Friday, November 02, 2007

A Civilized Nation

Civilized: adj: Showing evidence of moral and intellectual advancement; humane, ethical, and reasonable.

This is beginning to freak me out. How many governments in the world have discussions about torturing prisoners, with the leadership insisting that they be permitted to do so?

One. My country is that one.

I could be okay with the discussion if it was a short one and ended with the executive being told that torture was “off the table.” But the argument has been ongoing for more than four years, the executive will not take ‘no’ for an answer, and a significant portion of the country supports him.

Other countries use torture, but they don’t talk about it because they are countries with totalitarian governments over which the citizens have no influence or control.

Fully democratic countries don’t use torture and don’t talk about wanting to do so, because their governments are sufficiently responsive to the people that the leaders know that the civilized population will throw them out of office for even suggesting it.

This country’s leadership plays the fear card.

By making the people whom they supposedly serve sufficiently afraid, the leaders of this county actually reduce the level of civilization that the nation enjoys. The more afraid a population becomes the more the “lizard brain” takes control, and civilization breaks down.

The justification for torture is always, “I’m doing it to keep my country safe.” But there is no proof whatever that it does so, and considerable evidence to the contrary. What torture is really about is a gut-level reaction to terrible fear and a step in the breakdown of civilization.

George Washington, founding founder of our country, on torture:

"Torture is a terrible and monstrous thing, as degrading and morally corrupting to those who practice it as any conceivable human activity…"

Not just the person, it degrades the country as well. I want to weep.

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