of mostly empathetic persons, relegate your arguments to a minority position in our society. You have every right to your arguments, and even to attempt to defend them, in America. But, in America, such arguments will not hold power if held up to the public light of scrutiny.

That is self-evident by now with the advent of Democratic victories at the polls and Pres. Obama’s and Congress’ outlawing torture yet again, including enhanced interrogation techniques, from our government’s elective set of choices in dealing with human beings suspected of doing our nation and people harm.

Torture is cruel. America does not aspire to be a cruel nation and will rebuke cruelty when held to the public light of scrutiny. Which is precisely why greater transparency and oversight of government official’s actions is mandatory and called for by our founding papers and documents.

While people can be cruel and disposed to torture others by their passions, our Freedom of Information Act, American Civli Liberties Union, oversight between our branches of government, and freedom of the press, all exist to insure that America does not become a cruel nation, falling to the level of moral and ethical depravity of the enemies of freedom, liberty, and respect for human dignity.

Is it Ironic, that liberals are more inclined to oppose torture in defense of freedom, liberty, and human dignity, than conservatives on this issue? Or is it, that conservatives today truly have lost their way regarding their rhetorical principles, finding themselves truly unable to live up to the rhetoric that used to get them elected? This was certainly the case with GW Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleeza Rice, Gonzalez, Donald Rumsfeld, and a host of other Republicans over the last 8 years.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 24, 2009 4:27 PM
Comment #282021

David, Marys and others

I believe torture may be justified to save lives. I don’t think it should often. There are only a few rare cases. And it should never be used as punishment or revenge. You may disagree.

I do not believe torture is okay, but I think massive loss of innocent life is worse.

Some argue torture never works. I don’t know. If it indeed does not work, we should not use it. I believe it would work against me. You might be braver. But the argument over effectiveness is not one anyone is really interested in making.

Rocky

We are ALL basing what we know on the documents released by President Obama. That is how you know waterboarding was done and how I know it stopped. We rely on the same sources. If they are no good, we neither of us has any basis for discussion

Posted by: Christine at May 25, 2009 6:48 PM
Comment #282027

I think Mr. Rice’s article is idiotic, which is really the most polite thing I would say, without breaching the forum rules.

Just make your point (based on your opinion) that torture is immoral. It’s just stupid how atheists so frequently feel the need to body slam Christianity.

Posted by: politico08 at May 25, 2009 7:57 PM
Comment #282031

Politco08 -

I quote facts. You hurl insults. I rest my case.

Posted by: Jon Rice at May 25, 2009 8:12 PM
Comment #282032

Jon,

You make moronic smears on large swathes of people based upon a biased use of a minimal amount of facts. You lie about me hurling insults. I rest my case.

Posted by: politico08 at May 25, 2009 8:19 PM
Comment #282044

Christine,

If you wanted to know, the MSM has done an excellent job of chronicling the torture events and the information received. As it the facts stand currently, the documentation and eyewitnesses indicate the useful intelligence was obtained without torture. Torture came after, in unbelievable repetitions which appear to have provided nothing useful except exacting revenge and corroboration of factual lies linking Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 terrorists.

So, there is an ample body of evidence to date suggesting that torture does ONLY what it was designed to do, to get the tortured to agree with whatever the torturer has asked them to say. This is what torture has always been recorded throughout history to be used for. The Bush admin. needed a link between Hussein and 9/11, and they used torture to try to get that link corroborated. But, of course, corroborated or not, confessions under torture are worthless as evidence of anything in factual and logical terms.

Ergo, even in a ticking time bomb scenario, it is unlikely torture would produce the sought after information, since the information the torturers seek would have to be provided by another reliable source in order for the tortured testimony to have any credence or corroborating effect at all, which entirely negates the need for torture in the first place.

Torture, aside from being unethical, inhumane, and immoral, is illogical as well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 25, 2009 10:55 PM
Comment #282071

I love it
Christine is down to justifying torture “only to save lives”
I guess there must always need to be some way to save face.
“saving innocent lives” — how can you argue against that?? It is so high-minded, so, above arguement — how noble!
Except it doesn’t hold water
David provided many of the reasons above.

They tortured the guy 183 times over the course of a month
Just what ticking time bomb has a 1 month fuse???
This arguement has ALWAYS been ludicrous and we now have evidence — thankfully provided by the Bush administration — to show just HOW ridiculous the “saving lives” “ticking time-bomb” justification is.

I will add
A) The “enhanced interrogation” program from the Bush administration was designed by a Psychologist with NO INTERROGATION TRAINING NOR EXPERIENCE
B) The “enhanced interrogation” program from the Bush administration WAS REJECTED by EXPERIENCED INTERROGATORS — FBI, POLICE AND MILITARY.
C) EXPERIENCED INTERROGATORS — FBI, POLICE AND MILITARY refused to participate in the “enhanced interrogations because they KNEW them to be ineffective AND illegal — and those that refused are the TRUE HEROS here — they REFUSED illegal orders!!
D) repeat David’s point above — there are FACTS AND DATA that much (if not all) of the water boarding was done to obtain information about an IRAQ-AL-QUEDA (SPELLING?) — IT WAS NOT ABOUT A TICKING TIME-BOMB, IT WAS NOT ABOUT AN “IMPENDING ATTACK” THE GUY WAS WATERBOARDED 183 TIMES TO COVER SOME HIGHLY PLACED WHITE HOUSE BUTT. — PERIOD.
the arguements supporting torture are not based in fact nor law and hence are morally reprehensible and intellectually dishonest.

Posted by: Russ at May 26, 2009 4:20 PM
Comment #282083

Russ

What “White House butt” did that information save?

Posted by: Christine at May 26, 2009 9:25 PM
Comment #282099

Christine
So if torture is morally acceptable to save lives then you must logically believe that the torture of John McCain ,along with others, for the purpose of countering the US bombing campaign was morally acceptable as well. Information obtainned by them had the the potential to increaes defense and evacuation of civilians from targeted ares thereby saving lives. According to your criteria they did the right thing. Is that so?

Posted by: bills at May 27, 2009 1:03 AM
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