Monday, May 25, 2009

you have a republic - if you can keep it

As we observe this Memorial Day and honor the thousands and thousands of brave Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve and defend the Constitution and the United States of America, it is shocking to think that we are now debating whether the nation should suspend the foundation of inalienable human rights upon which it was founded, and people in the loftiest elevations of our social and political cultures are openly espousing the torture of human beings for the sake of expediency and in the name of "defense."

The most common form the argument seems to take is the so-called "ticking time bomb" question, which usually goes something like: "if we had a prisoner in captivity who knew where a bomb was that was imminently going to explode and that when it did, it would kill your family members and loved ones, wouldn't you go ahead and waterboard the bad guy?" The questioner almost always spits it out with a smug and condescending sneer as if the answer is transparently obvious.

However, I wouldn't. Although it would be heartbreaking, that is the price of being an American. That phrase the right likes to drag out that "the tree of liberty needs to be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots" also includes involuntary participants in that class of patriots. The twenty-seven hundred Americans who were just in the wrong place on September 11th of 2001 are the very patriots to which that quote refers. Our basic freedoms stem from our acceptance of the risk that goes along with being a nation of liberty, and when the finger points our way we have agreed as a country to accept the consequences.

I have a slightly different version of the question that I think needs to be asked.

If there was a ticking time bomb that was imminently going to kill many innocent Americans, and the authorities had somebody in custody that they strongly suspected had information that could stop it, would you favor torturing that person for the information the authorities believed they had...

...if that person was YOU?

Happy Memorial Day, United States of America.


Blogger Ronni said...

I have always felt that by the time we get done defending ourselves from terrorists, there will be nothing left to defend.

10:24 AM  

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