What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Torture Gets a Bad Rep

We were recently asked to come up with a position on torture. Well, here it is.

Please understand that this position was not easily come by.Yesterday, all three FCN contributors wandered out into a deep forest. We sat down and debated the issue until we came up with a solution that everyone found equitable. By this, I mean we sat on old tree stumps pressing our chins into our knuckles with serious expressions and dreaming about girls.

The United Nations Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment (TUNCATAOCIODTOP - pronounced "Toonkata Ochitop") defines torture as: "Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."

This definition is an oversimplification.

Please understand that for someone to simply ask: "Do you support torture?" is totally unjust and simplistic. We might support torture in some cases but not in others, or only on certain people, under certain requirements and conditions. So, we cannot simply say we support torture or don't. It's a bit more nuanced. Here is our official position:

Interrogational torture using normal or comparably normal means is justified in any circumstance in which the information to which the tortured party is exclusively or uniquely privy to is significant to the torturing party, and when the aforementioned information cannot be obtained through less violent means (barring extraordinary or comparably extraordinary measures, as well as those with an unreasonably high risk or failure, cost, or other detrimental consequences), and when the unavailability of such information would place the torturing party proper in significant danger or risk, and when there is reasonable certainty that the tortured party is privy to such information, and only if this information is deemed to justify such action by a responsible adult in a position or authority and/or responsibility and who is in complete or reasonable control of his or her mental and ethical faculties and who explicitly and knowingly authorizes the act while operating in an official capacity that gives him or her jurisdiction over the action and/or execution of the torture, and then only if such torture is motivated exclusively by the information after which the torturing party proper is seeking and never engages in means which could not be deemed normal or comparably normal unless one or more of the following two conditions is fulfilled: first, if the torture is consentual, second, if the authorizing party deems that obtaining the information by a certain critical time is both unlikely to happen if normal or comparably normal means are used, and that this failure would place the torturing party proper in such grave danger that it would be unjust not to take More drastic measures, in which case extraordinary or comparably extraordinary means, as well as those with a high risk of failure,cost, or other detrimental consequences may be taken with little or no regard to the current and future well-being of the tortured party or the ethical framework of the torturing party singular, provided the detrimental consquences if any do not outweigh the benefits to the torturing party proper, considering both the immediate short-term effects of the act and the precedent set by it, and then only if the torturing party proper is considered to have a moral gravity equal to or greater than the tortured party and what/who is represented by the tortured party.

In contrast, torture for obtaining confessions/punishing/discriminating/intimidating people is always wrong.

So, while we stand in near-direct opposition of the position taken by dear old Toonkata Ochitop, we do think this position is worthy of public debate. Yesterday, we called their (Toonkata Ochitop's) offices and tried to contact a spokesman for an interview. This morning we got a post-it note in the mail filled with disturbing, florid, and graphic threats.

Oh well. Though this position paper is unlikely to be widely read or make much of a positive impact in the world, we did learn a few things from the process of writing it. For instance: It's amazing the things you can cook up on old tree stumps (I mean that metaphorically).


ajmoreno56 said...

Lol, I wish the UN made up more "conventions" so we could laugh at them. I bet they do! =D

Christopher Yerziklewski said...

That has to be the longest sentence I've ever seen. I'm still not sure what it even said...

--Evgenia-- said...

Wow, you've got me so confused I think I agree with you!
Torture of that sort is highly-underrated!

Jesse said...

"ethical faculties"..."if the torture is consentual, second, if the authorizing party deems that obtaining the information by a certain critical time is both unlikely to happen if normal or comparably normal means are used"?

You make no sense but I guess that is purposeful.