Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Time Bombs and Tortured Testicles

In a variation on the if-torture-is-OK-then-what-about-child-torture argument, Andrew Sullivan follows the Rape And "Enhanced Interrogation" logic to it's logical conclusion: that rape, in order to get information that saves lives, is OK. That's the thing about Manichean Paranoia: once you do bad things to save good people, you're just another bad person.

I've heard this argument from Scott Horton and others ("Is it OK to crush the testicles of the child of the person who knows about the bomb," for example) and it's a good one. What I haven't heard is the obvious conclusion that Republicans have, at least in this argument, succumbed to one of the left's worst traits: relativistic ethics.

The purist right was always telling us, from high upon their law-and-order perches, that they were the holders of the absolutist flame. They were the protectors of the kind of ethics that make some things always right, and some always wrong. Before 9-11, you'd have been hard pressed to find any self-respecting sufferer of Bush Adoration Syndrome say that there is ever a case where raping someone is justified. They would have thought you were some commie-dirty-fucking-hippie-druggie-degenerate if you suggested that there might be a time when torturing a child is OK.

And yet, here we are, listening day in and out as one after another sufferer of Bush Apologist Syndrome suggests that, since we're the good guys, nothing we do is bad. I'm surprised I haven't heard more about how the mighty absolutists have slipped into the muck, munched some bad acid, and are wailing around slinging feces-laced chunks of "debate" out of their logical spiral into a Very Dark place indeed.

Since there seems to be a sizable chunk of America that thinks Keifer Southerland is keeping them safe, perhaps we'd all be better off relying on the system that many wise men devised for dealing with ethical quandaries: The Law. We call breaking a law one believes to be immoral civil disobedience. I hear from the Christian Torture lovers (q.v. this study: Churchgoers More Likely To See Torture As Justifiable) that they should stand up for this country and do what it takes to protect us.

Since privatization is the answer to everything, I suggest that one of you potential child rapists buy yourself a small army, a prison in a foreign country, an intelligence gathering operation, and go pick up a few targets, torture them (or torture their children--whatever it takes), and see what kind of intelligence you can get. Then, we'll prosecute, and you heroes can go to prison for a while, like all the other people who have practiced civil disobedience as a protest against laws they don't like. Be warned: most people are ethical absolutists when it comes to child rape.

If you happen to be Dick Cheney, and you've already completed the above assignment (although, maybe you didn't actually rape or torture any terrorist's children--they were just mangled and killed as collateral damage in that other ethical absolutist's high ground you took in Iraq), then you should expect to have to complete your civil disobedience assignment and spend a few years paying for your law-breaking. I'm sure Thoreau would approve.