Monday, October 17, 2005

Legitimating Torture: the veneer of civilisation continues to crumble

Eminent Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz's disturbing suggestion that we should confer a cloak of legitimacy upon barbaric acts of torture (in order to expedite the War on Terror and, presumably, to "control" ad hoc, extemporaneous acts of torture, of the kind uncovered at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay) gathers momentum as UK Law Lords deliberate whether evidence obtained by torture should be admissible in British courts. More here.

Torture is not a soft drug, and it should not be accorded an equivalent jurisprudential status. Pragmatic policies (such as: legalisation is desirable in order to undermine the "rogue" intelligence agencies/ "renegade" military men and criminal fringe who deal in it) do not apply. Our antipathy towards torture is predicated upon an irreducible, indigestible hard core of principle. "Torture warrants" (prospective or ex post facto), issued by bureaucrats, the military, politicians or judges, do not absolve the perpetrators (or those who confer legitimacy upon their acts) of moral responsibility for their actions.

The legitimation of torture would, inevitably, lead to an exponential increase in its use. We live in an ever-escalating Age of Barbarism: the metastasising culture of rabid irrationalism expands as the veneer of civilisation continues to crumble. Torture is anathema to civilisation. If the executive, or the judiciary, legitimates torture it undermines its own legitimacy, and hastens the death of democracy. Duplicitous goons masquerading as democrats continue to misdirect hypnotised electorates as they institutionalise barbarism by increments.

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