I promise, I'll stop talking about this soon.
I linked to it yesterday, but in the light of the conversation that Jay Tea engaged in over here, he posted a more in depth, philosophical piece about the merits of torture, and if the ends ever really can justify the means.
Jay Tea singles out a few examples of when, he thinks, torture might be justified. Both of them subscribe to the "burning building" theory: The house is about to burn down, so you do anything and everything you can to stop it. It is hard to argue with this, from any point of view because, well, we can all understand this. "You have a terrorist in custody who has set a bomb to go off in one hour in the middle of a children's playground... what do you do? Think of the children," et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
It's the same thing with capital punishment. It isn't that I don't understand that, for the family of a victim of capital murder, the ultimate closure is to see the person at who's hands their loved ones were killed endure a similar fate. I get that need. The problem is, regardless of if it serves to make those who've suffered feel better, there has been no evidence to prove that it deters violent criminals who commit acts which are punishable under capital laws. But, more to the point, it is still wrong. Killing is still killing, regardless of if the state has sanctioned it or not.
So goes torture. It might make us feel better, or, hell, it might even feel like the most expedient thing to do, under certain circumstances. The problem is that no evidence exists to prove that anything actionable or accurate comes from torture (and you have to believe that, in the light of all of the accusations of mistreatment and torture against the United States, both from without and within, if there was an example of torture aiding us in anyway, or preventing an attack from happening that otherwise wouldn't have been discovered, this Administration would let us know). If it could be proved that such torture actually aids in the saving of lives, then you might have a legitimate moral argument: I'm torturing this person in order to save countless other lives. Absent such evidence, and without the real prospect of ever seeing such evidence, however, it is morally wrong.
Torturing people is just repugnant, and the fact that it is happening is just another example, to those of us who've been screaming "Watch out!" for the duration of this Administration's tenure, is that it simply proves what we believed would happen: That this Administration is willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater for the furtherance of their ends. To that point, even if I conceded that the ends justified the means in certain circumstances, it would be incumbent on the ends being justifiable in the first place. Too often, in this administration, they have not.
I appreciate the contradictory philosophies in place here: The Liberals, who decry the lack of debate and nuance arguing for moral absolutes against the "There is no life to small," Culture of Life Conservatives who want to justify circumstances of bending that same morality. To me, this is element is worse for the Conservatives, however, because it proves that Conservatives understand that sometimes circumstances arise when moral absolutes simply don't get the job done, while it also proves that Liberals have moral absolutes of their own.
Jay Tea finishes his post with this:
Taken to the extreme, I'm reminded of something I think I saw on the old "Batman" TV series. Batman and Robin were chasing a crook, but had to let him get away when he ran across the street. Batman insisted that he and the Boy Wonder proceed to the nearest corner and wait for the "Cross" signal instead of following the jaywalking bad guy.
It's a funny little analogy, and I get his point. Batman refused to jaywalk because he didn't want to break the law in the pursuit of good. It's silly and asinine. The difference is, this Administration has already broken the law (both the "quaint" Geneva Convention, and simple moral law) and is now seeking to justify that breakage by revising those laws and that morality. As all superheros know, and as all superpowers should know, (and as I once heard Josh Lymon say), it's not "might is right," but "might for right."