Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Against Torture and Against Torturers

by Charles Pooter

Waterboarding is torture. This is undeniable. If you have tortured, you have given up part of your humanity. You have blackened your soul.

If you have sanctioned, condoned or encouraged torture you are a torturer by proxy.

You have given up any right to claim you are a representative or defender of any of the following concepts:

  • The West
  • Western civilisation
  • Freedom
  • Liberty
  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • Due process
  • The free society
  • The open society
As flawed as many of these concepts are, you are an implacable ememy of the grains of truth and goodness that they contain.

I do not claim that torture is not effective. To do so would be foolish. The torturers need only show one example where it has yielded a positive result and this utilitarian argument against torture is destroyed.

I ask instead what is the greater aim of effective torture? What is the torturer hoping to defend by the successful extraction of information?

By definition, he cannot hope to defend any of the concepts listed above. He cannot do this because, at the moment he officially sanctions or commits torture, his society no longer subscribes to any of these concepts.

His country is no longer part of "the West" or Western civilisation.
His country is no longer free or open.
His country is no longer a democracy.
His country no longer subscribes to due process or the rule of law.

Given this, what is left for the torturer to defend?

2 comments:

Bwca Brownie said...

Vanity Fair magazine brought me the Christopher Hitchens waterboarding tryout, and it's not just a slick glossy, it also informed me about the so-called 'Bybee-Yuo torture memo' of the Bush43 regime, and published the definitions of exactly what constitutes torture.
Donald Rumsfeld who signed-off on that memo, hasn't evolved as significantly as the rest of us.

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