01 April 2010

Human Rights - Thoughts on Torture

Anything you do could be the last thing you do. Anything you do implies permission to have the same thing done to you should someone think it equally necessary. Torture, in the most basic sense, is never just, in a way I can’t say I think war is never just. I can justify (at least to myself) a war in defense of someone clearly and openly attacked by someone else. The only two reasons you could ever have to torture somebody would be suspicion and retaliation. As human beings, we’re supposed to be above basic retaliation, and if responsive action is “required,” as human beings, we’re supposed to be able to come up with something...well, humane. As far as suspicion, just never a good thing, at least for me, to act on. If somebody has something to tell, great. What if there really is nothing else to tell? I could be wrong.

There are already obviously completely subjective and useless restrictions and regulations in place, which means, there are no and can be no useful restrictions or regulations over torture. When torture is “justified,” it’s always by assumptions, conjecture, speculation, suspicion, never a guarantee. When you have a guarantee, you don’t need to torture anybody. It reminded me what I said earlier about genocide, that if it’s not okay across the street, it’s not okay across the ocean. In the most basic sense, if it’s not okay to torture somebody who turns out to be innocent, then it can’t be okay to torture anybody. Period. Why, if we had a draft, would we exclude women? If you can make a case for preserving the life and well-being of a woman, for any reason, why in the hell would that not be a case for preserving the life and well-being of anybody? Is a life of inherent value or is it not??

Nobody on this earth has the wisdom, experience, or anything else they'd need to be able to legitimately make the call on which life is worth more or less than others. I only know what's important to me, what's in my experience; you only know what's important to you. There are other ways to live, to respond, to fight. We are highly evolved creatures, and as such, we have a responsibility to make the effort to learn those other ways.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a part of me, not even that small a part sometimes, the fearful part, that wants to torture the crap out of anybody who might be sitting on some information we could use to avoid another 9/11 or anything of that ilk. But what if they don’t have it? What if they lie just to get you to stop? What if whatever information they have is irrelevant, can’t be used to stop the attack anyway? If somebody kidnapped, say, my mother, and had her rigged up in some sort of situation where she would die if not found by a certain time, and the person were caught but wouldn’t tell where she was, I can’t say with any certainty that I wouldn’t do really unspeakable things to that person to get them to tell me. I have very human limits to my own sanity and my own self-control. But I would be wrong. Even though I might engage in it myself under only such unimaginably severe circumstances, it would not be just, by any argument; and I would be wrong, and would expect to be punished for my actions. There’s stuff where any "grey area" is just too dangerous, and this is one of them. The consequences are too great.

You know how if the air is really dry, and somebody walks up to you and reaches out to touch your arm or something, and you get a shock? If they reach out again, don’t you flinch, don’t you anticipate the feeling and recoil from it, even just the tiniest bit, because it was a surprise and maybe genuinely hurt a little, and it’s right there, fresh in your mind? I cannot comprehend having all of my senses abused so severely, repeatedly, possibly for years, and having a shred of mental/emotional function left in me, if physical.

So many people, political prisoners, clear victims, are tortured in ways that everybody universally agrees are unjust, and if we’re to have recourse against that, we can’t do it to anybody else, because actions really are all that matter; their “reasons” are always going to be as “good” as ours, so the argument has to come from somewhere else.