Monday, July 09, 2007


I was reading comments in an online blog recently and I came across a comment by a conservative commenter in a thread about the 50 Presidential Scholar children who handed Bush a letter asking him to stop torturing. The comment was as follows.

When torture is outlawed, only outlaws will use torture!

We all have seen this quote before. Its a favorite of the RNC and the NRA for defending gun ownership rights and bumperstickers bearing these words adorn pickups throughout the south. But what kind of logic really exists in that tired slogan, particularly when applied to torture? That slogan leaves many questions, as does the act of torture itself.

For example, by that exact same logic, why bother to outlaw raping children?

After all, if raping children is outlawed, only outlaws will rape children.

Or why bother outlawing bank robbery?

After all, if robbing banks is outlawed, only outlaws will rob banks.

And why bother outlawing car jacking?

After all, if car jacking is outlawed, only outlaws will jack cars.

Or perhaps is it possible, just possible, that there are some moral absolutes? Could it be things like, raping children and beating pregnant women with tire irons, and torturing our fellow man, are just morally wrong, under any circumstances?

I’m fully aware of the old tired RNC argument that “what if someone had information that would save 10,000 lives from being killed, is torture worth it then?”. Well, in the same vein I ask, what if that same person had information that would save 10,000 lives from being killed, and the terrorist wouldn’t break under torture, but he offers to provide it if you let him rape a 6 year old girl.
Would you do that?
Would it be “worth it”, to let a 6 year old girl be raped mercilessly while you watch, so that 10,000 Americans could keep from dying today, instead of sometime down the road? And if so I ask, what kind of people are these 10,000, who would be ok with living longer if a 6 year old girl had to be raped to do it? What sort of person would be ok living under those circumstances?

Are such lives worthy of being spared? And if so, is the guy your torturing the right guy?

Is he a terrorist or an innocent college student with the same name?

Will he tell you the truth, or just tell you whatever he thinks you want to hear that will make him stop hurting you?

Will the information he has be valid, or will he be missing a peice of the puzzle?

Will you be competent and capable enough to stop it even if he does give you correct information, or will the event play out before your impotent eyes?

Is torturing helpless human beings the only way Americans can survive now?

Is tortuing helpless human beings what Americans are about?
50 Presidential Scholars who met with Mr Bush as a reward for their scholastic acheivements, asked and answered these questions for Mr Bush last week. He didn't get it.

How we, as a country answer these questions, will determine who we are, and more importantly, who we are not.