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Every denomination needs one of these...

Torture as a wedge issue

Friday, June 27, 2008

My brief post earlier this week on torture sparked a bit of debate on the UCCtruths message board... which is a good thing... I was getting bored with all the Obama and Wright talk and was literally falling asleep reading this blog.

Any debate or statements on torture is pretty mindless at this point and it isn't a moral issue, it is a political one.

I think it's a disingenuous statement since the harshest treatment now is "longtime standing". If there are new allegations, it might be worth exploring but to make it an issue now makes it clear to me that this a political fight, not a moral one.

But since we are on the topic and there is little substance on what United Church of Christ John Thomas is actually whining about... here is the list of the types of torture we have done:
1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. The Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Longtime Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Waterboarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
The moral argument against torture is also disingenuous at this point because we are in a war where we are aiming guns at people and blowing their heads clean off their shoulders. If we as a country accept that this is a morally wrong but necessary thing to do, than I'm quite a bit less sensitive to concerns about a belly slap and I haven't honestly explored it's moral implications.

Having lost the debate on the war seven years ago, Thomas is left with complaining about torture which, in the context of a war where we kill people, is simply a meaningless wedge issue.
posted by UCCtruths, Friday, June 27, 2008


"Having lost the debate on the war seven years ago, Thomas is left with complaining about torture which, in the context of a war where we kill people, is simply a meaningless wedge issue."

What color is the sky in your world?
commented by Blogger David, 8:06 PM  
Overcast with rain in Cleveland.

Which is the greater moral issue, killing someone or a belly slap?
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 8:32 PM  
Well, I think I know what you mean...but-

The moral argument against torture is also disingenuous at this point...

Most of the arguments I've heard against torture have been disingenuos, ignorant, misinformed, misguided, and sometimes just plain stupid. Mostly becuase they think it is possible to extract an action from one side out of the whole of the war, consider it in isolation,
either refuse to consider the ramifications- or believe in pretending that they are protecting the captives of terorists from doing as we do.

Those captured by the likes of Khalid Sheik Mohammed can only pray that their captives will pour water down their throat, slap their bellies, and then give them a cell where guards will bring them their choice of meals and hand them Bibles with gloved hands-- and let them live.

There may well be a moral argument about torture that could be made, butI am not hearing it from JT and the rest of our national leaders.

Having lost the debate on the war seven years ago, Thomas is left with complaining about torture which, in the context of a war where we kill people, is simply a meaningless wedge issue.

To have any legitimacy, a moral argument needs to be made in an open process that allows for oposing views to be heard and considered. There has never been any process in the UCC for the church to engage in any study of the issues.

Thomas has replaced the debate that never was held and used his position to advance his personal views and gotten away with the excuse that he is only "speaking to" the church.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 9:50 PM  
I can't believe that the author of this piece and the readers can be this confused about the meaning of "moral action." A "moral action" is defined within a belief system. What others may be doing is utterly irrelevant in this context. What you are talking about, without seeming to know it, is ethics. And, evidently, you are subscribing to some form of ethical relativism, at that.

Either killing is wrong, or it isn't. Either torture is wrong, or it isn't. I happen to think both are wrong. The fact that the killing continues apace does not excuse nor render irrelevant the fact that the torture continues apace. Further, a fundamental structure of the torture regimen is "rendition," sending victims to places like Syria and Egypt where a good deal more than "belly slaps" are administered.

The political argument is that we may sooner be able to stop the torture than the killing. The notion that we should just ignore the torture as long as the killing continues is just, well ... morally repugnant. We are tasked with fighting evil wherever we find it. Not for glory, but for God.


commented by Blogger naugiedoggie, 6:03 PM  
Gosh Oh golly, Moe, how did we defeat the fascists in WWII? You mean Khalid Sheik Mohammed is more powerful & more evil than Hitler? I guess I'll just go shave my head & say nyuck nyuck.
commented by Blogger Bob, 11:22 PM  
Memo to Bob: Don't blog after having had "a couple," it interferes with the clarity of expression.

Hutchins relies absolutely on the truthfulness of a President and administration who have been demonstrated repeatedly to have lied about torture. He admits indifference to the torture of the innocent to confirm their innocence, if that torture will preserve his own comfortable middle-class existence. Not his life, mind you, which is not threatened.

It's a simple fact that hundreds of prisoners were released from these torture centers without ever having been tried or convicted of a crime, many of whom were tortured by or at the behest of the U.S. gov't.

There's an old saying, "Better nine guilty men go free, than one innocent convicted." It does not appear that Mr. Hutchins agrees with this maxim. At any rate, he has professed indifference to the fate of all torture victims, innocent or guilty. Plato wrote, "The life unexamined is not worth living." I invite Mr. Hutchins to put his own life in that crosshair. I do.


commented by Blogger naugiedoggie, 9:09 PM  

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