Monday, December 12, 2005

Jonah Goldberg writes that we should be OK with torture because it's protrayed sympathtically by Hollywood, or maybe just Hollywood types should be, or something like that.

You know what? Hollywood executives are in the business of making money. If they can make money and promote their values at the same time, that's great, but the main goal is to make money. And that means putting entertainment on the screen that people want to see. And people enjoy seeing some villain get it handed to him.

That doesn't mean it's morally right, only that it feels good to watch it, and the Hollywood is willing to give us what we want. McDonald's would be willing to sell me 5 Big Macs everyday if I want to buy them, even though they know as well as I do that it's not good for me. That's not a knock on McDonald's, just an acknowledgement that they're in the business of selling hamburgers, not promoting proper dietary habits. So jut because Hollywood is willing to give us our fix of righteous vengeance doesn't make it morally OK. And since when do we take our moral cues from what is shown on movies and TV anyway?

Goldberg continues...

In other words, it doesn’t matter what the person you are coercing did or why you are coercing them in the first place. Torturing an evil man to save innocent lives is no greater a sin than torturing a noble man in order to snuff out innocent lives, or just for the fun of it. The way Sullivan and those who agree with him see it, torture is torture is torture — and torture is always wrong, even when defined as intimidation and “smacky face.”

Yup, that's pretty much it. For the same reason that I can say it's not OK to destroy a "mere cluster of cells" even if that could cure a horrible disease.

It does surprise me that there is so little intersection between opposition to embryonic stem cell research and torture (or "coercive interrogation techniques"). Both are standing against those who wish to dehumanize some for the benefit of others. Both rely on appeals to nationalism. Both try to paint those opposed as opposed to the ends rather than the means.
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