Friday, August 01, 2008

More Torture

Whenever I decry torture, some dumbass always pipes up with the "ticking time bomb scenario" as a justification for it. That's like justifying cannibalism with the "plane crash in the Andes scenario".

Vache Folle: I reckon that eating other people should not be permitted.
Dumbass: What about when you're stranded in the wilderness with no food and there's no choice but to eat your companions? Cannibalism could save your life.
Vache Folle: Are you saying that because cannibalism might be necessary in a highly unlikely hypothetical situation, that you can eat people in other situations?
Dumbass: I guess I am!

With torture, none of the incidents where torture has been applied by the Bush regime has ever been in the context of the "ticking time bomb scenario". Not once. Never. The "ticking time bomb scenario" does not pertain. Even if you concede the necessity of torture in such an extreme case, it doesn't justify its use in any other context. I try not to get into the trap of arguing over the validity of the "ticking time bomb scenario" and cut straight to the idiocy of deploying it as a justification for torture in every instance.

Vache Folle: Would you agree that it's wrong to shoot babies?
Dumbass: Of course.
Vache Folle: What if the baby is playing with a nuclear device and is about to set it off and the only way you can stop her in time is to blow her head off with a high powered rifle?
Dumbass: Then you'd have no choice.
Vache Folle: Then we should be able to shoot babies whenever it's convenient for us to do so.
Dumbass: I wouldn't say that!
Vache Folle: This is the same reasoning you just applied to torture.
Dumbass: No it's not.
Vache Folle: It is so.
Dumbass: Isn't!

The "ticking time bomb scenario" does serve one useful purpose. It let's you know without further inquiry that you are dealing with a dumbass.

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