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  #31  
Old Jun 13, '12, 1:01 pm
Ridgerunner Ridgerunner is online now
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Default Re: Has a politician ever been denied communion because they were pro-torture

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Originally Posted by Contarini View Post
No, not necessarily. Incarceration (including solitary confinement) has as one of its purposes the prevention of harm to others, and it's a punishment imposed justly for an offense. In other words, if I act so as to harm others, the government is acting justly in putting me in a place where I can't do so. No such "breakdown of the will" is involved. Incarceration might be torture depending on how it is done and why, but it's far more likely to fall into the category I described later--disorienting a person a bit, giving them time to think isolated from those who might strengthen their resolve, etc. It doesn't override a person's will in the way torture does--and if it does, then it is torture.

Cerrtainly incarceration has a purpose of protecting others from the criminal. But the very word "penitentiary" has its origins in what is supposed to be the central purpose of incarceration; the reform of the prisoner. Now, the prisoner is put to considerable discomfort, both mental and physical, in order to accomplish this "change of mind and will", at least to the degree the prisoner becomes determined not to end up there again even if he would otherwise want to steal or harm. It is not distinguishable from what you consider "torture" to be.
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  #32  
Old Jun 13, '12, 1:09 pm
Ridgerunner Ridgerunner is online now
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Default Re: Has a politician ever been denied communion because they were pro-torture

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Huh? How does detoxification attempt to override a person's will and make them do something they are determined not to do?

I think you're misunderstanding what I mean by "overriding the will." I don't mean simply exercising coercion. I mean causing such intense pain and discomfort that the person is no longer capable of acting rationally, because they will do anything to end the suffering. So they do things that they wouldn't otherwise do.
When, for example, a person is involuntarily committed and is on drugs or alcohol, the person will be put through very significant pain and discomfort, and will likely act irrational. This is done in order to a) get the person off the intoxicant when he doesn't want to do it, and b) accomplish the further social purpose of perhaps preventing him from doing harm to others while in an intoxicated state.

Putting someone through something like "waterboarding" does the very same thing. It causes discomfort and causes the person to do something he would not otherwise do, and it is done in order to protect others.
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  #33  
Old Jun 13, '12, 1:23 pm
Ridgerunner Ridgerunner is online now
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Default Re: Has a politician ever been denied communion because they were pro-torture

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I think that spanking might fit the definition I gave. My definition was overbroad in the sense that it should have included the further clarification "for a purpose not intrinsically connected either to the good of the person on whom the suffering is inflicted or the infliction of just retributive punishment." I have come to the conclusion that spanking is not a good way to discipline children, in part because it does qualify as torture by the definition I gave.
But spanking is not always for either purpose. Sometimes it is inflicted in order to protect others, as in "You hit your little brother with that stick, and now you'll get a spanking." While that might seem retributive, it is really aimed at protecting the little brother and others from future hits.

I am really having a problem with basing a definition of "torture" on the mesne purpose of overcoming the person's will. Overcoming the will of another is something that happens all the time and in hundreds of ways. The gun on the cop's hip does that to a degree, or is intended to do it. But we wouldn't call it "torture".

Ought we not to go back to something more basic, as in the nature of the treatment itself?
Some interrogation methods result in death, dismemberment, disfigurement, maiming and so on. Lots of that in the world. On the other hand, can we truly say that something that leaves no lasting harm and that some voluntarily undergo for rational purposes, is really "torture".

Or is it all just subjective, like the supreme court justice's quandary about pornography? To a Marine or an Al Quaeda terrorist (both of which undergo waterboarding voluntarily, is it really "torture"? To a Navy Seal, who undergoes far worse, is it torture? Would it ever be torture to an Indian who is hung by his pectoral muscles until he passes out, and does that because he wants to do it?

I think we can agree that to a middle class American who has never undergone anything hard in his life, waterboarding would, to him, be "torture". So would running a mile be torture to him.
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  #34  
Old Jun 13, '12, 3:28 pm
Contarini Contarini is offline
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Default Re: Has a politician ever been denied communion because they were pro-torture

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Originally Posted by Ridgerunner View Post
But spanking is not always for either purpose. Sometimes it is inflicted in order to protect others, as in "You hit your little brother with that stick, and now you'll get a spanking." While that might seem retributive, it is really aimed at protecting the little brother and others from future hits.

I am really having a problem with basing a definition of "torture" on the mesne purpose of overcoming the person's will. Overcoming the will of another is something that happens all the time and in hundreds of ways. The gun on the cop's hip does that to a degree, or is intended to do it. But we wouldn't call it "torture".

Ought we not to go back to something more basic, as in the nature of the treatment itself?
Some interrogation methods result in death, dismemberment, disfigurement, maiming and so on. Lots of that in the world. On the other hand, can we truly say that something that leaves no lasting harm and that some voluntarily undergo for rational purposes, is really "torture".

Or is it all just subjective, like the supreme court justice's quandary about pornography? To a Marine or an Al Quaeda terrorist (both of which undergo waterboarding voluntarily, is it really "torture"? To a Navy Seal, who undergoes far worse, is it torture? Would it ever be torture to an Indian who is hung by his pectoral muscles until he passes out, and does that because he wants to do it?

I think we can agree that to a middle class American who has never undergone anything hard in his life, waterboarding would, to him, be "torture". So would running a mile be torture to him.
I don't think you're understanding what I mean by "overcoming a person's will."

As I said before, I'm not talking about coercion in general. If I see a gun on a cop's hip, I may tread more warily, but that's out of rational self-preservation. My will and intellect are still functioning.

I'm not quite sure I understand your examples of how people on drugs or alcohol are treated, but one can reasonably see why a person not in full command of their faculties would be treated as if they were not in full command of their faculties. Again, the purpose is to restore them to that full command.

That's not the purpose in interrogative torture. The purpose of torture is to break a person down so that they are not in command of themselves. This is radically different from the "penitentiary" purpose of prison, or from spanking, or any of the other examples you provide, because the purpose is to make the person function as something less than a human being. Hence it is dehumanizing and intrinsically evil.

I'm dubious about the value of many of the practices you bring as parallels, but I'm not going to argue those points.

To repeat: torture is intrinsically evil because it tries to override a person's will and intellect, using fear and discomfort/pain to force him to act irrationally. Torture has no intrinsic connection to the correction of the person being tortured or to retributive justice. Its goal is to obtain information (or a confession) that the person's will and intellect are determined not to give. The natural result of torture is not a penitent offender but a person broken, shamed, and dehumanized. Any good arising from torture is entirely extrinsic to the nature of the act itself.

Edwin
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  #35  
Old Jun 13, '12, 4:07 pm
Ridgerunner Ridgerunner is online now
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Default Re: Has a politician ever been denied communion because they were pro-torture

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Originally Posted by Contarini View Post
Torture has no intrinsic connection to the correction of the person being tortured or to retributive justice. Its goal is to obtain information (or a confession) that the person's will and intellect are determined not to give. The natural result of torture is not a penitent offender but a person broken, shamed, and dehumanized. Any good arising from torture is entirely extrinsic to the nature of the act itself.

Edwin
Wait a minute. Are you actually saying it's okay to inflict pain or discomfort to correct someone or for purpose of retribution, but not to save the lives of others by getting information?

And is there some good reason to think that, say, some Al Quaeda terrorist is "broken", "shamed" or "dehumanized" if waterboarded? Their very religion teaches that they can sing like canaries if they reach a point where they can't tolerate it any longer. And, seemingly, that's what they do. Is that really any more dehumanizing than putting some banker in prison for years because he temporarily issued a letter of credit to a friend without putting it on the books of the bank? (I use the example because I knew a banker who got imprisoned for it, and I can assure you he was a broken man from it...far more than these Al Quaeda people seem to be.)

Should this really be the focus? Yes, I can see how acid baths and dismemberment and permanent crippling should be considered immoral, no matter what the reason. But waterboarding?
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  #36  
Old Jun 14, '12, 12:53 pm
Contarini Contarini is offline
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Default Re: Has a politician ever been denied communion because they were pro-torture

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Originally Posted by Ridgerunner View Post
Wait a minute. Are you actually saying it's okay to inflict pain or discomfort to correct someone or for purpose of retribution, but not to save the lives of others by getting information?
I'm saying that they are separate issues, and that the last is the most clearly wrong. Absolutely. And the Catholic Church appears to agree with me. The reason, as I keep saying, is that torture treats people as a means.

Quote:
And is there some good reason to think that, say, some Al Quaeda terrorist is "broken", "shamed" or "dehumanized" if waterboarded? Their very religion teaches that they can sing like canaries if they reach a point where they can't tolerate it any longer.
Source?

Quote:
And, seemingly, that's what they do. Is that really any more dehumanizing than putting some banker in prison for years because he temporarily issued a letter of credit to a friend without putting it on the books of the bank? (I use the example because I knew a banker who got imprisoned for it, and I can assure you he was a broken man from it...far more than these Al Quaeda people seem to be.)
I'm not defending our penal system. I think there's a good case to be made that prison may be cruel, especially when the person could easily be made to repay what they did in some other way and is not an imminent menace to others, as in the case of your acquaintance. I'm simply saying that inflicting pain with the purpose of breaking down a person's normal operations of will and reason in order to accomplish some goal that benefits oneself or a third party, with no intrinsic connection either to the good of the person you are inflicting the pain on or to what that person deserves--this is intrinsically evil and rightly condemned by the Church.

You can execute a person and still love them. I don't see how you can torture a person and still love them, because in torture the pain is the whole point of the exercise.

Edwin
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