Torture Isn’t Complicated
Jon Stewart, the comedic political commentator and host of The Daily Show, has an unfortunate habit of thinking he’s being hospitable to a legitimate opposing viewpoint when really he’s just inclining an ear to moral bullshit. Case in point: his interview with Zero Dark Thirty star Jessica Chastain, in which he indicated that the film’s scenes of torture, which he described as our government doing “difficult” things, challenged his viewpoint. Ned Resnickoff offers the right response, explaining how Stewart and others buy into the pro-torture narrative of good people doing ethically difficult things for good reasons. Writes Ned:
Of course, there’s nothing courageous about concealing one’s support for torture. Nor is there anything particularly brave about saying the state should be able to do unspeakable things in order to keep you safe. Excusing and even fetishizing those unspeakable things is an act of cowardice—and there’s nothing particularly complicated about that.
It’s a testament to our country’s moral adolescence that the ethics of torture gets unnecessarily convoluted by endless debates about degrees of pain, fantasy scenarios cooked up by moral relativists, and the high liturgical celebration of killing bad guys. Torture has an objective and morally-clear meaning: the infliction of physical or mental pain for the purpose of breaking the will. It isn’t complicated and it shouldn’t be difficult to identify or to condemn.