Torture, Back With a Vengeance

The debate rages. Last night we went out for Mexican food. We arrived in the middle of a conversation inspired by this article in Slate Salon. Oops. The gist of the article is this:

“No torture today, no torture tomorrow, no torture ever.”

Which really sounds great. I mean, who wants to be tortured?

But there is a philosophical debate about this. Some people, even some reasonable liberal people, are able to conceive of worst-case scenarios in which torture as a last resort might plausibly be an option. Not that it should ever be used lightly, mind you. But, philosophically (this means “in theory”), a case might be made. Of course, another case can be made that “theory” never actually translates into “reality”, and that to open the door to torture on a limited basis would only be a Pandora’s box, letting out all the demons we’ve entombed there since the Middle Ages.

I won’t bore you with my opinion. I don’t even think a perfect, logical answer exists to this question. The greater problem is one of violence, and whether it is ever justifiable. Some say no, some yes, and the world hasn’t stopped spinning yet. A perfectly non-violent world is a utopian pipe dream, which doesn’t mean it isn’t an enticing one. It simply remains inconceiveable. The only answer that history has bequeathed on us are laws that at least regulate the use of violence–and which are of course broken with impunity every day all over the world. So what have we learned? Bupkes.

Meanwhile, Roxana Saberi langishes in an Iranian prison. Perhaps she is being tortured. I wonder what people are dicussing in restaurants in downtown Teheran tonight.

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