Friday, June 10, 2011

Torturing Children

From the NY Times:
Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, a round-faced 13-year-old boy, was arrested at a protest in Jiza, a southern Syrian village near Dara’a, on April 29. Nothing was known of him for a month before his mutilated corpse was returned to his family on the condition, according to activists, that they never speak of his brutal end.

But the remains themselves testify all too clearly to ghastly torture. Video posted online shows his battered, purple face. His skin is scrawled with cuts, gashes, deep burns and bullet wounds that would probably have injured but not killed. His jaw and kneecaps are shattered, according to an unidentified narrator, and his penis chopped off.

From John Yoo, during a 2005 debate on presidential powers:
Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that. Not, Oh my God, no we would never injure an innocent child. In John Yoo's world, it's a reasonable question, that a President might think "he needs to do that."

And the right wingers (despite their claims to support freedom) see nothing wrong with torture. And we have corrupted our youth as well, in a horrifying way, according to a recent study by the Red Cross:
[A] surprising majority—almost 60 percent—of American teenagers thought things like water-boarding or sleep deprivation are sometimes acceptable. More than half also approved of killing captured enemies in cases where the enemy had killed Americans. When asked about the reverse, 41 percent thought it was permissible for American troops to be tortured overseas. In all cases, young people showed themselves to be significantly more in favor of torture than older adults.

“I think it suggests the national conscious is becoming more and more corroded and more accustomed to the violation of fundamental principles of human rights and international law,” says Lawrence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard, who blames programs like 24 that trivialize serious issues. ...

... the generational tip-toe back from humanitarian legal norms may say more about a nation increasingly removed from the costs of war. “For young people,” says Harvard’s Tribe, “to put themselves in place of a soldier is a level of empathy that most people simply don’t have anymore.”

Apparently, we are Syria.

Liberty weeps.


JCF said...

We have a generation of youth (esp. boys) who've grown up torturing digital avatars via video games.

That they can't tell the moral difference between that, and torturing actual human beings, doesn't surprise me. [Yeah, I'm making a simplistic argument, but I really think violent video games---even moreso than the violent movies of previous cohorts---have played a major role.]

MarkBrunson said...

Too easy, JCF.

How do you account for the Middle Ages right up to the present? No. It isn't video games, or rap music, or violence on tv. Human life is devalued in the very fabric of this world. We sell our time, the minutes and hours of our lives, for meager subsistence. We are powerless in the face of those who prey on us for profit. We teach our children in school nothing of being a good human, just being a good worker with a number and evaluation score rather than a name. You are your job and your salary, and to lose those is to lose your being. That's the cause for this end to empathy. What's to empathize? You're a number and I'm a number, too, so neither matter; but something inside tells us this is not true and sets up a dissonance that drives this generation, and, increasingly, the rest of us to a sociopathic insanity.

Video games are the outlet, a symptom, not a cause. Do away with things like them, and you'll see how animalistic people will get with no fantasy outlet.

JCF said...

I'm only trying to account for the reported demographic change, Mark. Not The Human Condition (which hasn't changed, and is too violent, too often)

Fred Schwartz said...

welcome to the world of Paul Ryan, Jon Boehner, Newt Ginrich, and the effervescent Christian right.

What's wrong with torturing a child? EVERYTHING!!!!!