Torture Is...

What is with the sanctimony about torture?

Are these self righteous pundits serious? The United States of America has killed millions of people around the world in the name of democratic freedom, and we will kill many more before all of our bullets and bombs run out. To insist on some kind of twisted recollection of America's history, as though the spouting of a few ideological suppositions could bring life back to those who have been slaughtered by the hand of U.S. soldiers since the beginning of this country's history is the lowest kind of immorality, the type that allows the mind to release itself from the stricture of the facts in order to construct a past that aligns perfectly with one's cherished ideals.

Torture is not just waterboarding.

Torture is when you kill everybody in a village but an eight year old child who will have to live with the horrific sounds and smells of death as their entire community suddenly disappears.

Torture is not just sticking a cattle prod up a prisoners anus.

Torture is when you render an entire civilian city radioactive after killing many of its inhabitants.

We have learned to lean on legal definitions as if they are some kind of boundary for our moral judgment, allowing us to feel as if we can justify in our minds the parsing of hairs to determine what is or what is not torture. But wrong is wrong, whether we do it in the name of freedom, or in the name of democracy, or in the name of religion.

Why, you ask, is this such a hot button issue that it has news readers like Shep Shepard on Fox News risking a hefty FCC fine for his station by using the work "fuck" in an extremely emotional response to an on the air discussion?

Because the image of ourselves we want to believe in is a nonsensical one. We know killing other people is barbaric, but sometimes necessary in order to preserve our own lives. But to admit that we are capable of being both good and evil at the same time conflicts mightily with the religious tenets by which many of us measure ourselves, so we are forced to pretend that our capacity for committing evil and depraved acts doesn't exist.

"You can't handle the truth" - Jack Nicholson's famous quote from the movie A Few Good Men, summed up a soliloquy in which Nicholson's character described how it is that Americans walk around in the United States as freely and as fearlessly as we do - because guys like him did the dirty work necessary to keep the bad guys out.

We have compartmentalized our society so well that a person can go through an entire life these days without seeing any of the processes that put food on the table, or dig coal out of the ground and turns it into electricty, or transform forests of trees into neatly appointed, climate controlled houses. Living this way, a person might begin to get the feeling that the entire world should be able to run on the kind of ethical and moral guidelines they think they live by, even though they've never gotten their hands dirty in their entire life.

Christianity does not rule the world we live in.

Men with big guns do.

Debating whether to indict anyone from President Bush's administration for this almost ten years later is the height of American hypocrisy.

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Jason J. Campbell said...

"We have learned to lean on legal definitions as if they are some kind of boundary for our moral judgment..." I really like this article. You begin with a question and then answer that question with a picture. The notion of "advanced interrogation" is absolutely ridiculous! Also I like that you've discussed the tendency to resort to legalities to support morality, which is always convenient. Great Post!!

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