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Switch to Forum Live View How Do You Set Aside Your Christianity to Justify Torture?
3 years ago  ::  Dec 10, 2014 - 4:21PM #1
RJMcElwain
Posts: 3,013
This man understands his culpability. A lot of others in DC don't, and that's worrisome. At what point did we lose the moral high ground?

www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/opinion/the-t...

We should all be embarrassed, but far too many in Washington don't understand that.
Robert J. McElwain

"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." (Supposedly)Thomas Jefferson

"He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral."
St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Plato
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 10, 2014 - 6:30PM #2
Nino0814
Posts: 1,795

I think he is a courageous American for standing up and admitting that what we did was wrong.  Including going to Iraq in the first place.  It sad how many Republican support the use of torture.


While I do not usually agree with him, John McCain's speech was on the report was for the history books.


www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/201...

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2014 - 3:14PM #3
Stumbler
Posts: 347

Maybe I'm just getting old, but this stuff hits me hard. Listening to Cheney defending it all simply by saying "It worked," as if that's all the defense ever needed, chills me to the bone. If our only moral metric is, "Does it work?", it's game over. Forget about the moral high ground. Maybe it was vaporized in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as we demonstrated to the world that we would do anything at all if we thought it would "work."


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3 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2014 - 4:02PM #4
Dutch777
Posts: 9,144

Oh please !  Let's stop the faldarol about setting aside Christianity in order to torture people.  The history of Christianity is replete with horrific accounts of one sect torturing and committing genocide against other sects of Christianity.  BTW the Dominicans invented waterboarding for use during the Spanish Inquisition.  Until the early 19th. century physical torture was the normative investigative method of the Vatican, when agents of Napoleon Bonaparte put a stop to the practice.  The historic record informs us that torture is as Christian as the Nativity crech, in actual practice if not in theory.


Last night on CNN General Mike Hayden, former head of the CIA, gave a different perspective on this matter which is too long to repeat here.  He did indicate that the CIA is preparing a detailed, fact-based responsa to the Senate report.  Let's not get ahead of the fuller investigation; let's not jump to conclusions or judge this serious matter by superficial media accounts or possibly slanted Senate findings. 


I'm concerned enough to await the CIA responsa before reaching a conclusion.



The Path
To Moon
lake
Doesn't Go
There.

So Walk
Your own
DharmaPath
And Be
Mindful

Dutch
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2014 - 6:17PM #5
Nino0814
Posts: 1,795

I agree with Dutch, Christians tortured people.  If we define Christian behavior by what Christians have done then we cannot say that torture in unchristian, but torture does violate the values of a democratic society and it dehumanizes people. 


The CIA will obviously put up the best defense for what they did.  I agree with Stumbler, it is never exceptable for a country/state to torture people. 


I do not know if torture is effective.  I tend to think that in some situations it might be effective in getting information, but IMO that does not justify the actions of the CIA.


If I was left alone with criminal with knowledge that can save people, I may be willing to go to prison for for torturing him (if I believed it would save lives), but if I got caught I would hope that I would be ultimately sent to prison.  


I only hope that the prison has good internet access so I can keep up with my friends on this forum. Smile

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2014 - 6:47PM #6
Dutch777
Posts: 9,144

Nino,


If you tortured a terrorist and that act uncovered a murderous plot against the USA, I'd personally hire the best lawyer around to defend you.  I'd also protagonize for you to receive a special award or medal from the President, or one of our NJ senators, or from the local Masons or Elks Lodge --- or from all of the above.  I'd also personally treat you and your family to a full lobster dinner at Ye Cottage Inn in Keyport, NJ (except that YCI was totally wiped off the map by hurricane Sandy.  Tough luck).



My philosophy of torture in a righteous cause, like national defense against jihadists, runs parallel to St. Augustine's "just war" approach.  Start with the mildest response possible, like sweet reason and diplomacy.  Get a compliant Imam to reason with the creep.  Then, in successive stages, turn the heat up on the creep.


If all of the aforemention fails, attach electrodes to the creep's b@!!$  and light him up like the Rockerfeller Center christmas tree.  Pragmatism has its virtues.





The Path
To Moon
lake
Doesn't Go
There.

So Walk
Your own
DharmaPath
And Be
Mindful

Dutch
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2014 - 9:25AM #7
Stumbler
Posts: 347

I'm sure torture can be "effective" under some circumstances. The trouble is, it is altogether too easy for authorities to convince themselves that every national defense situation is a "ticking bomb." These things are always done with fully patriotic motives and the intention to save lives. Indeed, the history of Christian torture is ample demonstration of how easy it is to resort to horrific practices if you are convinced that the stakes are too high not to do so.


The reason for the very existence of agreements like the Geneva Conventions is the understanding that nations cannot be trusted, in the heat of war, to abide by the moral principles that they claim to defend.


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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2014 - 4:20PM #8
RJMcElwain
Posts: 3,013

So we set aside any pretense of a moral highground because Christians have tortured. I'm guessing every culture and religion can find torture in their history, so does that justify doing it again? We have not evolved.


Many of those speaking, who should know better than me, are saying that torture is ineffective in getting useful information. Only Cheney, who is not on my Christmas list, seems to see no problem with it whatsoever.


I still contend that we, as a nation, are better than this.

Robert J. McElwain

"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." (Supposedly)Thomas Jefferson

"He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral."
St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Plato
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2014 - 4:36PM #9
RJMcElwain
Posts: 3,013

The last two paragraphs of the article tell it all. It was criminal.


reason.com/archives/2014/12/11/cia-and-i...

Robert J. McElwain

"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." (Supposedly)Thomas Jefferson

"He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral."
St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Plato
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2014 - 5:00PM #10
Nino0814
Posts: 1,795

Dec 12, 2014 -- 4:20PM, RJMcElwain wrote:


So we set aside any pretense of a moral highground because Christians have tortured. I'm guessing every culture and religion can find torture in their history, so does that justify doing it again? We have not evolved.


Many of those speaking, who should know better than me, are saying that torture is ineffective in getting useful information. Only Cheney, who is not on my Christmas list, seems to see no problem with it whatsoever.


I still contend that we, as a nation, are better than this.




There are several issues impacting what we are discussing here.  


1. Is torture effective in getting the information?  I think it very well might be, but as Stumbler pointed out,  that is unrelated to the question whether we should do it.   


2. Can torture ever be morally justified? Dutch's comments referring to Augustine's "just war" show that it can be justified, but still there are practicle questions.


3.  Can people use torture in a morally acceptable and effective way? I highly doubt it.  Look at American history and our use of  the "just war" doctrine - even though we never officially declared war, I doubt the people we killed would have cared about the difference.  We certainly believed our actions were justifed in Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, CIA actions in Central America, Iraq 1, and Iraq 2, and Afganistan.


Low level, untrained personnel were responsible for EIT in Afganistan. Do we REALLY trust these guys to get it right?


Then there is the philisophical problem of a society (unlike Augustine's) based on the individual.  Torture is meant to undermine the integity of the self.  A person in that state has lost his will.  If this was not the case, then we could merely threaten the person's life.  We could pass a law that permits us to execute people who hold life saving information but refuse to share it.  I bet it would not work!  Many would perfer death than to betray their cause.  Their will would be in tact so death would be their willful choice.  Torture breaks the individual's will, and that is something a democratic society should reject.

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