Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm going to have to agree with Mr. Shea

Mark Shea has been standing tall for years for an unconditional condemnation by Catholics of the "enhanced interrogation methods" (aka "torture") of the Bush Administration. I have no particular inclination to jump into the fray at this late date, just because he, and Zippy, and others have been doing the heavy lifting and anything I would say would be (at best) piling on or (at worst) trivial in comparison.

One thing I'd like to add my "Hear hear!" to, though, has to do with our attitude towards the prohibition of torture. Although this post doesn't address it specifically, in the (gigantic) combox it comes up again.

Rather than asking, "What are the limits on extraordinary interrogation? What can we do to suspects or prisoners without crossing the line into torture?" We should simply treat them humanely. Period. If you do that, you don't have to worry about the rest. What does "humane" demand? It demands charity, and it demands doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.

It seems to me that to ask "How far can we go with interrogation techniques"-type questions is indistinguishable from the Pharisaic attitude that resulted in questions like "How far can I walk on a Sabbath without violating the Sabbath?" The "Sabbath day's journey" resulted from this.

Don't ask what harm you can do. Just don't. And don't do harm, either.

Or so it seems to me.


Martin T said...

Amen. I wish I knew more history. Chivelry would seem to demand no torture, but chivelry is dead. And we accuse our ansestors of being cruel.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hi Martin,

I think that you're exactly right. IIRC chivalry was nothing but a practical expression of the second greatest commandment ("love thy neighbor") and the Golden Rule.