No, torture is never justified

It’s sad to see that a large percentage of Americans think it’s perfectly fine to torture people.

There are three main arguments used:  First, they’re bad guys.  That apparently justifies everything.  Bad guys deserve evil, twisted, sick punishment.  This despite the fact that the majority of these “bad guys” had never even been given a trial, and we’ve already admitted that many were innocent, including at least one we killed through torture.  Abu-Ghraib-tm

Doesn’t matter.  Bad guys.

Second argument is that torture gives us useful information.  This despite the fact that it doesn’t.  The recent study showed that it didn’t.  Previous studies have shown that it doesn’t.  Every single study ever done shows that it doesn’t.

But it works on TV!  In the fantasy world of fiction, torture works and therefore we should base real world policy on what people make up.  People always come up with the kind of situation that, honestly, has never occurred.  (“What if there is a ticking bomb and torture will force the captive to tell us where it is so we can save millions?”)  It’s the same mentality that thinks “If we only all had guns, then whenever the bad guys tried something, all the good guys would fight back and never get hit and all the bad guys would die. That’s how it works in the movies!”

The prisoners in Gitmo were tortured and we learned nothing from them, except maybe how we aren’t always the good guys we like to pretend we are.

Third argument:  It’s not really torture.  “Ah,” as Arthur Dent would say.  “This is apparently a new definition of ‘torture’ of which I am unaware.”

The definitions of torture were written by us, years ago, after WWII especially — Where we punished Nazis (and the Japanese) who did the exact same things to Americans that we later did to al Qaeda suspects. We knew what torture was then, and it hasn’t changed.  It doesn’t stop being torture simply because we’re doing it.

Now, I am not denying that al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are Bad Guys.  The problem is that by torturing, we’re also the Bad Guys.  There are no Good Guys in that scenario.

Having Bad Guys is a great way to recruit supporters.  “Those Americans torture innocent people.  They’re the Bad Guys.  Join ISIS and fight against the Bad Guys!”  Maybe that was part of the CIA’s plan — they just wanted more terrorists so they can get bigger budgets, I dunno…

Some Fox News assholes — I’m sorry, commentators have proclaimed that even George Washington would have approved of force feeding someone through their anus while they are chained from a ceiling.  As usual, that’s not true either, as Washington said back in 1775 when discussing it with his soldiers:

“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”

Forget about whatever legal arguments you might want to give. Torture is not ethical. It’s not something human beings should do to other human beings.

Slavery was once legal, too. That doesn’t make it right.

Merry War on Christmas, Everybody!

Last year I gave a challenge to which no one could meet.  So let’s try again:

Find me one example of anyone trying to prevent people from celebrating Christmas.  Just one.grinch1

What you’ll find are a bunch of whiners complaining that they don’t get to force their religion on everyone else.

Every example Fox News gives for a “War on Christmas” always boils down to something like “They won’t let us force kids to sing our religious songs!” or “They say ‘Happy Holidays’ which acknowledges that not everyone is a Christian and therefore they are attacking us!” or “They are refusing to allow us to use taxpayer dollars for a religious display.”  (And yes, I used Fox News specifically because absolutely no one spoke of a “War on Christmas” until Fox invented it and saw their ratings boost.)

I submit to you that every so-called attack on Christmas is, in reality, fought in defense and wouldn’t even exist if these Christians weren’t trying to require everyone to obey their beliefs.*

Instead, there are some Christians who apparently are so insecure in their beliefs that if you say something like, “I respect your beliefs even though I do not share them and sincerely hope you have a happy holidays,” they are convinced that you are out to destroy everything they believe in.

So there’s my challenge.  Find me an example where that’s not the case — where someone is trying to prevent Christians from celebrating Christmas.

(And I mean real examples, because no matter what, there will always be some lunatic who is trying to prevent his neighbors from displaying a religious symbol because he wrongly thinks the Constitution requires it or because aliens told him to or something.  No matter what, there will always be one or two idiots on every issue.)

* and yes, I acknowledge that most Christians are good people who do not act this way, and are more concerned with keeping the Christ in “Christian” than the Christ in “Christmas.”

Oh, NOW we get a Surgeon General

Today, the Senate finally approved Obama’s Surgeon General candidate who had been held up because he had the audacity to say that maybe shooting people isn’t good for their health.  That made the NRA say no, and as we all know, the NRA takes precedence over logic and reason any day.la-apphoto-obama-surgeon-general-jpg-20140204

Might have been nice to have him back when there was the Ebola scare, huh?  Back when Republicans were arguing that Obama had no one in charge while simultaneously stopping him from having someone in charge?  Fortunately, the election ended and Ebola disappeared because Fox News and the Republicans didn’t need to scare anyone any more.  Hooray!  Everyone was saved!

Well, they finally approved him, because there was really no reason not to.  The guy is very qualified.

So here’s to your health.