Hey, great news everybody! Author and conservative radio host Dennis Prager has offered to support a rigorous and independent investigation into Bush Administration torture policies! Now this is quite the coup, because as you know, Prager is no ordinary drive time chat jockey. No, far from it; in fact, he’s a thoughtful, literate, deeply religious man who is less concerned with scoring cheap partisan advantage, than with dispensing chalky pellets of moral wisdom like a self-righteous Pez head. And all we need to do in return is to answer a series of questions about when we stopped beating our wives.
Any human being with a functioning conscience or a decent heart loathes torture. Its exercise has been a blight on humanity. With this in mind, those who oppose what the Bush administration did to some terror suspects may be justified. But in order to ascertain whether they are, they need to respond to some questions:
As a member of the Left (oh don’t deny it, you’re pinker than Helen Gahagan Douglas) you may be wondering why you “need” to complete this pop quiz before you’re entitled to feel sickened by the U.S. government’s use of torture. The answer is simple: Dennis is worried that you may be faking your revulsion in order to pass for human, which means you’re probably a replicant. Fortunately, he’s developed a foolproof questionnaire designed to expose counterfeit empathy in androids. Now, you’re walking through the desert, when you come upon a tortoise…
1. Given how much you rightly hate torture, why did you oppose the removal of Saddam Hussein, whose prisons engaged in far more hideous tortures, on thousands of times more people, than America did — all of whom, moreover, were individuals and families who either did nothing or simply opposed tyranny?
Wow, that question’s loaded like a Bacon, Chedder, ‘n’ Sour Cream-stuffed skin at 1 Potato 2. Well, Dennis, let me put it this way: I didn’t support starting a war to stop Saddam Hussein from torturing because that wasn’t the excuse we were given for invading Iraq; you may recall that at first the casus belli was a dessert topping, and only later did it become a floor wax. Of course there are a multitude of countries which practice torture — in many cases, on clients we’ve referred to them — so the premise of your question raises another: Are we morally obliged (let alone entitled) to invade and conquer (in a half-assed, Whack-A-Mole way), all those other countries too, or only nations ruled by dictators whose overthrow will prove at last to Barbara Bush that her first born’s dick is bigger than her husband’s?
So I guess my answer is, if I noticed a black widow spider in my neighbor’s garage, I probably wouldn’t feel entitled to respond by splashing gasoline around the front porch and setting his house on fire.
One assumes, furthermore, that all those Iraqi innocents Saddam had put into shredding machines or whose tongues were cut out and other hideous tortures would have begged to be waterboarded.
So you assume the Bush Administration invaded Iraq so we could put a stop to Saddam’s gruesome, Industrial Age torments, and introduce the populace to our more rustic and artisanal torture techniques? Well, the good news is that a lot of those people did get a chance to be waterboarded, and they didn’t even have to beg.
2. Are all forms of painful pressure equally morally objectionable?
We’re making legal, not ethical distinctions. I find you morally objectionable, but I don’t argue that’s legitimate cause for some GS-14 to force water into your lungs.
In other words, are you willing to acknowledge that there are gradations of torture
No. Let’s move on to question number three.
as, for example, there are gradations of burns, with a third-degree burn considerably more injurious and painful than a first-degree burn? Or is all painful treatment to be considered torture? Just as you, correctly, ask proponents of waterboarding where they draw their line, you, too, must explain where you draw your line.
Oh, must I? The line has already been drawn, torture is defined and proscribed in our laws, and I’m not inclined to play the incremental game of Well If I Can Do This, Why Can’t I Do That? Because you guys are like some horny teenager in the back seat of a parked car on prom night, telling your date, “I’ll just put the head in, I promise.” And we all know that can only end in one of two ways for us: bukkake or pregnancy.
3. Is any maltreatment of anyone at any time — even a high-level terrorist with knowledge that would likely save innocents’ lives — wrong? If there is no question about the identity of a terror suspect , and he can provide information on al-Qaida — for the sake of clarity, let us imagine that Osama Bin Laden himself were captured — could America do any form of enhanced interrogation involving pain and/or deprivation to him that you would consider moral and therefore support?
I thought we needed to answer nine questions, not one question reworded nine different ways? Anyway, for the sake of clarity, let’s assume an alien lands in Los Angeles. And not a handsome, suave, Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still type, but a real Lovecraftian cephalopod kind of horror. It slithers into your radio studio at the top of the hour and declares it has detailed intelligence about an impending invasion from outer space, and it will vouchsafe this information if it can fornicate with your (for the sake of clarity) young child, using all three of its penises at once, plus its prehensile ovapositor. Also, the monster wants to videotape the act, because that kind of thing sells like hotcakes on certain hentai websites.
Anyway…Sorry, I got lost in my hypothetical. What was your question again?
4. If lawyers will be prosecuted for giving legal advice to an administration that you consider immoral and illegal, do you concede that this might inhibit lawyers in the future from giving unpopular but sincerely argued advice to the government in any sensitive area?
I certainly hope it would inhibit lawyers from giving illegal advice to clients who can order torture and suspend habeas corpus.
5. Presumably you would acknowledge that the release of the classified reports on the handling of high-level, post-Sept. 11 terror suspects would inflame passions in many parts of the Muslim world. If innocents were murdered because nonviolent cartoons of Muhammad were published in a Danish newspaper, presumably far more innocents will be tortured and murdered with the release of these reports and photos.
You’re quite presumptuous, aren’t you? If I had a martini right now I’d dash it in your face.
Do you accept any moral responsibility for any ensuing violence against American and other civilians?
Let’s put it this way: If you were serving on the jury of a racially charged trial, and the prosecution proved the defendant guilty of murder beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you be morally responsible for any subsequent riots if you voted to convict? Because according to my Field Guide to Conservative Tropes, the only people to blame would be the rioters themselves.
6. [N.B. Question 6 was removed by curators from the Museum of Question Begging and placed on exhibit because it was considered such a flawless specimen. However, feel free to click through the link above to Townhall if you wish to see the species in its natural environment.
7. Will you seek to prosecute members of Congress such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who were made aware of the waterboarding of high-level suspects and voiced no objections?
How do we know what they were told? The briefings were classified and they were forbidden from discussing them even with their own staffs, let alone their colleagues, so how were they supposed to register an objection? With music? Should Speaker Pelosi have stood under Dick Cheney’s window, holding a boombox over her head that played “In Your Eyes (and Water-Filled Lungs)”?
8. Would you agree to releasing the photos of the treatment of Islamic terrorists only if accompanied by photos of what their terror has done to thousands of innocent people around the world? Would you agree to photos — or at least photo re-enactments — of, let us say, Iraqi children whose faces were torn off with piano wire by Islamists in Iraq? If not, why not? Isn’t context of some significance here?
Yes, but it’s not context, it’s moral equivalence. Which, again, I thought you guys considered the epitome of a weak and mendacious argument. And why don’t you leave the “re-enactments” to America’s Most Wanted and the Weekly World News?
9. You say that America’s treatment of terror suspects will cause terrorists to treat their captives, especially Americans, more cruelly.
Actually, that was the Pentagon: “The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel,” says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency.”
It’s a common mistake; we sound very similar on the phone.
Did America’s far more moral treatment of Japanese prisoners than Japan’s treatment of American prisoners in World War II have any impact on how the Japanese treated American and other prisoners of war?
The Japanese weren’t signatories to the Geneva Convention, so they felt free to torture and summarily execute prisoners. Yet, despite their willingness to make the tough decisions and do what needed to be done, they still lost. Go figure.
Do you think that evil people care how morally pure America is?
I don’t actually care what “evil people” think, since I assume they’re capable of rationalizing any statement or action, no matter how false or despicable. (If not, I’ll refer them to you for technical support.) I do care if the rest of the world, particularly our allies, think of America as evil, because that Canadian flag patch I sewed on my backpack in 2003 is starting to peel off.
If you do not address these questions, it would appear that you care less about morality and torture than about vengeance against the Bush administration.
Consider Morality and Torture addressed, Denny. When does the Vengeance start?