Waterboarding at Fox
Steve Harrigan gets waterboarded on Fox and you can watch at on Hot Air at the link? How does it feel? It feels like s**t, beyond a doubt. What does it prove? Apparently that you don't suffer any perceptible damage from it or that, if you had a choice, it would be far preferable to getting your fingers chopped off, your teeth knocked out or your arms broken by dangling you from the ceiling. But what does it prove morally? Ah, there's that word! Whose morality, then? Didn't you know this post was going to be difficult?
Nobody even admits to waterboarding, though the individuals depicted on the video apparently know a lot about it. But assuming somebody did this kind of stuff would you never approve it if you had reason to think the interrogation would save lives? Here are a variety of answers whose logical flaws are interesting to pick out. Readers, start your brain cells!
- "It's wrong period". Even if waterboarding could save a thousand lives legitimizing the practice is unmistakably evil. We make something bad into a licit act and one day these practices will be used against American citizens on the grounds that it is useful.
- "What's the difference?" We accept the use of force to subdue suspects, often injuring them in the process. We even subject US soldiers to this waterboarding experience to train them against hostile interrogation. A prisoner will likely suffer far more injury being taken prisoner than being waterboarded, if Harrigan is correct. Since violence is part of social life, as an established fact, why should this not very injurious practice be unreasonably excluded just because someone calls it torture?
- "Let the market decide". If I were a father whose child were kidnapped I would voluntarily submit to Harrigan's experience to win the release of my son. I would be willing to exchange the stress of waterboarding for the life of the hostage. Why should the malefactor, if found, be exempt if I the parent would not exempt myself? And come to that, when I send a police officer after a malefactor, am I not asking him to assume a risk far greater than the consequences of waterboarding? If I could obtain the location of the victim by using it, thereby saving the victim and ensuring the safety of law enforcement, is that not in fact moral? All suffering is fungible. What we need is to create a mechanism for the rational exchange of preferences.
- "You'll never know". Whether you're damning yourself to hell by waterboarding a likely suspect or damning the victims to a painful fate by not saving them from those monsters. But you may have to do something. So look at yourself in the mirror each time and ask: "do you feel lucky today, punk? "
- "We'll never have to make this choice" It's too hard. Let's work through the United Nations and engage in dialogue and then if somebody really needs to do it, well I hope they won't tell us.