The idea that necessity, crisis, and emergency is an excuse for comprimising deeply-help values is something that history teaches us as a very bad idea.
Richard Weisberg from Sag Harbor, NY, 6/23/05 on Open Source
Torture, it turns out, is a forbidden practice that Americans do, to suspected terrorists being interrogated at Guantanamo, for example. Despite a taboo as clear-cut as the rule against incest, torture is something our high officials have sought to micromanage with refined definitions of non-lethal coercion of prisoners. Torture is something that more and more citizen moralists want to talk and argue about: the question for starters how official torture went from the realm of the unimaginable to the loosely conversational without ever passing through outrage. But there are trickier questions, too: do we talk about torture because its grotesque face keeps popping up? Or is it becoming more commonly tolerable precisely because we’re learning the vocabulary of cruelty that might be useful in a pinch?
professor of political science at Reed College, author of Torture and Modernity: Self, Society and State in Modern Iran (Westview 1994), the forthcoming Torture and Democracy (Princeton 2005), and Approaches to Violence (forthcoming Princeton 2006),[over ISDN from Portland, OR]
author, The Structure of Torture: The Conversion of Real Pain into the Fiction of Power[in studio]
- Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law [over phone, Sag Harbour, NY]