Friday, January 28, 2005

More Torture Fun at The Corner 

Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg continues to demonstrate his inability to grasp the following concept: even if people occasionally do things voluntarily, those same things could still be defined as torture if interrogators force people to do them.

After commenting on the latest story about the sexual interrogation tactics used at Gitmo, Goldberg turns to his readers for comments.
One reader argued that we should be bothered by any attempt to separate a man from his God. How would you feel, he asked, if American soldiers were forced to witness a crucifix being desecrated or a Torah being destroyed? I thought this was interesting, but really not very persuasive. I'd gladly settle for that sort of treatment over beheadings.
Apparently, in Goldberg's mind, as long as the treatment detainees receive is preferable to having one's head slowly sawed off with a knife, it's not torture. It's a point that's been made about a hundred times in this debate, but it bears repeating - the standard for the treatment of prisoners should not be determined by how the other side acts. Why are we allowing a bunch of terrorist thugs to redefine "human rights"?

Goldberg moves on, and shares an e-mail from our old friend, the anonymous person in the military.
Jonah, I have a response to your reader who asks how we would feel if soldier's were forced to watch a crucifix being desecrated or a Torah being destroyed. Those things already happen, and they're paid for by the US Government under the premise that the acts are "art". Maybe we can just say that the people at Gitmo are artists, not interrogators. Then the left would have to appreciate their pushing the envelope. Just a thought.
First of all, these things don't happen - "Piss Christ" was one piece of art funded by the National Endowment for the Arts more than a decade ago, so the past tense might have been appropriate here. However, this military man does have a point. One of the more disturbing incidents of my childhood was the time the NEA troops showed up at our door, tied me, my parents and my siblings up in the living room and forced us to look at an image of someone pissing on Christ. As Democrats, however, my parents supported this use of our tax dollars, as do I. And if it was good enough for us, why, it's good enough for the prisoners at Gitmo.

By the way, I say all this as someone whose feelings on these torture allegations are not as clear as my colleague in blogging. I don't know how I feel about using mini skirts and fake menstrual blood to interrogate prisoners who are likely very religious Muslims. (Well, I do agree with Jonah Goldberg on one thing - the later is, at the very least, "gross.") I don't know if I'd call it torture. I'd like to hear honest debate on the topic. But the way The Corner and much of the Right chooses to debate these issues - by pointing to things that people do voluntarily and arguing that they're the same as certain interrogation techniques being used and therefore acceptable - has got to stop. When I was in the The Music Man, I voluntarily learned how to march. That doesn't mean the Bataan Death March was OK.
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