The Morality of Torture

Check out this excellent essay by quandro (via Volokh).

The prisoners in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, and Gitmo are NOT covered by the Geneva Convention. Red-letter law excludes illegal combatants from the Geneva protections.

Nonetheless, widespread torture, abuse, and “accidental” deaths are immoral and counterproductive.

Read the article for a highly supported argument. I find the solution of offering summary tribunals, sentencing the illegal combatants to death (as is international law proscribes), and then offering a commutation of the sentence in return for information. If no information is forthcoming, the sentence can be carried out if full accordance with international law. If information is forthcoming, we get what we want without engaging in torture.

Also scroll down and read the comments. The moral relativism of many commentators - and of many of our blogosphere friends, is astounding. “Well, the terrorists are worse, so whatever we did is okay.” The terrorists are worse. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility of acting ethically. It reminds me of some of my Baltimore City students who, having been weaned on the mother’s milk of anti-Americanism, refused to see the moral dimenstion of World War Two - “America is no better than Nazi Germany because we had concentration camps too…” It frustrated me that they could not see gradations of wrongfulness. The Japanese Internment was a wrongful violation of the rights of American citizens. It ought to be condemned. But to place it in the same moral ballpark as Dachau is abhorrent.

The right side of the political spectrum rightly (pun intended) condemns moral relativism. But the same folks who condemn the “there are no savage and civilizaed societies, only different cultures” claptrap engage in the same intellectual laziness when confronted with examples of American wrong doing.

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