Americans’ Love/Hate Relationship with Torture

Americans’ Love/Hate Relationship with Torture

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,16 December 2014

The Snap:

Most pictures or videos of former Vice President “Dick” Cheney scare the crap out of me. There was one featured in Politico last week that I fear will haunt my dreams until the day I die. Seriously, I’m about to put my therapist on speed dial. Since 2009, I foolishly thought I was relatively safe from his maniacal eyes and cannibal teeth. That ended when Chuck Todd had to give it the old college try in terms of getting Cheney to define torture and say what circumstances warrant such action; Cheney’s answer translated from megalomaniac to English as “whatever I say it is” and “whenever I say it does.” At the risk of provoking a man who shot someone in the face whom he actually liked, let’s take a closer look at what torture is and what we as a people think about it.

The Download:

Depending on what you watch and who you listen to, you could think Americans are so in love with torture that they want to take it behind a middle school and get it pregnant (get well soon, Tracy!). But since it’s the holidays and I don’t want to think the whole country is a fetid combination of unjustified moral superiority, apathy, and deep-fried jackassery, why don’t we examine the evidence?

When you get down to it, Americans don’t really know what the hell to think about torture, if our government has conducted it, if it is ever a good idea, and if it includes sitting through 4 solid hours of PowerPoint presentations. Some of us think it is never justified, produces no discernible benefits, and actually harms us by serving as a recruiting tool for extremists. Others think, like our esteemed former Vice President, that protecting the country can and should include any means necessary.

It’s also tough to figure out how Americans’ mixed up views compare to the opinions of other countries. Polling data is notoriously tough to come by and if we can’t say what we actually think torture is and isn’t, how the hell can we hope to form an educated opinion on if and how it should be used? It seems as if Cheney thinks any action done by Americans is not torture and could even be considered patriotic. But what if every country’s leaders thought like that?

I’d ask those who consider it un-American to think any act carried out in the name of homeland defense is not beyond reproach to actually read the acts described in the report recently released by the Senate. Don’t read it as a bedtime story to your kids or a pre-dinner brain exercise but really read and think about the descriptions of what took place. Is it torture? What about if someone else did those things to our citizens — then would your answer change?

P.S. Congressman Peter King, before you tout your expert analysis on the difference between torture and something that is merely uncomfortable, maybe try standing in those “awkward” positions for 180 hours and see if your opinion changes.

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Hat Tips:

PoliticoForbesWashington PostNew  Yorker30 RockPew Research CenterBBCNew York TimesDebate.Org, Image Credit: Flickr

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