All the world is freaked out about swine flu. 81 people have died. I’m sorry those people are dead, but claiming this “might turn into a pandemic,” stopping travel between Mexico and other countries, detaining people with a cough and assuming they have swine flu is such a leap of logic, it’s ridiculous. More people than that die daily in car wrecks; what are we going to do, ban cars? Right. It seems world leaders have been watching too many movies. They also seem to discount the fact that the few who had it in New York have not been conclusively diagnosed with swine flu, and they have healed and are just fine. It is as likely a possibility that the Mexicans who died from the flu did so because of other problems, such as hospital procedures, as it is that they died exclusively because of the flu. What now, going to go start murdering some pigs and stopping everyone with a cold and acting like complete lunatics without any examination of reality? I wouldn’t doubt it.
Month: April 2009
Nonsense and Cuteness
I am writing this bit of nonsense because I made a commitment to myself to write something every day, even if it’s a bit of nonsense. I have many writing projects to work on, but today is a busy day out of the house so I will have to postpone those projects until later. In the meantime, I’ll just write a nonsensey tidbit with the hope that in sitting here and not surfing Huffington Post and the New York Times I will actually be doing something productive, when really I should be blowdrying my hair.
I will also add some visual candy for anyone who happens across this page today. This is my daughter’s darling puppy, Ava. This was taken the day of her first walk. She was a little tired along the way and took a rest in my arms. She is a pure delight and we all love her very much.
Torture is Treason
This piece was published on Huffington Post. To see it there, go here. If you like it Buzz me up.
The human rights abuse in torture is inherent and obvious, but its implications to our society are ultimately worse. In the context of terror, when our country tortures those accused of terrorist crimes, we create a climate where others sympathize with the torture victim, taking the focus away from the victims of the terrorist act. Whether the tortured committed the crime or not becomes secondary to the sympathy felt for the torture victim. In addition, the fact alone that someone was tortured, even if the confession is coincidentally true, harms any reputation we have of democracy or rule of law and motivates others to retaliation. Worse, torture confounds the state’s ability to prosecute those who have harmed it. If we end up freeing someone because they confessed to a crime under torture, it is possible we are allowing someone guilty, someone who genuinely sought to harm us, to go free. If we prosecute them based on the elicited confessions, we could be punishing the innocent. We never really know the truth. In the end, torture makes the original crime against us secondary.
I followed the Daniel Pearl case, then I watched the movie of his wife’s story, A Mighty Heart. It was brilliantly done. The filmmakers managed to capture the complexity of the various agencies, organizations, and governments working to find Daniel Pearl. After Pearl’s death, several people were arrested and one man, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, has been sentenced to death, although with his multiple appeals, it is questionable whether he will ever suffer his sentence. One aspect of his appeals has been the confession by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the actual killings. Seems a reasonable explanation.
Except what is true? Did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed really kill Daniel Pearl? How could we ever know considering we now have the torture memos released by the CIA detailing the atrocities against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others, including his being waterboarded 183 times in one month (see story here). It leaves me wondering whether he really committed any of the crimes and whether his confessions were valid. Maybe he did it. Maybe he didn’t. We can’t know because the confessions were tortured out of him.
Daniel Pearl’s murder wasn’t the only crime to which Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed. He also apparently oversaw the 9/11 attacks, the shoe bomb attack, the Bali nightclub attack, the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, as well as others. His under-torture confessions to such a long list of infamous crimes make the likelihood seem even more dubious. Yet the possibility is there–it is the torture that causes interference. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s case is a brilliant example of the dangers of torture to a free and just society. Not only does it call into question just how free and just we really are, it leaves us wondering who really did what. We can’t trust anyone, least of all ourselves.
I have heard the primary arguments on both sides regarding whether or not to convict the agents and members of the Bush administration responsible for carrying out the torture. All of these arguments have centered on whether the actions were justified, as well as on the repugnance of the acts themselves. I would argue we need to take the discussion a step further. While torture clearly constitutes human rights abuse, I would argue that it is also a form of treason.
In the United States, treason is the giving of aid and comfort to our enemies. If torture keeps us from fully prosecuting those enemies, then the torturers themselves are in conspiracy with them, thereby giving them aid and comfort. Torture policies as a whole put our entire country in jeopardy. It is a form of disloyalty to us inasmuch as we are left even more unsafe, not only from those who would harm us, but also from our inability to discover the truth and prosecute the criminals. It creates a disintegration of our most fundamental values. If a person actually commits an act of terror and is then tortured to extract a confession, his guilt will be questioned because of the torture and he may be allowed free. This person is then free to terrorize us again, but this time he is likely angrier because of the torture he has suffered, leaving us in even greater danger. Torture, those who ordered it and those who carried it out, caused this. Allowing torture as an accepted policy of the United States and our failure to prosecute those responsible for it renders our democracy and our rule of law meaningless.
I have a cold and my brain is fuzzy. I sat down here thinking there was something I wanted to write, but now I’m here and all I can think about is sleep. There is a lulling buzz in the front of my skull. It’s the viruses doing their little dance trying to take over my mind. Dan is listening to some choral music that is much too monotonous. My brain slips into its rolls and waves, the rhythms begging it only to sleep.
We got a new puppy. Her name is Ava. She is adorable. Eat, potty, play, sleep. Eat, potty, play sleep. She’s rhythmical too. Here is her photo:
Charade and Socialists
Milla, Boyfriend, and I watched the Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn movie Charade tonight. Good flick. Milla really liked it. Some things were kind of dated, but it was still enjoyable. And Audrey Hepburn’s outfits were fantastic. It’s like the child of Duplicity, keeps you guessing. Anyway, I recommend it.
On another note, I avoid the news lately. In my current mental state, I simply can’t handle all the negativity. However, I peruse a few pages including Huffington Post. Today there was a story (see it here) regarding a Republican moron, er, congressman, who has created a, shhhhhh! Secret list of socialists!! Oooooh! Can you BELIEVE this? I was so upset, I could hardly stand it. No wonder I don’t read the news anymore. The one time I do and I discover socialists are creeping into our guvment.
Well, we’re just gonna have to root them dang socialites out, I’m telling you. Get rid of anyone who thinks the guvment should pay for schools or roads or hell, social security (see that horrible word social in there? It’s like herpes, you can’t get rid of it). Big bad socialites, wanting the guvment to help pay for things like healthcare, education, transportation, and the like. Hell, we should let people who can’t afford it DIE if they can’t go to the doctor. And what’s the point of paying for schools? They all teach the wrong stuff anyway. And don’t even get me started on transportation. All roads should be toll roads. That way the people who can afford it will drive and the rest can just stay home. And if they can’t afford a home, well too bad for them! Shit. What is this world coming to people? I swear, the anti-American bastards, we should just line them up and shoot them.