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God's will be done and may He have mercy upon us all.

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A Catholic who follows Rome & the Magisterium. I'm against gay "marriage", abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, human cloning. Altar girls, Communion in the hand, Eucharistic Ministers and "Protestant" music in the Church doesn't bother me at all. A proud American retired submarine sailor. Our borders should be secured with a 10 ft. high fence topped by concertina wire with minefields out to 20 yards on both sides and an additional 10 yards filled with warning signs outside of that Let's get energy independent NOW! Back Israel to the max, stop appeasing followers of the Pedophile Prophet. Pro 2nd Amendment, pro death penalty, Repeal all hate crime legislation. Back the police unless you'd rather call a hippie when everything hits the fan. Get government out of dealing with education, childhood obesity and the enviornment. Stop using the military for sociological experiments and if we're in a war don't micromanage their every move. Kill your television, limit time on the computer and pick up a book. God's will be done and may He have mercy upon us all.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More on torture...

The other day I questioned the issue of torture in this post. In it I deliberately made a ridiculous comparison of some water polo games I played in as a kid and waterboarding going on at Gitmo. That was done to help prime the engine of discussion. Didn't really seem to have any effect, guess provocation is a skill I have to work at.

But I did get some responses, John Jansen came out against it while ABNPOPPA, the Most Rev. Gregori of the Orthodox Catholic Church and Sig94 all made comments that pretty much mirror my own feelings. In this post I'll address or reference all their comments.

John Jansen says, "The short answer is that torture is wrong because it's intrinsically immoral."

Well sorry JJ but that really doesn't go into too much detail as to why exactly you may consider it immoral. We're both Catholics who follow the teachings of the Catechism (which I'll get into later) but just what is it that makes torture in general and waterboarding in particular off limits?

John Jansen also references Mark Shea, a noted Catholic apologist & speaker, who JJ evidently feels can forward credible arguments against torture in general and waterboarding in particular. Sorry, but when I used the description in my original post of "hyperventilating hysterics" the writings such as Shea's are what I had in mind. Referring to his ideological opponents as "Rubber Hose Right" and "Rush Limbaugh Kool-Aid drinkers" just cheapens any argument the man makes. It's an old trick, if you can't effectively debate someone on their ideas and beliefs just hold them up for derision and scorn, that supposedly is a valid way to discount their thinking.

Finally, John Jansen mentions the use of waterboarding by the Khmer Rouge. The article he references makes the distinction that the KR used it to elicit bogus confessions, the writer then goes on to make a connection that this thereby discredits any information possibly gained by our own use of it. Recent disclosures have shown that credible information WAS obtained by the interrogators at Gitmo using waterboarding. No, I don't think we should now wholeheartedly follow in the footsteps of every repressive regime in history. But any tool can be used OR abused. That includes intelligence gathering methods.

I'm more of the mind of ABNPOPPA who states, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn if it is immoral. I'll water board your mother until the oceans run dry if it will save one American or one soldiers life..." Amen to that, this isn't an ice cream social our military is involved in and they should be backed to the hilt.

The Most Rev. Gregori makes the observation that, "...not one of those, who oppose torture, ever come up with an alternative way of getting much needed information." This is something I've also noticed. The old mindset of "don't call something unacceptable unless you have a better idea" has a lot of merit, especially when we're talking about gaining information to save the lives of innocent civilians (something that the waterboarding at Gitmo HAS reportedly done).

Finally, Sig94 makes the comment, "Torture, in this sense, is to inflict pain as a means to gain information. So let's see, if I spank my child, which is inflicting pain, when I know he is lying and he won't admit the truth, then I am torturing him."

That reasoning is actually accepted by too many so-called child welfare advocates. This illustrates the ridiculous lengths we as a nation are supposed to go to so we'll always be the undisputed "good guys" who wear white hats. Right now other interrogation methods are being called into question also, including sleep deprivation and screaming at an inmate. If that constitutes torture our submarine force is filled with sadists who practice it and masochists who endure it. Been there, done that, etc...

As luck would have it, I came across an article by another Catholic writer on the topic. Deal Hudson seems to have credibility equal to Mark Shea and doesn't belittle his opponents. That alone makes him more intellectually honest IMHO. Here's the article taken from, referencing the Catechism of the Catholic Church for those items applicable to Catholics;

Over at Vox Nova some folks are discussing whether or not I have violated a “non-negotiable” teaching of the Catholic Church on torture.

This was occasioned by some comments I made to my friend Bobby Eberle, a Catholic himself, at his web site, GOPUSA. Bobby asked my advice on how to think, as a Catholic, about whether torture was morally justified, this being a topic much in the news lately.

Here is the section of Eberle’s column containing my comments:

In trying to sift through some of the moral questions that arise from America's war on terror (oops, I said it again), I turned to my friend Deal Hudson, who is the Director of In addressing "torture," Hudson put it in the context of the "just war" philosophy.

Hudson: ‘As with just war theory, there must be a clear threat; there must be reasonable chance for success; there must be a reasonable use of force (in the case [of torture] death or impairment should never be the result), and the consequences should not cause greater harm.”

Hudson further explained to me "the precise issue is whether or not the state can inflict suffering in order to protect the common good. If we say 'yes,' the circumstances have to be tightly prescribed."

Several bloggers have asked that I clarify what I meant, some have argued the Church’s teaching is a non-negotiable ban on torture, others view it as prudential, but in a very narrow range. The latter position is the one I was trying to describe.

I am not a big fan of torture, meaning, I find the very thought of it horrific. The notion of torturing an enemy is not something that makes my heart skip a beat.

Here is what I found when I looked up “torture” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"2297 Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law."

"2298 In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors."

A few observations:

2297 does not explicitly rule out torture in the case of gathering information to protect the common good; a confession is not that, it is an admittance of personal guilt about a specific act or set of acts.

2298 seems like a more sweeping comment, where it says that they deny "legitimate rights" of the human person and we should work "for their abolition. I don’t read this as declaring a non-negotiable ban on torture, but I can see why there would reasonable disagreement on the issue. My hunch is that the language in 2298 about working to abolish torture is same as the Church saying we should work to abolish war itself.

When I spoke to Eberle, I was assuming any act of torture would take place with the context of war, in the face of clear and present danger to the common good. I realize people are skeptical about such reasoning in the wake of Iraq, but the Church recognizes that war is sometimes necessary, along with all suffering and death that accompanies it.

I am open to hearing the arguments supporting a ban against torture as a non-negotiable teaching of the Church.

I'll be posting on this topic more in the future. For now I'll just state that I believe the saving of American lives, military and civilian, justifies whatever it takes when getting information out of genuine bad guys. Take them apart with a blowtorch and a pair of pliers if thats what works, you can bill me for the propane.

But just as Deal Hudson is open to opposing arguments so am I (civil ones, personal attacks annoy me and will be deleted). After all, if I knew all the answers I'd probably be a lot richer than I am now (although probably no handsomer or happier!).


matthew archbold said...

thanks for bringing this up. This debate has been on my mind a lot lately. Gives me some to think about.

It's not a cut and dry issue. Nor is even the definition of torture.

MightyMom said...

you really couldn't be any's hard to beat drop dead gorgeous!

Nereus said...

Why should the American people care about 2 terrorists, who directed attacks against defenseless persons, and who would do it again with everything at their disposal.
They forfeited their lives when the planes hit the buildings.

Terrorists are not soldiers, terrorists are not criminals, terrorists are "evil minds that plot destruction as they have hatred for mankind".

We have bigger problems to solve, and frankly understanding what rights a terrorist have should be low on the list at this juncture.

Adrienne said...

Funny you should mention Mark Shea. I quit reading him and think he is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.

This Mighty Mom person seems to be sort of a crazy stalker chic. She's waaaaay off subject. heh

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