Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Well, Nobody Asked Me

I am against torture, under all conditions. I am against the death penalty, under all conditions. While many people may deserve the ultimate punishment, it is never applied equally. How one can rationalize that Charles Manson or Sam Berkiowitz are still alive, but some seventeen year old kid who killed a convenience store clerk and has been dead at the state's hand for years, I will never understand.

Torture is not an effective method of extracting true and useful information, no matter what you see on television. The Spanish Inquisition (waterboarding was popular back then too) was a good example of power out of control.

That more than one person felt rape was okay, really disturbs me. Without a trial, without a determination of guilt, people are willing to violate another person in ways that are supposedly abhorrent to civilized society. There is never an excuse for rape. Never. Ever. Ever. Not under any conditions. It wasn't right with Abner Louima, and it certainly wasn't right with fourteen year old Abeer Hamza Qassim.

Our national identity, our psyche has been severely damaged in ways that are becoming frighteningly apparent. We are willing to give up all trappings of civilization, to rescind our humanity, all in the foolish pursuit of a perceived bogeyman. We search in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways and in the process are confirming to the world that we, as a nation, are a fear based society, not a rational one.

We used to be a beacon of light and hope to the world, but now we act like scared little children, afraid of the dark and imagining that there is a bad man under every bed and in every closet. We no longer think, we react. To the littlest things. The big picture has escaped us as we descend into our collective madness, thinking that television reflects real life. Survivor, Big Brother, 24, they aren't real and never will be. They are not models on how to deal with life's problems and challenges. Betraying your friends, stabbing your neighbor in the back or shooting him in the face are all inappropriate ways to manage the daily aggravations of trying to get ahead. But not to us, torturing those who are probably innocent is A-OK.

What are we protecting if we have to use lies, threats and torture? The American way? What is that exactly? As the war drums increase their frenetic beat, in search of another false enemy, it would be wise to contemplate the fate of recent regimes that espoused terror and torture in an effort to control the populace. Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot all went the way of the Dodo. We should make sure that we don't follow.


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