Good Thing It’s not Torture

Delaware Pediatrician(!) Waterboards Daughter

It’s been conclusively shown by the best Catholic ethics money can buy that this is not torture. Now we have confirmation from the medical community as well. And, of course, the most deeply conservative minds of our time love it and laugh about it.

As I’ve pointed out for some time, the first conclusion to draw from the massive campaign to legitimate waterboarding as a “harmless splash of water” is that we should go ahead and use it on citizens and (as the good doctor demonstrates) on unruly children. That’s the civilization every “conservative Christian” apologist for torture is helping to build.

When I say this, the retort is that we only use this on terrorists to get information. My answer is, terrorist will talk even more readily if you do this “harmless” thing to their children. The shocked and angry answer is “But the children are innocent!”

And right there, the lie of the whole project of torture is revealed. Yes. The children *are* innocent. And therefore the real purpose of torture is–bloody obviously–not to “get information in the most efficient way” but to take out your punishing rage on somebody you’ve decided is (probably, hopefully) guilty of something. It’s not to get information since, as real interrogators tell you again and again, torture is a lousy way of getting information and a great way of generating time-wasting lies and babble. Of course, not all the people you torture are guilty of anything. But once a swarthy foreigner reaches adulthood, the torture apologist doesn’t worry too much about these distinctions. Maher Arar was an Ayrab and Dilawar spoke a funny language and was Muslim, so close enough (too bad the latter was tortured to death and was completely innocent, but you have to break eggs to make an omelette). But our civilization still draws the line at children and (quaintly) imagines Caesar will always do that.

Of course, countless other torture regimes have immediately figured out that the way to a man’s heart is through his loved ones. But we Americans retain a curiously naive brutal cynicism that seriously thinks a state that is willing to torture, indefinitely detain, and murder will only do that to “bad guys” and that it will never occur to Caesar to “misuse” his power to sin gravely.

Marc Thiessen and all of his ilk in the “conservative Christian” community, be ashamed. Right alongside the authors of the abortive culture of death, you have helped build this Babel and our children will pay for it. God have mercy on us.

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  • Very Bad Episcopalian

    Every time I see a Christian with the guts to stand up to the pro-torture people, I say thank you and praise God for creatng you!

  • Matt Talbot

    But speaking a word that might cast the Republicans in a bad light is evil because abortion, Mark.

    Geez, didn’t you get the memo?

  • Stacy

    Would someone who is pro-waterboarding please explain to me what you think it *does*, if it’s not torture? I mean, it actually causes people to at least pretend to cooperate, sometimes after mere seconds of application. I would presume that has something to do with the person wanting to avoid the terrible fear, anguish, and unbearable bodily reactions the procedure causes, but that, to me, would clearly make it torture. How do you believe it works that would make it not torture? Have we discovered Magic Mind-Control Water that gently renders people agreeable?

  • Richard Johnson

    Watch and see what it does.

    • Merkn

      Just looked. Pretty powerful evidence.

  • Merkn

    As someone who is on the fence, could you refer me to a prior post or explanation where you or someone defines torture and applies it to water boarding. I agree if the act is torture it can never be used even if there is a ticking atom bomb. I agree with yo on that point, Torture simply can never be licit, even though I know Thomas More burned heretics, he was wrong. But I am having trouble with drawing the line. Some sort of coercive questioning must be allowed – – or maybe that assumption is my error. Is it enough for it to be coercive? Surely you can intimidate him? On the other hand, saying I am sure is like saying it’s clear, it is neither. I am not at all sure, and nothing about it is clear.

    From what I understand, a person is submerged during waterboarding and no lasting physical damage is done. His bodily integrity is not impaired physically. The process causes uncontrollable panic and terror. A more sophisticated version of pointing a gun at some one and dry firing. which I would consider psychological torture. Is inducing fear of harm enough for torture? Because, I can assure you terrorizing witnesses is an accepted part of extorting testimony in our criminal justice system. I also seem to recall the use of sleep deprivation against terrorists. which I believe was outlawed by the Geneva convention as far as POW’s are concerned – – remember how the evil NAZIs used it in Stalag 17.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    and no lasting physical damage is done.

    Anything short of amputation could be considered “no lasting physical damage.” People being waterboarded are drowned. They aren’t killed, but they are drowned. It’s not the causing of panic and terror that’s the problem (although it could certainly be a problem in its own right), but the method used to achieve said panic.

    • skywords

      Nothing as pervasive as torture could have just one cause. Generally speaking, I’d say it’s meant to dominate by setting an example. It is meant to be witnessed and thus to dominate those who witness it. The one most dominated is, paradoxically, the torturer. The torturer is living under the bane of “torture or be tortured.” Other reasons for torture include incapacitating individuals so as to make them a burden on the subjugated population, when released from captivity. Ultimately, many forms of torture are economic, that is, an application of the shock doctrine.