Friday, May 1, 2009

Let's all torture like it's 1499

I know, I know, you're going to tell me that I'm obsessed with Ann Coulter and I should just ignore her until she goes away. Well, I'm not and she won't of course, but it's just that every time I think I've identified the craziest or most repugnant, evil minded, nasty and dishonest humanoid resident within the US borders, Ann, like one of those sea cucumbers that extrudes its intestines in order to gross out predators, gives us another and bigger load from her oversized colon.

Yes, of course Rush Gassbaugh is already on record as stating that the beatings, the attachment of electrodes to testicles and worse at Abu Ghraib were something only a girly man and liberal would object to, but Abu Ghraib is old news. It's all about Guantanamo and it's Ann's turn to tell us that waterboarding someone 189 times is just like a carnival ride people would actually pay to experience and that "the Muslims" are laughing at our weakness because we don't torture them enough. Only a hundred have died, after all. What we do is to put an "adorable little caterpillar" in someones cell, said adorable Ann to Sean "insanity" Hannity -- kind of like Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition using soft pillows and comfy chairs. We're "Wussies" for having any sense of morality greater than a jackal's says Ann while lounging around her luxury Palm Beach estate drinking a glass of human blood and munching on some child's barbecued leg.

Of course she's referring to our playing on some prisoner's phobias and to some, being trapped and unable to prevent an insect crawling up their leg is worse than pain. We all have some secret fear, after all. Imagine being trapped in an elevator with Coulter and Limbaugh, for instance, on the day you forgot to take your gun with you.

So I guess what the Arm Chair warriors from Palm Beach would like to see, is an America so utterly depraved and devoid of conscience as to make the world shudder in horror as we torture, maim and kill for pleasure -- you know, like real men like Ann and Rush do. Well they don't actually do anything, but they do giggle and laugh and snicker and mock decency while telling us we're "godless" for not torturing more people in more horrific ways and that we're suffering from "derangement syndromes" for criticizing evil.

Anyway, the dishonesty, the depravity, the malignant personality of laughing Ann doesn't need me to criticize it. Someone who makes a living lying, insisting that concerns of right and wrong, good and evil are for weaklings and that only cruel and inhuman leaders who make us safe by terrifying and disgusting the world can be supported -- while ridiculing liberals for being without religion isn't going to listen, and those who support her will simply read inexplicable hostility into my words and claim she's the victim.

We don't burn these people at the stake any more -- perhaps that's the danger of being Godless, but I'm just as happy that he's dead or gone or never was at all, since this is the kind of thing that would provoke any deity into raising the sea level once again.


  1. "Insanity" Hannity - love it.

    We all have some secret fear, after all. Imagine being trapped in an elevator with Coulter and Limbaugh, for instance, on the day you forgot to take your gun with you.And this is made me laugh out loud.

    Coulter is a special kind of evil. She feeds off of misery and pain - and with a smile on her face. You may be glad God's not here to raise the waters, but I pray for the second coming so that people like Rush and Ann can find out their precious God thought more contemptuously of them than they do of Muslims and liberals.

  2. If I ever meet mAnn COulter in a public setting, I'll have her repeat her endorsment of abstinence-only education. Then I will ask for her personal story to inspire the Christian youth: "How have you managed to maintain your virginity into your mid 40s?"

  3. Who are these people and why are they so depraved? Sometimes you have to wonder at the efficacy of the right to free speech. I mean shouldn't these people only subject themselves and their therapists to their ideas. And why do people hire them to talk. Perhaps these evil talkers are here to show us that people will always have an evil element amongst themselves.

  4. Funny, I always thought of a hagfish, q.v., when I thought of Ann Coulter. But I do like the sea cucumber auto-disembowelment analogy. Heh.

    I posted on this idea too.

    Who Would Jesus Torture.

    Also, at my blog, I've put up a poll that shows that the more religious one is, the more one is apt to approve of torture.

    Nonbelievers, BTW, are not supportive of torture.

    What can it all mean?

  5. I had this Clockwork Orange thought about strapping Rushbo and Coulter-Mouth into a chair, forcing them to watch scenes of bloody torture, and subjecting them to operant conditioning until they are repulsed and sickened by their own thoughts and impulses ... except for this thought that troubled me: Would this be considered torture too?

  6. Octy,

    Your conditioning assumes that you could initiate a traditional response to torture and then reward it.

    What if scenes of bloody torture arouses someone?

    Would arousing Ann or Rush be considered torture and of whom?

  7. "but I pray for the second coming so that people like Rush and Ann can find out their precious God thought more contemptuously of them than they do of Muslims and liberals."I confess that even an atheist dreams of such things.

    "How have you managed to maintain your virginity into your mid 40s?"Virginity? Do goats count?

    "the more religious one is, the more one is apt to approve of torture."No surprise to me -- just read the Bible or listen to any fire and brimstone sermon!

    "Perhaps these evil talkers are here to show us that people will always have an evil element amongst themselves."It's true, the banality of evil is a much studied subject and history is full of otherwise normal people doing the most hideous things. People seem to be titillated by stories of torture and Ann is there to make it seem all right.

    I wonder whether these brave patriots would actually regurgitate if they had to watch the things they claim not to be moved by. I suspect it's all an act for money and power and I worry far more about their listeners than about them. As I said, ordinary people can be recruited for massive evil and history proves it over and over.

  8. I had to face my fears over 20 years ago when I started getting panic attacks. It was either that or become agoraphobic. I had to go into elevators and carwashes, which scared me to death. I did both. It wasn’t easy and even today when I go into an elevator I do my deep breathing and sing to myself. I have mixed feelings on this torture issue. The terrorists have no problem killing us and will continue to do so, regardless of what we do. And they will continue to torture us, too. It’s such a paradox and I don’t know what the answer is. I’m not sure releasing the secret CIA files was such a good idea. But now that it was done, I think ALL the information should come out so that we know for sure exactly how many times he was REALLY water boarded. There is conflicting information on that front.

  9. "The terrorists"

    And how do we determine if one is a "terrorist?" Do we torture people who look right or who were seen with people who look right or happened to be walking down the wrong street or who were fingered by their enemies? Far too often that is the very situation.

    Besides the moral aspect, besides the fact that after all these years we can't point to one useful and reliable bit of information obtained, besides the fact that doing this has turned into the single biggest recruiting tool for America haters -- the fact that we torture prisoners keeps people from surrendering for fear of what we will do to them. They think they are fighting an evil empire and we are playing right into their hands.

    It's time to stop sobbing over 9/11. More people die from the flu every year -- perhaps ten times as many. More than that die in car accidents and many other ways. It's time to stop being terrorized to the point where we act like panicked rodents and try to act like the nation we were once proud to be. We faced down and defeated the greatest and most powerful enemies in world history without torturing anyone. Millions died fighting the torturers from Germany and Japan and now I'm supposed to become one of them because a few buildings were blown up? I'm supposed to wet my pants and throw away my sense of right and wrong because of a few dozen bearded loonies? Sorry, fighting such evil is one thing I'm willing to die for no matter what kind of a whimpering nation, afraid that its own toasters, telephones, pots and pans are out to kill us all we have become.

    You know, one of the reasons we had such a hard time invading Japanese possessions in WW II is that their people truly believed they would all be tortured and killed if captured and so they fought to the death or killed themselves in suicide missions; women and children and old people. This time around we've created our own anti-American fanaticism.

  10. Captain: you made a lot of good points. I won't forget 9/11, no matter what anyone says. And I'm not crying over it and I’m not living in a hole because I’m afraid I’m going to encounter a terrorist around the corner. I just believe that the terrorists who performed that horrible crime are still out there and will attack again. And I believe they will make 9/11 look mild in comparison. I don’t believe I’m giving up my morals because I believe in enhanced interrogations. Who are the terrorists, you ask? Well, they come from all over and that’s the problem. They are many men from many countries that have no country. They are an enemy we have never faced before. Therefore we are trying to find a way to fight them and are now working out kinks in the system. These men aren’t our typical Japanese or German enemy on a normal combat field. I said I had mixed feelings and I do. I don’t want to debase human life; however, I believe American lives are the MOST important. So, until I know for sure that enhanced interrogation, i.e. torture didn’t work, I believe we need to use it.

  11. Pamela, in addition to what Captain Fogg said, my revulsion with respect to torture is personal.

    First, I lost ancestors in the holocaust. My great grandfather, a renowned scholar, was killed while en route to Auschwitz. His named is remembered in the written history of that time.

    Second, my oldest daughter is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army currently assigned to the Pentagon. Since 9/11, she has served three deployments in Iraq. Because she has special skills in high demand, these were not ordinary tours of one year each, but extra long deployments of two years duration. All told, she has missed had every holiday and family milestone since 9/11.

    Torture puts our own military personnel at risk. If our country sanctions torture or violates the Geneva accords, our military personnel would assuredly be tortured, and the excuse that stateless terrorists would torture in any case is a false and barbarous argument that merely turns us into hypocrites.

    When our country violates its own laws, treaties and principles, then I feel my great-grandfather’s death and the honorable service of my daughter has been in vain.

  12. Octo: What you have stated is why I have such mixed feelings on this subject. While my brother served 2 tours in Bagdad, I have no idea what he suffered, because he refuses to talk about it. My family hopes one day he will open up. But until then, I only have my own theories to go on. I have no personal experienes, such as you, and my heart goes out to you and your family. I can only hope that by changing the way we do things it will change how others treat us; but the jury is still out on that. Only time will tell, and I hope by showing the world we are superior and moral it will reflect on how they treat our men and women of our armed forces.

  13. What we're seeing here, my fellow Americans, is the prim and proper, well scrubbed and neatly dressed face of evil. Torture them all and let God sort it out? Do you have any idea what you're talking about, about whose company such words put you in?

    "I believe American lives are the MOST important."

    Yes, that's one of the reasons we are hated so much - and a good one too. I'm sure killing thousands and thousands of Iraqi kids didn't even rattle your Wedgwood. When we murdered Vietnamese peasants and Guatemalan peasants because we couldn't be sure they didn't support us, thousands of terrorists by proxy like Miss Pamela were hardly moved. AMERICAN lives were not harmed in these atrocities.

    We kill their children and destroy their homes and countries and futures because, like you, we're so damned important and appointed by God to rule the world and own its oil. These men? Just who the hell are you talking about? Do you know any of "these men" or why they were arrested? No, but you'll just sell your humanity and decency and morals and all of ours too because you're afraid. So afraid. Disgusting.

    "So, until I know for sure that enhanced interrogation, i.e. torture didn’t work, I believe we need to use it."

    The whimper at the end of the world. OK guys keep throwing people in the snake pit and pull out their fingernails because Miss Pamela, sitting at the right hand of God with her whips and branding iron, can't make up her mind whether justice, decency, honor and law are dangerous to her sense of special entitlement or really necessary to such a shining country on a hill like we are.. Just don't get the blood on her kitchen floor.

    So what's to stop us from torturing you? After all I can't be sure that it wouldn't produce some sort of a confession -- and you won't mind if the law no longer protects you, since after all there's as much chance of Osama blowing up your split level as anyone else's and we just can't be sure about what you might have done.

    Or is torture just for people with beards -- like me?

    Anyway, who gives a flying damn whether you think it works or doesn't? You have no experience, no knowledge, limited intelligence, and the people who do know, know damned well it doesn't work. They know damned well it's a danger to our troops if they are captured and they know damned well that swaggering around the world acting like we can do anything to anyone at any time and for any reason will have us ending up like every arrogant empire from the Romans to the British has ended up. Yea - screw the wogs -- we're AMERIKANS! Screw the law, screw Jesus and the donkey he rode in on because were SCARED!

    This is what they mean by the banality of evil. They mean you, Pamela: the self satisfied, small minded, spineless dishonorable people who support all the evils of the world -- so that they can remain comfortable, safe and privileged. For people like you half a million Americans soldiers died? They must be rolling in shame under those endless rows of white crosses.

    Disgusting - just disgusting to think of all who died so that you can toss it all away because the scary Muslims might be plotting against you. It puts our troops in danger, it puts our freedom in danger and it makes into just another superpower trying to rule the world with bombs and fear and I'm not going to let people like you get away with making my country something disgusting.

    You're the enemy here Pamela - you are - mine and America's and whatever gods may be judging you.

  14. Pamela: “I hope by showing the world we are superior and moral it will reflect on how they treat our men and women of our armed forces..”

    This is precisely the point. When we send mixed messages to the world, how can we safeguard our own? Without a clear and definitive anti-torture policy, it would be like saying:

    "If you mistreat our kids, we will treat you as criminals, although we reserve the right to torture your kids."

    There can be no wiggle room for moral ambiguity: Torture dishonors us and makes us less safe.

  15. I wrote the White House again today...

    The torture of prisoners under our control is a disgrace and a violation of the Conventions on Torture. It happened. It can not be ignored.

    Wishing it otherwise is futile.

    There must be a resolution to this in terms of investigations and prosecutions as appropriate.

    The SERE program was used to demonstrate methods to extract false confessions of war crimes. I went through much of this training prior to going into combat during the Vietnam war.

    It appears that these same methods were used on Iraqi suspects and others to derive false confessions of WMD and terrorist connections.

    As a former officer in the USAF and a combat veteran, I reject any attempt by the officials in our government to condone or ignore such treatment. It was both illegal and immoral and a violation of the principles of the United States of America, the Convention on Torture, the Geneva Conventions and the military Code of Conduct.

  16. Thank you, Don. This sums up my feelings too, not just because I have family in the military, but because our civilization is again devolving towards barbarity ... unless/until we hold ourselves accountable.

  17. Captain: I never once proclaimed to know everything. I admitted I have ambivalence with this situation. I didn’t realize that by voicing my opinion I was going to be called small-minded, spineless, dishonorable and disgusting. I was hoping you could’ve explained where you thought I was wrong in a more civilized manner rather than resorting to insults and assumptions into my character. I realize this is a sensitive subject, but it’s one I’m open to hearing other viewpoints on. I’m sorry you felt the need to insult me. I had hoped we could’ve discussed this in a courteous manner.

  18. Already posted something of my own on this issue, but I must add a bit of jurassic-dinosaur-style "tough love" here -- torture is assuredly not a "sensitive issue" on which reasonable people might disagree. It is a violation of the Geneva rules to which we ourselves are signatories; neither is one's apparent advocacy of torture excused by speaking in "a courteous manner." I'll spare you all a perfectly apt quotation from Hamlet for the sake of, well, courtesy. I urge you to bethink yourself on this issue. And re-bethink once you've bethunk.

  19. Pamela D. Hart,

    I'll put this as politely as I can, but being "open" to hearing other viewpoints on torture is like saying one is "open" to other viewpoints on the efficacy of putting people in ovens.

    IOW, there are no other viewpoints with regard to evil. One must always be against it.

  20. Shaw, I’m against evil. The conundrum is how one goes about defeating it. I’ll clarify my term “being open to other viewpoints.” I’ve admitted that I don’t know everything. I’ll state it again more clearly. I’m NO expert in the field of Army Intelligence or fighting terrorism or how our CIA gets its information on such. I would like to hear why you all believe that enhanced interrogations, i.e. torture keeps us LESS safe. Why you believe that the terrorists should have constitutional rights even though they have committed the most evil atrocities all over the world, including our country and will continue to do so. Or do you believe that once we give them all these rights they will simply stop and leave us alone, and if you believe that, why? I’m looking to understand why you believe if we go back to pre 9/11 it will change the way the terrorists treat us when they attacked US on 9/11, as far as I know unprovoked. Again, I’m NOT an expert on foreign relations with the Middle East, so please bear with me. I’m looking for knowledge here, so that if my information is wrong I can make a better decision. This is why I like to have discussions with others of different political affiliations; it makes me stop and think. I don’t pretend to be all high and mighty and knowledgeable in all areas and when I don’t know something, I admit it. I’m sorry I didn’t make myself more clear. Sometimes while writing I assume my words are crystal clear in meaning, when in fact I jumble things up and confuse even more. Please accept my sincere apology.

  21. I love arguments that start with " I don't know anything but here's my opinion"

    No, you don't know anything and you're not smart enough to figure out that ignorance, fear and anger aren't the moral basis for human conduct or reasons for setting aside the laws that protect us from moral vermin like you who think their sense of safety is the fulcrum upon which all law and morality hinges.

    Let me ask you what differentiates horrible acts and "terrorism?" Is it because it's only bad when "they" do it? That's what you're saying: anything that makes you feel safe is justifiable. Well, Pam, none of are safe with people like you around. You make Hitler sound like Jesus.

    "I would like to hear why you all believe that enhanced interrogations, i.e. torture keeps us LESS safe." Let me put it as simply as I can: I am not willing to sell my soul and my country's honor and the rule of law and the dignity of mankind to allay your ridiculous and pathetic fears. 300,000 people have died on the highways since 9/11, over 200,000 from the flu. You're safe enough from "the terrorists" that we are justified in being a civilized nation.

    "Why you believe that the terrorists should have constitutional rights even though they have committed the most evil atrocities all over the world," So the law doesn't apply to people who might be scary to you? And of course we find out they're "terrorists" by torturing them in the first place? Should we have tortured the US solders who shot up My Lai 4? What about the British who bombed Dresden?

    sorry, the worlds biggest atrocities have always been supported by amoral cowards like you and always will be. We lost nearly half a million Americans fighting people who thought the ends justified any means and if these men were here today, you'd really have something to be afraid of.

    Are you that stupid or just morally bankrupt that you think it's just fine to do whatever you like to people you fear for any reason that comes into your head? Is it fine to put some 16 year old kid picked up at random from the street into a secret dungeon and torture him indefinitely because he might make you suspicious?

    I'm talking about individuals, you're talking about nebulous fears and fallacious assemblages of disparate parties. There are no people called "the terrorists" and to much of the world, you are a terrorist, get it? Terrorist is as terrorist does, as Forrest Gump might have said, but obviously Gump is too intellectually advanced for you to understand.

    No your words are clear enough - you put your safety and your paranoid fears above everything good and decent and your intentions are clear, you'd rather commit crimes against humanity just to stay "safe."

    You don't deserve your citizenship.

  22. To our conservative friend, I would suggest reading Kant's Critique of Practical Reason. Perhaps that will help regarding the issue of ethical relativism. Kant explains and illustrates in his second critique a fundamental point about morality. In some areas of life, we just go by experience and "do what works." Torturing other people (even thoroughly bad ones who hate us) isn't one of those areas. Being moral, in the Kantian view, is in large part constituted by being capable of making promises to oneself and others and then keeping them, no matter what—even to one's own considerable cost. Not to understand this is to advocate not civilization but craven savagery driven by panic and dread. This is a matter of self-definition, not immediate utility. Once upon a time, the civilized had a rational discussion about the sort of things our American conservativi think it so necessary to hash out again; the result of the initial discussion was the Geneva Convention's writs about torture and other such things: standards were set for the humane treatment of others even when we hold them in the deepest contempt for taking sides against us, etc.

    As for the notion that somehow liberals believe making nicey-nicey with "KSM" and his ilk will make them think well of us and do well by us, I would of course dismiss it out of hand, were it not for the fact that the claim underscores a weakness in progressivist rhetoric. If you watched some of the liberal cable news shows all day, you might well get the impression that certain commentators are obsessed with how many times this or that vile SOB was subjected to waterboarding—to a point where they seem genuinely concerned about said SOB's mental state and physical welfare. My fond wish is that such commentators would hush up about the specific individuals and instead condemn the practices involved. I think that most liberals are somewhat prone to this tendency: I mean the tendency to refuse to believe the worst about anyone even when their guilt is manifest; it is painful to confront the fact that another person has done something vicious. But it happens, and must be confronted. The worst people in the world invariably take kindness for weakness and stomp on it with their jackboots. Therefore, the kind must be strong. "Strength and honor," as the Romans would say, if they condescended to use our barbar-tongue.

  23. Pamela - one big drawback to torture, besides being horribly inhumane and against constitutional principles is that it galvanizes the terrorists groups and lends them a degree of legitimacy.
    For one thing Gitmo makes great propaganda in the Middle East because there were people being brought there that the terrorists knew had no ties with them.
    One innocent person being held does a rallying point make and what a great way to get MORE people on board with their agenda.
    We call them terrorists, their countrymen call them heros suffering for the "cause." A no win situation for all.
    Tell me one thing about torture that makes you safer. Do you believe we had all the terrorists locked up in Gitmo? Do you not know that the Bush administration was quietly turning some of these guys loose because they were not "enemy combatants", only to have them return home and JOIN up? Through the morass that was Gitmo, we have managed to galvanize an extremist group and swell its ranks. And you feel safer? Why?

  24. Pamela - many here have already made some of these points, but here is a summary of why I think torture is a mistake:

    1. It doesn't work. It leads to false confessions and thus unreliable information.

    2. We can obtain accurate information without using torture. Experienced interrogators know how to make captives - even the most heinous terrorists - sing by doing nothing other than use words.

    3. The "ticking time bomb" scenario, popularized by Jack Bauer and 24, doesn't occur in real life. We are never really faced with a situation in which the only way to prevent catastrophe is by torturing someone. And, as I said, such information typically proves unreliable anyway.

    4. Torture makes us less safe by "galvanizing" support against us, as rocky succinctly said.

    5. Our torturing captives makes it more likely that our troops will be tortured when captured - this is a primary reason so many in the military are against the use of torture.

    6. Torture is immoral and inhumane. The cost to our soul is enormous. Even if torture worked flawlessly - which the above indicates is false - the price is simply too great.

    7. The way to truly lead the world is by setting a good example. If we want to be that beacon of freedom, that shining city on the hill, we need to led our actions do the talking.

    8. We claim to be for freedom and rights, but by torturing we are eliminating captives' rights to be treated humanely.

    9. Our laws and our government are perfectly capable of handling terrorists without the use of torture. There is no reason that we cannot trust our own system to bring about justice fairly. To sanction torture is to show a lack of confidence the very foundation of our government - a government stood tall for many decades without torture.

    10. Torture is illegal. We can debate the details of whether or not torture worked or if it was justified (which, I - like others here - believe isn't really debatable) until the sun burns out, but the fact is that torture is illegal. I think the drinking age should be lowered to 18, but that doesn't mean it's okay for me to drink if I'm 18. If I do and I get caught, I have to face the consequences. The same should apply to those who authorized torture. What is the point of having laws if we're not going to follow them?

    For the record, as against torture as I am, and as much as I think the question of whether or not torture is justified shouldn't be up for debate, I think it's beneficial for all of us to have these sorts of discussions.

  25. "I would suggest reading Kant's Critique of Practical Reason."

    I think that's considered torture under the Geneva conventions. I know it was for me.

    And as for my being rude to someone espousing evil -- nuts.


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