Monday, May 4, 2009

Is Torture an Option?

As a self-professed libertarian, I have been on the fence with the use of torture.  Mainly, I have veered to the opposition as of late, but there still are some lingering questions in my mind.
There is no doubt that waterboarding is torture.  You cannot say it is not and be intellectually honest.  While it induces no physical harm on the individual, it is a coercive method to force someone to answer your questions.
Sleep deprivation is more of a fallacy in my mind.  I understand, however, that it can cause some serious harm to someone if used over a long period of time.  I would say that depriving someone of sleep for more than three days would definitely be torture, however.
The problem I have really is the justification used for torture and the arguments against it.  It just seems to be full of holes on both sides.
On the right, you have the argument that it works and produces results.  I have trouble with this because this is the kind of thinking that goes against conservative principles.  It is an ends-justifies-the-means argument for torture.  Any principled conservative would have to see that aspect of the argument and flatly reject it.
On the left, they argue that torture is immoral.  I find that notion laughable because the secular left in this country has done little with morality.  They often confuse morality with financial equality and flatly reject to source of morality.  It seems hypocritical to me for them to reject torture on those grounds.
But the message is clear: torture is immoral and it works.  I have heard both arguments made plain by pundits and entertainers alike.  What I have trouble with is resolving whether we should torture or not.
On the one hand, the only people being tortured by the United States are Islamic fanatics who would gut you and me without a second thought all the while screaming “Allah Akbar” as loud as they can.  On the other hand, a government that is given authority to torture people will inevitably turn that torture technique around on its own populace.
I will, however, have to err on the side of caution and say that a civilized Republic, such as the United States was intended to be, should not torture anyone as it is too much of a slippery slope.  One way to deal with a slippery slope is to get off that slope.
Sadly, our fearless leaders within the rim of insanity feel no need to stop the torture of detainees and I worry that they someday will come for people like me solely because I do not like them.  After all, we have given them the power to define terrorism as they see fit through the USA PATRIOT Act.  They may employ preemptive measures on people like me solely because I oppose their radical statist agenda.