Saturday, May 23, 2009

Torture

"The healthy man does not torture others - generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers" -- Carl Jung


I'll tell you what torture is. It's listening to Dick Cheney. Why he even has a pulpit to yell from is beyond me. You don't hear W taking the time to make speeches defending torture.

This week's dueling speeches by President Obama and former Vice-President Dick Cheney have brought into focus the great divide between those that see the moral problem with "anything goes" security and those that watch 24 too much.

Some highlights from Obama's speech:

... I know that we must never — ever — turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.

I make this claim not simply as a matter of idealism. We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset — in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval.

Fidelity to our values is the reason why the United States of America grew from a small string of colonies under the writ of an empire to the strongest nation in the world.

It is the reason why enemy soldiers have surrendered to us in battle, knowing they’d receive better treatment from America’s armed forces than from their own government.

It is the reason why America has benefited from strong alliances that amplified our power, and drawn a sharp and moral contrast with our adversaries.

...From Europe to the Pacific, we have been a nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law. That is who we are.

Optimistic, patriotic (in a good way), moral.

Cheney took a different tact ... defensive, misleading, appealing to fear. Cheney hoped to rebut Obama's speech, but instead responded with his own speech rife with misstatements, bravado and outright lies. It seemed to be more of a preemptive strike at avoiding jail time (his daughter agrees), than an honest defense of interrogation techniques.

Cheney cited the support of Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, but Blair's words hardly sound like support:

"there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

From other Bush era officials:

A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.

FBI Director Mueller Robert Muller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.

Tom Ridge, the original Director of Homeland Security, and someone who would know about terrorist threats:

... he disagreed with Vice President Cheney’s claim that President Obama is making the country less secure. “Yeah, I disagree with Dick Cheney,” said Ridge ... “It’s just the whole notion of a Republican vice president giving a speech after the incumbent Democratic president,” he said. “It’s gotta go beyond the politics of either party.”

Senator John McCain (someone who knows more about torture than another politician):

“When you have a majority of Americans, seventy-something percent, saying we shouldn't torture, then I’m not sure it helps for the Vice President to go out and continue to espouse that position,”

... Cheney, he says, “believes that waterboarding doesn’t fall under the Geneva Conventions and that it’s not a form of torture. But you know, it goes back to the Spanish Inquisition.”

... McCain reiterated that waterboarding is “not a new technique, and it is certainly torture.” “You hear it from al Qaeda operatives that when we torture people and it becomes public, then it helps them recruit,” he said.



Some (Joe Scarborough) have compared Cheney to Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men, Colonel Jessup, positively:

The Cheney-esque Jessup defends his decision by saying, “[his] death, while tragic, probably saved lives” and “[y]ou have no idea how to defend a nation. All you did was weaken a country today.” So in that sense, yes — Cheney’s speech yesterday was “straight out of ‘A Few Good Men.’”

Joe omits the end of the movie where Tom Cruise's character replies:

“[Y]ou’re under arrest, you son of a bitch,”

Let's hope that life imitate art.

I'm sick of these people who give tacit approval to torture out of some so-called noble reason. If the specious "terrorist with a ticking bomb" arguments make you sleep better at night, so be it. But real life is not an episode of 24. We not only debase ourselves, we breed the very thing we say we are fighting. The ends do not justify the means. We have to be better. We must appeal to the "better angels of our nature".

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." -- Friedrich Nietzche



34 comments:

wunelle said...

Great post. I'm amazed and disappointed that anyone is giving this malign, anti-democratic bozo air time for anything. And the fact that the sound-bite media cannot resist a battle-of-titans, mano-a-mano approach to covering these two events disgusts me. We have just about managed the switch from actual news coverage to 24-hour, ratings-obsessed, reality-TV puffery. What must an educated visitor to this country think of the America found on our televisions?

Dick Cheney is a criminal who has done huge damage to our country and its institutions, a caricature of a statesman. Who gives a shit whether he approves or agrees with Obama?

Scott said...

The torture debate is so tiresome. What a country this has become.

Sadie Lou said...

Nietzche's quote reminds me of the one from The Dark Knight...

Harvey Dent says,
"You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."


Which leads me to more Dark Knight quotes...

The Joker says,
"The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules!"

Later in the movie, Bruce is talking to Alfred...

Alfred: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?

Alfred: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

The torture debate is tiresome because I am tired of it being a black and white issue. So few topics are really black and white--almost nothing, outside of God's word, is black and white.
~Sadie

Scott said...

Hi Sadie,

The issue of torture is black and white because The Law, with a capital L is black and white. As in, it is either legal or illegal to torture someone. In this country, it is illegal to torture someone. It is illegal for you to torture another person, but more importantly, and the true issue at hand, is that is is illegal for the government to torture someone. So it is, that all of these scenarios which are posed by people like Dick Cheney, in which we are told that torture can save lives and thus could be morally justified, are totally irrelevant. They are totally irrelevant because torture is illegal. Per US Law, torture by the government is illegal. As such, and with any other crime that is committed for morally justifiable reasons, whether or not the act was in fact justifiable needs to be determined by the criminal justice system.

And that's really only if you take the government's word at face value. Because the only proof we have that these acts of torture had any positive effects, is press releases by the criminals that actually did the torturing. That's it. There's no other evidence provided. It'd be like if I stole millions from someone and issued a press release saying I used the money to save the lives of starving children, but offered to receipts to that effect. You'd just have to trust me. Surely the fact that I've admitted to doing this crime would slightly taint my credibility, would it not? But we're told we have to trust the State in this issue of torture, formally by Bush and now by Obama who is suppressing evidence of what actually happened.

CyberKitten said...

Sadie - I find the idea of compromise on torture difficult to comprehend. Where are lines drawn and who draws them? How much torture is enough or too much? Do ends ever justify means? Why did torture suddenly become acceptable again?

To misquote Marx for a moment:

"How miserable is a society which knows no better means of defence than the torturer".

dbackdad said...

Wunelle - Exactly. Why is Cheney the standard-bearer? Can Bush not speak for himself? Don't answer that question ... I think we know the answer.

Scott - I couldn't agree more that this discussion has become tiresome. And well-said comment on the illegality of torture.

Sadie - Great quotes from Batman. But, perhaps, not the correct interpretation. Christopher Nolan certainly meant the movie as a cautionary tale and a not-so-veiled indictment of the "war on terror". As Nolan says, “As we looked through the comics, there was this fascinating idea that Batman’s presence in Gotham actually attracts criminals to Gotham, attracts lunacy,” he said. “When you’re dealing with questionable notions like people taking the law into their own hands, you have to really ask, where does that lead? That’s what makes the character so dark, because he expresses a vengeful desire.”

It's odd that many from the right took a completely different meaning from the movie. Something similar happened a few years ago with V for Vendetta.

CK -- Good quote.

CyberKitten said...

dbackdad said: CK -- Good quote.

I read it a few days ago in a book by Albert Camus. The *actual* quote is:

"How miserable is a society which knows no better means of defence than the *executioner*".

...but it was just too good not to post.

Laura said...

The only way torture becomes acceptable is if we allow ourselves to demean the tortured to a level below 'human' (and not even then really since what rational person thinks it's ok to torture animals, for example?). The mere fact that we have so many people in this country defending this practice calls into question our collective moral fiber. Usually these are the same people who bitch and moan that this is a country founded on "christian" values when social issues like gay marriage come around but who are oddly silent or twist themselves into pretzels with their rationalizations about Christian values when the issue of torture comes up.

Sadie Lou said...

Scott--
This is just so complicated for me. We live in a fallen world. Our human nature is to serve the flesh and NOT what what we were designed for which WAS to serve God.
Hence, even our man made laws are fallen ( flesh driven at times). In fact, even the event that changed the course of our lives forever was an act of violence because of the severity of sin.
So when you say that torture is illegal and that we should honor it because it's the law--that's where I find complications. If the law told me to do something or NOT do something that required me to break THE LAW (God's Moral Law), then I would have a problem obeying the law of the land, man's law.
We see through Scriptures the times when man's law threatened the lives of God's people if they didn't obey and God's people counted their lives as lost in order to serve the Higher Law. Because ultimately, we answer to Him--not man.

So when it comes to man's laws--it's never black and white for me--it's always subject to the word of God.
Thankfully, the law of man is generally the best example of our very best attempts at supreme morality and I believe that the laws against torture are a valiant effort from man to say that we, as humans, should be above violent methods of gaining important or valuable information. My heart applauds the INTENT of this law. However, when there are people who do not live by the moral code most of us adhere to (Christian or not), then what course of actions do we take to protect freedoms and liberties and our very lives?
It is nobel to want to stick to the standard but that's not going to save lives. Why?
Because of what I said--some men just want to see the world burn.

Lance,
"It's odd that many from the right took a completely different meaning from the movie. Something similar happened a few years ago with V for Vendetta."

I had no idea "The Right" have an opinion on the themes of The dark Night. I'm not voicing some group opinion--it was just my own thoughts/interpretations.

Sorry for the long winded post, I was thinking out loud and just kind of pleading for some clarity--

Sadie Lou said...

Sorry, but I'm just going to be transparent and laid out on this one--
There are sick people out there that do sick things to their fellow man. I mean, my heart can't even bare the the thought of the kind of atrocities that people commit against one another and if the gospel weren't true and was proven to have just been a lie--then I wouldn't even want to finish this race because then hope, justice--it's all lost.
I think about my own children, these pieces of my heart that I allow to go out from my protection and into this world and then I think about what my mental state would be like if someone were to harm them or take them from me and it's just too much to even think about.
Then I think about what I would do if I were faced with taking someone's life in order to save one of my kids and it's not even a debate--it's like a given that I would do whatever it takes--
When the depraved assholes of the world take advantage of sane individuals like us and come into our homes with the intent to do harm to our bodies--I mean, where is the moral code then? Morality is absent for these people--they don't have any--so what good is our moral efforts at those critical times in our lives?? It's like just a fight to survive at that point--it's primal, it's basic it doesn't even have any rationality--so in some cases, survival trumps morality--unfortunately, in this fallen world.

CyberKitten said...

Sadie said: However, when there are people who do not live by the moral code most of us adhere to (Christian or not), then what course of actions do we take to protect freedoms and liberties and our very lives?
It is nobel to want to stick to the standard but that's not going to save lives.

So... You think it's sometimes OK to torture people if the information recieved through that process saves lives?

Sadie said: It's like just a fight to survive at that point--it's primal, it's basic it doesn't even have any rationality--so in some cases, survival trumps morality--unfortunately, in this fallen world.

Are we still talking about torture here... or have you moved the conversation on here? Are you saying that in specific circumstances that *any* level of violence is permissable or do you think that we should always be restrained to use reasonable force?

Sadie Lou said...

I honestly don't know where my head is at right now about this topic because I don't see the torture debate as being cut and dry/black or white.

I just like venting to you guys because I feel safe among our circle of "friends" and it helps me to decide things when I bounce my thoughts off people who aren't so quick to agree with me.

CK, you said,
"So... You think it's sometimes OK to torture people if the information recieved through that process saves lives?"
- - - - - -

Why is this even the question that matters? Isn't the bigger issue, why do people put other human beings in the position of having to resort to violence in order to prevent human tragedy and death?
I can't even answer your question in the way you phrased because it doesn't contain any facts. Your question assumes that the person in "danger" of being tortured is the one to be protected and the lives that this person may be threatening are somehow secondary to the issue of torture?
It's hard to get my hands around that.
Let me rephrase your question with some hypothetical facts behind it:

So... You think it would be OK to torture people if the information received through that process saved the lives of my children or anyone's children or a hospital or a school or the white house or whatever other facility that terrorists like to target?

Yes. I guess I do. I don't think it's OK and I don't know the consequences for resorting to violence to save lives but isn't that what we are forced to do? If the situations didn't require it, then it would be an option! Don't the criminals escalate circumstances to the point where they hold us over a barrel because they know that we're morally incapable of being like them? Isn't that the point?

CyberKitten said...

Sadie said: So... You think it would be OK to torture people if the information received through that process saved the lives of my children or anyone's children or a hospital or a school or the white house or whatever other facility that terrorists like to target?

Yes. I guess I do.

The point (actually several points) I'm trying to make here is that such things are not simply black and white.

For instance.... The people being tortured in this scenario are *suspects* right? They haven't been actually convicted of anything - and under normal circumstances are considered innocent until *proven* guilty. This means that you're ok with torturing at least a percentage of truely innocent people and not just those who are innocent in the eyes of the law. Unless you think that anyone accused of terrorist activities shouldn't be treated as innocent - in which case why bother having any trial because, well, they're already guilty merely by being *accused*.... right?

How about this scenario:

The Taliban hear about a planned bombing raid on one of their villages where there are many women and children, schools and hospitals. A few days before the planned raid they capture an American pilot and torture him for information about the attack thereby saving the lives of many innocent people.

Would you be ok with that? If not, why not? If torture is ok, in certain circumstances, does it matter which 'side' is doing the torture? Or is it a case that only we are allowed to do such things - because we're the *good* guys... right?

Sadie Lou said...

CK--
"The point (actually several points) I'm trying to make here is that such things are not simply black and white."

We agree on this point because I have said that several times too.
:)

"For instance.... The people being tortured in this scenario are *suspects* right? They haven't been actually convicted of anything - and under normal circumstances are considered innocent until *proven* guilty."
- - - - - - -

I agree that the person is a suspect, sure.
But we can agree torture, in the context that we are meaning, is a tool to gain information right?
We're not talking about torture for the sake being cruel to our enemies right? I don't have any conflict over that category of torture.
(obviously it's wrong)
So, if we are talking about torture as a tool, can we also agree that generally, the suspect is told to be cooperative at some point? I'm sure the suspects are asked questions in which the suspect is given the opportunity to cooperate and torture comes when the suspect is not forthcoming with the information. Aren't the authorities trained to know the difference between an innocent suspect and a suspect that is not being forthcoming?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not ignorant--I know people make mistakes and innocent people get tortured unjustly.
But surely you're not assuming that sometimes, the suspect being tortured is guilty.

Are you serious about the Taliban and the US soldier scenario?
I'm smarter than that.
:)
- - - - - -
"Or is it a case that only we are allowed to do such things - because we're the *good* guys... right?"
- - - - - -
You know me better than that, I would think--what's it been? 5 years in the blogsphere?
~Sadie

CyberKitten said...

Sadie said: I agree that the person is a suspect, sure.

So *legally* innocent. You have no issue with torturing innocent people? Unless you want to change the status of the suspect merely because they have been *accused* of terrorism.

Sadie said: But we can agree torture, in the context that we are meaning, is a tool to gain information right?

No. Torture (apart from being deeply repugnant) is an awful way to gain information. If I was in enough pain I'd swear that black was white on a stack of Bibles - if such a thing actually meant anything to me.

Sadie said: I'm sure the suspects are asked questions in which the suspect is given the opportunity to cooperate and torture comes when the suspect is not forthcoming with the information.

So... You think its OK to *torture* someone because they choose not to co-operate in an investigation? Silence = guilt now?

Sadie said: Aren't the authorities trained to know the difference between an innocent suspect and a suspect that is not being forthcoming?

Well... Of course! The Authorities *always* have our best interests close to their hearts and would never tourture people without good reason. So we can just place our trust in them. Debate over I think. [rotflmao] Are you *really* serious Sadie? Sat it ain't so.....

Sadie said: Don't get me wrong, I'm not ignorant--I know people make mistakes and innocent people get tortured unjustly.

...and you're OK with that? How do you compensate someone who has been unjustly tortured? How do you work out the dollar value of such a thing?

Sadie said: Are you serious about the Taliban and the US soldier scenario? I'm smarter than that.

So, what the difference - apart from the Taliban being 'the enemy'?

Sadie said: You know me better than that, I would think--what's it been? 5 years in the blogsphere?

You do give me pause from time to time... you really do.....

dbackdad said...

Sadie - I didn't mean to lump you in with "The Right". That was not my intent. I just meant to say that I had heard similar appraisals of Dark Knight and V for Vendetta by conservative reviewers. Maybe that's what signifies good art -- meanings other than originally intended by the artist can be taken. Nothing wrong with that.

You said, " ... If the law told me to do something or NOT do something that required me to break THE LAW (God's Moral Law), then I would have a problem obeying the law of the land, man's law..." -- I agree with this, though not in relation to "God's Law". We all have to filter society's laws through our own personal morality. But we do live in a "society". To an extent we have to have some kind of civil framework. It's not right if someone else's moral code dictates whether torture is OK, when that is at odds with law. When we do it as a government, that's basically saying that all of us are signing off that it is OK. And it most certainly isn't.

"... my heart can't even bare the the thought of the kind of atrocities that people commit against one another ..." - Where is your heart when it is us that are committing those atrocities? What is the possible justification for things like Abu Graib?

As for doing something "primal" in defense of our own family, I'm with you, law wouldn't come into play. We would do anything for our children. But that has zero to do with the "ticking bomb" scenario. That's a laughable logical fallacy that shouldn't convince anybody. It seems to be the entire justification to allow for torture, the "what-if" scenario. It would be funny if it wasn't actually people in power using that argument. People who've actually tortured say that the intelligence gathered is not useful.

Our whole system of laws is based on the principle of "reasonable doubt". This was to minimize the chance that an innocent person would be sent to jail or killed. Should how our government acts be any different? I've said this before ... we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. If not, how are we any different than any other country? There is no moral high ground that we can stand upon and judge others if we do not aim that high-powered analysis at ourselves.

And don't take any of this bantering between all of us as mean-spirited. As I'm sure you already know, we all enjoy this and are respectful of all opinions. This is truly a forum that I think we can let our guards down. And I'm glad you're visiting my blog a little more frequently. We truly miss you when you are not around.

Sadie Lou said...

CK--I'm so confused.
*laughing*
If torture doesn't produce the desired results (ever) why do humans use it? It's not like torture is a new concept and it's not like the West is the biggest proponent of torture. People don't usually do something over and over again if it's not working for them on some level. But we're not dealing with facts are we? Because you can't prove torture never works and I can't prove it does (right now)


And I'm not really understanding why you flip the tables on me all the time. Obviously, if you read my comments, you can see this is a moral conflict for me. I'm not in love with the idea of torture--you get that right?
This whole issue boils down to this:
Mankind is SCREWED UP>
We do SCREWED up things to each other which causes more SCREWED up things to happen and NONE of it is OK by the Golden Rule but the Golden Rule means nothing to some people so the problem for those of us who do keep to the Golden Rule have to decide when we have to stick to our principles and when we have to ditch it in order to survive and not let the crazy people win.
When Hitler was running his freak show, the people with brains in their head decided that in order to stop the freak show, someone was going to have to take out the Clown Leader. Right?
When some nightmare disguised as a man has ultimate authority in his country and starts popping people off and this becomes genocide, usually--something SCREWED up is going to have to happen because psychos don't give up their power willingly, correct?
When serial killers get their fix and then start thinking they are smarter than the cops--do they give up the game or does the game get worse? Does the guy turn himself in or is it usually a fight to the death> I mean, come on!
I'm not trying to defend torture as if there was nothing morally screwed up about it.
I'm just trying to get YOU to admit that we live in a pretty sick world and then we can talk about what we do about it.
Which will ultimately lead us back to our old dance of Moral Law. Whose Moral Law is the standard and what constitutes good and bad and what we do when we are forced to deal with people who have a twisted moral code or the lack thereof.
Wanna Dance?
:)

Sadie Lou said...

Lance-
"Sadie - I didn't mean to lump you in with "The Right"."

Okay, because honestly, I didn't know it was a topic between lefties and righties--I think you're right about art being open to interpretation.
- - - - -
"When we do it as a government, that's basically saying that all of us are signing off that it is OK. And it most certainly isn't."

And I agree with you. I just view this topic differently, much like abortion. I don't believe abortion can be 100% banned and illegal because of the small percentage of times when an abortion is actually (medically) needed. The Right would love to say there isn't a "right" reason for an abortion and I would say, we can't possibly know every single possible reason. Even supporters of the right to choose would agree that there are women who abuse it.
I view torture much the same: It's not OK with me morally. It's wrong and it symbolizes that very ugly side of what man is capable of.
But I thank God I'm not one of the people who has to make those tough choices.
How can we possibly weigh in on something without all the facts? How could we know what we would do if we did have all the facts?
I dunno--
"... we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. If not, how are we any different than any other country? There is no moral high ground that we can stand upon and judge others if we do not aim that high-powered analysis at ourselves."

But to what end, Lance? I mean, many times in history the people had to abandon law and order to obtain freedom. Do we uphold the moral high ground while we get trampled under foot? It's like telling a child on the playground not to strike back at the bully because hitting is wrong.
(hitting is wrong but the bully doesn't care)


And I love it here. I might sound sensitive and annoyed sometimes but I love discussing hard stuff with you guys--I don't do it with anyone else.

CyberKitten said...

Sadie said: If torture doesn't produce the desired results (ever) why do humans use it?

It does produce 'results' - its just that the resultant information is inherently flawed. Of course the 'other' result of a regimes use of torture is the terror it instills in the population.....

Sadie said: People don't usually do something over and over again if it's not working for them on some level.

It's a pretty good method of control. Would you be associated with any group of people if even the *chance* of being tortured for information about them was always in the back of your mind?

Sadie said: And I'm not really understanding why you flip the tables on me all the time.

You mean why I take the opposite position to you? Normally because I disagree quite a bit with what you say..... [looks confused] I'm certainly not picking on you as a person.

Sadie said: Obviously, if you read my comments, you can see this is a moral conflict for me.

Maybe so... but you still think that torturing legally innocent people is OK - even if only in specific circumstances. I *strongly* disagree with you.

Sadie said: Mankind is SCREWED UP

Then shouldn't we be working to *un*screw them?

Sadie said: We do SCREWED up things to each other which causes more SCREWED up things to happen...

...and one of those 'screwed up' things is torture.

Sadie said: the problem for those of us who do keep to the Golden Rule have to decide when we have to stick to our principles and when we have to ditch it in order to survive and not let the crazy people win.

So... Are you saying that anything is permitted in response to those who break the Golden Rule? That we throw out whatever rules we live by and fight them in their own gutter?

Sadie said: When Hitler was running his freak show, the people with brains in their head decided that in order to stop the freak show, someone was going to have to take out the Clown Leader. Right?

....and we went to war with the Axis Powers in self-defence.... Your point being? We still had rules of conduct even when fighting the Nazi's. Should we have simply torn up the rule book (more than we actually did?)

Sadie said: When some nightmare disguised as a man has ultimate authority in his country and starts popping people off and this becomes genocide, usually--something SCREWED up is going to have to happen because psychos don't give up their power willingly, correct?

As I'm arguing over on JA's Blog the fact that a State starts killing its own people whilst being no threat to our interests or national security is not in itself a valid or sufficient reson to go to war with them.

Sadie said: I'm just trying to get YOU to admit that we live in a pretty sick world and then we can talk about what we do about it.

What? By *adding* to the horror? Can we *torture* our way to a better world? Do you believe that's even possible? Personally I don't think so. The ends do *not* justify the means.

Sadie said: Which will ultimately lead us back to our old dance of Moral Law. Whose Moral Law is the standard and what constitutes good and bad and what we do when we are forced to deal with people who have a twisted moral code or the lack thereof. Wanna Dance?

You know that I do not believe in Moral Laws or standards that exist exterior to human culture. Morality is subjective and arbitary. If we had accidently been born in diferent places or at different times we would inevitably have different moralities from what we presently hold. Our moralities are accidents of birth - nothing more.

Still wanna dance?

Sadie Lou said...

Yes. I wanna dance because on JA's blog, didn't you tell Orthopax that you don't believe in Objective Morality?
I'd have to go look but I remember scratching my head over it.
~S

Sadie Lou said...

CK said...
"I also do *not* believe in objective morality"

"Morality is subjective and arbitary."

???
~S

CyberKitten said...

Wassup Sadie?

I'm stating my belief that morality is not objective - it's subjective. In fact its *arbitrary* (damn my inability to spell!) because it depends on an accident of birth.

Or is it because I'm making definitive moral statements?

dbackdad said...

I think I'm overdue for a visit to JA's blog. How I miss arguments on morality. :-)

CyberKitten said...

I think Me & Scott might have killed it.... [grin]

Scott said...

It's a tough crowd over there when it comes to blowing people up for their own good.

dbackdad said...

I just read all the comments over there. You guys were definitely a lot of fun. Sorry I missed out on that.

Needing to "blow people up for their own good" was why I haven't been an active participant over there for awhile. There are several frequent commenters there that need blown up, but I just didn't have the patience. Scott, you are good at doing that without getting personal or taking it personal.

Scott said...

Sadie, I don't want to misinterpret what you are aim at, so I'll try and restate it in my own words. I think what you are saying is that, since there is evil in the World, that actions that are less than moral may be justified at times to combat that evil. Is that kind of it in a nutshell?

See, the problem with this it's trying to set a very broad standard to a very limited thing. What I mean by that is if you say everyone has the ability to do evil, so we must do something to prevent it, you are then trying to apply that principle to a specific group where the "we" that must do something is actually a government agent that must do something. And since you're starting point is that the World and man are fallen, doesn't it stand to reason then that this agent is in fact fallen and evil? Since he is, in fact, a man?

So given that fact, does it make sense to entrust him with such power as to torture other humans, secretively and without review as we are led to believe needs to be the case?

Although I'm not 100% I'm following you accurately.

I still don't really understand what the world being fallen has to do with anything. Since the World is fallen it's okay in some instances to do evil? It seems like bad logic. Is all evil okay to do sometimes since the World is fallen? What about rape? Is that okay sometimes since the World is fallen?

Sadie Lou said...

CY
"Wassup Sadie?

I'm stating my belief that morality is not objective - it's subjective. In fact its *arbitrary* (damn my inability to spell!) because it depends on an accident of birth.

Or is it because I'm making definitive moral statements?"

- - - - - -
I guess I just never realized that objectivity vs. subjectivity was such a huge jumping off point for atheists. I was just putting it out there for you to offer me an explanation--we're dancing right?
:) I'm not as well versed in atheism as I come off sometimes.
- - - - - -
Scott--
I still don't really understand what the world being fallen has to do with anything. Since the World is fallen it's okay in some instances to do evil? It seems like bad logic. Is all evil okay to do sometimes since the World is fallen? What about rape? Is that okay sometimes since the World is fallen?

- - - - -
I think living in a world that has fallen morally has everything to do with the evils in this world.
First, let me just clarify something for all of you if I wasn't crystal about it before:
I am not an advocate FOR torture. I don't think torture is OK for anyone and it's not OK for me.
If you saw what I said on JA's blog on torture, I said I can't be black and white about it because that would make me a hypocrite.
Give me the right situation and I would probably consider torture as a viable option to save lives--put the right equation out there and I might think it was the solution.

Is that clear?
It's all in the variable. Much like I am not black and white about abortion.
Is it black and white for me personally? Yes--abortion is wrong, morally, ethically, spiritually, for me. Would I be OK with it given the right variables? No.
Can I make that choice for someone else?
How can I know the variables?
Some of these hard issues have multiple variables--circumstances start swaying the issue and complicating the results.
Hence, I am unwilling to say "NEVER" to torture.
How can I be more clear?

CyberKitten said...

Sadie said: I guess I just never realized that objectivity vs. subjectivity was such a huge jumping off point for atheists.

I am a loss to explain how some atheists I've seen on-line put forward to idea of objective morality. As far as I am concerned such a thing cannot exist - for in order for it to do so it would have to exist outside of human culture. As there *is* nowhere outside of our culture for such a morality to exist it cannot do so.

Sadie Lou said...

CK do you understand my position more clearly now?

(cyberkitten, you should get a facebook account)
:)

CyberKitten said...

Sadie said: CK do you understand my position more clearly now?

I think so - though I don't agree with it.

Sadie said: (cyberkitten, you should get a facebook account)
:)

[laughs] Over my dead body!

Sadie Lou said...

Cy--
Do it!!
PLEEEEEEEase??
Why not?

CyberKitten said...

I waste enough time on-line without doing Facebook too..... [laughs]

BTW - You might find my latest post today interesting.....

shrimplate said...

"Thank god for Hitler."