Postcards from the culture wars (2.26)


"First off, we are not the world, we are not the children." "Hundreds of Lebanese took to the streets of the northern city of Tripoli on Saturday to protest the torching of a decades-old library owned by a Greek Orthodox priest." "They should be able to put the statue up, and then they should be shot right next to it, and then we take it down." "What could possibly go wrong with training up an elite religious paramilitary opposed to minority religions that engage in magic?" "This … [Read more...]

Outsourcing torture here

If you'd opened our paper Wednesday to pages 2 and 3 of the local section, you'd have read the following headlines: "10 charged in alleged child porn network," "Man charged with rape of teen," and "Father of two pleads guilty in child porn case." All on the same day. Yeesh. Anyone who is proven guilty of the things these men are accused of needs to be taken off the streets. Incarceration is needed in such cases for all three of the classic reasons: public … [Read more...]

Deliberate ambiguity

"You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. ... You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall." The above is from the famous speech by Jack Nicholson's character in Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men. Nicholson's Col. Jessep was a "tough" guy in the sense of "tough" conveyed by the current euphemism for torture: "tough interrogation … [Read more...]


"They say this is a different kind of war," Tony Lagouranis says. "Different rules for terrorists. Total crap." Lagouranis was a military intelligence specialist in Iraq until he was honorably discharged due to "adjustment disorder." That seems to be a military psychologist's euphemism for still having his conscience and humanity mostly intact. I've written before about the toll our nation's embrace of torture takes on the men and women ordered to … [Read more...]

PR case studies

Two quick case studies in public relations for the morally stunted and intellectually challenged. 1. If you feel your religious tradition has been slandered, falsely accused of promoting violence and the "command to spread by the sword the faith," then it's probably best not to respond to such remarks violently. Bombing churches tends not to be an effective way of convincing others that your religion has not become corrupted by the adoption of violent coercion as a means of … [Read more...]

3.14159265 …

The area of the circle of the barrel of a gun The Third Geneva Convention forbids the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war. This treaty was signed by nearly everybody -- more than 120 nations -- including the United States, whose ratification of it made it legally binding in this country. The Third Geneva Convention provides an unambiguous legal framework, so it becomes an obvious first response to the appalling question: Why is torture unacceptable? Torture is unacceptable because it is … [Read more...]

Faith and works

Sen. John McCain said several things last night on CNN's Larry King Live that bear repeating: ... if we, somehow, excuse this behavior on the grounds that they were bad people, they killed Americans, all that kind of stuff, then we put ourselves on the same moral ... plane that they are. We cannot do that. The reason why we are there is to give them a different life from the kind of treatment that they got from Saddam Hussein. That's another argument, by the way, for taking down the … [Read more...]

The L Word

Officials at the Defense Department are also said to be "livid," and well aware of the damage that has been done by the incident, according to NBC News' Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski. Speaking on the Imus in the Morning radio/MSNBC program Tuesday , Mr. Miklaszewski said he asked a Pentagon contact about the soldiers alleged to be involved, to which the Pentagon official replied, "You mean the six morons who lost the war?" That's from Tom Regan in The Christian … [Read more...]