Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yet More On Torture

Here's something I honestly don't understand - why are we treating terrorism so differently from other violent crimes? We don't justify torture in the case of kidnapping or murder. We don't justify it in cases of assault or bank robbery.

But somebody says "terrorist" and all of the sudden we're getting ready to throw the rule of law and the presumption of innocence out the window. Indeed, it's even worse than that - we're embracing immorality because we suspect some people of terrorism.

What is more dangerous to a liberal democracy: The real but predictable threat of terrorism, or a number of intellectuals committed to normalizing massive abuses of state power?


Mike said...

Easy - Fear.

john said...

I don't think it's that simple - the Cold War was pretty scary, as was WWII. We locked up the Japanese, but nobody seriously proposed torture, right?

Mike said...

John, its not actual fear, but the politics of fear.

Even during WWII and the Cold War, politics was essentially positive - we will win, we are doing the right thing, we have a positive picture of the future, etc. the times were scary yes, but in general, politicians presented a positive vision for the future.

But in the last 10 years and especially since 9/11, politicians of all stripes, but especially on the right, have morphed into using fear as a mechanism of control - be afraid, the terrorists are everywhere, here is the handy colour chart to tell you haow afraid you should be, its about good and evil and nothing in between.

The use of fear in this way has allowed them tho do things like the patriot act, gitmo and extraordinary renditions and pre-emptive war with tacit approval of the populace. All because the politicains reinforce the fear rather than allay it because they get the benefit from it - more power and control.

The things that Bush and company get away with almost daily would (and still should) have been grounds for impeachment in the US just 10 or 20 years ago. What was once the unthinkable it-can't-happen-here stuff of bad novels is reality. In times of fear, hightened by those with an agenda, even the most ridiculous becomes acceptable.

I mean, look at the alst US election - one of the central themes was "Who will keep America safe?". Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I never remember ANY US election, even at the hieght of the cold war, havign this as a central theme.

Want a reminder of what politics was like back then?

rangeragainstwar said...

Yes, it makes no sense on a legal level, does it?

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