Thursday, October 11, 2007

Stevie Joe and the Unpatriotic Cowards

I forgot to report on how my Interfaith Fast went on Monday. I'm sure that you will find it no surprise that I was the only Junebug Holler resident fasting. However, while I watched the rest of the gang chow down on omelets and bacon at the Junebug Cafe and Internet Lounge, a discussion of Iraq began. So, in that sense, the fast was successful. Discussion is always a good thing, even when it's with folks like Junior and Dickie Jensen.

See, the topic turned to torture since President Numbnuts had once again declared that "the US does not torture." I suggested that not a person alive believes it when he says this. As expected, this drew a rise out of Dickie Jensen. Most conservatives usually pause for a moment to play the how-do-you-define-torture game and then jump right in to defending just about any kind of torture you can imagine. Dickie doesn't bother to pause. He goes right to "torture is good."

It's an old argument. A hypothetical situation is used. Would you use torture to get information from somebody that could prevent another 9/11 or, worse, a nuclear attack on the US of A? Even Democratic presidential candidates have a hard time answering this one, but let me show you how it's done.

The hypothetical question assumes that torture equals preventing the attack. Yet, it's plain to see that this isn't true. At best, torturing someone has the possibility of preventing an attack. In order to be successful, the person being tortured has to:

1) actually be the person you think he or she is,
2) have the information necessary to prevent the attack, and
3) speak truthfully.

Number 3 is probably a 50/50 proposition at best. When you look at all three ingredients, the chance of success falls even lower.

So, the question is, "How sure do we need to be that torture will result in the prevention of an attack in order for the torture to be justified?" 50% sure? 10% sure? 1% sure? 0.1% sure? Should we just grab random people and torture them just in case they know something that could help?

My point is that we don't have an either-or choice. The choice is whether to torture someone based on the probability that doing so will prevent an attack. Once you are willing to torture based upon probability, it gets pretty easy to change what is an acceptable level of probability. When that happens, you start torturing all sorts of folks.

Aside from all that, Stevie Joe believes that torture is just plain wrong no matter what the circumstance. We are supposed to be better than that. When we stoop to things like torture and giving up our civil liberties, we are saying that a little bit of safety is more important than any other value that we stand for.

The US of A was founded on the brave idea that values such as freedom and equality were of paramount importance. How brave was it? You only need to look to the quote, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death."

Today, such bravery seems rare. The slogan of the day appears to be, "Go Ahead and Take My Liberty, Just Don't Kill Me." That's awfully cowardly. Personally, I am willing to forgo a little perceived security in order to keep my liberties. If that means that I am more at risk of dying in a terrorist attack (and I really don't believe that it does), then so be it.

Patriotically yours,
Stevie Joe Parker

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