Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Thank God they're stupid

Atrios writes, apropos of John "torture them all so I can be as morally serious as Michael Ignatieff" Yoo:
...there's something peculiarly evil about not just doing bad stuff but providing elaborate justifications for it.
Here's the thing: the justification isn't particularly elaborate. If you read the Yoo memos -- not something I'll recommend -- the "justification" for breaking any number of US laws and treaties ratified by the US Senate amounts to "because the President said so." Oh sure, sometimes it gets a bit artsy, like "if it doesn't happen on US soil" or "terrorists don't wear uniforms or rank insignia, ergo aren't accorded the protection of the laws of war". But the root of it, the core argument, amounts to "if the President orders torture, that means torture isn't illegal."

Obviously, this kind of legal "logic" has a long history, which I suppose makes it "conservative", but if I were a rightist party I wouldn't want to hang my hat on this particular hook.

It would be nice if one -- even one! -- of the two largest parties in Canada's parliament had an ironclad, unquestionable commitment to preventing torture whenever we reasonably can. Instead, we've got Harper and Ignatieff facing off from opposite benches. Harper, to my knowledge, has at least never argued at book-length that torture must be useful, else why would we keep torturing people? Bonus points to Ignatieff for having written several books about the enduring nature of human violence and sadism, and then (apparently) forgotten every word he ever wrote.

1 comment:

Steve Muhlberger said...

That's why I love Ignatieff so much.

Indeed, he seems willing to support anything evil as long as the wrapping paper has a trendy design.