Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Torturing Our Way to Utopia

Certainly people should be prosecuted for the torture conducted by the Bush administration, but Americans should be aware that this sort of thing is hardly unprecedented or even somehow inconsistent with the American character -- with "who we are" as our cowardly President puts it in his lip service. Our police have been "tuning people up" forever, and virtually always getting away with it. Moreover, we have long maintained a penal system where rape is popularly held to be the universal norm, not because rape is inevitable among prisoners, but because the prospect of being raped gives police and prosecutors immense leverage over defendants. And Americans are almost universally cool with that, after all, it's only the bad guys, and especially the bad black guys who will ever have to worry about it so.....

So it shouldn't be surprising that a lot of Americans think it's okay to torture various others for a good cause. These are clearly not the people who know that torture works fine for teaching people a story (or eliciting a confession), and possibly for getting people to give up a stash, but not so well for getting committed insurgents to betray their comrades. In any case, as soonn as I read about the poll cited above I wondered: well if it's okay to torture in the Ticking-Bomb Scenario, is it okay to torture to find out when the next shipment of heroin comes in? And then how about a shipment of marijuana? Well, if okay then, is it okay to torture to find out where my stolen Garvin is? Alas, for the average American couch-potato the answer, in all instances, is yes -- which is all the more reason he's not worth torturing for.

Today we learn that my questions are not at all far-fetched. It seems that actual torture was recently used to get some British miscreants to reveal their pot stash -- so said police could then steal and sell it themselves. Well, this is the kind of police force that uses torture to enforce morality, and the kind of person who will go into policing more and more as the cop's power becomes increasingly absolute. That should work out grandly.


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