Here’s What The Media Isn’t Talking About, the Immorality of Torture

I’ve been on the “torture beat” for a long time. It makes me a real drag at dinner parties, so I decided to move those conversations out to the web and to the media.

So much of the current discussion in the media about torture is focusing on, “Does it work?”  There is little focus on, “Is it right?”

People in the media are looking at the legality, but not the morality. Discussing morality makes the mainstream media uncomfortable. To help them out, I’ve been suggesting they talk to Dr. Rebecca Gordon, a philosophy professor at University of San Francisco, who wrote this book:

Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post – 9/11 United States.

(It got great reviews from Torture Magazine! Seriously, there is a Torture Magazine.)

Here she is on Fox News 2 KTVU last night.

This morning she was on the Majority Report with Sam Seder. (Audio link.She starts at 30 minutes in.)

Because she has a depth of knowledge she can talk about the legal and political issues around torture, but especially the moral issues. We need to talk about that. The moral condemnation of acts of torture is not a given today.

Bill O’Reilly thinks torture is moral. From what tradition? Catholicism? I’d suggest the Pope debate him but I think it is a venal sin to subject the Holy Father to Bill O’Reilly. Also, the second you mention the Catholic Church and torture everyone goes to the Spanish Inquisition. I get it, but c’mon they have repudiated that a long time ago.

O’Reilly says torturing “barbarians” is morally right when it is about “protecting the innocent.”

That is a phrase often used on the right, especially by men, to justify certain actions.” What would you do to protect your family?”  Guns everywhere advocates use it because they want you to be afraid and in protector mode.  It makes people feel good about the protecting family and surprise, it sells more guns.

One of the reasons we are seeing people coming out wanting to believe torture works is because that justifies their embrace of a morally repugnant act. “Well at least it keeps us safe.”

Who benefits when we ramp down the fear? Who benefits from a nation of frightened taxpayers? Who benefits from a country that accepts torture as inevitable and even a moral good?

The same people who want us to be constantly afraid, profit from that fear.  Retired generals working for Raytheon and General Dynamics tell us ISIS is the worst of the worst. We need to be afraid so we can feel good about the military protecting us and, surprise! We buy more drones, weapons and bombs. It also boosts the stock price of their employers.

The line they give is, “If we are afraid, we can do whatever we want.” If some entity wants to keep doing whatever it wants, it will keep us afraid.

There are different kinds of strengths that can benefit us, financial, material, physical, but also moral. Torturing people, and then refusing to hold the architects of torture accountable makes us morally weak.

I’d like the media to start talking about this. It would be great if they brought in religious people and secular humanists to talk about torture as morally wrong. They could talk with the fearful, who can explain how their fear should overrule all other values.

If someone sets up this kind of show and wants Dr. Gordon on, drop me a line I’ll help make it happen.

spockosemail at gmail. com

Cross posted at Hullaballo

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