Chris Kyle and Alan Turing

In a strange coincidence or twist of fate, there are two movies vying for best picture at the Academy Awards which deal with similar subject matter, in this case, what did you do in the war. American Sniper is the somewhat fictionalized account of Chris Kyle, considered the deadliest sniper to ever fight in a war, while The Imitation Game is the somewhat fictionalized account of the life of Alan Turing, one of the people most responsible for breaking the Nazi Enigma machine’s code and thereby shortening World War II according to most historians by two years and saving the lives of over four million more people. Both are now considered heroes. Do either of them deserve it?

Before I go any farther, let me state that I have not seen American Sniper and am torn about whether I should. What I have read about Chris Kyle makes me believe that he was a very capable soldier, nothing more, nothing less. The interviews I have read with Chris Kyle makes me believe that he did what he needed to do and did not really work to understand what or why he was doing what he did. There seems to be little introspection on his part whether or not his actions were done in a good cause or for the right reasons. At one point, he does say he thinks we went to Iraq to bring them Democracy, but it’s not as if he truly thought it through. It’s as though he was told that that is what we were doing and never questioned it. He was a good soldier. He was a blunt instrument with a subtle skill.

Was he a hero? Are all soldiers heroes? Old men with visions of grandeur who would never send their own children off to war send the children of those unlucky enough to be unable to avoid it off to war, filling their heads with visions of glory and honor, calling them heroes upon their undertaking and upon their return home, but forgetting about them soon after, leaving these scarred, inexorably changed young men and women to fend for themselves. Maybe most do not come back from war with PTSD, but none come back the same as when they left. Does being a hero mean surviving the trauma of war? Then they are all heroes. Just heroes we would rather not have to be reminded of should it bother our delicate sensibilities.

But to do their job, to kill others, because that is what soldiers do (though not the only thing they do), they have to leave some of their humanity behind. Chris Kyle admitted that he stopped thinking of Iraqis as people. They were all terrorists; all targets. They were the other, and he cared little nor even seemed to consider that it was we who invaded their country because of some questionable decisions by our leaders. So he would kill the enemy because that is what he was trained and told to do.

Then there was Alan Turing: the autistic, homosexual mathematical genius. Turing appeared to care little for war. He didn’t seem to be in it for the glory or the honor or in any way felt the need to save his country. He decided to try to defeat Enigma because it was one of the great puzzles of the world, and he loved puzzles. Is this true, or is this some fiction thought up to make the film about Turing more interesting. Only someone who was there would know for certain, though there are other stories about Turing that differ with the Turing in The Imitation Game. Yet even in these other stories, he is portrayed as someone who didn’t care much about the social niceties. Someone who just couldn’t decipher people, or if he could, just didn’t care to.

Obviously, Turing was not a warrior. He did not fight in the traditional sense of the word. Didn’t pick up a gun, Didn’t directly take a life. His was a battle of the wits, a war to see who was the more ingenious, who could out-think whom. Breaking the Enigma saved thousands, possibly millions of lives, yet Turing’s interest, at least at the start in the film, was with the puzzle, not it’s eventual outcome. Yet through his obsessiveness and despite his lack of social graces, he broke the code and did what a hero is supposed to do, saving thousand, possibly millions, even as he came to the horrific realization that many would have to be sacrificed to keep the Germans from ever knowing that their code was broken. Sacrifice hundreds to save thousands. What kind of toll does that put on a man’s psyche, I wonder. Does that make him a hero?

If we were looking at both films based only on Box Office, American Sniper is running away with it hands down. It is a film, after all, that seems to cue into that particularly American zeitgeist of the mythic quiet American who deals out justice from the end of a gun. We like the blunt instrument. We like thinking that every problem is a nail waiting to be hammered. Right now, the US is involved in over 102 different Special Operations around the world, while simultaneously, Congress looks to place more sanctions on Iran and possibly derail any diplomacy with that country, because as Americans, we want quick, decisive, no nonsense black-and-white solutions. We don’t like the idea that there are areas of grey.

So who’s the hero: Kyle or Turing? Both did their job; both contributed. Yet Kyle, with all his many kills, doesn’t come close to the number of lives Turing saved.

In the end, though, both men are left with nothing. Kyle, because he is sacrificed to an illegal and unpopular war; Turing, because he is sacrificed to the British attitude toward homosexuality following what many would consider a good war. Both are victims of their respective systems and the popular opinions of the time. Both die under a cloud. And even as we resurrect the reputations of both men, we are left wondering what makes a hero and who do we apply that term to.

Charlie Hebdo and The Supposed Limits of Free Speech

So after a week of thinking about it and listening to all the talk, it’s time to put my two cents in on a topic that everyone seems to have an opinion on.

Last week, twelve people were murdered at the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” by extremists who justified their actions by saying the magazine had blasphemed against their religious beliefs. The World appeared to be outraged, and in a united front appeared to support “Charlie Hebdo” and their right to Freedom of Speech, blasphemous or not with a massive Free Speech rally, including most of the world’s leaders (US not included, which became an issue for what reason- who knows?). That should have been that. After all, if you can’t satirize religion, politics, or modern life, what can you satirize?

Except it wasn’t, as France, the country directly attacked in the “Charlie Hebdo” massacre, arrested 54 people in an antisemitism, hate-speech crackdown just days after the march. Saudi Arabia condemned the killings while carrying out the flogging punishment of a blogger who called for Democracy in that autocratic country. The Egyptian Foreign Minister marched in Paris for Free Speech, while in Egypt, 16 journalists sit in prison. Turkey was there. The list is long, and you get my drift. So, on one hand, leaders will gather and march to protest the murder of caricaturists, and on the other, they will throw them in jail for doing the same against them.

And then the Pope chimed in. He condemned the killings, which one would expect, but then added that perhaps it was a good idea to limit one’s speech because, after all, if you swore at his mother, you could expect a punch in the nose. Ignoring the fact that a punch in the nose for swearing at his mother would be assault and battery ( a felony), what does that say about the Catholic Church which supposedly tries to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is quoted in the Bible demanding that you punch someone in the nose for swearing at your mother. Oh, wait…

Not to be outdone, Ben Carson, that eminent man of letters, admired the attackers for their conviction, as they were willing to die for their bastardized view of Islam while the West was being pc and believed in toleration. Never mind that conviction in and of itself is not a good thing. After all, the Nazis had conviction (Yes, I went there). His conservative audience applauded him for his stance; the same conservative audience which had demanded Bill Maher’s firing for making the same point about the 9/11 hijackers. But that was when the president was white and a conservative Republican.

Brent Bozell also seems to believe that Freedom of Speech should be limited, particularly when it comes to religion. It’s interesting to note that that puts him in the same camp as the Pakistani protesters who are protesting the latest issue of “Charlie Hebdo” because of its portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed. Just so you know I’m not making this up: http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/01/16/massive-pakistan-protests-against-charlie-hebdo-filthy-blasphemers/; http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2015/01/15/mrcs-brent-bozell-denounces-religion-bashing-charlie-hebdo-im-not.

The same kind of idiocy occurs on the left: Brandeis University rescinded an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali because a group of students there demanded they do so, considering her inflammatory statements about Islam. Students at Miami University in Ohio protested to have the University rescind an invitation to George Will because of his comments on rape as a college badge of honor. The University did not rescind the invitation. Activists urged the University of Minnesota to rescind a speaking invitation to Condelezza Rice because of her role in the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Students at UC Berkeley protested Bill Maher giving the winter commencement address because of his past statements on Islam. Bill, it seems, is a lightning rod for this sort of thing.

Which bring us to the more troubling aspect of this debate regarding limits on Free Speech: On one side, we have Bill Maher who doesn’t see the problem with his latest New Rule regarding Free Speech. In it, he speaks of bullying, including what he considers liberal bullying such as the boycott of Rush Limbaugh’s sponsors for advertising on that wonderful piece of radio journalism known as the Rush Limbaugh Show. On the other, we have the Pope, who believes one should limit their speech lest one have violence committed against them. Both of these positions are wrong.

The Pope’s, in this case, is the easier to refute. Violence of any kind is wrong when it comes to speech. If you have to resort to violence, you’ve already lost the argument. It may feel good, but that is only because your faith and belief are so weak that they cannot withstand even the smallest of criticisms. This seems, unfortunately, to be a common problem when it comes to religion. God, it appears, does not instill enough confidence in his omniscience for his believers to not have to resort to violence.

Mr. Maher’s, on the other hand, almost sounds reasonable until you think about it a little, for what is he advocating other than you, if you do not like something, should keep your mouth shut and let whatever bile gets vomited up to be vomited up without opposition. So if, say, Rush Limbaugh calls Sandra Fluke a whore, we should simply allow this. After all, Rush has his right to his opinion and his freedom of speech. On the other hand, us boycotting Rush’s advertisers is somehow placing an undue burden on Rush’s speech.

But, while The Constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech, The Constitution does not guarantee that I owe you or your advertisers my dollars whether or not I agree with what you said. If I do not agree, I can take my dollars elsewhere, and if I find you disagreeable enough, I can find those who believe as I do and we can boycott said sponsors. That, too, is Freedom of Speech. I may not have a radio show, but I can show my displeasure, without violence and without interfering with your speech. You can still say whatever you want; I just don’t have to agree with it. And by keeping my mouth shut, or in this case my wallet open, that is what I would be doing. So I choose otherwise.

What Bill Maher and the Pope both seem to have overlooked is that Free Speech is just that: the right to say what you want. That’s all. It doesn’t guarantee agreement or complacency. It only guarantees you the right to be whatever kind of ass you wish to be.

Charlie Hebdo, the magazine and the fatal events that occurred there that started this soul-searching, had a normal weekly print run of just 60,000 issues. France’s population is 66 million give or take, making Charlie Hebdo’s normal circulation something like .01% in France. LeMonde, the French daily, does 5 times that everyday. Yet even though few people read it regularly, “Charlie Hebdo” did what any good irresponsible, free speech-loving satirical magazine sets out to do: It tweaked those in power and those who follow power without thinking, whether that be religion, politics, or commerce. But, since you too have the right to free speech, you can disagree.

Je suis Charlie!

The Idea that You Know Better

New Year; new opportunity to be bemused by the absurdity of it all.

Recently, I’ve been in something of a Twitter skirmish with a number of Canadian conservatives regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline Phase 4, the part which President Obama stated he plans to veto the building of. What’s been of interest is that the only ones who have argued for the pipeline against me have been Canadian conservatives. That is not in itself of any real significance, though somewhat interesting.

They have put forth the usual arguments: that the pipeline will create jobs ( it will not: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/research/upload/Pipe-Dreams-1-Pager.pdf); the the US needs oil and that all the oil will go to the US (that is questionable: http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/16/news/economy/keystone-oil/); the US needs oil because we shouldn’t get it from the Saudis (even though Saudi crude is cleaner) and it will lower our need to import from there (Not True); and that the price of oil would drop because of it (Also Not True:http://www.nbcnews.com/id/46689167/ns/us_news-christian_science_monitor/t/how-much-would-keystone-pipeline-help-us-consumers/#.VLA14NLF-So).

In fact, study after study shows that there are no real longer-term benefits for the US in finishing the last 800 miles of the Keystone XL pipeline, and that there is already miles of under-utilized pipeline. To put it bluntly, there is no actual need for this pipeline.

Not once did they bring up the possible environmental impacts of the pipeline except to say that there was so much pipeline already that it wouldn’t matter, ignoring that this, considering the under-utilization of already existing pipeline, isn’t really a reason for building more pipeline, and that this last bit of KXL will run across the largest Aquifer in the US which provides clean water to the entire region. But, of course, as we all know, pipelines don’t spill, at least according to the supporters of said pipelines.

My interlocutors have also argued that because the Nebraska Legislature rewrote the laws on Eminent Domain so that they could take people’s land, that we should simply accept this as being perfectly legal and above-board (unfortunately, the Nebraska Supreme Court while finding standing for the defendants did not have a 5 -3 majority, so the law stands). This one was particularly interesting from my Canadian conservative opponents since they were arguing for Eminent Domain to be used for private enterprise in a foreign country as TransCanada is not a US company, and Eminent Domain being used to advance the interests of a foreign private enterprise would I think displease most people.

Imagine if you will that a US company demanded that the Canadian Government use Eminent Domain to take the property of Canadians for whatever purpose they deemed fit. And that is the crux of the matter. What was fascinating about the whole polemic by my Canadian friends was the sheer condescending tone they took. Amongst other comments were “Ungrateful Americans,” “prove that you abide by the law,” etc. because, really, Canada is just giving us their extremely dirty tar sands oil. Oh, wait, they’re not. And their position that they were somehow doing us a favor by possibly despoiling our land certainly annoys.

Their argument, what there is of it. is we know better, and you should just accept that because we say so.

These same Canadians would be up in arms if one were to basically argue that they should turn over their sovereignty to a foreign multinational simply because the foreign multinational demanded it; but because they agree with this particular foreign multinational and we’re the foreigners, they obviously know better about what’s best for the US.

This is not to argue that the US hasn’t behaved much the same way, demanding that others do what we say because we know better. The mentality that subscribes to that belief system isn’t endemic to just one nation. It was just surprising to find that Canadians, who by and large strike me as being polite, nice people would contain so many individuals in their midst who would fit right in with the crazy US Fox News crowd.

So What Do We Consider Good Policy, Anyway?

The economy grew by 5% last quarter. 5%! That’s China numbers. The Dow just hit 18,000, when it was 7,989 when the present administration took office. Job growth has been the best its been since before the last administration, which managed to lose millions of jobs. The price of gas continues to drop while US oil production is now challenging Saudi Arabia. We have – albeit a lousy one – a national health insurance policy which has lowered the number not covered by insurance to the lowest rate ever. Mubarak is out in Egypt. Tunisia just held free and fair elections. The US has significantly reduced its presence in Afghanistan – the country nicknamed the Death of Empires – and is mostly out of Iraq, a war we should never have been in in the first place. Russia, whom everyone had been saying was going to be a thorn in the West’s side, is now on the verge of economic collapse because the West seems to have found enough of a spine to sanction them.

There have been challenges, of course: Libya is still a mess. Syria is a mess. In fact, the entire Middle East is a mess, but as Donald Rumsfeld was so quick to tell us: Democracy is messy. Europe is still in recession, but it’s pretty difficult to blame that on the present administration. Wage growth has been anemic; big banks have become bigger; ACA, while covering more people, is in some ways a shambles. Yet overall, the US is in better shape than just about everyone else in the World, with the possible exceptions of those damn socialist countries of Norway, Denmark, & Sweden.

So given all that, what the fuck is up with some of the so-called experts commenting on the US?

There’s really no polite way to say this: There are great swathes of so-called experts who are just wrong; and not just a little wrong, but wrong in gigantic, fucking, mind-numbing, stupidly wrong ways. The examples that come immediately to mind are US policy towards Russia and the economy,

Take Russia, please!

Two years ago, the so-called security experts were howling that Putin was playing chess while Obama was playing checkers; that Russia was drinking the US’s milkshake; that we were somehow losing status to those damn Russkies and it was all the administration’s fault because they were not taking an extremely hard line with Putin.

So two years later, what exactly has happened? The US and the West have placed sanctions on Russia because of it’s aggression against Ukraine, and the Russian economy is making the Titanic look like a slow leak. No one, and I mean no one, amongst the many IR experts expected that the West would come together and sanction Russia. Yet the West did, including France which had just finished building two warships for Russia. Every single IR expert who had been complaining about how the US was weak towards Russia and that sanctions against Russia would never be imposed because the US was weak was wrong. Let me repeat that, every single IR expert talking about US weakness against Russia was wrong!

So you would think that the response in this case would be to admit you were wrong and move on.

Nope.

It seems what you do is you double down on being wrong. You continue to howl about how Putin this, Putin that, and how the present administration is screwing up, even while the facts on the ground show that you are completely full of shit. And the mainstream media, in their infinite unholy quest for higher ratings, brings you on and let’s you spout this stupidity without so much as a little question like, But aren’t you wrong?”

And the economy?

It is by far one of the largest abuses of public trust that the media has ever perpetrated on the American people that the American people do not know that the economy is getting better. The American people know it’s getting better as the Consumer Confidence Index is up to 94%, but again, you wouldn’t know the economy’s getting better if watch only the mainstream media. Because the guests that come on? Why, they are all experts who say the economy is getting worse, that this is the worst economy ever.

Yes, there are problems: wage growth is anemic; banks are finding ways to circumvent regulation; we need to do better rebuilding infrastructure. But 5% GDP in the last quarter? 200,000 + jobs month over month? Seriously?

The reality is is that the “experts” who keep telling us this bullshit just don’t like this administration and simply cannot see past their own biases. These “experts” are so locked into their particular view of reality that actual reality cannot intrude. Every mistake and misstep confirms their view; every positive action is dismissed as not relevant. Their confirmation bias is so extreme, they simply cannot admit to being wrong. So they continue to push forward with their policy proposals which have already been proven to be wrong as though reality were not happening. And, unfortunately, these are the people who get listened to.

So the question becomes: What are you going to believe? Actual facts, or the ramblings of “experts” who have been and continue to be completely wrong about everything?

Willful Ignorance About Racism Will Get Us Nowhere

Two police officers were shot this weekend in New York. Another was shot in Florida. These are heinous crimes, and one cannot but feel anger and sadness at this senseless loss of life. No matter what anyone says, this is just wrong. I cannot describe just how badly I feel for the families of these three police officers, the emptiness and rage they must feel for the loss of a loved one through a senseless and ultimately useless act of violence. Every parent who has a child that is either in the military, the police, or a firefighter wakes up everyday hoping that their child will not be just another of the official statistics that most people only care about for the short time that the evening news covers it.

Which makes the reactions from the reactionaries and so-called law and order types all the more disgusting.  The fact that Rudy Guiliani can get on national television and essentially accuse the President of the United States, the present Mayor of New York, the protesters against police brutality for the act of one man is the most spiteful, hate-filled display of political pandering in recent memory. The fact that the mainstream media has put forth this narrative as a viable position shows just how little we value truth or facts in the mainstream media anymore. There is simply no other way to say it: If you believe that people exercising their First Amendment right to protest are responsible for the death of these policemen, you are a foul piece of work.

Rafael Ramos did not deserve to die. Wenjian Liu did not deserve to die. Charles Kondek did not deserve to die. Eric Garner did not deserve to die. Michael Brown did not deserve to die. Tamir Rice did not deserve to die. John Crawford did not deserve to die. The list could continue here for days.

There are many who say if you just follow what the police tell you to do, you will be fine. Tell that to Levar Jones, who was shot reaching for his driver’s license when the officer asked him to get it. If you just follow the law, don’t do anything wrong, you will be fine. Tell that to Chris Lollie, who was tazed while waiting to pick his children up from school. Can you guess what these two had in common?

Study after study after study shows that there are inherent biases that WE ALL HAVE. Yet, quite a few people would have you believe that there is no racism issue in America; that blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Semitic people get treated the same as Caucasians. This is clearly not so. There is ample evidence that this is not so. A recent AP poll shows racism has actually increased with 56% of Americans holding implicit racist attitudes about Blacks and 57% of Americans holding implicit racist attitudes about Hispanics.

I could show you the piles and piles of evidence that show racism is alive and well in the US. Yet there will be those who deny it and call it Identity Politics. They will say the police are within their rights to forcibly deter citizens from doing what the police do not want them to do, whether that is to play with a toy gun, pick up their children from school, sit on the sidewalk, give their spouse a kiss in public, or keep their hands in their pockets. They will deny white privilege; they will, in fact, deny the very foundations this country was founded upon, as those of us who have read The Constitution and understand it, remember that the Founding Fathers, who claimed all men are created equal, believed that Blacks were only three-quarters of a man. Cows were treated better, as no one considered different types of cows only three-quarters of one.

As long as a majority of Americans continue to deny there is a problem, we will never come to terms with this problem. We will never be a post-racial society as long as we choose to ignore reality, as long as we choose to NOT do some serious soul-searching. The challenge, then, is how do we get those who see no problem to actually question their attitudes and behaviors. Any ideas?

Checkers Seems To Be A Better Game Than Chess

Senator Ted Cruz, that master of turning a promising situation into a disaster, once said that Vladimir Putin was playing chess while Obama was playing checkers, the implication being that Putin was a master International Relations strategist while Obama was simply some yokel sitting on the stoop of the local general store. Considering how much conservatives pay lip service to yokels, one has to wonder how this was considered an insult, but that’s neither here nor there.

What is of some import is that there is a whole class of IR people who continue to complain about how the present administration is dealing with Russia and that US policy towards Russia isn’t coherent nor effective. In fact, I read just yesterday a fairly well written though obviously mistaken blog post which holds to this very position. The obvious question then is what exactly do these critics of the present administration’s policies toward Russia want to happen that isn’t happening?

Just yesterday, both the Senate and House voted unanimously to place further sanctions on Russia, and the president plans to sign that today. The Ruble is collapsing, dragging the Russian economy down with it, and the Russian Central Bank has gone into panic mode, raising interest rates to 17% while blaming the Russian public for the country’s down the drain spiral. The US has also stated they intend to provide more military aid to Ukraine, and somehow – this really is a miracle – Western Europe is on board with the sanctions, including the FRENCH. THE FRENCH, for God sake!

Yet you wouldn’t know it if you listen to the IR pundit class. We’re told that Vladimir Putin is somehow outwitting us, that we are being bamboozled and hoodwinked; that Putin is some sort of master strategist, even while the economic press points out that the Russian economy is eerily close to collapse. So what’s going on?

The only reasonable explanation that comes to mind is that we have manged to silo our thinking so much that we cannot see what is actually happening even when it is right in front of us. By this I mean we place so much emphasis on Putin and what Putin does that we manage to ignore the rest of Russia. For example, did you know that Russia just voted Putin Man of the Year again for the fifteenth time in a row? Focusing only on Putin and Putin’s actions shows just how oblivious we are to understanding the Russian character and the Russian mindset. Russians are quite good at living through hardship. They’ve done it for centuries. And Putin is Russian through and through. We may believe that if he were to go that the next leader would be more pliable, but Russian history shows otherwise.

So while critics of the present administration’s policies focus on the administration and it’s interactions with Putin, they manage to miss the big picture. The administration is doing a fine job handling Putin, but it’s not just Putin we have to worry about. The administration may be playing checkers, Putin may be playing chess, but Russia is playing Stratego.

Update: Seems the administration just also yanked Cuba out from under the Russian rug. Must be that checkers thing again.

Thinking about Torture

The Senate CIA Torture Report came out last week and has been the topic of discussion since, in ways that are simultaneously informative and unsettling. It is both informative and unsettling that there are quite a few people who believe they can do whatever they deem is necessary for whatever reason as long as they believe that reason to be right. They are convinced of their righteousness. Much like Jihadis are of theirs.

Yet they do not wish to talk about the Senate Report because somehow that is seen as grotesque. These same people who have no qualms about torturing people don’t think we should talk about torturing people. It seems the act of torture is less repugnant to them than the act of talking about torture.

But since they must, they have pulled out all the stops in defending torture. As I’ve said, they are convinced of their righteousness. Bryan Fischer, that paragon of moral values who hates Gays for being Gay and everyone else for not following the tenets of The Bible to the letter and calls himself a devout follower of Christ, believes that Jesus Christ would have no qualms about torture. Christ would be OK with it. In fact, he would condone it. Wonder if Christ has anything to say about that?

This, by the way, is the same Bryan Fischer who would condemn Muslims for violence in the name of their religion. Hypocrisy, it seems, knows no bounds.

Not even going to mention Dick Cheney. There is no defense of him or his position. If you believe there is, your moral compass needs to be recalibrated. Suffice it to say that if you believe as he does that anal rape is not rape, perhaps you and he should volunteer to have it done to you.

It’s difficult now for us to claim the moral high ground, given that we no longer can. We know what we did is morally wrong. We cannot argue that we did not know.

Yet there are more nuanced defenses of torture; one of these being degree. In this defense, it’s not really torture, it’s Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. Water-boarding isn’t torture, as Dick Cheney clearly will tell you. Why, it’s only like getting your face wet or swallowing wrong. Never mind that the US did indeed put on trial and hanged Japanese officers who used water-boarding on Allied troops during World War II. Water-boarding just isn’t torture, not like getting your fingernails torn out or whatever. Of course, these apologists for torture don’t mention anal rape and freezing to death. As if there is some level of torture that falls below the threshold of moral culpability.

Then there is effectiveness. Torture may be morally repugnant, we shouldn’t do it if we can avoid it, BUT… But what if there’s a ticking time bomb, and we need to immediately get information which could save countless lives? Tick.. tick… tick…

The obvious question no one seems to ask is just how likely is it we will capture someone at just the right time before an event that torture might actually be effective? Think about it: the conditions have to be perfect for this scenario to make any sense. We need to be just early enough that torturing someone will be effective in getting the needed information out of them in time, but not so early that other methods would have worked just as efficiently and would not have required that we discard the very principles we are supposedly working so hard to protect.

If we’re too early, normal interrogation techniques that appear to be more effective at getting actionable information would suffice. If we’re too late, all the tortured individual has to do is hold out until the bomb goes off or send security services on a wild goose chase until it does. And let’s not pretend that this individual isn’t prepared for this very scenario. This scenario requires that all the planets align in just the right order, just the right time, and just the right outcome.

The reality is torture doesn’t work. Those that say it does are simply apologists for those who torture.

Torture is just lazy terrorism.

Postscript: It seems that Americans don’t really believe in any of that moral high ground we claim. By a 2 to 1 margin, we don’t care about torture. Given that many consider this a Christian nation, that means there are a good many followers of Christ who simply don’t understand or choose to ignore his message.

We are lost.

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