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Old 12-22-2005, 04:36 PM   #26
James Davis
 
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Paige Frazier wrote:
Listen to these guys go on long enough and u'll find out. The down side is that u have to listen to them.
Oh my!

What a mean thing to say!



(Nice one. )

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:13 AM   #27
mj
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Paige Frazier wrote:
Listen to these guys go on long enough and u'll find out. The down side is that u have to listen to them.
Imagine if you'd listened to us in the first place?

Then you would have been right, too

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Old 12-24-2005, 12:16 PM   #28
aikigirl10
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Re: More Torture

Haha.. i was waiting around to see if Neil Mick was going to give me some sort of ... erm... witty response.. crap.

lol j/k

*Paige
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Old 12-26-2005, 07:36 AM   #29
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Re: More Torture

Why participate in a discussion you seem to have no idea about or only want to ridicule the people who are intelligently contributing?

As for the anti-war question, I know I am!

Gregory Makuch
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Old 12-26-2005, 10:34 AM   #30
aikigirl10
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Gregory Makuch wrote:
Why participate in a discussion you seem to have no idea about or only want to ridicule the people who are intelligently contributing?
Geez... SORRY Its called a joke i dont know if u've heard of it.
I knew there'd be that one person...

But...my mistake i'll look next time to make sure ur not on the thread first.

*Paige
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Old 12-26-2005, 12:49 PM   #31
Lorien Lowe
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
If you captured a person who knows where and when a bomb will explode that will kill all of your family (mother, wife, children or whomever you love most), to what extent would you be willing to go in order to get that person to tell you the information you require to save their lives? Would saving the lives of the people you care about most in the world and rely upon for your own life justify [torture]?
It's very important to recognize some of the assumptions here.

1)The person you have captured really does have the information you need. Presumably, you don't have time to give him/her a trial and allow evidence to be presented in his/her defence, so we have to give the interrogaters the benefit of the doubt on this one.

2)Torture really will gain the accurate information that you need in a short enough time to stop the bomb. This assumes that the prisoner will break very quickly, and that the prisoner will not attempt to give the interrogaters a plausible lie. I heard once that only 5% of American war prisoners (some held for years) in either Korea or Japan broke under torture, but I don't know how accurate that is.

3)You have a torturer who knows how to successfully torture. Torture is not a 'skill' that arises spontaneously. Some people cannot committ torture at all; others will become uncontrollable and kill or damage prisoners before they can talk. Furthermore, the techniques of successfull, accurate torture (if it exists) are probably something of an art. For the time-bomb information to be extracted quickly and accurately, there has to have been an institution of torture already in place where the torturer learned his or her trade.

-L
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Old 12-26-2005, 03:59 PM   #32
Neil Mick
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Re: More Torture

I've been lurking in the background here, and I thought I'd chime in. Some very good points have been brought up in this thread. Gregory makes the point that torture and its application is not well-defined.

But, a lot of the discussion seems bent toward whether this or that case merits torture, which IMO seems a little off. If torture is so ill-defined: shouldn't we be setting about defining it, ASAP?

From the original article:

Quote:
One sergeant told Human Rights Watch: "Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent. In a way it was sportů One day [a sergeant] shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy's leg with a mini Louisville Slugger, a metal bat."

The officer who spoke to Human Rights Watch made persistent efforts over 17 months to raise concerns about detainee abuse with his chain of command and to obtain clearer rules on the proper treatment of detainees, but was consistently told to ignore abuses and to "consider your career." He believes he was not taken seriously until he approached members of Congress to raise his concerns. When the officer made an appointment this month with Senate staff members of Senators John McCain and John Warner, he says his commanding officer denied him a pass to leave his base. The officer was interviewed several days later by investigators with the Army Criminal Investigative Division and Inspector General's office, and there were reports that the military has launched a formal investigation. Repeated efforts by Human Rights Watch to contact the 82nd Airborne Division regarding the major allegations in the report received no response.
So, what we have are the usual efforts to stonewall proper investigation and a clear sense of oversight. The article also makes clear (as have sources elsewhere) that the soldiers are not being given a clear understanding of the applications of the Geneva Conventions. This seems to be the major problem...making a clear definition of policy.

But, Our Beloved Leaders seem less interested in addressing the problem, than they are in engaging in damage-control and media sound-biting.
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Old 12-26-2005, 09:11 PM   #33
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
It's very important to recognize some of the assumptions here.
1) The person you have captured really does have the information you need. Presumably, you don't have time to give him/her a trial and allow evidence to be presented in his/her defense, so we have to give the interrogators the benefit of the doubt on this one.
2) Torture really will gain the accurate information that you need in a short enough time to stop the bomb. This assumes that the prisoner will break very quickly, and that the prisoner will not attempt to give the interrogators a plausible lie. I heard once that only 5% of American war prisoners (some held for years) in either Korea or Japan broke under torture, but I don't know how accurate that is.
3) You have a torturer who knows how to successfully torture. Torture is not a 'skill' that arises spontaneously. Some people cannot commit torture at all; others will become uncontrollable and kill or damage prisoners before they can talk. Furthermore, the techniques of successful, accurate torture (if it exists) are probably something of an art. For the time-bomb information to be extracted quickly and accurately, there has to have been an institution of torture already in place where the torturer learned his or her trade.-L
All good points Lorien, but you miss the beauty of the Koan. It presupposes none of this. Part of the ethical dilemma that torture (and for the purpose of this discussion, let's define "torture" as the infliction of physical and mental pain, anguish and discomfort for the express purpose of eliciting information) presents is that you really don't know what the tortured person knows or doesn't know. You might have the wrong person, but the only way to find out is to try to get the information you need. Is it ok to become a monster to kill a monster? Even if you got the wrong guy, by eliminating him from the list (even if we violated his civil liberties and possibly cost him is life) we're one step closer to the "real" bad guy.
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Old 12-26-2005, 10:21 PM   #34
Neil Mick
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
Is it ok to become a monster to kill a monster?
Doesn't even pondering the question, change the definition of "ok?"

Quote:
Even if you got the wrong guy, by eliminating him from the list (even if we violated his civil liberties and possibly cost him is life) we're one step closer to the "real" bad guy.
Unless, of course: you were on the wrong track, in the first place.
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Old 12-27-2005, 12:12 PM   #35
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Re: More Torture

The assumption being, of course, that you are torturing another 'bad guy'.

You are torturing one 'bad guy' to stop another 'bad guy' doing 'something bad'. Utter nonsense of course.

Because you have already crossed the line, you are now a torturer so any excuse you use is merely that - an excuse.

Let's put it more simply...isn't it true that the US is only torturing non-white foreign people? I seem to recall anal rape of young boys being acceptable in the (aikiweb loved) abu graib, civilian 'contractors' in charge of a so-called military prison. I'd call that torture. Of course he wasn't white and he wasn't from the US, so no worries there.

The US is currently running Gulags around the world. Something else they can no doubt justify by screaming about 'democracy'.

The sleekitness of the way it is being done, however, infers much more than happenstance. It's cultural.

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Old 12-27-2005, 07:07 PM   #36
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Doesn't even pondering the question, change the definition of "ok?"
I don't see how pondering an ethical dilemma would change the definition of "ok". Unless you are choosing to see my "ethical Koan" as some type of justification or rationalization of the torturing of prisoners. If that is the case, you should go back and reread the posts with a more open mind.
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Old 12-28-2005, 05:31 AM   #37
Neil Mick
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
I don't see how pondering an ethical dilemma would change the definition of "ok". Unless you are choosing to see my "ethical Koan" as some type of justification or rationalization of the torturing of prisoners. If that is the case, you should go back and reread the posts with a more open mind.
You see? You had me, until the last sentence.

Why should I apply an open mind, when you aren't extending the same courtesy?

The second you start pondering the ethics of doing something monstrous is the second your overall societal morals drop.

The often-used ticking bomb scenario to justify torture is an extreme case, that will never manifest (I like the reference to it being a koan, btw. Nice imagery).

But, the trouble is, it's more than just a koan.

It's a rationale. Perhaps not meant by you: but I have argued with ppl using this metaphor as a rationale.

And that's why I answered your koan, with a koan.

Last edited by Neil Mick : 12-28-2005 at 05:35 AM.
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Old 12-28-2005, 11:38 AM   #38
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Why should I apply an open mind, when you aren't extending the same courtesy?
It's not so much a courtesy as a way to see something you might have missed. It's for your benefit.

Let us all hope that the "ticking timebomb" scenario doesn't manifest itself. They seldom do in the present. The trouble is that, hindsight being 20/20, we realize who's done something horrible and see that if we'd just grilled them enough we might have saved innocent lives. When we fail to get the information we need and something terrible happens, monday morning quarterbacks come out of the woodwork pointing out every mistake that was made!

Meanwhile, any attempt made to keep the same from happening again is stifled and viewed with contempt.

I'm not saying that torture is okay. War sucks. Bad. I want everybody to come home. Should we abandon Iraq? I don't think so. When we capture a member of a terrorist cell, should we try to reason with them about an attack that's about to take place? Should we talk quietly with them about the defenseless people that they intend to kill?

Becoming a monster to kill a monster is unacceptable.

Attempting to assign our moral code to terrorists will end in failure.

Why is the U.S.A. in Iraq? Why were we there before? Why do we have to stick our noses into the problems of the world?

U.N. resolutions, when not enforced, mean nothing.

The U.N. must be busy bullying a slum in Haiti.

Or maybe stealing food from the mouths of Iraqi kids through the "Oil For Food" program.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 12-28-2005, 04:46 PM   #39
Neil Mick
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
James Davis, Jr. wrote:
Becoming a monster to kill a monster is unacceptable.

Attempting to assign our moral code to terrorists will end in failure.

Why is the U.S.A. in Iraq? Why were we there before? Why do we have to stick our noses into the problems of the world?
At this point, we seem to be the biggest problem in the world.

Quote:
Or maybe stealing food from the mouths of Iraqi kids through the "Oil For Food" program.
Yeah, when the IMF isn't sticking it to some 3rd World country, mandating privatized programs while piling on huge, crushing debts.

Ahh, globalism: isn't it what makes this oiligarchy great?
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Old 12-29-2005, 06:48 PM   #40
Lorien Lowe
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
Even if you got the wrong guy, by eliminating him from the list (even if we violated his civil liberties and possibly cost him is life) we're one step closer to the "real" bad guy.
If you have time to move from one guy to another, then the issue wasn't that urgent in the first place. Or maybe the interrogator just drags in everybody at once, tortures them all, and hopes that they get a good answer from one of them?

Of course, that requires more skilled torturers.

-L
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Old 01-03-2006, 01:58 AM   #41
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
You see? You had me, until the last sentence. Why should I apply an open mind, when you aren't extending the same courtesy?
You almost lost me with your first sentence.... Your logic is flawed on this one. If I'm not extending you the courtesy of an open mind, why should that affect your open mind? This is similar to the logic used to justify not applying the Geneva Convention standards to our POWs in Iraq or Afghanistan; if they won't apply that standard to their prisoners (who are routinely beheaded) why should we apply it to ours?

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
The second you start pondering the ethics of doing something monstrous is the second your overall societal morals drop.
Still disagree with this statement. In order to evaluate our "ethics" and the practice of our ethical standards requires that we ponder the application of those standards in various situations to include the most extreme. The question is whether or not the standard remains unchanged, but it does not presuppose a drop in the standard. Just because I ponder whether or not I'd be willing to torture someone to save my wife's life does not mean that I am willing to do so tomorrow.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
The often-used ticking bomb scenario to justify torture is an extreme case, (I like the reference to it being a koan, btw. Nice imagery). But, the trouble is, it's more than just a koan. It's a rationale. Perhaps not meant by you: but I have argued with ppl using this metaphor as a rationale.
One man's Koan is another man's rationale... Anything can be used or exploited to justify the ends that we hope to achieve. But, the question of the ends justifying the means still remains, and in addition, we still have to agree on what exactly the ends are......

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
And that's why I answered your koan, with a koan.
Clever, answer a Koan with a Koan, that'll get you a slap from the head abbot at the Zen Monastery....

Quote:
James Davis, Jr. wrote:
Becoming a monster to kill a monster is unacceptable. Attempting to assign our moral code to terrorists will end in failure.
Correct. Our mores and ethical standard we must bear thru the pain it may bring. We cannot impose it upon others, but perhaps we can convince them by maintaining our ideals that there is a way to be emulated. This is not an easy road, and requires us to give up much that as a nation we may not be willing to do. This would bring us full circle to pondering our standards again, and weighing them against the ends we hope to accomplish.
In the end of course, we ourselves have a difficulty in agreeing and assigning the best way to achieve our ends. What are our ends? Can we even agree on those? Were they even designated in the beginning? Can the mores and ethical standards of a single individual supersede the "Rule of Law" in our society? Or is the "Rule of Law" based on a commonality of the mores and ethical standards? I would like to believe the later, but it is still open for debate.

As we are a world full of flawed individuals, we are doomed to live in a world rife with flawed politics....

joe
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Old 01-03-2006, 04:29 PM   #42
Neil Mick
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
You almost lost me with your first sentence.... Your logic is flawed on this one. If I'm not extending you the courtesy of an open mind, why should that affect your open mind?
It helps, in the exchange of ideas: for all participants to attempt an open mind. When one side "hardens" his position: the other is "drawn" to follow suit.

Much like Aikido practice.

Quote:
This is similar to the logic used to justify not applying the Geneva Convention standards to our POWs in Iraq or Afghanistan; if they won't apply that standard to their prisoners (who are routinely beheaded) why should we apply it to ours?
A disagreement and inflexible stance, doth not a desire to behead, make. But, moving right along...

Quote:
Still disagree with this statement. In order to evaluate our "ethics" and the practice of our ethical standards requires that we ponder the application of those standards in various situations to include the most extreme. The question is whether or not the standard remains unchanged, but it does not presuppose a drop in the standard.
Sorry, but empirical evidence proves you wrong. This is not simply a philosophical question: it is also a rationale. It may not be the way you intend, but ppl often use this "ticking bomb" scenario as a rationale to relax our moral standards.

Try googling "Ticking bomb" to see what I mean (I particularly enjoyed this article).

Quote:
Just because I ponder whether or not I'd be willing to torture someone to save my wife's life does not mean that I am willing to do so tomorrow.
But, you see: your country already IS torturing. This is already happening.

Here, take an example. Suppose we started a thread on forced extradition of all lawbreakers, as a means to fight crime.

Suppose we used the metaphor of a project as a powderkeg with the wrongful perps as matches being tossed into the armory. There's no harm in pondering this because this country doesn't deport criminals.

However, suppose Bush passed a law that did, in fact: use deportation to fight crime. Well, in that case: any discussions of deportation under that context IS either a rationale for, against, or as an alternative to deportation, because that is the reality, on the ground.

Context is everything, Joe.

Quote:
One man's Koan is another man's rationale...
Exactly. And your koan IS being used as a rationale. And for that reason, we should consider both aspects.

Quote:
Anything can be used or exploited to justify the ends that we hope to achieve. But, the question of the ends justifying the means still remains, and in addition, we still have to agree on what exactly the ends are......
The ends NEVER justify the means. Otherwise, the rationale's of all mass-murdering dictators still in power, must be true. After all, they're "preserving the peace," aren't they?

Quote:
Clever, answer a Koan with a Koan, that'll get you a slap from the head abbot at the Zen Monastery....
Lucky I'm not in a Zen monastary. Now, if he tried to grab my wrist...

Last edited by Neil Mick : 01-03-2006 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 01-03-2006, 08:48 PM   #43
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
The ends NEVER justify the means. Otherwise, the rationale's of all mass-murdering dictators still in power, must be true. After all, they're "preserving the peace," aren't they?
Funny Neil, I believe this is the whole premise behind our judicial system. The ends NEVER justify the means. That is why evidence, even though it is implicating is thrown out if the means to obtain it is flawed. I think our whole government needs to take a step back and examine just how far and at what cost we are willing to go to accomplish Bush's "agenda."

Gregory Makuch
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Old 01-04-2006, 12:48 PM   #44
Neil Mick
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Gregory Makuch wrote:
Funny Neil, I believe this is the whole premise behind our judicial system. The ends NEVER justify the means. That is why evidence, even though it is implicating is thrown out if the means to obtain it is flawed.
Yes, exactly.

Quote:
I think our whole government needs to take a step back and examine just how far and at what cost we are willing to go to accomplish Bush's "agenda."
+1
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:40 AM   #45
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Re: More Torture

Let me start, Neil, by saying that is perhaps the best post of yours that I have read, very well articulated, and almost free of personal digs. Well done.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
It helps, in the exchange of ideas: for all participants to attempt an open mind. When one side "hardens" his position: the other is "drawn" to follow suit. Much like Aikido practice.
I'm not sure what style of Aikido you practice nor am I aware of you experience level in Aikido, but while I will concede the point that is seems an instinctive response to be "drawn to follow suit" when one person "hardens" their position, we should find that as our Aikido progresses beyond the instinctive, that we may not "follow suit", and may actually soften in response to the "hardening" which will result in more efficient technique. By focusing on our own ideal behavior we can transcend our instinctual "if you harden, I'll harden" response and progress to a plane of mutually beneficial coexistence. By retaining my own flexible mind, I'm able to see your point of view or your energy (since we're referencing Aikido) and potentially redirect or change it without giving up my own. If I harden in response to your hardening, I lose the ability to see your point of view or feel your energy. Aikido is a great place to put this into physical practice as our own bodies provide the perfect feedback through the ability to execute the technique. When we discuss philosophy, politics and or ethics, this becomes much harder to do, since we are so vested in our own positions, we are less likely to be willing to change...Nevertheless, it is engaging to "discuss" things with intelligent people even if you don't agree with their position, provided the discussion remains civil.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
A disagreement and inflexible stance, doth not a desire to behead, make. But, moving right along...
Great phrase (nice use of the "ole English"), but I was not inferring that you were more apt to behead folks (except maybe verbally) merely drawing a parallel through the escalation of "hardening" positions as a rationale to becoming uncivilized.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
This is not simply a philosophical question: it is also a rationale... Try googling "Ticking bomb" to see what I mean (I particularly enjoyed this article).
I actually had time to do this and got a whole lot of hits that referenced computer programming as well as torture. The article you suggested was nice though. Well written and thoughtful. I also liked the following article from the same site: "Bush vs. Camus What Albert Camus and the "little-ease" say about U.S. torture policies." By Peter Brooks http://www.slate.com/id/2133669/

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
But, you see: your country already IS torturing. This is already happening.
It's "Our" country, Neil, "our" country, unless Santa Cruz has ceded from the nation and it hasn't made the news yet.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Here, take an example. Suppose we started a thread on forced extradition of all lawbreakers, as a means to fight crime. Suppose we used the metaphor of a project as a powderkeg with the wrongful perps as matches being tossed into the armory. There's no harm in pondering this because this country doesn't deport criminals. However, suppose Bush passed a law that did, in fact: use deportation to fight crime. Well, in that case: any discussions of deportation under that context ARE either a rationale for, against, or as an alternative to deportation, because that is the reality, on the ground.
Not sure the analogy actually works, since extradition is "the surrender of an alleged criminal usually under the provisions of a treaty or statute by one authority (as a state) to another having jurisdiction to try the charge" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary), and the US has extradition treaties with multiple nations and has actually sued to get criminals back that have fled the US jurisdiction as well as held over criminals that have fled from other nations' jurisdictions. But, I'm not trying to pull apart the gist of your argument.
I personally do not condone torture, nor have I ever had the misfortune of having been in a situation where I had to chose whether to torture someone of not. Like a good number of people on this board, it is only a mental consideration because we are not in a situation anywhere near those in Iraq or Afghanistan nor are we in a position to directly mandate or otherwise affect the policy. Like you said...

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Context is everything, Joe.
So, going back to the original context where I posed the Koan in the first place, we might all be a sight closer to the ideal if before we judged the poor folks who happen to find themselves in the precarious situation where they might actually consider the illusory "necessity" of torturing suspected terrorists in order to save the lives of their comrades, and label them as "monsters", we ponder the Koan, put ourselves in their shoes, and wonder.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
And your koan IS being used as a rationale. And for that reason, we should consider both aspects.
Not arguing that point, just asking folks to ponder the Koan to plum the depths of their own ethical position. Hopefully the voice of reason in the form of Senator McCain's amendment banning torture means that the common aversion to the practice is being heard and applied.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
The ends NEVER justify the means. Otherwise, the rationale's of all mass-murdering dictators still in power, must be true. After all, they're "preserving the peace," aren't they?
I try to stay away from absolute ideological statements like this. Ideally, I agree with you 100%, but...we just never know what trials will appear in our future. I do believe that when all is said and done those responsible for the torture of others need be held accountable for their actions. Proving it in the court of law and the court of US popular opinion will be a difficult thing, but it should be done.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Lucky I'm not in a Zen monastary. Now, if he tried to grab my wrist...
You got a smile out of me on this one....
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Old 01-07-2006, 02:21 PM   #46
Neil Mick
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
Let me start, Neil, by saying that is perhaps the best post of yours that I have read, very well articulated, and almost free of personal digs. Well done.
Thank you: I liked your response, as well.

Quote:
It's "Our" country, Neil, "our" country, unless Santa Cruz has ceded from the nation and it hasn't made the news yet.
Yes, I know it's "our" country (as embarassing as that fact sometimes is: I'd never deny my citizenship). I was using the pronoun "your" to continue on with case of your previous sentence:

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Just because I ponder whether or not I would be willing to torture someone to save my wife's life does not mean that I am willing to do so tomorrow.
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I personally do not condone torture, nor have I ever had the misfortune of having been in a situation where I had to chose whether to torture someone of not.
No, I didn't think that you did. But, as I mentioned, the "ticking bomb" scenario IS used as a rationale, elsewhere.


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So, going back to the original context where I posed the Koan in the first place, we might all be a sight closer to the ideal if before we judged the poor folks who happen to find themselves in the precarious situation where they might actually consider the illusory "necessity" of torturing suspected terrorists in order to save the lives of their comrades, and label them as "monsters", we ponder the Koan, put ourselves in their shoes, and wonder.
But the point is: a koan is not really relative of reality. It is a logical perspective that attempts to short-circuit the logical centers, allowing one to make a deductive leap.

In reality, the ticking bomb scenario would be highly unlikely to ever materialize. And, as some of the google'd articles pointed out: once you go down that slippery slope, it is very, very difficult to return.

But you are right: merely pondering the koan is, in itself: harmless.

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Hopefully the voice of reason in the form of Senator McCain's amendment banning torture means that the common aversion to the practice is being heard and applied.
Sadly, I fear that this may not be the case. I have recently heard that Bush's signing statement declared his intention to go around the law, when it suits him.

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I try to stay away from absolute ideological statements like this. Ideally, I agree with you 100%, but...we just never know what trials will appear in our future.
See, I view torture as an incredibly poor choice of policy, that will create more problems than it solves. Whatever "trials" we encounter in the future would be best approached without torture, IMO.

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You got a smile out of me on this one....
Excellent.
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Old 01-09-2006, 02:36 AM   #47
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Gregory Makuch wrote:
Funny.., I believe this is the whole premise behind our judicial system. The ends NEVER justify the means. That is why evidence, even though it is implicating is thrown out if the means to obtain it is flawed.
I'm not sure that "ends" justifying "means" is a premise behind our judicial system, but I'm neither a lawyer nor a law-student (although I've watched a lot of Law & Order) . While I agree with the back half of the statement, that has more to do with protecting the rights of the individual against invasive overzealous prosecution than "ends" justifying "means".

In fact, if you take a legal case of self-defense, you have ends justifying means. If we're walking down a dark alley and someone attacks us with the aim of taking our money, and we beat the ever-loving crap out of them with the "end" of protecting our worldly possessions, most courts of law would rule that our "means" were justified. The "end" of defending our own life or loss of limb through the "means" of taking another's life is often times judged in the court of law as "justified" and even in some cases may not even go to a jury or grand-jury in order to make that determination. So, depending upon how we approach the situation, define our "end" and then execute our "means" determines whether or not we are justified.

The idea behind our judicial system, if I remember back to my high school social studies classes, has more to do with a fair and impartial trial by a jury of our peers. In a system like this, matters of extenuation and mitigation have a greater impact in determining guilt or innocence. This is why in the long run historians have the final judgment.


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Gregory Makuch wrote:
I think our whole government needs to take a step back and examine just how far and at what cost we are willing to go to accomplish Bush's "agenda."
No real argument with this statement. We kind of know where we are now, but have no clear goal as to how to get where we want to be. And, in order to reach our goal we need the help and support of not only the Iraqi people, but that of the rest of the Islamic nations as well. I'm not an expert on that region on the world so I will not speak to how we can accomplish the goal. But, I'm open to suggestions....

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Neil Mick wrote:
In reality, the ticking bomb scenario would be highly unlikely to ever materialize.
This is where I believe our past experiences lead us to different conclusions. While in Santa Cruz the ticking time bomb scenario may seem highly unlikely, on the highways and byways of Iraq where most military casualties are caused by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), it probably seems much more likely to those soldiers that live there.

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Neil Mick wrote:
...merely pondering the koan is, in itself: harmless.
So, I believe that it becomes important that while we sit in our position of relative safety away from the IEDs we can engage in the mental examination of the Koan, and while we do so we can attempt to imagine the situation for those soldiers in Iraq most of whom are not thinking beyond the range of saving the lives of their comrades and their own by trying to dismantle the infrastructure that places these devices into operation.

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Neil Mick wrote:
And, as some of the google'd articles pointed out: once you go down that slippery slope, it is very, very difficult to return. See, I view torture as an incredibly poor choice of policy that will create more problems than it solves. Whatever "trials" we encounter in the future would be best approached without torture, IMO.
I'm not arguing this point. Once we open the door on "legitimate application of torture", there'll be a great abuse of the justifications for it. But to paraphrase a great speech I recently heard freedom is hard. It requires a great deal of hard work and ingenuity in order to maintain our ideal standards that all people are created equal and possess the same fundamental rights. In order to these rights to apply to any set of peoples they must equally be applied to all peoples, whether they are US citizens or not. This in turn mandates that those who would trample the rights of others in any endeavor be called upon to justify both their "means" and their "ends".

Reality however, has a way of short-circuiting our ideal. Often our leaders of nations are forced to precariously balance our ideal with the reality of achieving our ends. I do not envy anyone in those positions as that is among the hardest thing to do....
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Old 01-13-2006, 02:49 PM   #48
Neil Mick
Dojo: Aikido of Santa Cruz
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Re: More Torture

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
This is where I believe our past experiences lead us to different conclusions. While in Santa Cruz the ticking time bomb scenario may seem highly unlikely, on the highways and byways of Iraq where most military casualties are caused by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), it probably seems much more likely to those soldiers that live there.
I am referring to the basic given's of your koan: "Suppose you had a man detained who knew of a hidden bomb that would kill millions,,,etc" I'm sure that, even over in Iraq/S. Korea/etc, you don't often detain guys who know of such plots; all the while the authorities are aware of them.

In its basic form (detained terrorist/accomplice who knows of a bomb-plot; a bomb that will kill millions; a time-limit; the authorities know all about the plot except where/when; etc) this koan is nearly impossible to manifest...a "one-in-a-million" deal.

So, you have to "fudge" the factors to make the equation. OK, if the bomb WON'T kill millions, what about thousands? And, suppose you're NOT 100% sure that this is the guy who knows all,,,torture, or no? You see? The fact that this koan has little chance of manifesting in its absolute form, creates the slippery slope of justifying torture.

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to paraphrase a great speech I recently heard freedom is hard. It requires a great deal of hard work and ingenuity in order to maintain our ideal standards that all people are created equal and possess the same fundamental rights.
Hard work, does not mean that we should consider the wrong work! I was listening to a radio-show yesterday: wherein the guest was pointing out (in response to W's claim that these are "extroadinary times") that ALL gov't's who use torture rationalize it in this way: "these are 'extroadinary times.'"

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In order to these rights to apply to any set of peoples they must equally be applied to all peoples, whether they are US citizens or not. This in turn mandates that those who would trample the rights of others in any endeavor be called upon to justify both their "means" and their "ends".
Yes, I think that we agree on several points, of this issue.

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Reality however, has a way of short-circuiting our ideal. Often our leaders of nations are forced to precariously balance our ideal with the reality of achieving our ends.
Again: the ends NEVER justify the means. Now, why do I say that? I'm generally not an absolutist (believe it or not). I say this because any other suggestion is to allow apology and determinism to run rampant.

Hussein, for instance, could argue that his horrible tortures and policies were justified, because it kept extremists and daily suicide-bombings out of Iraq. Bush could argue that however many die from this conflict, + $10 TRILLION dollars , will be justified by a "peaceful, free, democratic" Iraq,,,,as if, all we have to do is follow that tasty little sound-bite-carrot ("free, peaceful, democratic Iraq"), and all will be well, at the end of the road.

No, the ends NEVER "justify" the means. Wrong is wrong, and we are mostly defined by what we do, rather than what rhetoric we offer.
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Old 01-13-2006, 03:27 PM   #49
Neil Mick
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Re: More Torture

I missed this example, so:

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
If we're walking down a dark alley and someone attacks us with the aim of taking our money, and we beat the ever-loving crap out of them with the "end" of protecting our worldly possessions, most courts of law would rule that our "means" were justified. The "end" of defending our own life or loss of limb through the "means" of taking another's life is often times judged in the court of law as "justified" and even in some cases may not even go to a jury or grand-jury in order to make that determination. So, depending upon how we approach the situation, define our "end" and then execute our "means" determines whether or not we are justified.
Again, an extreme example. How do you KNOW that this guy wants to take your money?? OK, let's just call this a "given." Should this mean that ANYONE who attacks us with the "aim of taking our money" in a dark alley should have the "ever-loving crap" beaten out of them?? Children playing; the insane-but-otherwise-harmless-guy? A confidence-man, who doesn't want to physically hurt you, but DEFINITELY wants to trick you...?

You see? Change a few parameters, and the formula of "ends justifying the means," becomes progressively fuzzier.
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Old 01-14-2006, 10:00 AM   #50
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
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Posts: 1,220
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Re: More Torture

Interesting thread guys, and as far as I can see luckily most people are against the concept of torture, phew!

IMHO the hypocricy demonstrated by the "Regime Changers" is jaw dropping in the extreme. It seems that lying to your own population to justify support for a badly run attempt at imposing democracy by force, and trampling all over your/our own often quoted high ideals, will not go down well in history.

When news of the torture of a 'prisoner of war?'/ victim held in Guantanamo Bay reaches their brothers at home, and the indignation felt moves some of them towards the extremism that perpetrates the terrorist acts against the US. Then surely the act of torture is self defeating, even more so when the justification used to carry out the torture is to prevent acts of terrorism against your own citizens?

I am aware that the official line from the White House is that there is no torture carried out in Guantanamo, but that in itself only makes matters worse in the countries that the 'victims' return to with their own personal stories. We've had a few come home here (UK) and we've had our own home grown terrorist attacks. I'm not saying that there is a direct link, but there could be.

There are men in history that are commonly held in high esteem by people of all faiths/creeds/nationalities etc, I'm thinking of Ghandi and Mandela, they were men of high ideals that lived as best they could by the principles they espoused. Their integrity is intact for eternity. I don't think that George W will be so kindly looked upon.

I hope for the Iraqi people's sake that they can somehow find a path through to some stable form of government (by the people for the people or otherwise ) and I hope that torture is seen by them as an abhorent tool of the past.

I somehow doubt that this will be the case, as the level of animosity felt between the different factions within the countries borders is deep and historically very long. Once the occupying forces have left and the Mullahs start flexing their vocal cords, I think a few indiscretions may slip into the proceedings

As regards torture it has already been suggested the only idealistic but sensible way forward is to have an International agreement to ban all forms of torture, signed up to by all nations. Of course the US must be allowed to disregard this as and when they see fit.

I am optimistic that if enough of us worldwide come to our senses and realise that if we want a peacefull world we must stop electing men who will choose war as an option. If we want a world without torture, we cant use or justify it for any reason. If we want others to do our thinking for us, that is exactly what will happen.

Only my opinion guys and I cannot provide written evidence to back any of it up, but this is a forum and I just felt like putting my 'two penneth' worth in.

....but what about when I apply Nikkyo??

Last edited by Mark Freeman : 01-14-2006 at 10:02 AM.
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