Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Don't Waterboard Me, Bro!

            Today’s discussion is on the use of power to interrogate and use of power in general. However, I will do everything I can to use flowing generalities to avoid discussing particular leaders and policies. The main interest of QBA is to provide philosophies; how those philosophies are being carried out or ignored is not our problem and, quite frankly, a matter for much less intelligent and interesting people than the sleep-deprived teenagers that like to babble about random topics online.
            Is it ever right to torture an individual for information? If someone had asked me that question a few weeks ago, I would have said no. However, my Government class brought up the topic several times, and I now feel that, under the right circumstances, torture and intense interrogation practices are acceptable.
            If an individual agrees to act a certain way, he or she must accept those actions being reciprocated. This is Kant’s rule (I first mentioned Kant in my essay on Miley Cyrus); for an act to be moral, it must be able to be universally applied. For example: sports have rules that are applied equally to both teams. Any team that breaks rules can and should expect repercussions for doing so. I believe it is not a large jump to move from this example to examples of conflict. If a group swears death to a regime or ideology through any means necessary, they either accept the same means they use being used against themselves, or they believe they are above the universality of logic. If they are the prior, they can be wrong but fair. If they are the latter, they’re a danger to every society through attempting to set a precedent that would cause not only unrest but eventually anarchy. And not the good kind of anarchy at that, the kind that people stereotype all anarchy being like.
            Taken to its extreme, this philosophy doesn’t allow an escalation of conflict because one group can't act in a way that hasn't become acceptable by the other group using it first. It's a not-so vicious cycle of fostering kindness and teamwork; it requires a relaxing of tensions, or, in the worst cases, détente. Détente, for everyone who isn’t in my Government course on US/USSR relations in the Cold War period, is a stalemate where I point my gun at my opponent’s head while he points his gun at my head. Nothing gets done, but no one pulls the trigger. I believe, and history has shown, that people don’t like and don’t let détente last for long. Eventually, new ideas are discovered, new causes are fought for, old farts die, or new leaders take over, destroying détente and relaxing tensions.
            Now, we talk about waterboarding. Is it morally right to torture? Only if it is done to one who has already stated a stance in direct opposition to your way of life in a dangerous manner, and only if there is reason to believe torture would lead to accurate information. I don’t believe that it is right to torture “suspected” anythings, and I don’t believe that torture for malicious intent behooves anyone. You can see how Kant ties in here. Torture fits into the "game" once the other "team" says it's playing by "rules" that include life-threatening decisions. That allows one to either play by the new rules set by the opponent, or to act as referee and impose a penalty for deviating from the old rules. I just wouldn’t have the stomach for torture, especially unwarranted torture; I recently found out I couldn’t even play scary video games in the dark. How could I condone torture for funsies?
            I can understand why people torture. If a group produces a video saying they possess weapons or plan to injure large groups of people, I could condone the interrogation of one who had explicitly stated he or she had knowledge of the situation. I cannot see a situation where interrogating a “suspected” threat could be a morally upheld decision, and that’s probably why I’ll never be elected President. I can’t put the state before individual choice; I can put the lives of many before the freedoms of one who explicitly stated he or she was planning to do harm, though. That is a decision I could make and still sleep well at night.


-Jason Rossiter

We won't torture you if you don't, but like and follow QBA.

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