- response to Barbarians (2007-11-21) and the one other reply
Yes, the culture is barbaric and there are barbarians who help maintain the status quo, and we owe it to ourselves (and to all civilization) to stop it.
What I’m wondering is whether the use of torture isn’t doing more harm than good towards that end.
My admittedly limited reading on the subject has found little or no evidence that torture has a high rate of success at extracting accurate information, and runs considerable risk of obtaining information that is just plausible enough to convince the HWT (hydrated washcloth technician) and yet remains, somehow, inaccurate and hence useless — a senseless waste of a perfectly good washcloth.
Intuitively, as well, it would seem obvious that if a certain percentage of wet washcloth encounters involve a person who is not in fact in possession of the needed information, the sheer agony of non-consensual facial cleanliness might be sufficient to inspire — shocking though it may seem — a momentary, unthinking lapse into falsehood. I know, it seems difficult to imagine that even hardened jihadis fully deserving of a complete rubdown and massage-with-facial — never mind a little washcloth action — could stoop to such depths, but these are of course terrorists we are dealing with… and we know how they are.
But seriously… where might I find more data on torture effectiveness? If nothing else, we should be sure that America uses only the very best, proven and state-of-the-art interrogation techniques. It wouldn’t do for our position as leaders of the free world, the beacon of liberty and justice, to be seen using outdated or ineffective methods for anything, much less the time-honored discipline of hurting people to get information. If we can’t even get *that* right, surely we deserve to lose. (And don’t let any of those wacko liberals try to tell you that there are better ways of getting information. I don’t care how “accurate” the data you might get by any namby-pamby alternatives; there is simply nothing as satisfying as information you get after hearing someone scream for mercy. …oh wait, did I say that out loud? Sorry, I sometimes say things I hear everyone thinking.)
— Buzz Clearcut (note: this persona was intended as a satire of right-wing thinking)
I was going to refer to torture as "AMPKR (aversion-motivated personal knowledge research)", but decided it would be lost on the audience... even if the rest of it isn't also lost. The blog post was regarding this article: Husband of Saudi gang-rape victim: “You could say she’s a crushed human being”, about a Saudi Arabian woman who was sentenced to 90 lashes for being the victim of a gang-rape, and then threatened with having that raised to 200 lashes for complaining. I found it admirable that the blog author called this barbarous, but ironic that this is much the same behavior exhibited by the Right here in the US whenever anyone disagrees with them (dissent is treason, and traitors should be shot!). I didn't want to assume the blog author agreed with the Right on that particular topic, so I didn't address it. You have to wonder how anyone can criticize this sort of thing and still proudly call themselves right-wing.