Polls from Fox News and CNN indicate that around 60% to 70% of Americans disapprove of an Islamic community center being built in New York, blocks from Ground Zero. A followup Gallup poll, though, shows 65% of Americans have only heard a fair amount, a little, or nothing at all about the issue.
Either way, I find it disturbing. The majority of Americans either think their petty sense of emotional outrage is more valuable than an unambiguous right of religious freedom, or they are opinionated on an issue they are not completely familiar with. The media has gleefully fanned the flames without clarifying the facts.
“Yes,” I hear the critics of the Islamic community center say, “we all have religious freedom.”
“But,” they add, “you should be polite enough not to use it when it offends us.”
Supporters of waterboarding, or “enhanced interrogation”, or plain old, let’s-get-medieval-on-your-ass torture –if they’re willing to call it what it is– often put forth the argument that causing pain and discomfort to a terrorist will save lives by preventing an imminent attack. They might say something along the lines of “What if a terrorist knew the location of a soon-to-be-detonated dirty bomb. Wouldn’t torture be OK then?” But while they may be sincere in their belief, their little scenario is self-serving and false in the extreme.
The proponent here presumes to know what the suspect knows before the torture has even commenced. Well, they don’t know the mind of the suspect; he may, in fact, be completely innocent. This hardened thinking reminds me of Bill O’Reilly when he said all the prisoners at Guantanamo should have been shot. Did he mean to include the ones that were eventually released?
Terrorists also tend to work in groups. I don’t know about you, but if I were a terrorist, my planned attack would be postponed if one of my brethren suddenly went missing or were captured by the authorities. And I’d hit the road and look for a new headquarters. The CIA has already admitted that none of the information gained by torture thwarted an actual attack. Most of it was about the structure of Al-Qaeda’s as an organization.
Life isn’t a TV melodrama. Jack Bauer isn’t going to save the day by beating the crap out of Nina, no matter how much we despise her. Presuming to know the mind of a suspect only leads to repeatedly asking the suspect the same question, over and over again, and torturing them for the “correct” answer, whatever that may be.
In the 1990’s there was an infamous case in California of a teenage boy who was questioned for hours by police in the murder of his sister. He confessed and was convicted, even though it was later determined with compelling DNA evidence that a stranger had committed the horrible crime. Pressuring a person for the answer you want usually gets you what you want; it doesn’t get you what you need.
The ambiguities of real life make torture seem cartoonish and black-and-white, and part of a worldview credulous conservatives can get behind.
Only a cold heart wouldn’t admire Christopher Hitchens for his willingness to experience water-boarding firsthand. He broke quickly, but who the hell wants to endure drowning, “simulated” or otherwise?
The past week has left me feeling sick to my stomach. It’s when many of my fellow Americans abandoned their warmbloodness by adamantly defining water-boarding as not torture, but as an acceptable method of “enhanced interrogation”. Forget that there’s a long legal and moral precedent calling it torture.
But there are two points on this subject that I haven’t yet heard anyone bring up. First off, if water-boarding is not to be called torture, then we’re creating a ready-made legal defense for those who water-board. An American citizen held in any foreign land could be treated to this method of interrogation, and we could not stand on any moral, or legal, high ground because we deprived ourselves of that privilege. And our own law enforcement (police, FBI, DEA, etc.) could not be held fully accountable if they chose to water-board prisoners. A defense lawyer could easily argue that the venue of the interrogation makes no difference to the definition of water-boarding. If it’s not torture in the military, it’s not torture in civilian life. Perhaps it’s simply a form of assault. Criminals of all sorts would certainly find a new legal definition advantageous.
The second point is that not calling water-boarding torture shifts the whole scale. equally unpleasant techniques could be redefined, too. Water-boarding deprives a person of oxygen and is called simulated drowning. So, should choking or dunking a person under water or placing a plastic bag over someone’s head for a prolonged period not to be called torture? They’re all as dangerous and as horrible as water-boarding. One could make the case.
This discussion makes me feel like I ‘ve been dragged back in time to a more morally ambiguous era.
My posts have mostly slammed Christian creationists for their anti-intellectualism and pseudo-scientific ideas. So to be fair, I’m offering up this turd of a video featuring a Muslim creationist. He may have an accent, but he blabbers on like a Christian, using all the hackneyed arguments against evolution. He spins a caricature of Darwin and science for his audience, and hopes the sheeple will not question his lies.
The arrogant prick who posted the video on YouTube describes it as “Why Darwin’s theory is incompatible with the Quran”. A reasonable person, of course, would not have held a single book up as irrefutable. Science is open to being questioned; that’s why it works. Clearly, the Quran is a fragile text, one that crumbles under the slightest criticism.
Chuck Norris has written his own review, of sorts, of Expelled: the Movie. It’s actually more of an endorsement than a review, since he really doesn’t describe the movie in any detail. He just makes a sucking noise as he presses his lips up against Ben Stein’s ass. On to the comedy… I mean review.
I saw it last weekend, and I liked it. I think it will wake up many people to the truth. What truth? That educational arenas have become limited learning environments because of biases against God, the Bible and creationism.
Wow! It’s like wading through a cesspool of ignorance. The bias you speak of, Chuck, is toward evidence. If God would only make himself more available for interviews, creationists could offer something more than cheap unsubstantiated conclusions, ones which lead science nowhere. If biologists suddenly acknowledged God’s invisible hand in creation how would it further their work? Something that cannot be measured or analyzed or observed isn’t useful one bit to science. More now from Chuck:
Stein is correct in saying that passionate antagonism and hostility (that parallels any fundamentalist extremism) equally exists in naturalist and Neo-Darwinian camps. Proof of their avid bias easily can be seen in some evolutionists’ reviews of this film. Many are loaded with as much inflammatory language, intolerance and bigotry as any hate-filled group.
Inflammatory language? Who’s the one comparing scientists to Nazis? Ben Stein declared that “Darwinism leads to Social-Darwinism” and that Charles Darwin’s writings inspired the Holocaust. How more inflammatory and hate-filled can one get than by playing the Hitler card? Negative reviews of Expelled criticize Ben Stein for his inaccuracy and his ignorance of science, not for his tenuous connection to a genocidal militaristic mad man. But leave it to creationist liars to be the ultimate hypocrites.
Chuck ends his “review” with a plug for religious freedom and for teaching the Bible in public schools… as a textbook. Freedom of religion is great. We can agree on that. But I just wonder how open Chuck would be to the teaching of religions other than Christianity? Is it really about freedom or about maintaining a Christian monopoly?
P.S. I do like the title of Chuck’s review, “Win Ben Stein’s Monkey”. It’s clever.