Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Who would Jesus torture?

One of the hallmarks of Germany's slide into Nazism is that there was considerable disagreement among Germans at the time over exactly what was going on. Even among German Jews there were those who famously predicted that things couldn't possibly ever get that bad. Even at the end so many Germans were in denial about the reality of the situation that the Allies very wisely forced German civilians to walk through the newly liberated concentration camps to see the piles of bodies with their own eyes so that there could never be any doubt about what had happened.

Sadly, it appears that Americans are not so different. Although George Bush's approval ratings are at historic lows, there are still tens of millions who support him, and therefore tens of millions of us who support the now-legalized torture of human beings who have never even been charged let alone convicted of any crime. We have descended into the darkest depths of barbarism, where people are whisked away by darkness to secret places merely because they have been denounced by accusers unknown.

But it's OK because they are witches -- er, I mean Jews -- er, I mean terrorists. It's OK because when the Jews -- er, I mean terrorists -- are gone, then we will be Safe.

I can barely muster words under the crushing weight of irony and meta-irony in this situation. We have Muslims rioting in the streets to protest against people who dare point out that Muslims riot in the streets. We have Christians forming the bedrock of support for a government that kidnaps and tortures to make the world Safe for Democracy. And we have both sides seeing the other irony with 20/20 clarity, but utterly blind to their own.

Time to stop the madness.

By voting to legalize torture the Republican party utterly abandoned any claim they might have had to the moral high ground. Torture is never justified. Not ever. The old canard about the ticking bomb scenario is utter hogwash. It is nothing more than a thin veneer of rationalization to cover up our fear and bloodlust. Sure, if you knew that this person had the information and if you knew that the only way to obtain it was by torture and if you could be certain that the information was accurate and if you knew that the information would allow you to save multitudes then there's an argument. But the fact of the matter is you can never know these things. You can only suspect them. And suspicion does not justify torture. Ever.

The United States of America has been torturing people illegally for some time now, and is now going to continue torturing people with full legal sanction. At the moment the moral weight of this decision rests on the shoulders of the legislators who voted to legalize torture. But after November that will no longer be true. This November the People will speak, and ignorance is no longer an excuse. A vote for a Republican is a vote for legalized torture. After November the blood of the innocent victims (there have already been documented cases of torture of innocents, and there will certainly be more) will be on our hands. If the Republicans win this November and you voted for them, the blood of the innocents will be on your hands. And when, years or decades from now, when we wake from this collective nightmare and the victors, whoever they may ultimately be, force us to make the long walk through the camps to see the bodies, you will not be able to wring your hands and say, as many Germans did, "I didn't know. I didn't know."

Now you know.

22 comments:

Kim said...

I completely agree Ron. One of the things I am most concerned with in our country is the situation with detainees. We are betraying the very principles that this country was founded on. These is no "except if you're a terrorist" clause in the bill of rights.

I'm glad to see you speaking up Ron. I've written a few letters about this but I must admit I don't feel as if I'm doing enough.

~Kim

Al Gore said...

A vote for the democrats is the legallized murder of millions of babies. I'd rather torture a few hundred likely terrorists than innocent babies.

Ron said...

A vote for the democrats is the legallized murder of millions of babies.

Ah, a right wingnut who thinks that the most effective way to reduce the number of abortions is to throw rape victims in prison. (Sometimes it seems that on the RIght throwing people in prison is the answer to everything doesn't it?) Welcome to my blog! Perhaps you will be good enough to answer these questions.

udaymuses said...

i think u have struck the chord ron, history repeats itself....the moment we see some one actually supporting cruelity we must know something is wrong...u have drawn a very intresting parallism between nazi and george bush admin
uday

Some Yahoo said...

It's all a matter of who you think ought to be tortured.

Democrats want the torture of the innocent unborn, the subjugation of illegal immigrants, women as cheap sex slaves (abortion makes this easier). They oppose the free exercise of religion (freedom from religion, not "of" religion).

Rebublicans want to torture our enemies who have sworn to kill us, and in fact have killed 3,000 on 9/11. But that's just the biggest and latest unprovoked attack.

To be honest, there is also a large off-the-books contingent of the Republican party that wants to keep the illegals working cheap too, so they get the shaft either way. But the official stance in the conservative movement is that the borders should be controlled and illegals deported. George Bush does NOT share this view.

Yes, I just said he's not really a conservative on this issue.

Ross said...

"Democrats want the torture of the innocent unborn"
I had a whole diatribe about this written up, but in the end I'll instead be brutally honest and say that not all human life is equally valuable. You say that Muslim people in other countries are less valuable than you, I say that an unborn fetus is less valuable than its mother's educational opportunities. But we both agree that human life is not all equally valuable.

"Rebublicans want to torture our enemies who have sworn to kill us"
Here are the biggest mistakes in your post. I'll restate your sentence without changing any facts and see if you still agree: Neocons want to torture people who come from the same area as our enemies who have sworn to kill us because it looks like they're doing something significant. One big gap between what you think is happening and what is actually happening is that there's no assurance that the people being tortured are the same people who want to kill us. How many Afghans were told by Taliban strongmen to pick up a gun or have their families killed? How many of those people are in Gitmo? Can't answer the last question? Why not?

As for illegal immigrants, the neocons are wholly owned by big business and big business wins when undocumented labor allows them to hire people for less and with fewer benefits. The conservative movement you speak of is in direct conflict with big business and will never gain any traction on the immigration issue because of that.

Ron said...

Democrats want the torture of the innocent unborn

Oh, sure. Democrats just salivate at the thought of all those dead babies. That's why they always hold abortion parties to celebrate afterwards.

Those Democrats are all just a bunch of fucking Godless commie pinko tree-hugging homo-coddling eco-terrorists. The fact that Democrats are allowed to live at all is just another sign of the continuing moral decay of this great nation. Halefuckinglujah.

Where is this getting us?

Chris said...

"a right wingnut who thinks that the most effective way to reduce the number of abortions is to throw rape victims in prison. "

What percentage of abortions are performed due to cases of rape or incest as opposed to those who simply don't want to be troubled socially or economically by child?

I just can't help but feel that the majority of abortions are performed for reasons of self. Isn't it wrong to be selfish? That too is relative I guess.

graceonline said...

Good piece, Ron. your question, "Who would Jesus torture?" is to the point. Jesus, aka The Prince of Peace, has always been about love, redemption, and forgiveness. He was never about torture.

He did show rage toward the religious righteous who used his father's name to steal, lie, cheat, torture, abuse, and yes, kill others.

People who do harm in his name are breaking the third commandment.

Vince said...

Q: I ask you would Jesus have tortured/killed Hitler?

Wanton torture/killing is as negligent as wanton inaction against those desiring to torture and kill.

For some serious consideration, read the writing of Dietrich Bonhoffer. A theologian that plotted against Hitler. He was eventually executed in Buchenwald.

Dietrich Bonhoffer would have argued that as humans we have a moral responsibility to prevent evil from manifesting. The debate is about when and how to act - not acting is immoral.

Michael Ejercito said...

Jesus created Hell.

Hell is described as a furnace of fire. Those who receive the mark of the beast will be tormented with fire and brimstone, the smoke of their torment will arise forever and ever, and they shall have no rest day nor night.

Anyone whose name is not in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire.

Jesus uses torture to punish sinners; rulers, who are His ministers that execute His wrath, may do the same.

Ron said...

rulers, who are His ministers that execute His wrath, may do the same.

Not so. You need to read Romans 12:19-21 and Matthew 5:38-42.

Michael Ejercito said...

Ron,

Romans 12:19-21 was about our conduct to others as individuals. We may not use torture as punishment.

Here is Romans 13:3-4.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Therefore, rulers may condemn wrongdoers to torture as punishment.

Ron said...

Therefore, rulers may condemn wrongdoers to torture as punishment.

Funny, I don't see the word "torture" in there anywhere. My eyes must be getting old. I see the phrase "punishment for the wrongdoer" but that doesn't sound to me like a blank check do punish people in whatever way the ruler sees fit. Stoning and cutting off hands is fine, but nowhere in the Bible does it condone waterboarding.

But all that is irrelevant because George Bush is having people tortured not to punish them for wrongs they have committed (let alone been tried and found guilty of in a court of law), but simply to extract information from them. In case after case the people he is having tortured are demonstrably innocent.

It seems to me that this is proof that Bush is not a ruler but a usurper. (God knows who really won the 2000 election.) Romans 13:3-4 is not a carte blanche for whoever sits on the throne to do as they please. It is a guideline for us to know who can rightfully wear the crown.

What has the world come to when Christians have to have their own theology explained to them by an atheist?

craig said...

Torture is mostly based on our perspectives.

Teaching is Paramount with God, HIS whole attitude, is to equip us with an understanding of LIFE, so when we DO get to return, (in the spirit life, outside these mortal bodies) we'll have learned some pertinent behavioural patterns, that will accommodate a Heaven with out tears and sorrows. If we were to die now and go there, Heaven would just be another tumultous earth life all over again.

Geeky In The Pinky said...

Hi. Nice blog, Ron, and I enjoy reading your (strongly-worded) opinions. However...

"And we have both sides seeing the other irony with 20/20 clarity, but utterly blind to their own."

I throw this statement back at you and urge you to think carefully about your own preconceived ideas and notions.

You appear to be staunchly Democratic and liberal, and you have much to say about the abortion vs. torture argument. You call (commendably) for peace and understanding between the two conflicting parties.

However, you also immediately denounce 'Al Gore' as a 'right wingnut' when he expresses his opinions about the A vs. T argument. Perhaps you are not aware of the hypocrisy of your statement (which is why I'm telling you).

Myself? I despise, loath and hate both Obama and McCain. To me, both represent knee-jerk extremist responses (one left, one right) to the troubles afflicting the US of A. I wish you Americans good luck, but it sounds like Alien vs. Predator... whoever wins, you're gonna lose.

GitP

Geeky In The Pinky said...

P.S. And Ron, I'd like you to know that Christians the world over despise the so-called 'Christian Right' for their arrogant, high-handed, manipulative ways which in no way reflect the primary teachings of the Bible... forgiveness, grace and humility.

Yours sincerely,
Ian (grace)

Ron said...

> However, you also immediately denounce 'Al Gore' as a 'right wingnut' when he expresses his opinions about the A vs. T argument.

I called "Al Gore" a wingnut not because of his opinion but because of the way he chose to express it. There might be a case to be made that throwing people in prison is the best way to reduce the number of abortions, but he didn't make it. It's also worth noting that he didn't rise to the challenge of answering the questions I posed in the post I linked to. (Neither has anyone else.)

> Christians the world over despise the so-called 'Christian Right'

If that's true they're being awfully quiet about it. BTW, do you consider yourself a Christian? If you do...

> I despise, loath and hate both Obama and McCain.

... then you need to read Matthew 5:44.

Geeky In The Pinky said...

> ... then you need to read Matthew 5:44.

Yes, I know. Call me a Christian-in-training.

As for your questions, yes, I did read them but I wanted to wait till you answered me first. Here are my answers.

Q1. Census, I don't know. Might wanna ask the census taker.

Q2. Age measurement, mostly cultural. I'm ethnic Chinese, BTW, and traditionally we measure age from time of conception.

Q3. Funeral after miscarriage: I would like to hold a funeral actually, since my mother did miscarry once. Its just one of those things people do that we have no real explanation for.

Q4. Museum tickets: So now we're letting admission charges decide whether we're human or lumps of flesh? You know some airlines allow kids below a certain age to ride for free? Does that mean they should be stowed in the cargo bay? Or, God forbid, that they be thrown overboard if the plane gets engine failure? How about senior citizen rates? Does that mean old folks get thrown out too? (Maybe half the folks get thrown out, in the case of 50% discounts...)

Q5. Naming. Actually, I believe most people give babies names BEFORE they're born, except most of the time we're not too sure of the baby's sex.

Q6. Anencephaly. I have no idea. Thank God I'm not old enough to be a parent yet!

Q7. Food and clean water: Because the world ain't perfect. You might as well ask why people sin, the answer is the same.

Q8. There are two issues here, I will answer them separately.

Consensus: That there is 'almost universal consensus' does not in any way mean that the act is good or just. There is also 'almost universal consensus' amongst Indians (Asian Indians, not American Indians) that honour killing is legal. Does that mean it is right? Numbers decide right and wrong?

Q9. Going by the same logic (if you took a long while to figure it out, it's wrong), you can also claim that flying machines are blasphemous just because it took us a few thousand years to get in the air (and indeed some people did!).

Why do so many women continue to vote Republican? Dude, if we could figure out women... :D (joke!)

Yours,
Ian

P.S. Please don't think I'm being overly sarcastic or that I'm sexist. It's just my sense of humour :D

Geeky In The Pinky said...

Hey, I just realised I didn't answer Q8(b): Preserving health.

Well, Ron, I'd have to say that once again, I'm stumped. I just read your posts on abortion, (head stuffed up ass, heh!) and my answer is probably, "Well, I'd hate to abort too, but if she's really gonna die, damn if we shouldn't ask her if she will let us abort."

Why I don't like McCain? 'Cause I don't agree with torture or throwing abortionists in jail either.

Then again, I think you understand that extremes are the only things that most people understand. So the pro-choice camp will ask that EVERYBODY be able to have abortions (not just the women whose lives are in danger) and the pro-life camp will say "DEATH TO ABORTIONISTS!" or something similar.

Dammit all.

Ian

Michael Ejercito said...

Who administers the torments in Hell?

Ron said...

> Who administers the torments in Hell?

I was under the impression that it made a difference that people are sent to Hell *after* Judgement, not before. But what do I know?

BTW, I can't help but wonder: why the sudden flurry of comments on a two-year-old post?