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Torture vs. liberty

December 11, 2014

One of the sillier right-wing tropes has been the constant cry of “tyranny” over Obamacare. Now, yes, being required to purchase health insurance is some intrusion on liberty. But there is no indication that universal healthcare and its impositions cause nations to slide into authoritarianism. Nations such as Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, and the UK have had that for decades, while remaining free and open societies. In contrast, using torture to acquire or create intelligence long has been the hallmark of authoritarian regimes. An American Conservative article highlights the cognitive dissonance in those who pretend an interest in limited government and liberty, while defending a policy of torture:

[T]he case for limited government is weakened when those making it ignore or defend torture, testicle-crushing, and waterboarding, complaining only about big government when someone proposes spending taxpayer dollars to help people. .. It is difficult to take someone seriously who thinks the imprisonment of human beings in cages and the behavior of government agents with guns have less impact on personal freedom than the capital-gains tax rate.

US torture policy was justified by the ticking bomb scenario. And immediately was turned to its traditional use where it is accepted, to look for or generate desired intelligence, in this case, for the mythical collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

Andrew Sullivan discusses how the adoption of torture by the US government has shifted popular opinion of its legitimacy. John McCain remains the lone Republican upholding American tradition on what never should be at issue here. He deserves three cheers for his unwavering opposition to torture.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    December 12, 2014 8:37 am

    This summary of research on attitudes towards torture: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/11/370022493/what-is-torture-our-beliefs-depend-in-part-on-whos-doing-it

    is illuminating, particularly when one considers how critics of “moral relativism” think of torture these days (not that I ever trusted they were steadfast against it, as it is usually right-wing governments in this country who promote and practice torture.)

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