Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's that torture thing again

Here's the logical, lucid and amusing Jonah Goldberg tackling the torture question, and the moral lines we need to cross (or not):

Who gets tortured or, to use a less loaded term, 'coerced'? Everyone can agree that even minor coercion — shoving, verbal abuse, detention and so forth — is absolutely unacceptable if it is directed against law-abiding people who are under no suspicion of wrongdoing. All of these nasty things are perfectly legitimate, however, when used against a Jihadi nutter in the caves of Tora Bora. Similarly, I believe that torture is obviously and always wrong when employed simply for enjoyment or punishment. If you don't believe a detainee has truly useful information of a pressing nature, lock him up, but lay off him. Such distinctions are not good enough for some. Indeed, my friend Andrew Sullivan's moral absolutism has led him to make sweeping comparisons between captured al-Qaida terrorists and dissidents in totalitarian regimes. As if one Solzhenitsyn equals one Zarqawi. He writes, 'You cannot raise or lower the moral status of mass murderers with respect to torture.' This strikes me as nonsense. It is a moral crime of a very high order to throw a man in prison simply because of what he believes. It is a moral necessity of a very high order to throw a man in prison if what he does involves mass murder. Death or lifetime imprisonment for writing a novel is surely torture for the novelist. But society cannot call these measures 'torture,' for then they would be unavailable for mass murderers and the like.