Thursday, November 08, 2007

Torture: Immoral Then - Immoral Now!

Torturing Ourselves to Death
by Cal Thomas
There is a double standard when it comes to this subject. We in the West are supposed to adhere to certain rules so we "won't be like them." But if the other side adheres to no rules and sees our standards as a form of weakness, such things are counter-productive to our objectives.
The TV series "24" features Jack Bauer testifying before a congressional committee on the subject of torture. Bauer is asked if he defends torture and responds that if it is needed to save lives, he will use it. That seems to me to be the proper balance if it is reasonably certain the person being tortured (and how do we define torture?) has information that will save innocent lives. More ....
The Third Geneva Convention, which covers prisoners of war, contains the following proscription within Article 17:

"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."2

Mr. Thomas asks how we define torture. I suggest he review the Geneva Conventions and the US Code of Military Conduct. I also suggest he review the transcripts of the Nuremberg Trials where the Allied Powers convicted members of the German military for using the same torture techniques that our government says are necessary to protect us from terrorist attacks. The breadth of Mr. Thomas' bigotry is without bounds. His fear of all things not sanctioned by his narrow, Christianist world-view is clearly displayed in his frequent screeds against gay rights, reproductive freedom, immigration reform, and secular government. Mr. Thomas' entire career has been one long fight against expanding human freedoms.
There has been a cultural war going on in America since the late ’60s: a war between the spiritual freedom symbolized by hippiedom and open homosexuality and the spiritual lockdown ordained by Mammonite fundamentalism, that rapacious hybrid of imperialist capitalism and dominionist Christianity that has become America’s state church.
Steven Wishnia
, Death of a Toker’s Utopia


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