Defining Torture Downwards

There is a problem going on with the ongoing investigations into the abuse of detainees being held by the US military. The problem is definitional and is being engaged in by people of all stripes. The definition of torture is a moving target. Bleeding heart human rights activists are trying to define torture downwards so that anything ruder than using a harsh tone of voice when speaking to detainees is forbidden. Power-mad jingoistic warmongers are trying to revise the definition upwards so that as long as you don’t kill the prisoner by accident, you’re okay. This is a very real problem and one that will be hashed out in a court of law at some point. We, as a culture and as the overseers of our government, need to be clear about what boundaries we’re willing to cross and to what lengths we are comfortable asking our soldiers to go in prosecuting the war on terrorism.

Having said that, this is one of the most sanctimonious pieces of dreck I’ve read in a long time. I respect Mr. Carter’s opinions on many matters, but on this particular situation, he’s got no case. To quote from the article he’s commenting on:
The prisoners have told their lawyers, who compiled the accounts, that female interrogators regularly violated Muslim taboos about sex and contact with women.
This is losing the moral high ground? Try again, please. I don’t really care what prisoners’ religious taboos are. These are men whose religious beliefs lead them to slaughter innocents in an attempt to impose Sharia law on the world and make us all second-class citizens. Walking around in front of them in a tight t-shirt is morally suspect? Are you even listening to yourself, Mr. Carter? This is, while of questionable utility, completely harmless. So is smearing dye on someone, no matter what the smearee thinks it might be. The only thing in this article that might (repeat, might) even rise to the level of possible misconduct is the “touching provocatively”. I need to have a little more detail before I’m going to rule on that one either way. You want to make the case that torture undermines our ability to successfully win the war on terror, I’m all for hearing that argument.

However, the described behavior is not torture. It doesn’t even come close. Close, hell, it’s not even in the same zip code as torture. Don’t let your indignation and outrage at real offenses lead you to condemn imaginary ones.


Post a Comment

<< Home