Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What is Torture?

With the release of the "torture memos," the media is acting -- and has for years -- as if what is "torture" is obvious to everyone.

If a prisoner refuses to tell us what we want to know, do we just let it go?
"I'm pretty sure he knows where the bomb is, but he won't tell me no matter how much I beg, so I guess we're stuck."
Or do we try to convince him?

Most people would agree, "America doesn't torture." Some would make exceptions, but they definitely want them to be exceptions, not the rule. And it doesn't really matter who it's being done to, what they were doing when we caught them, or what we think they're going to do, before we decide what we're going to allow, we need to answer one fundamental question:

What is torture? How agressive do you have to be before it constitutes torture?

How far is too far? Let's don't pretend the answers to these questions are obvious.

Let me suggest a few guidelines:

4If it happens every day in football practice, it probably isn't torture.

4If it's something guys with Greek letters on their sweaters do to each other, it probably isn't torture.

4If it happens in boot camp, it probably isn't torture.

4If it involves non-stinging/biting insects, it probably isn't torture.

4If a Vanity Fair columnist voluntarily undergoes a procedure, it probably isn't torture.

Removing tongue from cheek, though, what is torture?

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