The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Torture and the Death Penalty Erode Civilization

The Senate Intelligence Committee's "Torture Report" is out. In the fear-soaked period following the 9/11/2001 terror attacks, terror held sway and terrible responses followed. "Enhanced interrogation techniques" became acceptable under the thin excuse that the information extracted would prevent another attack. Never mind that information obtained under torture produces no valid results as those tortured will tell "interrogators" whatever they feel they want to hear to STOP the abuse. Since the 16th century, people have cried out against torture, particularly state sanctioned torture.

Every generation seeks a humane way to kill people society has deemed to dangerous to live. Every generation has found the new and improved method to extract the life from another to be less-than-humane in the end. Such is the case of our supposedly clinical and clean chemical death on a mockery of a surgeon's healing table. Worse, being human, we are prone to error, especially when emotions run high and crimes committed are particularly vile. One lawyer, a professional entrusted with seeking truth and justice, proclaimed of a suspect of one horrible crime that the facts of the matter did not matter. The crime was so vile the suspect MUST be punished. This proclamation was made before any trial and with evidence thin enough to leave the suspect's guilt seriously in doubt. DNA tests are proving time and again that we do convict innocent people. Better to have them alive in jail when we discover their innocence and can offer redress (however grudgingly) rather than offering a weak "Oops" after a wrongful execution takes place.

Torture and state sanctioned murder erode our civilization. They damage our collective psyche and make us increasingly coarse and violent people. You can see this any night on cable "news" channels where opinion makers who backpedal when proven wrong and say they are not journalists but entertainers (not what you'll regularly hear from them), where nothing is off limits, no matter how vile. Recently Eric Garner, an asthmatic murdered (the official conducting the autopsy used this word) with a choke hold had been alternately characterized as both a giant monster and an obese fragile individual (apparently implying if he'd been a better man he would not have died). These people spout lies with impunity and are never brought to task ... or very rarely ... and are well paid for their bad behavior. Escalation of violence on all sides and a militarization of the police force are results of this erosion of civilization. The fracturing of society along any number of lines, with opponents willing to say the most vile things about each other, is further evidence. The willingness to seek out a gun as a solution to any situation, leaving a staggeringly high number of dead annually behind us (many of whom should never have died ... and would not have died if our society were stable and fit and not fear-soaked and reactionary).

We need to correct all of this before it is too late. We need to change before we lose our civilization entirely and descend into madness from which there may be no return. We are sowing the seeds of violent death. The crop growing is terrible. The harvest will be death. Change NOW, while time remains and some sense of humanity remains.

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