Friday, April 24, 2009

That Ain't Torture!

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.


Antigone said...

I ran into this awhile back on Internet Monk, but with self-autonomy. They really don't understand it AT ALL, because doesn't everything belong to God?

There's a chasm there.

Bardiac said...

When I read about the number of times the CIA tortured a couple prisoners, I had to think that it's even less effective than Elaine Scary explains.

The sheer numbers and detail sounded incredibly sadistic.

If it were really effective (the argument of the right), then you wouldn't have to keep it up for a year, week after week, right?

(I think it's unethical, but even if it were ethical, the argument for its necessity because of efficacy seems flawed given what we've learned from those memos.)

I went through a period in my teens when I read a LOT about torture. I have to admit that I'd be broken the moment someone showed me the instruments of torture.

dorki said...

...Lunatic fringe... not just an old rock song, but what calls itself the Republican Party now. The thing that calls itself Conservatism now is no more than the lunatic fringe of the willfully ignorant population. Hate and fear-mongers readily exploit them as I saw Mussolini and Hitler do.

lfc said...

"I know they don't believe that brown and black and female people own or should own their own bodies"

So you are saying that those on the right are racist and sexist? Simply not true. I realize it would be much easier to assume we are all racist a-holes, and while we are not without faults, most of us are very good, loving people that believe in equal rights.

That said, back to the subject of torture...
I wouldn't say torture them all to death over-and-over... but I do believe that those serving in our armed forces, and those that are in charge of keeping us safe, know a LOT more about what needs to be done than we do.
Granted, there might be a random sadistic person or two, that use torture just to feed their own sick desires, but I would bet money that those doing so are there to protect us and get as much information to save American lives as possible.

I don't have all the answers, and again, I am not saying torture is 100% necessary or justified, but if you read ALL the reports (not just the ones that were released to the media), you will see that in *some* cases, the torture produced information which directly saved lives.

Think about it like this... imagine if Clinton's administration had captured a couple of the *future* 9-11 terrorists. And through interrogation, they captured information that led directly to the capture of their co-conspirators, thus preventing 9-11 altogether, would that have been worth it? It would have not only saved those lives lost during 9-11, but it wouldn't have given Bush the excuse to invade Iraq.

Just a thought.

delagar said...

lfc, I've done a ton of research in this area. I've read what the military says about torture, for instance. Those experts say that torture does not provide useful evidence, or reliable evidence. (See Jane Mayers work on this.)

So that's one point.

Here's another point: so what if torture did work? And yes, I mean that: so what?

There are things people who are ethical and moral do not do, and torturing other human beings is one of them.

If you don't get this, I suggest you need a lot more help than this blog can give you.

And yeah, racism is the least of your problems, in that case.

delagar said...

Also? No, the torture done by our government did not provide useful information. I know that's a myth which has been passed around on the Right-Wing Blogs, but check some actual factual sites, and you'll find it is not so.