To paraphrase George Orwell…

To paraphrase George Orwell… August 9, 2012

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a child’s legs — forever.

Not to worry.  This is all part of the Wise and Just Olympic training regimen for the People’s Chinese Olympic Happy Joy Go Movement!  China, you will recall, is the enlightened society the Man with the High IQ said he “fully understands” and “will not second-guess” when it comes to its One Child Policy of forced abortion. This same Champion of the Little Guy also gazes across the Pacific to admire the way in which this enlightened society displays all the truly “great cities” in comparison with our own regrettable resistance to the Hive Mind and the wise planners of the Collective.

The trouble with westerners is their ruthless and cruel unwillingness to subject their children to the kind of state discipline necessary to make our Wise and Just Rulers look really good on the world stage. Our Wise and Just Rulers may find it necessary to… discipline us for this stubborn resistance to their Just and Wise policies. For our own good. As in the Great Cities of China.

Bonus civilizational contribution: Due to the efforts of conservative Catholic combox thinkers over the past decade, I think we can all agree that there is no real way to tell if this… oh, what shall we call it?, “enhanced training regimen”?… is torture or not. It’s all sooooo confusing. Best to just let the state have its way for the greater good and the glory of the Fatherland.

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  • Andy, Bad Person

    Due to the efforts of conservative Catholic combox thinkers over the past decade, I think we can all agree that there is no real way to tell if this… oh, what shall we call it?, “enhanced training regimen”?… is torture or not.

    But Mark! What if there were a terrorist that we had in custody and we knew for sure that he knew where the hidden dirty nuke was and that he knew the codes to disarm it, but the only way we could get him to crack was to get the Chinese to win gold in gymnastics?

    Isn’t is morally irresponsible not to torture kids to get that info? And you call yourself pro-life

    • Ted Seeber

      What’s to stop the terrorist from giving you a false code under torture that looks like the real thing and will cause YOUR OWN AGENTS TO SET OFF THE BOMB?

      Filing that trick away if I ever become an evil overlord.

    • It is impermissible to do evil even with the intention that good will come of it.

  • I bet China doesn’t make their metal winners pay taxes.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      I’ve been baffled by the argument against the medal taxes, actually. First of all, the winners aren’t being taxed on the medals, they’re being taxed on the prize money that the USOC give them.

      I don’t understand why that prize money is especially exempt from taxes. There are lots of people who pull a salary or earn prizes that have to pay taxes on them.

      • Richard Johnson

        And, if they have accounted properly for their expenses, they can deduct those from the prize money and decrease their tax liability, just as any other business person can do.

      • SecretAgentMan

        One way to avoid the taxes would be to compete as amateurs. “in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.” But that would take all the fun out of it, I suppose. Jim Thorpe must be rolling his eyes in Heaven.

      • Jerry Becan

        Amen. I agree 100%. Tax the income, which is what it is.. Or, don’t tax my income.

  • Leo

    Dad uses waterboarding to punish 11-year old. But, it’s all good because it’s not torture.

    • Ted Seeber

      And of course, it was his right, just as it’s the right of women to kill their unborn children.

    • Tim

      ALLEGEDLY used waterboarding to punish his daughter. He hasn’t even been indicted yet.

      • Mark Shea

        Yes. It’s so important not to mete out judgment and punishment in a civilization that presumes innocence and not guilt. That’s WHY WE DON’T TORTURE PEOPLE ON THE BASIS OF SUSPICION. Irony impairment anyone?

        • Tim

          Mark, my first reaction to your response was umbrage at the apparent accusation that I have no perception of the ironic; I took a step back, though, and convinced myself that you couldn’t possibly be referring to me specifically. I came to this conclusion for a few reasons, the foremost being that you, and no one else on this thread, has any idea where I stand on the issue of government-sanctioned “enhanced interrogation,” since I have never shared it. Furthermore, my brief comment sought neither to draw comparisons between the accusations against Dr. Morse (should they prove to be true) and the waterboarding performed by our agents, nor did it seek to justify one or the other. I simply have a hard time with people jumping to conclusions about a man’s guilt when the story is not even a day old. Depending on how you read the CNN article, it’s possible (POSSIBLE) that this is a case of a child who exaggerated a little to get sympathy from a neighbor, then felt compelled to exaggerate a lot when interviewed by police.
          Please be aware of the language you use when commenting on issues you feel strongly about. I’m not saying you have any obligation to be objective, as the owner of a blog (vs. a journalist), but the things you write in your posts and your comments are often sarcastic and divisive (e.g.: the paragraph about “conservative Catholic combox thinkers” and your response to my comment). Although I regret using a cliche to illustrate my point: We’ve all heard that the best way to dismantle the Catholic Church is to set its members against each other. Why would we, those who love the Church so dearly, use divisive rhetoric against one another?

          • Mark Shea

            Right. I wasn’t referring to you. Sorry for the confusion. I was merely remarking on the sharp irony of the fact that our actual historic system of justice presumes innocence and therefore defers punishment until we know the accused is guilty of something, while our emerging system of, well, not justice, but police state security measures presumes guilt and offers not just punishment but torture in order to establish that the condemned should be condemned. Its’ a radical perversion.

  • EBS

    Completely horrified! The look on that girls face, not just the physical pain, but the mental torture of being pushed, subjected and unloved in such a cruel cruel manner. I’ll say a prayer for her and those children like her. That foot should be amputated, and the person it belongs to be stood on in the same way!

    • Ted Seeber

      Given the utilitarian mindset of China, I have to wonder about the real story behind that picture. Look at the shape of the girl’s legs. I have to wonder if there was an injury previous to this picture that the foot is trying to correct.

      • EBS

        What!! You have got to be kidding me with that twisted “logic”!!! What part of mental torture and unloved didn’t you understand? Trust you, a male, to say something so ridiculously clinical and heartless as that. It just proves my point even further- standing on deformed legs is just so much more humane- and taking a photo of it is so darn lovely.
        Amputate the s$&@?rs legs that’s doing the stomping!
        The Chinese don’t care about anything but win win win, tough, tough, tough! It’s widely known outside the US they are like this, even all the way over in little ‘ol Australia where I live.
        Mark please remove that picture- it’s disgusting.

        • Tim

          Wow, can we get angry, sexist, and racist all at once? I think Ted was just offering a possible alternative explanation. Have you ever had or witnessed physical therapy? Sometimes it hurts. I’m not saying that’s definitely what is happening here (given the context of the rest of the linked article, I’d have to doubt it), but what I am saying is that your response is out of line.

        • Mark Shea

          That’s why it’s there.

    • DG

      EBS – wouldn’t that be torture of a bad guy? Prayer, yes, but this eye for and eye thing has gotta go. I wonder if this guy would have any info about thousands of other children who suffer the same fate.

      This black and white, hyperbole filled world is so difficult to live in.

  • SecretAgentMan

    Memo to Jackboot Thug Voyeurs:
    1. Say it’s not necessarily that bad — we don’t know the context of the photo and kids generally cry about things they don’t want to do, like brush their teeth. (Can add note about spoiled American children who don’t know the value of work).
    2. Say it’s terrible if true, but not the same thing because these kids aren’t terrorists and therefore haven’t earned their pain. (Very important to ignore the fact that your argument requires torturing children no matter how innocent they are, so long as they have useful information about terrorists and won’t talk).
    3. Wonder aloud how the US is going to compete with a country that is so dedicated to winning without, you know, getting tough on things. (Best done by pointing out that it’s a “real world” out there and the US “has enemies”).
    4. Try looking your kids in the eyes afterwards. (It gets easier).

    • enness

      That’s pretty unfair, SecretAgentMan. Some of those are obvious and at least semi-valid points, so if you can counter them without attacking someone’s character please do as I would be interested in seeing it. Particularly, I fail to understand how that argument “requires” torturing children.
      I could accept this credulously because it would entirely fit my dim opinion of authoritarian regimes, but I am a tad skeptical because I know the Chinese government is highly image-conscious, and because I find it difficult to gauge foreign papers.

      • Richard Johnson

        “Particularly, I fail to understand how that argument “requires” torturing children.”

        If we apprehend the child of a suspected terrorist who may be plotting to bomb a major public gathering (a political convention, for example), do we use “enhanced interrogation” techniques on the child? What if they have been “trained” to resist normal interrogation techniques (using training resembling the picture above)? What if they know not only the where but the when and how of such a “ticking timebomb” scenario?

      • SecretAgentMan

        I’ll disagree with you there, emness. As richard points out, anyone who who favors torture to extract information in the War on Terror, but who won’t torture children to gain needed information, isn’t a humanitarian — he or she is just confused. Torture requires two beliefs. First, we have to believe that human dignity is functional, if the human dignity of Osama Bin Laden stands in the way of what we need, it’s not functioning properly and can be disregarded. Second, we have to believe that since human dignity is functional, we can torture anyone who has (or is suspected of having) important information — nuns, pregnant women, chldren, you name it — because their dignity isn’t “functioning” either. Of course, these beliefs also feed off and contribute to a third belief, namely that human dignity is a “function” of the state and its priorities. People who think they can dilute these evil propositions by associating them with punishment are just being ignorant in a “it’s turtles all the way down” sort of way — you can’t use tortue as punishment unless you have first accepted 1), and then you’re right back where you started. As to character attacks, well you tell me — Is believing that human dignity is functional a sign of poor character development or not?

        The Chinese are image conscious. But the image the PRC wants isn’t always (or even frequently) the image we think we’d want if we were running China. Check out the military parades celebrating the PRC’s founding. Doesn’t happen in the US, which is an even more belligerent nation than China.

  • enness

    Not because I don’t believe China isn’t capable, but I am curious how Western journalists were permitted to get such abundant pictures…

    • enness

      (Sorry for the double negative…I need a shower and some coffee.)

  • Timbot2000

    If you had ever read Jackie Chan’s biography, you would know this kind of treatment has been par for the course in Chinese opera training for centuries. So this mentality long predates communism. I would also add it is not unknown to the Christian west either; castrati anyone?

    • enness

      You can add foot-binding, that ancient practice. The human body is a marvelous machine, metaphorically, not literally; it can only be pushed so far. Even more so the human mind. I know about the Beijing Olympics lip-synching, too. Which is why I’m surprised they permitted any image other than happy, smiling children to get out. Maybe it just means there are more cracks appearing in the armor, I don’t know.

      • Timbot2000

        It just means that China is a Pagan society, like any other throughout history. Lets look at the Romans. Before the later empire, the Romans despised children. It was considered unthinkable to mourn the death of any child under 3. Young boys were routinely beaten simply to toughen them. And the social metric of good parenting was severity. “The tougher your parents are, the more they must love you” was the norm.
        As for the Lip-synching, I’m not at all sure how that is relevant, or even important. Personally, I found that less creepy than the London encomium to the NHS.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      I would also add it is not unknown to the Christian west either; castrati anyone?

      Um, the last castrato died in 1922. This is happening now. Most of the comments under that article are similar, though: “Oh we don’t know the context of that picture it might not be so bad and besides the West is just as bad.”

      Obviously the West isn’t lily-white, but let’s not pretend that human rights abuses in the West have even come close to China’s.


      • Timbot2000

        I actually just wanted to contextualize the difference between a Christian society, and a non-Christian one. A pagan Roman or Greek would have looked at this picture and heartily approved.

  • I guess they let just enough girls be born to be abused so they can populate the various Olympic sports.

  • Timbot2000

    I would also add, that with the new changes to the judging criteria for Women’s gymnastics, these training methods are now counterproductive, as shown in the poor performance of the Chinese women’s team. 4’5″ pixie girls (Mary Lou Retton) are out, 5’2″ graceful women (Olga Korbut) are back.

    • Chris M

      Yep, they’ve moved on to diving. Seriously, that Chinese girl is more or less teleporting into the water, bypassing the surface entirely.

  • Eugenia

    Actually, I’m surprised she’s even alive. She is a Chinese girl, after all.

  • Dale Price

    Heartbreaking. And infuriating.

  • bob

    Several years ago the New York Times ran a depressing article on the sport of rowing in China. It was made clear that the athletes training for that as in other sports had been selected young and brought up in a real Soviet era style life of career athletics. The state wants medals, peiod. It was sad to see something I know of as a fun activity athe UW made in to just another job in a mine. The sort of thing people used to try to escape from so their kids didn’t have to do it. Rowing won’t give you black lung but pursued as a profession imposed by the state it’s awful.

  • Ector de Maris

    Thomas Friedman at the NYT thinks this is just great. See his recent column saying CEOs want the American workforce to be like China’s, and then, maybe, they’ll bring our jobs back. If our Olympic coaches become too expensive, we can outsource training to China. They know how to get the job done over there.

  • Linus

    Since Christianity is dying out, looks like Western humanists/secularists/athiests will have to choose between Sharia, Maoist/or Hindu-Buddhaists of India. I’d love to see that, should be lots of fun.

    • Mark Shea

      Christianity has grown 7000% in the last century. We are in the middle of the largest growth spurt in Christian history. Not everywhere is blue state America and Europe.

  • Will

    I’m having trouble understanding the moral equivalence between waterboarding Kalid Sheik Muhammed to get information on terrorist plots and stomping on a kid’s legs to make her a better gymnast.

    • Mark Shea

      No. You’re having trouble understanding what an intrinsically and gravely evil act is. So is the person stomping on that girl’s legs. And people like you help to create a world where people like him can flourish.

    • SecretAgentMan

      Check out my reply to emness above. I’d suggest that the difference you see is your belief that the war on terror is much, much more important than Olympic success — no comparison between the importance of each goal. (Some would say that’s a naive appreciation of state security and international politics). What difference does the importance of the goal make? I suggest that, in your view, the value of the goal establishes a threshold for “functioning” human dignity — before that threshold (gymnastics) we’ll observe human dignity, but across that threshold (terrorism) we won’t. But in the end, the choice is ours, because human dignity is funtional.

      Well, then what sets the threshold? War on Terrorism and preventing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents? Sure. That’s a no-brainer. War on Child Pornography and Human Trafficking? Sure. That’s no-brainer too. Torture the guy who downloads child porn and find out the sources of all the images on his hard drive. War on Drugs and preventing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of addicts, and the innocent victims of drug-lord wars abroad and street crime at home? Sure. That’s a no-brainer — torture the guy with 10 grams of crack to identify his supplier, then torture the supplier to find out who his connection is. Maybe the guy won’t talk unless we do things that make us squeamish. How about his kid? Anybody’d talk to stop their kid from being waterboarded. What difference does it make?

      Why stop there? There’s a deterrence function to torture too, If we tortured car thieves there’d be less car theivery. Ditto for shoplifting. No prisons to pay for either, we just need a few rooms with gurneys. We *can* do it, if we want — it’s just a matter of threshold-setting. Is mildly torturing a few thousand people worth a 70% reduction in auto thefts and resulting insurance losses and consumption of police resources that could be better spent on the War on Terror? Sooner or later, that’s a no-brainer too.

      • SecretAgentMan

        I meant to say “functional,” but what I did instead was invent a new toy by Hasbro.

  • Dingo

    This is infuriating. Enhanced interrogation is NOT torture. It sure is unpleasant, but torture it is not. The whole point is for the person to have an unpleasant experience that you threaten to repeat forever. They “break” because of the picture in their OWN mind of endless days of the same. Not because the treatment is so horrible that they can’t take another second of it. We could (and do) use the much gentler techniques to the same effect if we had ENDLESS time. Which often, we do not.

    THESE SAME TECHNIQUES ARE ROUTINELY USED ON OUR OWN MILITARY – VOLUNTEERS! In specialized training. With no ill effects afterwards. The troops don’t know for sure what is coming, they don’t know how long it will last. They are trained to endure it for as long as possible. Again. We. Waterboard. Our. Own. Troops!

    If I showed you reruns of Maude 24/7 and told you it would never end, you may give up eventually too. Is that torture? So, then, what are we left with? Just ask nicely and if that fails, oh well, tough sh !t?

    So what, then of the police who lie to suspects and threaten them will various pleasantries? Is that torture too? It sure is unpleasant as well.

    WE don’t torture. And enhanced interrogation is not any more evil than a just long-term punishment in a rough prison would be. (Frankly, I’d take the E.I. over prison any day) It is not any more evil that being shot in a just war. I don’t support it because I think the results make it just. I am not AGAINST it, b/c quite simply it is not torture.

    What if the military starved you so that you lost 45 pounds and had no fat to begin with? Would that be torture? What if they make you carry half your body weight 22/7 for months on end in brutal terrain, heat and in freezing cold? Deprive of sleep so badly that you hallucinate? Would that be torture? No, that would be Ranger School!

    So. I am sorry, but dunk me, make me feel like I am drowning. Yeah, I will get tired of that real fast for sure. But, do me a favor. Don’t extinguish your cigarette on my eye, or arm, don’t beat half to death, don’t rip my nails out, shock my gonads… In other words. Don’t torture me.

    I am sick of hearing this same blather from the bean bag set. Comparing this to child abuse is ridiculous.

    • Mark Shea

      You are 8 years late to this debate and every one of your rationalizations, euphemisms and excuses has been exploded multiple times. We *killed* people with “enhanced interrogation”. Face it, it was torture. Go. Read and learn.And recall that waterboarding was but one form of torture. We also used beatings, suffocation, and cold cells among many others. Behavior not worthy of a civilized people and gravely and intrinsically immoral, according to the Church.

      • former Navy pilot

        O Mark, your “8 years too late” is just so last year. When exactly did the buzzer sound announcing the debate was over? Oh yeah, in your mind.
        The Vatican against torture? How do they/you then explain the inquisition? All those loyal Dominicans burning in hell? Don’t really think so, do you? Leave aside Joan of Arc.
        And I guess Sister Agnes slapping the child’s hand with a ruler was also torture? She’s roasting with the Dominicans too no doubt?

        • Mark Shea

          There was this thing called Vatican II. You may have heard of it. Also, another thing called “the pontificates of JPII and Benedict XVI”. All of these Magisterial authorities declare that torture is gravely and intrinsically immoral. People who claim to be serious Catholics listen to the Magisterium. People who live before magisterial developments are not held responsible for the light we have, but for the light they had.