Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shouldn't Need To Say

This is an issue that troubles me. And what I'm about to say should be so ingrained in our culture as to not even need mentioning. But, we're not in a Utopia. From Today's Papers:

The Washington Post fronts the Supreme Court decisions but leads with a former CIA officer speaking out about water-boarding. John Kiriakou, a former interrogator, said the first high-level al-Qaida detainee was defiant for weeks but broke down 35 seconds after the water-boarding started. Although the information he gave "probably saved lives," Kiriakou now says that he considers water-boarding to be torture, and "Americans are better than that."
One of the hallmarks of citizen government is that it's messy, inefficient and requires prodigious amounts of courage. A dictatorship (on either end of the political spectrum) is much more efficient and simple. But one of the important and necessary elements of a culture that harbors citizen government is that it's citizens must be courageous. Whether it's in your personal dealings or in social contracts, being willing to stay true to democratic values can be quite a difficult and dirty proposition at times, requiring great moral rectitude.

Torture is one such issue. Study after study has shown that torture doesn't work. But let's assume it does for a moment (as in the situation cited above). It's the old "does the ends justify the means" discussion. Do we sell out our values or have courage to take the risks associated with being true to ourselves?

I contend that this is the same issue at work in the death penalty debate. Alas and unfortunately, America continues to fall short of it's values showing a distinct lack of courage. I fear the situation is only getting worse as great affluence has resulted in pandering to our greed and worst natures. And unfortunately, these are the things of dictatorship.

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