Thursday, October 19, 2006

NOW I’m Scared.

Posted in Generalities, On the Internet at 7:17 pm by graceandpoise

Here’s why: The folks at the BBC (yes, I’ve been having an ongoing love affair with them for years now) have outdone themselves this time. They’ve done a new survey, in which they asked some 27,000 people across 25 countries around the world their ideas on torture. And when all of the responses are gathered together and averaged out, nearly a third of people (not counting the large number who for some reason couldn’t decide) readily admitted that they thought “some degree of torture” ought to be allowed.

Let that sink in for a moment: one third of people across 25 countries around the world thought that torture – torture – is okay sometimes.

People need to learn this: it is never okay. Never. Under any circumstances. Ever. I don’t care what information the other person might be thought to have, but no matter what it is, it’s not worth it. Are we next going to allow people to torture the 17-year old whom we suspect of plotting to bring a gun to school and shoot 30 of his classmates in the same way that many seem ready to allow the torture of another 17-year old whom we suspect of plotting to blow himself up and kill 30 people on a bus? “Some degree” or not, torture is not now and never will be okay. Period. It makes me incredibly sad and not a little frightened that we’ve come to a point at which we feel the need to ask questions like this.  How in the world can we even justify a debate on this issue?!?


  1. Mom said,

    Take a deep breath. That one really got you worked up.

    I knew there was a reason that Italy was my favorite place in the world. Interesting how this has all taken a turn for the worst with the ideology espoused by our friend.

  2. juliloquy said,

    Amen to this post.

  3. Bob said,

    Torture is horrible. But I don’t think anyone can really say that it is never allowed, ever, no matter what. Let’s take an unlikely hypothetical:

    You KNOW, 100% certaintly, that a terrorist has information about the location of a nuclear bomb about to go off in NYC. There is no time to evacuate the city or to take any other preventitive measures. You KNOW, 100% certainty, that, if tortured, this person will tell you where the bomb is and how to disarm it. You also KNOW, 100% certainty, that if the bomb goes off, 10 million + people will die. In this case, I cannot imagine how you can morally refuse to torture. If you refuse to torture one morally reprehensible man, you will, through inaction, allow ten million plus innocents to die.

    Is this ever likely to play out in reality? Probably not. But even justifying an extreme action in an extremely hypothetical scenario is useful because it outlines a scenario in which an immoral act is not only justified, it is demanded. On the opposite side of this, of course, is the slippery slope factor, which is that if you can justify torture once, no matter the severity of the circumstances, it is easy to do so again under less extreme circumstances.

    There is also the question of “what is torture?”…personally, I would argue that imprisonment is torture. But, of course, it is a necessary one.

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