Tortured Hypotheticals

Sebastian Holsclaw at ObWi responds to Pattterico’s torture hypothetical (that many of you brought up in the comments) here and here. The most important part, of course, is precisely what I have stated over and over until I am blue in the face:

Let me say that again. Bush’s administration has tortured men who were factually innocent.

Not men who got off on technicalities. Factually Innocent.

Your hypothetical demands that the government be CERTAIN of the following things:

This man is who we think he is.

This man knows what we think he knows.

No non-torture technique will work.

Patterico, you work with the government. You know for a fact that it gets things wrong all the time. Even when we go through the huge and complicated process of a trial, it gets things wrong. And we aren’t talking anything like a trial here. In reality, we are talking about torturing *suspects*. That is not a power to be given to the government.

Your hypothetical doesn’t speak to the question of what the policy of our government ought to be, because no important part of the hypothetical actually has anything to do with the empirical reality of governmental torture. You pride yourself at not being distracted by stated intentions which have bad consequences in areas like rent control, housing policy, and education policy. Don’t let Bush wave the national security flag and make you forget everything you know about how the government actually operates.

Following Patterico’s lead, I have my own hypothetical:

If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?






75 replies
  1. 1
    Punchy says:

    But waterboarding isn’t torture, John. It’s like going for a swim without a pool and the hassle of actually getting wet. And putting on a Speedo. And if you rotate your arms while being waterboarded, you’re pretty much doing the backstroke.

    It’s friggin exercise. You’d think these Brownies would want some cardio after a week in iso.

    Ingrates.

  2. 2
    Peter Johnson says:

    If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?

    No, Patterico isn’t a terrorist, he’s white.

  3. 3
    SmilingPolitely says:

    I once saw a porno video where a black guy stuck his junk in a white girl’s trunk. It was unbelievably amazing!

  4. 4
    Xenos says:

    The incredibly stupid meme the GOP establishment and media figures are pushing is the Congress needs to explicitly outlaw waterboarding. I think their last, desperate, forlorn hope is that if such a law is passed, that will be proof that waterboarding was not against the law before the law was passed.

    Even if that would not legally be true, they want to create the political argument that Bush has had the latitude to torture. If Bush get away with it due to jury nullification, then I guess his ilk may be back in power someday, and Patterico will want a job with the next George Bush administration.

    Seems like a faint hope for which to make a fool of oneself. Why Patterico would hold his professional standing and his manhood so cheap as to publish these hypotheticals is a good question.

  5. 5
    Krista says:

    If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?

    Depends on how you define “ok”. If by “ok” you mean “legal”, then probably not. If by “ok” you mean “socially acceptable”, then probably not. If by “ok” you mean “absolutely hilarious to the riff-raff comentariat on Balloon-Juice,”, then put on your steel-toed boots and start making like a Rockette.

  6. 6
    Svensker says:

    No, Patterico isn’t a terrorist, he’s white.

    OK, Peter Johnson is definitely a hoax, right?

    Wait, I forgot, Terry Nichols and those nice IRA fellas were actually Arabs!

  7. 7
    RSA says:

    God save us from amateur moral philosophers. Recall the trolley problem:

    A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are 5 people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you can flip a switch which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch?

    and

    As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you – your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

    Patterico and friends would argue that, given people’s responses to these questions, the government should be justified in running over people with trains.

  8. 8

    No, kicking in the nuts would be considered torture.

    Rather, you should waterboard them, since they insist that waterboarding is not torture.

  9. 9
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    LOL, what a ridiculous hypothetical. “Assume for no reason at all that the only way to prevent 9/11 is to torture someone. Doesn’t that make torture alright?” Well, shucks, when you put it that way!

    Let’s all go live in hypothetical land, and forget about reality. Maybe I’m nuts, but if someone were torturing me to get information, I’d lie. I know, call me crazy.

  10. 10

    If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?

    Yes, if you can hypothetically be sure it will stop him from posting such stupid shit ever again.

  11. 11
    Bombadil says:

    If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?

    Your hypothetical may be flawed on the basis of anatomical assumptions. The right-wing blogger may, in fact, have no junk to kick.

  12. 12

    How many hypotheticals can dance on the head of a pin?
    You know, anybody can make up hypothetical situations that could justify anything; all you have to do is work at it a little. I’ll bet that with a little work, I could come up with a hypothetical that would hypothetically justify the Holocaust. I could, with a little time and work, come up with a hypothetical that would Hypothetically justify Stalin’s gulags and show trials.
    Well, what the hell, let’s give it a whirl:
    O.K., Osama bin Lladen comes out and says that he has a nuclear bomb that he’s hidden in the molten nickel-iron core of the Earth, and he’ll set it off if we don’t kill all Jews on Earth. Now, we look into this, and it turns out that we have categorical proof that the bomb is there and that if he sets it off, the whole world will blow into uncountable tiny bits, and that he and he alone can set it off, and he’s hidden in an underground lair on a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean protected by laser guns and 3000 fanatical henchmen who all wear James Bond-villian orange uniforms and also have laser guns, so we can’t attack and disarm him, and to top it off, we come up with incontravertible proof that every Jewish person on Earth is a child-molesting-baby-eating cannibal.
    Now, is it morally justified to kill all Jews on Earth? Well, under the circumstances, one could argue that it might be. But does that “prove” that genocide is morally acceptable? I don’t think so.

  13. 13
    AkaDad says:

    Hypothetically, I have money to bail you out of jail. Just saying…

  14. 14
    Face says:

    Your hypothetical may be flawed on the basis of anatomical assumptions

    I’m afraid Coulter might actually enjoy a little stimulus in them thar nether regions. Bettin she hasn’t seen any non-self-imposed friction down there in quite some time.

  15. 15

    While I might theoretically applaud said junk-kicking, there’s always the chance–though admittedly less of a chance than that of the US government torturing an innocent person–that you might kick an innocent blogger in the junk, or that the blogger you kick might not have been writing something stupid.

    Oh, what am I saying? Kick away.

  16. 16
    jenniebee says:

    Just read Patterico’s hypothetical. It’s on about the same unreal plane as pure libertarianism (but not anarchy!) and going on Elimidate with the hopes of meeting someone to grow old with.

    In the dream hypothetical world, if you had a time machine and went back to Austria in the ‘twenties and killed Hitler, you’d stop WWII and save millions of lives. In reality, you’d have been just as likely to have promoted the just as committed, just as cruel, far more organized and pragmatic Speer to head the Nazis. That’s the sort of trouble that fantasy hypotheticals get you into.

    So if you base a torture policy on the fantasy hypothetical that torture isn’t all that bad and it provides more reliable information faster than other interrogation methods and there’s no time to lose, then you’re screwed. Because no matter what your fantasy, there’s no escaping the reality that waterboarding has been recognized as torture since Torquemada, that torture, including water torture, produces notoriously unreliable information, that other non-torturous methods are actually superior to torture if your objective is to actually gather information (if your objective is just to really put the screws to somebody because it feels good, torture still rocks, hands down), and finally, the reality is that when one country engages in torture, especially a country with as much influence and prestige as we have, that country is putting its imprimatur on the practices of sociopaths the world over. If Patterico’s aim was to rehabilitate Pol Pot’s reputation, he’s taken great strides toward that goal with his ridiculous “hypothetical” post.

  17. 17
    libarbarian says:

    If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?

    Abso-fuckin-lutely.

  18. 18
    Jay C says:

    AFAIC, the main flaw in Patterico’s “hypothetical”, isn’t its lack-of-connection-to-reality, but its construction as a rhetorical club, not an “argument”. To me (and I think P. admits as such) the whole “should we/you torture” scenario is basically a “gotcha”: along the lines of “have you stopped beating your wife?” – designed so that either “yes” or “no” answers can be raked over: “yes” as hypocrites (or else agreeing that torture really IS “OK”) – “no” respondents as not caring about peoples’ lives, or whatever.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…

  19. 19
    Jonesin' says:

    Using the conservative torture apologist’s reasoning, shouldn’t local police departments start waterboarding suspects accused of heinous crimes when there is no direct proof? I mean, they think they have the right guy, just no evidence.

  20. 20
    norbizness says:

    People have responded to this hypothetical hundreds of times, most notably Jim Henley at Unqualified Offerings, but it’s always “Wait, wait, wait a minute! How about…”

    The sad little torture enthusiasts should at least show as much fortitude as other pioneers of civil disobedience; i.e. they should be ready to rot in jail for whatever the prescribed time is for attempted murder regardless of whether their war crime discovered anything. Here’s where I’m certain the overwhelming streak of reactionary cowardice will manifest itself.

  21. 21
    Xanthippas says:

    Many dishonest hacks know that you can construct a hypothetical that makes critical assumptions that force readers to agree with the rhetorical answer that’s quite evident from the question itself. If they refuse your assumptions, you then accuse of them of refusing to answer your question. Of course, it’s also possible that Patterico is just stupid and doesn’t know that over-constructing a hypothetical will get you the answer you want, but it seems unfair to assume that he’s stupid.

    Here’s my hypothetical for Patterico: if you know that by waterboarding President Bush until he died, you would definitely save the lives of thousands more Americans who would otherwise die wastefully in an Iraq war that will only get worse no matter what we do, would the waterboarding session be worth it?

    Hint: there’s only one correct answer, and it’s the answer I want you to give. Any other answer is “obfuscation and evasion.”

  22. 22
    jcricket says:

    If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?

    Yes.

    This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

    You are actually allowed, under Geneva Conventions (the lesser known Article LXIX) to repeatedly kick someone in the junk until the understand that being pro-torture is wrong.

    Further, you are allowed to give titty-twisters and “Indian Burns” to people until they understand that illegally detained and torturing hundreds of innocents in Gitmo then setting them free with a nice ride back home and a “sorry” is sure to result those people telling all their friends, family & fellow mosque-goers about how horrible America is thus inspiring many more people to hate us, become terrorists and/or obstruct our ability to conduct any kind of actual terrorist-finding operation in the future.

    Fucking short-sighted wanna-be thugs.

  23. 23
    Gus says:

    Jonesin’ don’t give them ideas.

  24. 24
    fuddmain says:

    Here’s how reliable waterboarding is, from a victim of the Khmer Rouge:

    He told his interrogators everything they wanted to know including the truth. They rarely stopped. In torture, he confessed to being a hermaphrodite, a CIA spy, a Buddhist Monk, a Catholic Bishop and the son of the king of Cambodia. He was actually just a school teacher whose crime was that he once spoke French.

    From Waterboarding is Torture… Period.

  25. 25
    rachel says:

    Fucking short-sighted wanna-be thugs.

    What do you mean “wanna-be”?

  26. 26
    jcricket says:

    What do you mean “wanna-be”?

    The 101st fighting keyboard kommandoes are the wanna-bes. With the exception of their “citizen journamalism” they never leave their cheeto-encrusted keyboards to commit any actual thuggery.

    The actual thugs are apparently what Cheney has turned our military interrogators and guards into. Way to support the troops there assholes.

  27. 27
    Rudi says:

    If anyone wants to look, I believe a Faux reporter actually allowed himself to be “water cured” with a turkey baster. Now thats alot(not) of water to simulate drowning.

    Patty says:

    During this session KSM feels panicky and unable to breathe. Even though he can breathe, he has the sensation that he is drowning. So he gives up information — reliable information — that stops a plot involving people flying planes into buildings.

    Rudi says:

    During this session KSM feels panicky and unable to breathe. Even though the sadistic torturer knows KSM cannot breathe, he continues the water cure until KSM actually is drowning. So he gives up no information — no reliable information — the plot involving people attacking Thanxgiving continues and Black Friday is a disaster for the USA Xmas shopping season. Poor Timmy and Jonny don’t get their Chinese LiteBrights and WWE Iraq Action Figures for Xmas.

    Fixed

  28. 28
    Franklin says:

    It seems to me that if an interrogator somehow knew for a fact that torture was absolutetly necessary to save thousands of lives, that he would go ahead and torture the suspect, whether torture was legal or not. If it will save thousands of lives, then it’s worth the interrogator losing his job or going to prison.

    So unless the hypothetical is changed to specify that the interrogator is unwilling to risk his own freedom, I don’t see why anyone has to die. Hypothetically, the system works and we don’t need to legalize torture.

  29. 29
    tBone says:

    A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are 5 swarthy-looking people (probably terrorists) who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher true patriot. You can flip a switch which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person an American flag tied to that track. Do you hate America enough to flip the switch?

    The trolley conundrum, reframed in wingnut logic.

  30. 30
    Konrad says:

    As Xanthippas alludes the torture hypothetical is simply a tautological argument and hence not worth much in the end. It is true because it is defined to be true. For example:

    hurting 1 to save a hundred is good.
    hurting 1 allows a hundred to be saved.
    therefore is it good to hurt 1.

  31. 31
    tBone says:

    hurting 1 to save a hundred is good.
    hurting 1 allows a hundred to be saved.
    therefore is it good to hurt 1.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. You can’t argue with Spock, moonbat.

  32. 32
    Svensker says:

    hurting 1 to save a hundred is good.
    hurting 1 allows a hundred to be saved.
    therefore is it good to hurt 1.

    Hey, didn’t you just prove that Wingnuts are actually Commies?

  33. 33
    Konrad says:

    hummm, a true red socialist are you tBone? The hurting 1 to save a hundred is the problematic assumption.

  34. 34
    Tsulagi says:

    These torture apologists who think having others do torture for them somehow proves their manhood are beyond stupid. Just as many among them just know Eve petted vegetarian raptors in her garden, they’re just as certain every word from someone tortured alternatively interrogated will be the truth. Hannity and Malkin confirm it so it must be true.

    In higher level SERE and other training, operators and operatives are trained that if captured, continue to fight the enemy through disinformation. Make him waste time and resources. That you will talk when tortured, and it’s probable you will divulge real information, but have it mixed in with a whole lot of shit. Plausible crap the enemy is inclined to believe. Then they waste time and resources chasing fantasies hopefully leaving them open to attack elsewhere.

    Of course the bad guys could never think that. Known truth.

    But our known truth patriot warriors just loves them their ticking time bomb hypotheticals to masturbate to. Let’s use Patterico’s bathroom material, but this time interject a few of those ugly things called facts. Even though known truth tells you facts are tools of the liberal devils…

    Let’s assume the following hypothetical facts are true. U.S. officials have KSM al-Libi in custody. They know he planned 9/11 other AQ operations and therefore have a solid basis to believe he has other deadly plots in the works. They try various noncoercive techniques to learn the details of those plots. Nothing works.

    They then waterboard him for two and one half minutes. And then a whole lot more when they outsource his ass to Egypt.

    During thismany sessions KSM al-Libi feels panicky and unable to breathe. Even though he can breathe, he has the sensation that he is drowning. So he gives up information — reliable informationthat stops a plot involving people flying planes into buildings. that Saddam is providing chemical weapons training to AQ inside Iraq. Just as al-Libi’s interrogators suspected. Colin Powell discloses this information in his U.N. presentation as a major justification for war with Iraq. Small minor detail: that information obtained under torture is later proven to be false. Well after the invasion.

    My simple question is this: based on these hypothetical facts, was the waterboarding session worth it?

    Yes, was that torture worth helping start a war under false information that to date has cost thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of civilian Iraqi lives, and a monetary cost that will exceed $1 Trillion? Plus plenty of other costs. I’m sure the answer is easy for Patterico and his target audience.

  35. 35
    Nylund says:

    I propose that since they don’t view waterboarding as torture that someone start a petition to posthumously overturn the convictions of the Japanese soldiers that waterboarded American soldiers during WWII. Let us see how many right-wing bloggers will stand behind their conviction that waterboarding is perfectly legal.

  36. 36
    laneman says:

    If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?

    There is so much goodness in this….

    And, yes. Kick, and kick hard.

  37. 37
    tBone says:

    hummm, a true red socialist are you tBone? The hurting 1 to save a hundred is the problematic assumption.

    Well, what if the 1 is a terrorist (or someone we think could be a terrorist) and the 100 are cute kids and adorable puppies in a park where the (possible) terrorist might have placed a ticking time bomb? Are you telling me you wouldn’t feel good about waterboarding that guy and saving all of those kids and puppies? You, sir, are a heartless monster.

  38. 38
    Andrew says:

    Let’s adapt the previous Balloon Juice question of the year:
    Would Patterico and Steyn have passion sex with a man to ensure that waterboarding is allowed?

  39. 39
    Robert Johnston says:

    You can not kick torture apologist bloggers and commentators in that which they do not have, and the one thing they most manifestly and uniformly do not have is cojones in which to be kicked–though if you want to punch Coulter in the adam’s apple, be my guest. Be they chickenhawks or merely monumentally insane, no torture apologist has any measurable bravery or fortitude.

    If you really want to make painfully sure that the torture fetishist is unable to blog, I suggest fixing him to a chair a Clockwork Orange style and putting “My Sharia” on infinite loop within his field of sight.

  40. 40
    jenniebee says:

    Tsulagi Says:

    POTD

  41. 41
    jcricket says:

    putting “My Sharia” on infinite loop within his field of sight.

    That was so bad. And her follow-up posts about how she must be doing “something right” because the leftists were mocking her is even funnier.

    Yes, we mock you because of your brilliance. That’s it.

  42. 42
    Tax Analyst says:

    Face Says:

    I’m afraid Coulter might actually enjoy a little stimulus in them thar nether regions. Bettin she hasn’t seen any non-self-imposed friction down there in quite some time.

    Uh…I still haven’t taken the time to figure out how to embed links, so I’ll just point…Google “I Fucked Ann Coulter” it’s hilarious.

  43. 43
    Matt says:

    Ridiculous.

    He might as well being his hypothetical with a story of how he traded his cow for some magic beans…

  44. 44
    Matt says:

    Er, begin, even.

  45. 45
    Jonquil says:

    Uh-oh. I think I just forfeited my antitorture credentials in response to your hypothetical.

    ::hands them in::

  46. 46
    jcricket says:

    I also forgot to add, that 1926 was forever ago and 9/11 changed everything ™

  47. 47
    Patterico says:

    John Cole,

    Do you think Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be kicked in the nuts for planning the deaths of thousands of your fellow Americans?

    How do your commenters here feel about that?

    Just checking to see: who is the real enemy in your eyes? Mass murderers? Or bloggers looking to start a philosophical debate about waterboarding mass murderers to save lives?

    Congratulations on becoming a Democrat.

  48. 48
    D. Mason says:

    Just checking to see: who is the real enemy in your eyes? Mass murderers? Or bloggers looking to start a philosophical debate about waterboarding mass murderers to save lives?

    You seem to have framed your question in such a way as to insinuate that there is only one real enemy.

  49. 49
    jcricket says:

    Patterico – Way to miss the forest for the trees buddy.

    * The terrorists are are enemy.

    * Torture-justifying apologists like yourselves who go around trying to convince America that everyone we capture is a ticking-bomb and we’re all Jack Bauer are also the enemy.

    You and your willingness to “debate” torture, along with support for policies that have directly resulted in the atmosphere under which hundreds of innocent detainees have been detained for years and tortured. Moreover, your thought process will be indirectly responsible for the decrease in cooperation America sorely needs when attempting to hunt out and destroy actual terrorists.

    Waterboarding is and always has been torture. The ends do not justify the means. Stop it. You’re hurting America.

  50. 50
    jcricket says:

    You seem to have framed your question in such a way as to insinuate that there is only one real enemy.

    i.e. a False dilemma

  51. 51
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    bloggers looking to start a philosophical debate

    You seem to be rather unclear as to what constitutes a “philosophical debate,” Patty. Hint: Creating comically stupid hypotheticals designed not to foster debate but to force anybody foolish enough to take you up on it to come to your conclusion lest they be called a bunch of terrorist-loving pussies who hate America doesn’t cut it. Your determination to embrace torture is duly noted, though.

    Patty’s ramblings remind me of a classic Simpsons moment, though:

    Birch Barlow: Mayor Quimby, you are well known for your lenient stance on crime, but suppose for a second that your house was ransacked by thugs, your family was tied up in the basement with socks in their mouths, you try to open the door but there’s too much blood on the knob–
    Mayor Quimby: What is your question?
    Birch Barlow: My question is about the budget, sir.

  52. 52
    Prof. Rico says:

    My hypothetical has been demolished! You love terrorists more than America! Everybody fails!

  53. 53
    Tsulagi says:

    I’m sure the answer is easy for Patterico and his target audience.

    And right on cue (well, a little slow), Patterico provides the answer in his lame-dick comment. Answer being there is no cost too great to be paid by others and our country as long as torture apologists can jack off to Jack Bauer. They’re Republican manly men like that.

  54. 54
    Patterico says:

    So: the enemy includes both 1) the planners of 9/11, and 2) bloggers like me who look to spark a debate about waterboarding. That answer doesn’t surprise me, coming from this crowd.

    So tell me: of these two enemies of America, me and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which of us deserves the greater punishment, in the view of John Cole and his commenters?

    Many of you have advocated kicking me in the nuts. Do you advocate this for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed too?

    Who is the greater enemy of America? Me, or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

    Go ahead, say it! You’re thinking it, so why not say it out loud?

  55. 55
    Tsulagi says:

    This guy cracks me up! People read this guy? Seriously?

  56. 56

    See, this whole business demonstrates the beauty of asking if you would have sex with a man to stop a terrorist attack.

    Jack Bauer’s justification for torture is always that he has to, there is no other way to obtain the necessary information. Now suppose that Jack Bauer captures a terrorist with a surgically-implanted suicide device that will kill him if you subject him to extreme stress. Torture (including waterboarding) is out of the question. But the terrorist confides that he is secretly gay. He would be happy to screw his homophobic colleagues by revealing the location of the bomb so long as he gets to screw Jack Bauer first.

    Somehow I think Jack Bauer’s (and his fans’) inventiveness in finding alternative ways to get the necessary information would increase when faced with an act that he/they find truly repugnant.

  57. 57
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    bloggers like me who look to spark a debate about waterboarding

    OK, Patty, as long as we’re debating, let’s debate. Here’s the situation:

    You have a terrorist in custody who knows the location of a nuke about to go off in an American city. Let’s make it a red state city so you’ll actually care about it. Say Dallas. Now, the terrorist has a simple demand: Either he be allowed to personally assassinate the president and veep (note I said a generic prez and veep–if it helps you in this scenario, imagine the prez and veep are your two most hated enemies in the world), or he keeps his mouth shut and waits for the mushroom cloud. So…do you offer up the prez and veep for assassination, or do you let the nuke detonate? Tick tock, Patty. Tick tock.

    Are you objectively pro-assassination, or are you objectively pro-nuking America? Hey, I’m just trying to have a debate here. A “philosophical discussion” about getting terrorists to cough up information to stop a ticking bomb. Nothing more outrageous than any scenario you’ve concocted. You’re so interested in this debate, let’s hear your answer. C’mon, don’t be a coward.

  58. 58
    Genjisan says:

    Is this Patterico a dumb cluck or what? Does he really believe John Cole’s post and comment thread constitute a “serious discussion” as to whether he should be kicked in the Little DA? Please tell me he’s not this stupid.

  59. 59
    Xanthippas says:

    Many of you have advocated kicking me in the nuts.

    Look, you’re not going to make that many buddies across the aisle when you construct tortured hypotheticals that can produce only the conclusion you desire, then accuse others of not answering your question when they try to point this out to you. Also, it doesn’t help to accuse liberals of being traitors, weak on security, terrorist-lovers, etc., etc. You’re lucky that some of these people would settle for kicking you in the nuts.

    I don’t think you’re an “enemy of America.” But I also don’t think you’re helping, either.

  60. 60
    Rudi says:

    So tell me: of these two enemies of America, me and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which of us deserves the greater punishment, in the view of John Cole and his commenters?

    Simple answer Patty – you do. We defeated Nazis Germany, Japan and the Soviets, not by copying their barbaric ways, but showing the world an example with “the high moral ground”. hen you roll in the slop with pigs – you end up smelling like shit. Should we behead our enemies too and show them we can be just as sadistic.

    In another post, a judge in racist Jim Crow Mississippi over turned a murder conviction of a black man because the local athorities water boarded him for a confession. Even Southern judges call it torture.

  61. 61

    […] Democrat blogger John Cole is appalled that I have opened a debate on the morality of waterboarding admitted mass murderers for less than three minutes if it were 100% certain to save thousands of lives. To express his disgust, he solicits his readers’ opinions as to whether he should physically assault me. Most agree that he should. […]

  62. 62
    Fritz says:

    I don’t think that you can categorically rule out doing a lesser evil to prevent a greater evil. I mean, you could, but I don’t think that is the way most people operate. Sometimes the ends do justify the means. It’s just that there is so much more wrong with torture that legalizing it or allowing it to be used sub rosa would do so much more harm than it would do good.

  63. 63
    nk says:

    Patterico,

    What on earth made you think that you would get a different reaction, here, from these little would be odalisques, whose most heartfelt wish is to be one of Osama bin Laden’s seventy-two virgins?

  64. 64
    swj719 says:

    Let me say that again. Bush’s administration has tortured men who were factually innocent.

    Not men who got off on technicalities. Factually Innocent.

    You can, of cource, name the people, and the places and dates of their torture, correct?

    Just checking to see: who is the real enemy in your eyes? Mass murderers? Or bloggers looking to start a philosophical debate about waterboarding mass murderers to save lives?

    You seem to have framed your question in such a way as to insinuate that there is only one real enemy.

    So people you disagree with who haven’t harmed you in any way are just as bad as people who plot daily to Blow Stuff Up here in America and want to kill you just because you’re here?

    Gotcha.

    What an informative board this is…

  65. 65
    swj719 says:

    Let’s make it a red state city so you’ll actually care about it.

    Bubblegum, here’s your biggest problem.

    You think we only care about other people who are of a Right-Side of the Aisle.

    We actually want to make sure no Americans die in a terrorist attack. If we only cared about “Righties”, we never would have gotten mad over NYC, would we.

    We don’t care about your politics. You are (I assume) a US Citizen. That means we’d like you to get the chance to live a full and long life. I’m sorry you’re unable to realize that.

  66. 66
    Xanthippas says:

    You are (I assume) a US Citizen. That means we’d like you to get the chance to live a full and long life. I’m sorry you’re unable to realize that.

    No, we get it. U.S. citizens alone are deserving of (some) of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Everybody else can be locked up, tortured, bombed, or whatnot…doesn’t matter, because they’re not Americans. We get that quite well.

  67. 67
    swj719 says:

    No, we get it. U.S. citizens alone are deserving of (some) of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Everybody else can be locked up, tortured, bombed, or whatnot…doesn’t matter, because they’re not Americans. We get that quite well.

    Wow. You twisted my words quite well. I’m actually impressed. A new high-mark for speed.

    I’ll lay it out as best I can for you, ok?

    In a perfect world, no one would have to be hurt for anything, ever. This isn’t a perfect world.

    It’s anything but, and it never has been perfect since a guy and a gal decided to eat the damned fruit.

    That said, it’s a fact of life now that people want to come here and kill us. They aren’t part of a standing military, so there won’t be a formal declaration of war (though those started to go away in WWII). There won’t be uniformed soldiers for our military to engage in battle (prefferably well away from People Not Directly Involved In the Fighting).

    They will sneak in, and do as much damage, cause as much chaos and carnage, as possible. They don’t care if they survive – that was demonstrated quite clearly on 9/11.

    I’d love it if no one ever had to die ever. All true warriors/Soldiers/Marines/Airmen/Sailors pray for the day they are no longer needed. All sane people wish there wasn’t a need for those rough and ready men to visit their violence upon those who would do you harm. We’d much rather that EVERYONE be able to sleep soundly, without fear.

    That just isn’t how the world is, and I’m sorry if you can’t see that.

    Does everyone deserve the chance to live long, free, happy and healthy lives? Without question, yes. If my putting a bullet through my brain meant that there would never – ever – be another war, or terrorist attack, or bar fight, or shouting match, or hurt feelings, my only requests would be that A) my headstone look pretty and B) you hand me my gun.

    But that won’t happen, will it. One death won’t ever change that. A hundred, a thousand, a million deaths won’t end conflict forever.

    Everyone shold get the chance to be free. I think the US constitution, and our way of government and our way of life is – while flawed in some ways and not perfect by any means – is a damn fine one. I think that we here in America have the best country in the world, no matter how much I might disagree with some of the things it does (or doesn’t do). Sure I’m biased, but I honestly feel that ours is the best way.

    Other disagree. Others think Islamic law is the bee’s knees, and they want that. Hey, that’s just fine. Not my cup of tea, but they are free to live how they wish, living in accordance with their beliefs and praying to god as they understand him. I’m not going to tell them they are wrong. How they govern their life (and by what name they call God) is not in my control. I don’t want to convert anyone to any religion. If the people want a monarchy, fine. Long live the Queen, I say. Elected leader (be it by pure democracy or via some other system like the Electoral College)? Hail to the Chief, I say.

    I relly and truly do have a live and let live attitude about life. You leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone, and we can all be happy leaving each other alone.

    But let’s say, just for the basis of what I’m saying here and not implying anything else about you what so ever, that you want to kill – for example – my wife (no, I’m single, but again, for the sake of argument).

    Well, then we have a problem. I’m not going to let you kill my wife. I’m “not going to let you” with every ounce of my being. If need be, I’ll kill you to stop you from killing her.

    I would like to think that such an outlook is not unacceptable to you. Defend yor family to the death is, I think, something most everyone can agree to.

    And now we get to the central part of why how you interpreted my words bothers me.

    I am an American. Every citizen of the United States of America is either my brother or sister in a communal sense. They are all part of my “family”. I don’t care what they look like, or how they dress, or who they love, or whether or not they believe in God at all (let alone God as I understand Him). Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, Purple, Green with Pink Spots, I don’t care. American first, all other things are secondary at best – if they even start to matter at all.

    So taking from my example above, when someone wants to come kill one of them when they haven’t done anything wrong, I’ll do whatever it takes to try and stop it, up to and including giving my own life. I don’t care much for Bill or Hillary, but I’d shove them out of the way of a speeding trunk just like I would shove that spiteful, vile toad of a man Phelps, just like I would my sister. I love my country enough to do whatever it took to keep it the free, safe, amazing, flawed, wonderful, imperfect place that it is.

    And the same goes for anyone around the world who just wants to be left alone to live their lives and conduct their business in peace. If the people of [insert random small country’s name here] want that, then I want it for them too, and I’ll give my life to see that they get that chance, because it’s that CHANCE to be free that causes people, ALLOWS people, to become more than they were. It lets them lift themselves and everyone else around them up.

    [I went into a several paragraph digression here, but it wasn’t really on point at all, and was about Iraq, so I dropped it to avoid losing focus]

    In order to make sure that everyone gets that chance, we have to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep them safe. That is going to have to include some pretty horrible things. Things I would rather us never have to do. I’d love it if we captured some guy, and he just told us everything. We’d put him in jail, or he’d promise to never do it again and we’d let him go, or whatever.

    But that doesn’t happen. We’re fighting peole who don’t fear blowing themselves up if it means killing a bunch of school kids. How on earth do you REASON with that? How do you get that person – who hates you with absolutely every fiber of his or her being simply because you aren’t like them and don’t worship as they do – to tell you how to stop an attack that will kill people who’s only crime is not doing as they are told?

    I really don’t think you can. You have to push a little harder on those folks. And if it means that you waterboard a guy, or slap his face, or deprive him of sleep, or force him to listen to the latest teeny-bop boy-band wonder-crap music at high volume, or make them stand in a cold room, in order to get them to tell you about how they plan to blow the next thing up, or where the keep the stuff they use to make the things that blow up, then I think it’s definately worth it. Could you sleep at night knowing that because you didn’t blare (ummm… I dunno what kids listen to these days… Backstreet Boys? They still around?) whatever horrible music and make them stand in a cold cold room for a could of days a school was blown up and houndreds of kids died?

    I’ll tell you what, the guilt over that would probably make me consider eating a bullet. I don’t know that I could handle it.

    So if we get someone we really think knows something (like, for example, the guy that planned 9/11), I think we have to do what we have to. The risk of letting someone like THAT go by is too great.

    Sure. His rights are violated. What about the rights of the people who will die if you don’t? Why are the rights for the victims to live less important than the rights of the guy(s) who want to kill them?

    My response to Bubblegum was worded that way because he specificly singled out “a red state”. Red state, blue state, it doesn’t matter. Not to me it doesn’t, and it shouldn’t to any of you.

  68. 68
    Arthur says:

    Rudi Says:

    > … We defeated Nazis Germany, Japan and the Soviets, not by copying their barbaric ways, but showing the world an example with “the high moral ground”.

    We defeated Japan by NUKING them! The only thing occupying high ground was the ashes of the inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  69. 69

    swj719:

    Could you sleep at night knowing that because you didn’t blare (ummm… I dunno what kids listen to these days… Backstreet Boys? They still around?) whatever horrible music and make them stand in a cold cold room for a could of days a school was blown up and houndreds of kids died?

    I’ll tell you what, the guilt over that would probably make me consider eating a bullet. I don’t know that I could handle it.

    So if we get someone we really think knows something (like, for example, the guy that planned 9/11), I think we have to do what we have to. The risk of letting someone like THAT go by is too great.

    I’m sorry, but this is a better argument against the ticking bomb than you realize. After all, you say, any time you capture a terrorist, it might be a ticking bomb. How can you tell that it isn’t? Better torture all terrorism suspects just to be sure. All of a sudden you have moved past true ticking bombs and into potential ticking bombs. How can we be sure any situation is not a ticking bomb?

  70. 70
    Patterico says:

    swj719,

    These people aren’t worth your time and effort.

  71. 71
    D. Mason says:

    swj719,

    These people aren’t worth your time and effort.

    Patty I think you’re just mad because he actually tried to open up an honest debate instead of whipping up a fancy little gotcha like you did.

    swj719 I don’t really disagree with any of your points, I just don’t trust anyone in our government, especially now, to make the call on which torture is necessary. I don’t think it’s a job that bureaucrats are capable of. I believe that if you give a fed permission to torture osama bin laden you might as well be giving him permission to torture kindergarteners.

  72. 72
    Zuzu says:

    Xanthippas Says: Many dishonest hacks know that you can construct a hypothetical that makes critical assumptions that force readers to agree with the rhetorical answer that’s quite evident from the question itself. If they refuse your assumptions, you then accuse of them of refusing to answer your question. Of course, it’s also possible that Patterico is just stupid and doesn’t know that over-constructing a hypothetical will get you the answer you want, but it seems unfair to assume that he’s stupid.

    I dunno, it seems to have been pointed out to him enough times. By people he accuses of not answering the question. So I vote for bullsh***er.

    Not saying there’s no stupidity involved, though.

  73. 73
    Zuzu says:

    Patterico says: Or bloggers looking to start a philosophical debate

    Oh, that’s a good one.

  74. 74
    Xanthippas says:

    But that doesn’t happen. We’re fighting people who don’t fear blowing themselves up if it means killing a bunch of school kids. How on earth do you REASON with that? How do you get that person – who hates you with absolutely every fiber of his or her being simply because you aren’t like them and don’t worship as they do – to tell you how to stop an attack that will kill people who’s only crime is not doing as they are told?

    I really don’t think you can. You have to push a little harder on those folks.

    “Those folks” which necessarily includes men who are innocent of any wrong-doing whatsoever who have the misfortune of being mistaken for terrorists, or hanging around terrorists, or having names similar to terrorists, or worshipping the same religion as terrorists, etc., etc. That’s the fundamental problem with your argument. If we KNEW beyond a shadow of a doubt that EVERYONE we caught was DEFINITELY a terrorist and DEFINITELY knew about plots that would get more Americans killed, then MAYBE torture would be justified in limited circumstances. So, you make a ton of assumptions that support your belief. I don’t, and come to a different conclusion.

    Secondly, our nation defending itself from terrorists is not the same you defending your wife. As a nation we fight to defend not only the lives of our individual citizens, but our principles as well, which are fundamental to the character of our nation. Men and women died for the freedoms that many of today’s “patriots” seem willing to jettison, so long as they are spared even the remotest chance of being killed by terrorists. I’m not, and there’s the difference.

    As for me “twisting” your words…I’m not the one who brought up the point about the commentator being a U.S. citizen. I implied something in your comment that perhaps you didn’t mean. If you’re willing to state that the President should be able to declare US citizens “enemy combatants” and detain and torture them as he sees fit without any judicial or legislative oversight, then I’ll retract that comment.

  75. 75

    […] Patterico pees himself, a la Roger Simon, after John Cole mocks Patty’s stupid post on the hypothetical morality of waterboarding with a hypothetical kick in the balls. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Patterico pees himself, a la Roger Simon, after John Cole mocks Patty’s stupid post on the hypothetical morality of waterboarding with a hypothetical kick in the balls. […]

  2. […] Democrat blogger John Cole is appalled that I have opened a debate on the morality of waterboarding admitted mass murderers for less than three minutes if it were 100% certain to save thousands of lives. To express his disgust, he solicits his readers’ opinions as to whether he should physically assault me. Most agree that he should. […]

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