Or at least, that’s what conservatives should be arguing for. And I think they’d have a lot of support.
Conservative Charles Krauthammer writes today:
Torture is an impermissible evil. Except under two circumstances. The first is the ticking time bomb. An innocent’s life is at stake. The bad guy you have captured possesses information that could save this life. He refuses to divulge. In such a case, the choice is easy.
The second exception to the no-torture rule is the extraction of information from a high-value enemy in possession of high-value information likely to save lives. This case lacks the black-and-white clarity of the ticking time bomb scenario. We know less about the length of the fuse or the nature of the next attack. But we do know the danger is great.
I oppose torture, and I have called it evil. But I don’t allow for those exceptions.
I know I’m in the minority of public opinion. Most people support torture under certain circumstances, very likely along the lines Krauthammer outlines.
So, where do we draw the line?
Awhile back I was talking with a friend when the case of Caylee Anthony came up. Caylee Anthony went missing in 2008. Her mother, Casey, was a suspect, and during the investigation, it became clear that she was not telling the police the truth about Caylee’s dissappearance.
My friend was very upset by this case, and he suggested that we should torture the mother to find out what happened to the daughter, along the lines of what is seen in the TV show “24.”
I tried to tell him that we should run our society based upon what the best among humanity would do and not the worst. Using torture would degrade all of us, even if it saved that one innocent life. As I’ve already said, it’s not a very popular opinion, and it’s pretty uncomfortable to hold. It was a little girl’s life, for crying out loud.
But I don’t think conservatives – or at least Krautahammer – would have any qualms. Or at least they shouldn’t, if they’re going to be consistent.
Should we use torture on suspected criminals in the U.S., especially if innocent lives are at stake? By his reasoning, yes.
If we don’t, well, then, what’s the rationale?
As I’ve written before, conservatives often complain about moral relativism. Well, their position on torture is a clear case of relativism, and I wonder if they’re prepared to start backing their position consistently.