Search This Blog

Friday, January 23, 2009

Torture and the People

As most leftatics, I was thrilled to hear of the first 5 or 6 things that Obama did since innuaguration. Me and my other half were just saying last night, that's it's an amazing feeling to finally have someone minding the store again. After a bunch of Obama disappointments, it was a relief to see his first presidential acts exactly what we'd hoped. In fact, he even did me one step further than I expected. He didn't just shut down Guantanamo with a swipe of his pen, he shut down ALL of the secret CIA prisons. For thinking people everywhere, this was an amazing moment. And one that gives us incredible new hope.

All of that aside, I had some thoughts about torture this morning. I was thinking that a lot of people aren't really going to be thrilled by Obama's choice on the matter. I remember having a lot of heated discussions in 2006 about torture, discussions where there shouldn't be any. Let me state straight out: torture does not produce reliable intelligence. This has been proven again and again, scientifically, anecdotally, and teliologicially. But still a whopping 49% of the American people believe it.


It's hard to make a case to a non-academic about something they can't see, that directly contradicts that which they can see. Think about it: Most of the civilized world (I'd hope) now accepts that the Earth revolves around the sun, and that all matter is made up of tiny individualized particles. But those weren't easy battles. In fact, they were both motivators of huge societal upheaval, and in some cases even war. We won't even start with Evolution. In the case of torture, people torture people everyday, most often children. What is punishment but inflicting pain, or it's equivalent, to prove a point. It seems to work. Of course, I think most behavioral therapists would point out flaws in that reasoning. But let it stand for a moment. If inflicting pain can get results, any results, than why wouldn't torture be a regrettable, but necessary tool of the state?

I think this is what we face when we try to prove that torture is morally unacceptable, and in fact totally reprehensible.

This is one of the organizing factors of a democratic education--to prove and suggest to young minds, before the cast iron sets, that the things that they see with the naked eye, are not always what they think. By instilling this tolerance in them, you make them critical thinkers, capable of accepting an argument that relies on something more than immediate experience.

I think what us anti-torture advocates must prove is two-fold: 1) That there is no moral or religious vacilation on the subject of torture: It is totally wrong. There is no ends justifies the means when it comes to torture. 2) There has to be a way to separate in people's mind that using force, torture, or inflicting pain in their personal lives to get their way, is not a proof, or justification that torture works. Call me an idealist, or a Raving Leftatic, but I believe the latter is possible. We just need to find the key, create the narrative.

No comments: