All my adult life I've been educating the working classes, young adult and returning student alike, all over the country -- Idaho, North Carolina, various places in Arkansas --many of them conservative students, almost none of them leftist (more now than when I began), and I remain convinced, yes, even now, that education is the only answer. You don't fix problems by beating people up; you don't open minds by breaking heads. When someone is wrong, you engage that person. When a student in Idaho told me she didn't think prisoners should get free education while she was working so hard to pay for hers, I agreed that was an interesting thesis, and sent her to research the notion. She returned to me three weeks later, very upset. dr. delagar, she said, all my research is showing that educating prisoners reduces the rate of recidivism. This contradicts my thesis. What should I do? Hmm, I said. What do you think you should do?
So: I'm over on these rightwing blogs where I lurk. They're claiming that (a) torture works, so it's okay (b) or torture isn't torture, so it's okay (And besides the Nazis were worse! And the Muslims! And remember 9/11! Hey! Did you forget 9/11!) and (c) anyway, Obama is pro-abortion and that's torturing babies, so there!
I know not to argue. Don't argue with a pig, etc.
But motherfucking fucking shit.
Over on Rightwing I'm Missing a Sparkplug's Blog, for instance: this is one of the places where the argument got made that those on the Left have no right to even speak on this issue, given as we allow abortion, see, and that means we want to RIP babies SCREAMING from the wombs of their dear sweet mamas and, I don't know, suck their blood and eat their tender iddle livers, who knows, so how dare we speak against sticking a few electrodes to the testicles of a few terrorists to SAVE AMERICAN LIVES?
Commie socialists that we are.
Over there, the argument also got made that waterboarding, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, and exposure to cold and wet conditions, as well as to loud obnoxious music and sounds, could not be torture. Why? Well, look: people stood in the rain and cold to hear Obama's speeches. Were they being tortured. Shucks, no. Also: people listen to loud obnoxious music all the time. Is that torture? And sometimes they also stay up late!
This was when I could take it no more and dropped into comments to introduce the notion of consent to their little worlds.
It did no good, as it never does. Conservatives have no concept on consent, I have begun to believe. I know they don't believe that brown and black and female people own or should own their own bodies; but now I have begun to understand that they don't think anyone should own their own bodies. I pointed them to that bit of American language wherein we are meant to believe that "all men are created equal," endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, suggesting that one of these rights was, in fact, the right to own and control one's own body, and that that body should not be subjected to certain things without one's consent.
I might as well have been speaking Greek.
(Or, as I occasionally tell the kid, you can lead a student to ideas, but you can't make him think.)
Update: See also Jesse at Pandagon on this issue.
And this, from EoAW.
3 hours ago