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Should torture ever be allowed? - TheQueenMother - 04-29-2009

Someone sent me a link to this article today.

http://buchanan.org/blog/pjb-is-torture-ever-moral-1518

I have always felt pretty torn about this whole issue.......... I may lean a little more toward allowing torture if the situation is very serious and lives would be saved......and if the methods employed are not too over the top. - By this, I mean if pain is inflicted without causing permanent damage or harm -is that even possible??? (Perhaps we mothers could come up with some ideas.......ie. good ol' fashioned spankings; a mouthful of soap; to bed without dinner; time in the corner; and lots and lots of chores.....esp. the nasty ones like cleaning the boys' bathroom with a toothbrush ;) Oh, yeah, and we can't forget lots of nagging. We'd have a confession from the most hardened terrorist in no time, wouldn't we, gals?)  Seriously though, what do you all think? This really is a tough one.....


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - tradmaverick - 04-29-2009

I suppose it depends on the situation, I imagine it would be a lesser evil in many cases, I mean lets say someone kidnapped a child or something like that, had the child hidden away, wouldnt tell the authorities where the child was, then Id like to think he could be made to do so.

But Im not really sure about what the Church teaches on the matter, however it strikes me that she must allow it some serious cases.

Its a tough one isnt it.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Walty - 04-29-2009

I was listening to a Catholic radio station yesterday and they had a moral theologian on to talk about just this specific issue.  I'll have to find his resources to back this up, but he talked extensively on how torture cannot be permissible under any circumstances.  This is not, again, one of these 'lesser of two evils' issues.  He was specifically asked whether torturing a man who knew where a bomb was that would kill millions of people was morally permissible and he said that it isn't.  There are no exceptions with torture.  It is a gravely sinful act and must never be allowed.

Not to mention the fact that we agreed to not torture many times including the Geneva Convention.  The fact that this government has done so is just further proof that they do whatever the heck they want and they couldn't care less about being dishonest, untrustworthy, and taking your civil rights.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Anastasia - 04-29-2009

In theory, torture might be used as a punishment for crimes, but the problem is, do we trust the government with the power to torture? The argument that it is legitimate to torture the terrorists is dependent on who defines what a terrorist is.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - didishroom - 04-29-2009

Exactly. I think in certain circumstances torture could be allowed. The Church certainly tolerated it in the past. But I'm hesitant to give the green light to the Federal Government. So sorry, Condi, you get thumbs down from me.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Historian - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 10:29 AM)Walty Wrote: I was listening to a Catholic radio station yesterday and they had a moral theologian on to talk about just this specific issue.  I'll have to find his resources to back this up, but he talked extensively on how torture cannot be permissible under any circumstances.  This is not, again, one of these 'lesser of two evils' issues.  He was specifically asked whether torturing a man who knew where a bomb was that would kill millions of people was morally permissible and he said that it isn't.  There are no exceptions with torture.  It is a gravely sinful act and must never be allowed.

I'd like to hear the reasoning behind this.  It sounds to me like he may be working from the same rationale that says the death penalty should never be used.  Even if you can't find the resources, if you remember the names of them, I'd be interested in trying to find them myself.

Things need to be used in such a way as they go to the greater good.  Winning a court case isn't good enough, but saving millions from a bomb might be.  Further, you can't force someone to do the right thing - in other words, if you torture bomb information out of him, there is no merit in him telling or your actions because good works have to come of free will.  Things that are inherently evil, such as murder, can never be used to the greater good.  Fortunately, just executions don't fall under murder according to the traditional teachings of the Church, and, AFAIK, neither does torture.

The main problem with torture is that it usually doesn't work.  Someone who can't be convinced by reasoning isn't going to be convinced by the threat of torture.  The torture has to be such that it will actually break his will, but at that point, most people will say anything just to get the pain to stop.  If you can't proceed with a reasonable belief that the torture will make a difference towards the common and greater good, then certainly you should not use it.  On the other hand, torture sometimes does work, and if the good to come from the information greatly outweighs temporary pain, then I think it could be justified.  Of course, then you have to consider how much and what kind is reasonable.  It shouldn't be any more than is necessary to get the information in the time period needed.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Historian - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 11:23 AM)Anastasia Wrote: In theory, torture might be used as a punishment for crimes, but the problem is, do we trust the government with the power to torture? The argument that it is legitimate to torture the terrorists is dependent on who defines what a terrorist is.

I disagree that torture per se can be used as a punishment for crimes.  Certainly, corporal punishment such as a caning or chain-gang can be used as punishment, but torture by definition does not go to punishment.  The goal of torture is to break the will; the goal of corporal punishment is to provide consequences for actions.  They're two different things.

I wouldn't trust this government (or most modern governments) to flush after it crapped let alone to use torture for the common and greater good.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - didishroom - 04-29-2009

Quote:I suppose it depends on the situation, I imagine it would be a lesser evil in many cases, I mean lets say someone kidnapped a child or something like that, had the child hidden away, wouldnt tell the authorities where the child was, then Id like to think he could be made to do so.

But Im not really sure about what the Church teaches on the matter, however it strikes me that she must allow it some serious cases.

Its a tough one isnt it.

If torture is morally permissable in certain circumstances, than it would be good, not a lesser of two evils.

I don't really believe in the lesser of two evils things. Circumstances can make a neutral thing good, but we should never do evil.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Historian - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 10:23 AM)tradmaverick Wrote: I suppose it depends on the situation, I imagine it would be a lesser evil in many cases, I mean lets say someone kidnapped a child or something like that, had the child hidden away, wouldnt tell the authorities where the child was, then Id like to think he could be made to do so.

We are only allowed to choose the lesser evil when there are no alternatives except choosing some sort of evil.  Here, that is not the case.  They could 1) continue investigating, 2) use non-torturous interrogation techniques, 3) offer cash for someone to snitch, etc.  It may be different if the child had a bomb attached set to go off at noon and it's 11 am, but even then the likelihood of torture working in that hour is slim to none.

You're also working from a yet-unproven premise: that torture is evil.  For it to be the lesser evil, it has to be evil to start with.  That's a bigger question: is torture inherently evil?  Causing someone pain isn't evil in itself - doctors cause pain when they set a bone, etc.  It goes to intent, among other things.  If you torture someone for fun, that's evil.  But if a greater good can come from inflicting pain, then it's not so clear, at least to me.

Really, I'd be interested in hearing the theological / moral arguments as to why torture is never allowed.  Never is a long time, and that type of restriction needs some justification.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Historian - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 11:54 AM)didishroom Wrote: If torture is morally permissable in certain circumstances, than it would be good, not a lesser of two evils.

I don't really believe in the lesser of two evils things. Circumstances can make a neutral thing good, but we should never do evil.

Exactly on both points.  Evil can never be done.