The Pro-Torture Lobby

Oddly enough, our Stalinist friend, L. Motl, has a pro-torture post up right now.

His justification, like those of torture justifiers always and everywhere, is that the victims (in this case terrorists) of the torture are so bad and undeserving of human treatment, that they deserve this treatment, and, moreover torture is needed to combat them. Others against whom this rationale has been used include "reactionaries" and "counter-revolutionaries" in Communist nations, enemies of the ruler, practically everywhere, Jews, and heretics like scientists.

Those who founded this country incorporated some provisions against torture into the constitution. They knew that torture victims are all guilty, because the tortured will confess to anything. That is how Bush got his phony evidence of a collaboration between al Quaeda and Iraq - they tortured an al Quaeda operative until he figured out what it was they wanted him to confess to. For the torturer, this nicety is a small one, since because they get pleasure by inflicting pain, that proves to their twisted minds that the victims deserved their fates.

I find LM's comment interesting not for any intrinsic merit, but for the insight it gives into the mind of the would be perpetrators. Psychologists claim that we all have sadistic tendencies. Those who act out their sadistic thoughts rarely like to admit their motivations though. Narcissistic personalities like Motl and Bush who enjoy causing pain to others usually claim some reason or justification for the cruelty they enjoy. Their enemies (and almost everybody is an enemy to them) don't deserve to be treated as human beings, and hence anything inflicted on them is excusable. Someone diagrees with you - call them a "dog" and then any behavior of yours can be considered permissable.

It's a discouraging fact of human nature that the sadistic personality - Hitler, Stalin, Tony Soprano, ex-Specialist Charles Graner, Bush - often finds it easy to attract accolytes. Our best weapons against them are probably courage and our contempt - they tend to fear both.


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