Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Torture Revisited

Andrew Sullivan seems somewhat baffled by the latest poll showing that the majority of Americans favor torturing our enemies in some circumstances.  This poll would seem to indicate that the majority of Americans would agree with me that Charles Krauthammer got the better of Sullivan in the torture argument.  Most Americans are probably comfortable employing torture if it means maintaining order and security even though it is unquestionably evil.  

Although torture is evil, it is evil in a very human kind of way.  In fact it is exactly the evil that Jesus came into the world to illustrate, to make explicit.  Maybe this is even why Christians seem to be more comfortable with torture than agnostics or atheists.  Jesus accepted torture from Cesar but He did not attempt to become the Cesar who did not torture.  He explicitly rejected that.  

This seems like an interesting irony to the Christianits philosophy that Sullivan rightly calls the administration on.  While Christianists want the government to act morally except in the case of torture, Sullivan wants the government to refrain from being a moral actor, except in the case of torture.  My own view is that it is not possible for the government to ever be a moral actor, but to only act from self-interest, which is why it is so hard for a Christian to become a Cesar.  

A couple of other foot notes: First another way of looking at the Christian vs. atheist/agnostic divide on torture is that if one believes that a person is more than just a body it might be easier to torture that body, but that if one believes that a person is just a body that body becomes more sacred.  Second, although it seems to me that the government should the ability to torture in limited circumstances, evidence (pointed out in many cases by Andrew Sullivan) suggests that torture is much more wide spread than I could ever justify.  If we are going to do evil, we should make it a conscious decision in every case.  It should never become policy.

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