Should torture ever be allowed?
#11
I am among those who argue that in the ticking timebomb scenario it is permissible to inflict severe pain on a known terrorist to coerce him to reveal the whereabouts of the bomb, details of the plot, etc.  If you define this situation as "torture," then torture is not inherently wrong.  If you define "torture" as inherently wrong, or as something that always entails sadism, then I say that the infliction of pain I described does not meet this definition of "torture."  Personally, I'm fine with calling it torture and saying it's permissible.  I would also say that it is morally permissible to use severe pain as a form of corporal punishment for a crime. 

I note that several people here do not think the feds should be trusted to decide who is a terrorist or not, hence "torture" (I assume they mean in the ticking timebomb scenario) should not be permitted.  I do not buy this argument.  Following this line of argumentation, one might say, "I don't trust cops (=pigs), ergo they shouldn't be able to carry guns."  The worthiness of current magistrates is not the issue.  The issue is what a government has a natural right -- and duty -- to do.  Even a Communist government is right to arrest rapists and burglars.  If a neocon CIA agent (for the sake of argument) has a terrorist in custody and the terrorist knows where a ticking timebomb is planted, he has the right and the duty to do precisely the same things to get the information that a perfectly just Catholic CIA agent (for the sake of argument) would have.  One's distrust of current magistrates does not redefine what is or is not within the moral parameters of a government to do.  From the sounds of it, the Bush administration waterboarded three people who almost certainly would qualify for such treatment under any objective standard of evaluation -- all three were senior officials in Al-Queda.  *IF* waterboarding is moral and effective (if it is immoral, its effectiveness is irrelevvant; if it is ineffective, it is not moral), it would be moral to subject these three to it. It would be different if the Bush administration were waterboarding war protesters from the Catholic Worker Movement. 
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#12
When this question came up in my Policing class at college, I posed to our very liberal (yet, Catholic and pro-life) instructor the question of torture using Dirty Harry as an example.



For even him, he could not say Harry had done "wrong", although what he had done could never be standard procedure nor could it ever be condoned beforehand.
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#13
Many Catholics claim that torture is innately evil.  They cite the Vatican II document "Gaudium et Spes" (red flag there -- it's a pastoral council), par. 27, which John Paul II quoted in "Veritatis Splendor" in par. 80.  JPII writes that the list of proscribed evils he cites are "inherently evil."  *HOWEVER,* there is some ambiguity here.  Among the evils listed are slavery and deportation.  As Cardinal Dulles has observed, one cannot seriously say that every practice we call slavery is inherently evil; the Church has never taught this.  Furthermore, deportation obviously cannot be an inherent evil.  The Vatican II document obviously meant only evil forms of torture, slavery, and deportation.  JPII cannot mean that *everything* in that list is inherently wrong since that leads to ridiculous conclusions about deportation & slavery.  Hence, it is not sufficient to quote "Gaudium et Spes" and "Veritatis Splendor" as though they provided unambiguous condemnations of torture as such.  Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S., has gone through all of the relevant magisterial texts and concludes that the Magisterium has never unambiguously condemned the direct infliction of severe pain as inherently evil, nor has it ever addressed the ticking timebomb scenario.  He concludes that the use of what we commonly call torture in the ticking timebomb scenario is a matter open for debate.  I argue:  if we may kill a terrorist who is about to throw a bomb, we may waterboard a terrorist who has already placed the bomb and now refuses to reveal where it is.  Infliction of pain is a less damaging than death.  If killing is proportionate, so too would hurting be.

Cardinal Dulles:
http://www.articlearchives.com/society-s...061-1.html

Fr. Harrison:
http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt118.html
http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt119.html
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7390&CFID=3963195&CFTOKEN=32248139

Some relevant discussions:
http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fi...ut_to.html
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/10/c...lated.html
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#14
The answer to that question should be very easy. That it's not by erstwhile 'Christians' is an abomination and an indication of just how far off the rails the world is today.

The answer is NEVER.

And by the way, PEOPLE have rights - from God. Governments have NONE.

Seems man in NOT a 'rational being', he's a RATIONALIZING being.
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#15
(04-29-2009, 02:40 PM)cunctas_haereses Wrote: The answer to that question should be very easy. That it's not by erstwhile 'Christians' is an abomination and an indication of just how far off the rails the world is today.

The answer is NEVER.

And by the way, PEOPLE have rights - from God. Governments have NONE.

Seems man in NOT a 'rational being', he's a RATIONALIZING being.

Do you care to provide an argument for your position?  I admit that people have rights.  Magistrates have duties, and they have a right to fulfill those duties.  When I murder someone, the police officer has a duty to arrest me.  Hence, he has a right to arrest me (Romans 13:4), and I have no right to resist.  I argue that in the ticking timebomb situation, the relevant magistrate has a duty to apply proportionate means to gather information from apprehended terrorists.  Proportionate means *may,* I argue, include the direct infliction of severe pain.  I have provided Fr. Harrison's article, in which he argues that the Magisterium has not addressed the use of pain in such a situation.  He concludes that it is a matter open to debate. 
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#16
It also depends on how one defines torture.  Certain people think putting women's panties on a prisoners head, or parading prisoners around naked in front of women who laugh at their genitals is torture. Calling every interrogation technique "torture" is stretching the definition I'd say.

I think infliction of physical pain, as used in this thread, is a good definition but I wonder if inflicting psychological pain should be considered torture as well.  It is possible to harm people without touching them at all. 
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#17
(04-29-2009, 02:40 PM)cunctas_haereses Wrote: The answer to that question should be very easy. That it's not by erstwhile 'Christians' is an abomination and an indication of just how far off the rails the world is today.

The answer is NEVER.

And by the way, PEOPLE have rights - from God. Governments have NONE.

Seems man in NOT a 'rational being', he's a RATIONALIZING being.

Best post you've ever made.  :w2go:
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#18
(04-29-2009, 03:06 PM)WhollyRoaminCatholic Wrote:
(04-29-2009, 02:40 PM)cunctas_haereses Wrote: The answer to that question should be very easy. That it's not by erstwhile 'Christians' is an abomination and an indication of just how far off the rails the world is today.

The answer is NEVER.

And by the way, PEOPLE have rights - from God. Governments have NONE.

Seems man in NOT a 'rational being', he's a RATIONALIZING being.

Best post you've ever made.   :w2go:

I agree 
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#19
Torture is considered a moral evil by Catholic ethics, which means it is NEVER allowed for any reason in the world. We Catholics believe in objective truth and moral evil is a truth. With torture, you commit a mortal sin. It is not worth going to hell for.

It is better to suffer evil, than to commit evil.

No matter how evil it is that a person suffers from a certain evil, the person who committed the evil is worse off because will be judged by God for committing evil.

There is no circumstance for torture, even in the ticking time bomb scenario. The people who die are taking care of by God, but the one who committed the crime will be in the lowest pits of hell. If a person tortured this criminal, they will join him in hell.
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#20
(04-29-2009, 03:11 PM)SaintRafael Wrote: Torture is considered a moral evil by Catholic ethics, which means it is NEVER allowed for any reason in the world. We Catholics believe in objective truth and moral evil is a truth. With torture, you commit a mortal sin. It is not worth going to hell for.

It is better to suffer evil, than to commit evil.

No matter how evil it is that a person suffers from a certain evil, the person who committed the evil is worse off because will be judged by God for committing evil.

There is no circumstance for torture, even in the ticking time bomb scenario. The people who die are taking care of by God, but the one who committed the crime will be in the lowest pits of hell. If a person tortured this criminal, they will join him in hell.

Amen
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