karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

I guess torture's OK by him after all.

One of the canards that gets wide circulation is the claim that "torture doesn't work". The point of this canard is that torture is useless, and so there's no valid reason to engage in it.

One of the shrillest proponents of this view is pecunium. By his lights, torture is never OK. I'm actually willing to agree with that, but he insists on taking it off into left field and into absurdity.

Firstly, he offers an unprovable "utilitarian argument" -- since torture never works, there's no need ever to use it. This argument is also disproven, since I've found cases where treatment he considers "torture" did, in fact, obtain usable information in a timely manner. Granted, that's disproven to anyone except to those whose understanding of debate is to scream at contrary evidence until it goes away.

Frankly, I think he gets into serious trouble when he attempts to offer a "utilitarian" argument in the first place. Such an argument is only as strong as your data, and the reliance on utility implies you're willing to change your argument if the data change. The fact that he throws hysterical fits when anyone dares to question his assumptions tells me utilitarianism is the farthest thing from his mind.

The second point has to do with what he considers "torture". He is on record as defining "torture" to be "any physical or mental coercion – any". Unless "coercion" is a term of art used by interrogators, that means the process of detaining a prisoner is "torture". And indeed, it would be hard to list any procedure in use in our criminal justice system that doesn't qualify as "torture" under this zany definition.

Now, though, I find a situation where he would be perfectly willing to use torture:
Well guess what... the people who rationalised, the people who authorised, the people who organised, and the people who carried out the regime of torture our president, vice president and their consiglieri admit they set into motion... those are some uncommon criminals.

If I were given the authority to deal with them (which, thank God I will never be given), I’d toss them in an oubliette. Being less than kind, I’d let them have unlimited water, and; not quite enough, food. Slow starvation. Years of wasting misery to contemplate how far they’ve fallen. Time to ponder the sort of disgust required to make the effort to keep them in such squalor and misery.

I don’t hate them. I despise them. I loathe them. I will not shed a tear when they die, but I don’t hate them. They are so far from my ken that, like rabid dogs, they aren’t something one can identify with enough to hate.

Torture works just great as a form of punishment, and apparently at least one interrogator heartily approves of that use.
Tags: tk watch

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