Monday, May 5, 2014

The Tortuous Route of Advocating for Torture

Here's the big game advocates of torture play:

If torture is wrong, you mean I can't spank my son when he misbehaves?  If torture is wrong, you mean nuns should not have been rapping the knuckles of their students with rulers?  If torture is wrong, then why can't we even define what it consists of?  Goodness gracious, drowning or producing a fear of drowning in a Muslim.  How could that be torture???

Cowardly as this line of reasoning is, it at least points toward a truth.  The Church says that torture is intrinsically evil, evil by its very nature.  If torture is merely severe corporal punishment (and nothing else), then how can that be?  Does the nature of something change when its degree changes?  Corporal punishment is not intrinsically evil, so why should severe corporal punishment be?  Severe corporal punishment may be wrong (as too much eating or too much drinking is wrong), but the thing in and of itself is not wrong, no more wrong than eating or drinking are, when not indulged in to an extreme: in other words not intrinsically wrong.

My response would be: an act is intrinsically evil not because it differs from other acts in degree, but in kind.

Thus, torture is not merely severe corporal punishment.  Indeed, psychological torture may make no use of corporal punishment at all.  So, then, what is torture and what distinguishes it from other acts that may become wrong if indulged in to disproportionate degree, but that are not wrong by their nature?

As I wrote on Facebook ...

TORTURE is the attempt to destroy the Image of God in another human being, to take control of his will and reason.  It is typically done with psychological or physical coercion, or a combination of both.  It is not intense corporal punishment, which can be aimed at reform of the will, but which never seeks to destroy the will.  [Torture may make use of corporal punishment, but corporal punishment alone does not define what torture is.] For torture is aimed at taking away the very substance of man's being, while leaving him a tool for another's disposal and control.  

(Hat tip to Paul Rhodes, by the way, who first put this idea into words, in my back yard, at a meeting of the ChesterBelloc Drinking and Debating Club.)

In brief, TORTURE is simply the worst thing one human being can do to another and should not be condoned by godless atheists, much less Catholics.


Anonymous said...

I love how when pressed on the matter, the torture cheerleaders will then turn around and state that waterboarding is not torture.

Dr. Eric

Kevin O'Brien said...

It's the same technique the Liars used. "Lying is not condemned by Church teaching! Oh, it is? The act in question is not lying! Oh, it is? Lying is not condemned by Church teaching! Oh, it is? The act in question is not lying! Oh, it is? Lying is not condemned by Church teaching ... " Lather, rinse, repeat.