The Torture Question



Have a look at PBS’ special The Torture Question. I have some reservations about parts of that documentary, in particular about how they set it up. Often, a debate about torture is being argued along the lines “Can we torture people if thousands of lives are at stake?” But that’s an absurd entry point for the debate for the following reason: You pretty much do not know a priori whether you are dealing with such a case (“24” is a TV show, and a bad one - I’ve noticed how people are only too eager to replace reality with Hollywood fantasies). Which then leads to the situation where torture ends up being applied on a wide scale. In the end, if you support the torture of people under extreme circumstances (“terrorist knows about nuclear bomb in New York City”) you end up getting wide-spread applications of torture (Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, etc.). History is full of examples for this, and sadly enough, the US is now part of that history.

In a sense, the debate in the US about torture is very similar to the debate about whether oral sex qualifies as sex or not.