Friday, April 24, 2009

The T-Word: They can't even say the Word Torture

Torture is a hot topic, there are other people talking about it who are drilling down to the details. My friends over at Fire Dog Lake are all over this. Marcy Wheeler is giving us details that will not only explain what happened when based on public records, but Jane and Christy will talk about the other implications.

I want to know the details so that I can win a debate with the radio hosts who are misinforming their audience and using these actions by Obama to ramp up the fear. But once again I'm going to pull from the wonderful book, "The Authoritarians" by Bob Altemeyer, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.
You’re not likely to get anywhere arguing with authoritarians. If you won every round of a 15 round heavyweight debate with a Double High leader over history, logic, scientific evidence, the Constitution, you name it, in an auditorium filled with high RWAs, the audience probably would not change its beliefs one tiny bit. Authoritarian followers might even cling to their beliefs more tightly, the wronger they turned out to be. Trying to change highly dogmatic, evidence-immune, group gripping people in such a setting is like pissing into the wind.

I figured this out a long time ago. But I still want to "win the conversation" with the Double High leaders of the Right Wing Authoritarians. But they do not have any obligation nor the intellectual honesty to admit that they are wrong. It might be emotionally satisfying, but it will neither persuade, convince nor compel them to a different conclusion. RWAs like to say that "the enemy" will only respond to brute force, because they know that is the only thing that would work on them. They think the left will try and silence them because that is what they do and have done in the same situation.

If you do present evidence that refutes their claim they will appeal to secret knowledge, "Cheney leads the way! Yeah, let us know what the "harsh interrogation" came up with! Ah ha! Then you will see just how great it was! "Harsh interrogation" saved LA! In YOUR FACE wussy liberals! In. Your. Face!" And if it was regular interrogation that gave up with those leads? Well never mind. If the harsh interrogation later came up with a ridiculous plot to blow up the moon? Well never mind.

What is it all about?
  • Is it a sin?
    My friend Rich likes to bring in deep metaphors about sin when he talks about this issue.
  • Is it illegal?
    Lawyers talk about the law breaking and the rewriting of law
  • Is it interrogation or torture?
    Linguists talk about definitions, "It depends on what the definition of torture is".
  • Do we need it?
    The right is framing this politically so that the issue becomes, "If we don't torture we will be unsafe."
What is to be done?

If you can't win an argument with people who won't listen to evidence, who will willfully distort history, defy logic, dismiss scientific evidence, and ignore the Constitution what can you do?

Personally I like to get their views in front of normal people. People who CAN remember history, who do understand logic, who don't dismiss evidence and who follow the Constitution. I want to get their sick world view in front of people who don't share their views. These people are often disgusted by the views of the torture apologists. They can see that they are offering false choices, "We must torture or we will all die!"

And when they see this they can say, "Hey you can have your history defying, illogical, anti-Constitutional world view, but my company isn't going to pay to support your sick stuff. It's bad for our brand. Come on, I'm selling flowers here, not whips and chains.

The right has decided that we want to shut them up. Why? Because that is what THEY would do and it is what they HAVE done. This is an old saw from the free speech folks. "You fight bad speech with more speech."

Advertisers might be willing to hear multiple views on a topic if it was presented as such (as an intellectual challenge) but they don't have to pay to support a viewpoint that is morally repugnant to them. They are using their right to choose where they put their money. They are supporting their already defined internal company policies. They can vote with their feet too.


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