Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thomas Sowell: The Rhetoric of Torture

Travis posted this story on Facebook today. Sowell makes the point that many Americans have lost the ability to see behind the rhetoric and make true moral distinctions. BTW - did you know that we waterboard our own troops as part of their training? That's a strong indication that this technique, while highly unpleasant, is not torture.


1950 Democrat said...

Good grief. Some of "our own troops" who were going into danger of capture in Vietnam were exposed to some techniques their captors might use on them ... so this makes the techniques NOT torture?

Forget the rhetoric. Anyone who supports these practices should be stripped naked in a 50F room and waterboarded once an hour. Then it doesn't matter WHAT you call it. If it's not 'torture', they should have no objection, right?

Waterboarding is not easy at home. But any defense of these 'non-torture' techniques should at least be written while naked at 50F, after being naked at 50F for several hours.

Philip said...

Troops and policemen are also exposed to tear gas and pepper spray to help them understand the ramifications of their use if or when it becomes necessary. I can list many more humane and legal (and effective) techniques that I would never want to experience.

In many ways torture is defined by degree. One very clear standard is whether the technique causes permanent harm. We don't break bones or cut off fingers as part of a training exercise. We do cause temporary discomfort.

There is a difference in holding a detainee at 50F and at 30F. One is torture, the other is not. There is a difference in doing this for several hours and for several days.

Interrogation techniques and torture exist on the same continuum, so we should seek to find techniques that are effective, yet fall within humane and legal limits. US military interrogators may not always find this balance, but you must admit that they try a lot harder than our terrorist enemies.

1950 Democrat said...

Whatever it is -- if you support it, you should volunteer to experience it.

Philip said...

So if you are in favor of putting criminals in prison, you should experience it?

Heaven help you if you support abortion!

I just don't think your "experience" requirement is very reasonable.