Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
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11-12-2014, 09:15 AM
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
Looks like two separate but related topics here...

(09-12-2014 03:32 PM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  I've seen a lot of discussion here lately about morality and ethics and what, if anything, our basis for these might be as atheists. Are there any constants or is it all relative?

Yes. It's all relative within certain fairly tight parameters. Anything too extreme tends to fail at being useful to or for society and gets changed/kicked out/imprisoned/killed off.

Take your example of torture. You've got a lot of "No! Never!" responses, and a few "Under Exceptional Circumstances" replies. Nobody is going to suggest that it's a good way to collect fines from parking tickets.

(09-12-2014 03:32 PM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  Anyway, what's your take on torture and enhanced interrogation?

The latter is weaselspeak for the former.

(09-12-2014 03:32 PM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  Is it moral?

No. It's needless suffering that serves no purpose. Come to think of it, it sounds a lot like a certain deity I've heard of. You wouldn't do it yourself so there's no moral justification for simply hiring a sociopath to do it for you.

(09-12-2014 03:32 PM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  Is it justified?

It might be if it were effective. If a person defines themselves as outside of the social contract and acts accordingly then there may be justification for using measures that are outside of the social contract. If those measures had any significant utility.

(09-12-2014 03:32 PM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  Is it effective?

Only minimally. By the time you break an individual, fascinating term that, any information they may reveal is likely so stale as to be of minimal use. It's also demonstrably unreliable. As has been pointed out, a person will say just about anything to make the pain stop if you hurt them badly enough. It's been pointed out that the torturers aren't complete idiots but it should be remembered that they do have their agendas and their preconceptions. It isn't hard to figure out what these are and give answers that are in line with them. History is replete with examples.

Let's look at some other problems though:

The Torturers: Nice job boys, you followed your orders well and caused the bad guys immense suffering. Do we now let you wander off to mingle with the rest of society? Is it possible for these people to ever lead a normal life? How much therapy would they need?

Society: Moving the bar to permit an extreme that would have been considered unacceptable moves the center too. If we accept torture for a few extremists then we can expect to see a higher frequency of less extreme behaviors at all levels of society. More closed-room questioning, more "falling down the stairs", more "broken tail lights", more "probable cause". Moving the bar doesn't just move it for one small group of people.

PR: It's damned hard to wear the white hat whilst tearing out somebody's toenails. You've played to terrorist propaganda and improved their recruiting by adopting extreme practices and, at the end of the day, becoming more of an extremist yourself. More like a terrorist. Win for the bad guys.

(09-12-2014 03:32 PM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  How do you feel about the congressional report that's being released on all these juicy CIA practices?

I feel that it would be more useful if the people responsible had to face justice. Or even some stricter laws saying that the next bunch of half-wits that tries this will face justice. As is it's all but condoning the practice.

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12-12-2014, 08:10 AM (This post was last modified: 12-12-2014 01:59 PM by Pointwithinacircle.)
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
(11-12-2014 09:15 AM)Paleophyte Wrote:  Society: Moving the bar to permit an extreme that would have been considered unacceptable moves the center too. If we accept torture for a few extremists then we can expect to see a higher frequency of less extreme behaviors at all levels of society. More closed-room questioning, more "falling down the stairs", more "broken tail lights", more "probable cause". Moving the bar doesn't just move it for one small group of people.
Forgive me for making a huge leap here, but the point about where we find the center is of great interest to me. It is easy for me to self righteously proclaim "I would never commit torture", but I use the center on a daily basis to judge the correctness of my actions and the actions of those around me.

I live in a world where the local police are being armed with military style weapons, vehicles, and tactical gear. While attending my local Christmas parade last week I noticed that the city police officers all had small video surveillance cameras clipped to their glasses. Is this really necessary in a town of 2500 people? But we accept it.

And while I am on my soapbox about what the average person thinks is normal, has anyone else noticed that police on television never seem to enter a building without first drawing their guns? Is that really what we think is normal police behavior today? Is this what we want to teach our children to expect from the police?

But don't worry about me, I'm just going to sit back like the people in Nazi Germany did and say "well it doesn't matter because they are not coming for me (yet)".
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12-12-2014, 01:19 PM
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
... Or you could join "them" and come for other people...

The culture of fear, the demonizing of the other - potent political weapons since the year dot. It's so easy to say "they are bad, they will kill us if we don't kill them, we aren't bad, we are *forced* by them to adopt these measures"...

Truth is what's important. Truth and integrity and holding politicians to account. We get the rulers we deserve.

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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12-12-2014, 02:30 PM
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
(09-12-2014 06:22 PM)pablo Wrote:  99% of my time here is clowning around.
Nobody here takes me seriously. Big Grin

So then you must be joking. Tongue

Oh wait, that would mean that you don't really clown around much and so you're not joking... in which case you really do clown around a lot and so you probably are joking... in which case... Unsure

Tongue

@DonaldTrump, Patriotism is not honoring your flag no matter what your country/leader does. It's doing whatever it takes to make your country the best it can be as long as its not violent.
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12-12-2014, 02:58 PM
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
In my view, torture is always wrong for any reason. The minute we engage in it, we lose the ability to point to terrorists about the horrible things they do without appearing disingenuous. We start becoming the very thing that we are supposed to be standing against. It's barbaric.

Furthermore, the ones ordering the torture aren't typically the ones doing the torture. So it puts the ones doing the torture in a position to have to buck against orders or do something they may not feel comfortable doing.

The excuse normally used for torture is that we get valuable information that could not be obtained otherwise. That's just unacceptable. I wouldn't go rob a bank and never tell anyone at the bank or return the money stolen (i.e., a real crime, not a staged one) just because it seemed to be the only way to catch some real thieves. If there is no other way to get the information from prisoners, then so be it.

The only question I wrestle with is the situation where we know there is a terrorist plot to kill hundreds or thousands and torturing someone might help save those people. But I still side against the torture because, if we start saying the rights of one person is less important than hundreds, then we may as well go bomb the entire middle east. Sure, some innocent people will die, but just think about how many terrorists will also be killed and then the entire rest of the world benefits. Obviously that would be horribly wrong and so is torturing the one person to save the hundreds.

Let the terrorists be the ONLY ones that are wrong.

@DonaldTrump, Patriotism is not honoring your flag no matter what your country/leader does. It's doing whatever it takes to make your country the best it can be as long as its not violent.
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12-12-2014, 03:01 PM
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
From a utilitarian perspective it is difficult to see torture working well in the long term.
It is possible that some people may be saved, relevant to quick action in some instance,s following a break down of the person being tortured.
As for the actual ideology or source this method may well exacerbate the essential problem.
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12-12-2014, 03:44 PM
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
(12-12-2014 03:01 PM)Mr Woof Wrote:  From a utilitarian perspective it is difficult to see torture working well in the long term.
It is possible that some people may be saved, relevant to quick action in some instance,s following a break down of the person being tortured.
As for the actual ideology or source this method may well exacerbate the essential problem.

It has been shown it doesn't work. At all.

Occasional TTA returner then leaverer.
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17-12-2014, 06:16 PM
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
The use of torture is not an effective way to gain actionable information but it is super useful in gaining confessions. Which is how it was used by nearly every authority throughout history.

It's practically the least effective way to gain actionable and factual information. Once you start torturing a man you confirm every bias and negative opinion about you he held, and it becomes far harder to gain anything valuable from him. Doing the opposite on the other hand.... acting in a way he does not expect, taking his preconceptions and turning them on their head. Treating him like a person, actual and whole, and building trust, finding out what he wants and trying to at least partially supply it and/or building a quasi-friendship is how you gain actual information. How you actually diminish the number of people who hate you and want to attack you. A thing most professional interrogators are well aware of.

You need to humanize yourself in his eyes, not dehumanize him in your own. That way leads dark things. Very very dark things.

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08-03-2015, 03:46 AM
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
Maybe enhanced interrogation should be a reward rather than a punishment. For example, we might get a Muslim terrorist to confess if we offer him 27 virgins now rather than having him wait until he enters heaven. To be fair to the virgins,we would supply him with 27 really ugly ones who wanted to be deflowered. We would blindfold him and tell him the "beautiful" virgins are shy.
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08-03-2015, 03:57 AM
RE: Torture/Enhanced Interrogation
(08-03-2015 03:46 AM)Transfinite Wrote:  Maybe enhanced interrogation should be a reward rather than a punishment. For example, we might get a Muslim terrorist to confess if we offer him 27 virgins now rather than having him wait until he enters heaven. To be fair to the virgins,we would supply him with 27 really ugly ones who wanted to be deflowered. We would blindfold him and tell him the "beautiful" virgins are shy.

That's... not what enhanced interrogation is...

I guess to be fair, hoods and other forms of blindfold are often used as part of it...

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