I LOVE comments. Please leave some even if they are brief half-formed ideas
that you aren't even sure you really believe. I just love comments.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Accountability

President Bush said Saturday he vetoed legislation that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods such as waterboarding to break suspected terrorists because it would end practices that have prevented attacks.
CNN. My government tortures people. Am I morally accountable for this given that not only have I not risen up against that government, but have in fact funded it? Is voting against Bush and losing my temper when people talk about him from time to time enough to acquit me before the courts of heaven?

7 comments:

Matt Dick said...

That's a good question.

I would go back, as I always do when this question makes an appearance -- in any of its guises. Pro-life advocates know (blieve is not strong enough a word) that abortion takes the life of a child.

If they know this, as surely as you know that killing a three year-old is murder, how can you argue that they are wrong for bombing abortion clinics?

I guess torture is not as evil as infanticide, but they're both pretty bad.

I have tried to keep in mind that if I believed the government was allowing (and funding) clinics where children were murdered, I hope I would be as committed as the abortion-clinic bombers.

I think we need to stop them from their activities, but at least they aren't believing child murder is happening while they wait for the next election to come around. Mike Huckabee apparently thinks that John McCain actively campaigns to maintain the right for people to murder their children, and yet he's affable and friendly about it. That is what makes no sense.

Matt Dick said...

Wow, re-reading that I realize how scattered the arguments were. I hope my point is hiding in their somewhere.

JimII said...

There is an important distinction, though. Abortion is not murder and waterboarding is torture.

I wrote more, but that is really the end of it. Is torture less evil than infanticide? It is a very weird question, but infanticide is not happening and torture is.

You raise the question about a rational response to an irrational belief. It's an interesting question, but I don't know if it is germane here. We know that torture is going on, don't we?

BTW, Huckabee & McCain and every other Republican know good and well that abortion isn't murder. NONE of them said the punishment for conducting an abortion should be the death penalty. And ALL of them are pro-Death Penalty.

JimII said...

Point of clarification: one may think abortion is wrong; one may even think criminalizing abortion is a good thing to do. That's fine. I'm not saying that supporting the criminalization of abortion is irrational. I'm saying that claiming that abortion is murder is irrational.

Matt Dick said...

A few points:

I'm saying that claiming that abortion is murder is irrational.

Irrational or not, to those people it is murder. Mike Huckabee has said it a million times -- to him, abortion is murder. And yet he's not attempting to overthrow the government. He faces, exactly, your dilemma.

Another point is that I don't know that I think waterboarding is torture. I have never seen it or felt it happening. I know how emotional people are on the subject, but I've only ever read about one account from a person who went through it. How much do you know about it?

I know that I think an FBI agent ought to be able to ask a prisoner questions. I know he shouldn't be allowed to cut off a finger each time the prisoner refuses to answer a question. Unless my son's life in the balance.

So I can convince myself that there are conditions under which I would happily, willingly endorse an FBI agent cutting off a prisoner's finger to get an answer. I just can't put myself in charge of deciding what's right and wrong in some of these extreme cases. I don't know who is qualified to answer that.

JimII said...

Irrational or not, to those people it is murder.

Right. There are people who believe it, but Mike Huckabee is not one of them. He is a liar exploiting an absurd demonization of his opponents. If he believed it was murder, he would be in favor of the death penalty for people who committed abortion. He is not, he said that too.

The dilemma that I face is not what I think should happen to the people that torture, it is how much do I need to destroy my life in what would likely be a futile effort to change things, in order to feel like I have not condoned something I abhor.

JimII said...

Another point is that I don't know that I think waterboarding is torture.

This is a solid point. It is why I am pleased the Democrats in Congress asked the president to limit CIA tactics to those of the Army Field Manual. In other words, they wisely put it in competent hands.

The President rejected this wise position because his ego and pride are sufficient to interfer with protecting American soldiers taken captive and our reputation abroad.

I don't like him very much.