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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Waterboarding: Conclusion 
4th-Feb-2008 01:14 pm
I have discussed this issue before. After reading this and this (two short articles), and having my frequent correspondent do the same, we're in agreement.

1. Waterboarding should be illegal.

2. The prosecutor, the judge, or the jury may let the person go if they believe it was morally justified. But you have to put yourself on the line if you're going to do that. No exceptions are set forth in the law. The example where I would let the person go, from the story:

In my column, I raised the example of the German police chief who threatened a captured kidnapper with torture because he refused to reveal where he had buried alive his 12-year-old victim. The kidnapper promptly gave the location. The German police chief lost his job for making the threat.

It may well have been more noble on some level for him not to have made the threat, but I prefer a less rigid concept of morality. I would not have fired the police chief, or prosecuted him. I agree completely with his actions, even though torture is repulsive. The boy's life matters more than my rectitude or peace of mind.
4th-Feb-2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
The problem is that the law works by precedent. If you once admit that to threaten or use torture or other methods forbidden by the law can be justified, you leave space for any individual to decide what is justified and what is not. What I would do is something like the English courts have done in a case (I think more than once, but I can only recall this one) where two adult sisters who had been abused and virtually enslaved by their father since childhood eventually conspired to murder him. The women were condemned, but received only a suspended sentence. The law had shown its disapproval of deliberate murder whatever the provocation, but had declined to further ruin the lives of people who had already suffered.
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