Thursday, February 18, 2010

"But it's not like they're human!"

I hate to keep drawing parallels to the abortion arguments, but it seems that many of the reasons given for permitting torture rely on the same excuses given for permitting abortion.

For example: they're just terrorists; it's not like they're human beings!

The clearest statement came from Greta:
As to whether or not terrorist are human, I think most would say they gave up their humanity when they sign on as terrorist. We as human can choose to treat them humanely, but that is our choice.
But the comments on recent posts have the same implication: we don't have to treat them humanely! They're terrorists, after all! Innocent lives - i.e., real human lives - are at stake!

And yet, from a Catholic point of view at least, it is not the innocence of the unborn child that merits protection; it is the very fact of being human.

The same reasoning holds true of the guilty. This is why even the Bill of Rights protects guilty and convicted criminals against "cruel and unusual punishments."

Note that I am not saying that we cannot fight against our enemies, or protect the U.S. against attacks, or punish the guilty.

I am saying that we must not use cruelty to do so. We must not demean or dehumanize our prisoners. We must fight fairly.

Why? Because any attempt to do so only demeans and dehumanizes us. It is literally impossible to control another person's will; all we can do is break it. But in order to break another person's will, we have to break our own connection with the reality that this is a human person, one like myself, one called to be a member of the same Body of Christ as I am. This is one whom God loved - and loves - so much that he sent his only begotten Son. We have to attack the very thing that we claim to defend: the right to integrity, to protection from attack, to respect and moral freedom.

If we are willing to give that up, then I don't see what there is worth fighting for at all.

64 comments:

  1. Perhaps Greta meant that they forfeited the right to be treated humanely according to the crime committed. In the same way as we say that a man forfeits his liberty or forfeits his life when he commits a crime where the punishment is imprisonment or death.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Robert writes : “It is literally impossible to control another person's will; all we can do is break it. But in order to break another person's will, we have to break our own connection with the reality that this is a human person, one like myself, one called to be a member of the same Body of Christ as I am.”

    A judge orders a journalist to prison until he divulges a source. The intent is to move the journalist to choose to divulge his source which he has until now willfully chosen not to do. Where is the breaking the “connection with reality that is the human person”

    ReplyDelete
  3. Perhaps Greta meant that they forfeited the right to be treated humanely according to the crime committed.

    Perhaps, but the right to be treated humanely isn't something that can be forfeited.

    The intent is to move the journalist to choose to divulge his source which he has until now willfully chosen not to do.

    This sort of thing isn't an attempt to break the will, though, is it? It's a means of changing the good and bad effects of divulging and not divulging the source. The journalist's intellect is provided different circumstances to weigh; his will is left untouched.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tom writes : the right to be treated humanely isn't something that can be forfeited."

    No less so than the right to life can be forfeited, given that the right to life is preeminent. That is, the duty to recognize to intrinsic worth of a man's life supersedes the duty to recognize lesser goodness in men, but yet the state can put a man to death for restitution of a crime committed.

    _______________

    Tom writes : "This sort of thing isn't an attempt to break the will, though, is it? It's a means of changing the good and bad effects of divulging and not divulging the source"

    Putting someone in prison is "a means of changing the good and bad effects of divulging and not divulging the source"????

    Just like water boarding is just a means of changing good and bad effects.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is, the duty to recognize to intrinsic worth of a man's life supersedes the duty to recognize lesser goodness in men, but yet the state can put a man to death for restitution of a crime committed.

    Right. The state can put a man to death without violating his personal dignity, but torture is a violation of personal dignity.

    Putting someone in prison is "a means of changing the good and bad effects of divulging and not divulging the source"?

    Sure.

    Out of prison + don't divulge => bought drinks in all the best journalism clubs

    Out of prison + divulge => kicked out of all the best journalism clubs

    In prison + don't divulge => stay in prison; other journos drink for you

    In prison + divulge => out of prison; some friend (surely) will commiserate

    There's more to it than that, of course, but that's what's going on in terms of the effect on the will.

    Just like water boarding is just a means of changing good and bad effects.

    That's the apologist's position, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Right. The state can put a man to death without violating his personal dignity, but torture is a violation of personal dignity."

    Of course it's a violation of personal dignity, but that is not what it appears Greta was arguing, her argument was no different than if she had said that a murderer who is condemned to death has forfeited his right to life. What you have done is assume your conclusion without proving it.

    _________________

    Tom, writes : "Out of prison + don't div . . ."

    Alright, I see what you mean, but never the less, the Will of the journalist is what is, or, what is not moved.

    ________________


    Tom writes : "That's the apologist's position, isn't it?"

    Of course it is, which is what you were doing. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.





    _______________

    ReplyDelete
  7. What you have done is assume your conclusion without proving it.

    Yes, I have stated without proof that one cannot forfeit the right to be treated humanely. It didn't occur to me that that was a statement that required a proof.

    1. All humans, as humans, have the right be treated humanely.
    2. No one can forfeit his humanity.
    3. Therefore, no one can forfeit his right to be treated humanely.

    Of course it is, which is what you were doing. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Right. To this point, I haven't distinguished what happens in waterboarding with what happens in jailing a journalist for not divulging a source. What I was trying to do was distinguish jailing a journalist from breaking the will of a prisoner through torture.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love this one
    " put a man to death without violating his personal dignity, but torture is a violation of personal dignity"

    So now we see torture as a violation of that "dignity" thing, but not being put to death?

    Choice, waterboarding or killing you...hard choice there. I think I will choose going to death with my dignity in place...NOT

    So we would have more problem if the abortionist were hurting an infants dignity by maybe playing loud music that might keep it awake than if they were sucking their brains out?

    My point is that the infant is obviously innocent and being killed at the rate of 4000 a day and that to me is about a zillion times worse than putting panties on the head of a terrorist. The terrorist trying to kill innocent life without any concern for the rights or dignity or laws of the world he lives in has kind of given up his rights to be on the same plane or level of humanity as say the infant in the womb or in fact the avereage imperfect human being as those sitting in the World Trade Center on 9/11. We lose rights by our actions in thousands of ways. I screw up at work and face the damage to my dignity of getting fired which could place my family out on the street. I break the law and depending on the gravity of the law, lose something from a fine to loss of freedom and loss of dignity to being put to death.

    JPII said we should move toward doing away with the death penalty if we live in a society where people can be protected by caging the person. I could agree if we did not have whining liberal judges and lawyers who so often get these wonderful humanity loving people released on society or in other words, life in prison meant life in prison until they are dead.

    I do not remember Jesus leading a march to end crucifixion in any of the gospels and yet it was certainly going on around him all during is life and I have seen nothig close to this in anything we have done to even the worst of the terrorist. Seems like He would have led the apostles in a march to end this torture and loss of dignity. He said something about give unto Caesar what is Caesar. God also seemed to be on the side of killing and torture if one looks to Moses and the plauges on the bad Egyptians or holding up his arms to kill the army of Amalek.

    ReplyDelete
  9. So now we see torture as a violation of that "dignity" thing, but not being put to death?

    We Catholics do, yes, in that the state may legitimately kill but may never legitimately torture.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Tom : "Yes, I have stated without proof that one cannot forfeit the right to be treated humanely. It didn't occur to me that that was a statement that required a proof."

    Please let me clarify. You assumed your conclusion that Greta was arguing for torture.

    And after just reading her last post, it even more apparent that she is not arguing for torture, but looking at as I thought she was.

    She may not be very clear as you point out in your last post, but she's not arguing for torture per se, but as is common on this site, using the term when its better left expressed differently because torture has a specific meaning.

    ReplyDelete
  11. And after just reading her last post, it even more apparent that she is not arguing for torture, but looking at as I thought she was.

    Really? "God also seemed to be on the side of killing and torture" makes it more apparent that she is not arguing for torture?

    And even if she has been looking at as you thought she was ("they forfeited the right to be treated humanely") she's still wrong.

    What I think she is saying is this: we are not bound to treat terrorists as humans, so we can torture them if we need to, and nothing we've done to them so far amount to torture. I disagree with all three propositions, and the first two are explicitly contrary to Catholic moral dogma.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tom writes : “And even if she has been looking at as you thought she was ("they forfeited the right to be treated humanely") she's still wrong.”


    A man cannot actually forfeit his right to life as if he owned it, what he does is cause the duty towards his life to be changed. His intrinsic worth is not in the least changed, but the duty others have towards it has changed.

    When the state puts a man to death it’s not denying the man’s intrinsic goodness, what it is doing is recognizing that the duty towards that man’s life has changed in such manner as it is a good to take his life. So likewise when it is said that a man has forfeited his right to be treated humanly.

    You need to read Greta looking at what she wrote in this context, if you do, you’ll see that she in not advocating a denial of the terrorists humanity.

    Language is often unclear, and meaning is often further made unclear because of assumptions by both the writer and the reader. She’s also reacting to this site because those who write on it have a tendency in their writing to look first to the good of the stranger

    ReplyDelete
  13. When the state puts a man to death it’s not denying the man’s intrinsic goodness, what it is doing is recognizing that the duty towards that man’s life has changed in such manner as it is a good to take his life. So likewise when it is said that a man has forfeited his right to be treated humanly.

    Yes, I understand what you're saying.

    It is never a good to treat someone inhumanely.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Tom writes : "It is never a good to treat someone inhumanely."

    Of course not, but you're using humanely to signify the intrinsic nature of man. Greta on the other hand is using it to signify duty we owe to our fellow man.

    ReplyDelete
  15. We have a duty to torture? And here I thought we had a duty not to torture, what with it being intrinsically and gravely immoral and all.

    ReplyDelete
  16. perfect.

    Mark Shea proves my point by immediately assuming the worst and making no effort to understand what is actually being said.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Of course not, but you're using humanely to signify the intrinsic nature of man. Greta on the other hand is using it to signify duty we owe to our fellow man.

    No, I'm not using humanely to signify the intrinsic nature of man. I'm using it to signify the duty we owe to our fellow man.

    We never don't owe the duty we owe to our fellow man.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Tom writes : "We never don't owe the duty we owe to our fellow man."

    Yes and No. Yes according to intrinsic goodness, and No according to the particular circumstance, because duty is being used equivocally.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Just to be clear: I am not using duty equivocally. It is always wrong to act in an inhumane manner toward another human being.

    The idea that we may ever, under any circumstances, treat other humans inhumanely is false, evil, and wicked.

    ReplyDelete
  20. @ love the girls-

    Prison does not, in and of itself, break a person's will.

    Pain, which causes physiological reactions beyond one's rational control, creates an obstacle to the act of reason and (therefore) the proper action of the will.

    Suffering, which may not be physical, but which interferes with one's ability to think properly, also creates an obstacle to the act of reason and of will.

    Now, the human person is capable of enduring pain and suffering to some extent. Different people have different tolerances for different kinds of pain and suffering, but most of us can deal with a first degree burn, or a cut, or a headache.

    But, the more intense the pain and the less control we have over seeking relief from the pain, the greater a challenge it is to our constitution. At some point, a person's ability to endure is overwhelmed. This is what I mean by "break the will". At this point, the person literally cannot think straight, cannot be held responsible for his or her actions, and his or her actions cannot be predicted reliably. Some will go catatonic, others will say or do anything to relieve the pain, others will reveal any secrets they know, others will revert to infantile or animal behavior.

    I hope this clarifies what I mean.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Tom,

    No. Duty in the second sense is an equivocation of the first sense. The first is obligation recognizing intrinsic goodness, while the second sense is obligation using principle applied to a particular circumstance. The second is according to practical application.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Robert,
    Your argument is this works this doesn't work. So what? it doesn't matter if it works or not. Just it doesn't matter if torture per se works or not.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Adding on to my post to Robert,

    My comment was directed to what was written prior to the last paragraph. The last paragraph is essential to what is torture. It's not the severity of the pain, but what the pain causes.

    ReplyDelete
  24. @love the girls -

    I completely agree: it doesn't matter if torture per se "works" or not - whatever "works" might mean. Torture always and in every circumstance is wrong.

    I was addressing your comparison of a judge sentencing someone to prison with a torturer.

    I'm not entirely sure I understand your last comment. Are you saying that the definition of torture doesn't depend on how much pain is inflicted, but rather on what the pain causes?

    What do you mean by "what the pain causes"?

    In any case, I realize that I neglected your question: Where is the breaking the “connection with reality that is the human person”

    The reality is that the prisoner is a human being. To torture, one must either pretend that the prisoner is not a human being, or must intend to destroy the humanity of the prisoner. This is to break one's connection with reality.

    After all, this is what abuse of prisoners is, and why it is always wrong: to treat them as less than human, or to attack their very humanity.

    ReplyDelete
  25. The first is obligation recognizing intrinsic goodness, while the second sense is obligation using principle applied to a particular circumstance. The second is according to practical application.

    Well, if you don't believe me when I say that humans must always treat humans humanely, you don't believe me.

    Still, you might want to run it past your pastor and see what he says.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Tom writes : "Well, if you don't believe me when I say that humans must always treat humans humanely, you don't believe me."

    Let's change out the word humanely for right to life, because I suspect the problem is with the use of the term humanely which has the character of being a universal of itself.

    Well, if you don't believe me when I say that humans always have a right to life, you don't believe me.

    This is true according to the intrinsic goodness in men. But yet we likewise recognize that that recognition of intrinsic goodness doesn't preclude self defense. Thus how to solve this apparent contradiction.

    The first is obligation recognizing intrinsic goodness, while the second sense is obligation using principle applied to a particular circumstance. The second is according to practical application.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Robert writes : "I'm not entirely sure I understand your last comment. Are you saying that the definition of torture doesn't depend on how much pain is inflicted, but rather on what the pain causes?"

    Yes. The specific difference is the causing of a man to become irrational. That's not to say that other types of abuse cannot be morally grave, but that they are not torture.

    Waterboarding as Mark Shea describes it somewhere on this site causes a man to become like an animal and so forth - that is what torture specifically does.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Waterboarding our troops to the point where one of them becomes irrational has to be torture. My point in a lot of these discussions is that Mark Shea and many hear seem to think that there is a bright line that is well defined in a way that is easy to understand and it is clear that it is not.
    If it was, then someone here would have posted it years ago and the vast majority would have seen it and agreed. You get it dignity, treating humanely, the effect of the person becoming irrational and like an animal. So if a person is waterboarded for days, shows no impact on his dignity, does not act like an animal or irrational in any way, is he being tortured or would some further enhanced interrogation be needed to gain the information we need to save lives? If you do something more in any way, does this now make waterboarding no longer torture?

    What if I walk in to a room and my sheer presence causes the panty boy terrorist to break down, bark like a dog, and act irrationally weeping away his dignity? Is walking in the room torture? Is denying him access to the Koran and a prayer rug and time every q5 minutes to pray torture in the same way as denying him a meal?

    Please just once write down a definition of torture that makes some sense and show me where that definition comes into play with a terrorist fighting outside of uniform with the intent to kill innocent women and children in our home applies. Show me where it says we do not have the right to protect our home from terrorist attack.

    I am reading a book "D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor" which details shooting of Nazi prisoners and using them as human shields on jeeps. The book discusses how the soldiers where told to take no prisoners on invasion day but to shoot them so as not to be slowed down as we had no way to guard them. It talks about how our men came down in parachutes and when hung up on a tree or pole, were tortured with bayonetes and fire to gain information. After seeing these results, we treated the Nazi prisoners which much harsher treatment. They were also ordered to take no SS prisoners. I can hear now two wrongs do not make a right, but in war, you quickly begin to see things in a far different manner and make no mistake, we are at war.

    ReplyDelete
  29. love the girls:

    For the fourth or fifth time: No.

    The problem is NOT that we are using the word "humanely" to mean two different things.

    I say we must always treat people humanely. You say we need not always treat people humanely. Same word, same meaning. The contradiction is not "apparent," is is absolutely clear.

    I'm not sure why it's so hard to get you to see that I don't agree with you.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hmm, alright perhaps a different approach will help.

    Arbitrarily grabbing a man off the street and flogging him is an inhuman act. But a man being flogged as punishment for a crime is not an inhuman act.

    And for those who don't agree with flogging as ever being justified, choose a lesser punishment which would likewise qualify as inhuman when done arbitrarily.

    The arbitrary act is inhuman because it doesn't recognizing intrinsic goodness, while flogging as punishment is not inhumane because it applies principles of justice to a particular circumstance.

    ReplyDelete
  31. But a man being flogged as punishment for a crime is not an inhuman act.

    Contemporary law in the civilized world would dispute that. There's a reason we have that clause in the Constitution about "cruel and unusual punishment".

    ReplyDelete
  32. Greta:

    You argument continues to boil down to "We must seize the One Ring and take Sauron's place."

    ReplyDelete
  33. Mark Shea writes : "Contemporary law in the civilized world would dispute that. There's a reason we have that clause in the Constitution about "cruel and unusual punishment"."

    Yes, we moderns always know better. It's more civilized to banish a man to a cage for 20 years.

    ReplyDelete
  34. The arbitrary act is inhuman because it doesn't recognizing intrinsic goodness, while flogging as punishment is not inhumane because it applies principles of justice to a particular circumstance.

    Inhumane treatment is contrary to the principles of justice. Neither the punisher nor the punished ceases to be human.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Love the girls:

    Tell you what. You find for me a bishop who says, "We need to return to flogging people. That's truly humane." Good luck with that. The mere fact that something is broadly accepted in the modern world does not render it contrary to Catholic teaching. Adherence to old forms of evil is not adherence to the Tradition.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Let me put it this way :

    What is more humane? Banishing a man to a cage for 20 years? Or flogging that same man with 30 lashes?

    What man would not choose the flogging when the other choice is 20 years separation from kith and kin locked in a cage in the barbarous conditions found in prisons?
    _____________

    Mark Shea writes : "The mere fact that something is broadly accepted in the modern world does not render it contrary to Catholic teaching."

    Nor does it render it in accord, as your previous comment assumed.
    _____________

    Mark Shea writes : "Adherence to old forms of evil is not adherence to the Tradition.

    A tautalogy no traditionalist would disagree with and likewise rather wide of the mark.

    ReplyDelete
  37. What is more humane? Banishing a man to a cage for 20 years? Or flogging that same man with 30 lashes?

    The fact that prison may not be humane is not an arguement that flogging is. Your claim that flogging is humane is contested by the entire civilized world, including all the bishops. Sorry you don't like that, but it's still true.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Mark P. Shea writes : "Your claim that flogging is humane is contested by the entire civilized world, including all the bishops."

    So you say, but if the question is:

    What man would not choose the flogging when the other choice is 20 years separation from kith and kin locked in a cage in the barbarous conditions found in prisons?

    Who would choose banishment of 20 years to a cage? Certainly no man with a family, because to chose the 20 years banishment is virtual desertion of his duty to his family.

    A armed robber must be punished in some way. The current method is banishment for 20 years in a cage, I propose that flogging of 30 lashes is more humane than the current method.

    ________________

    Mark Shea writes : "The fact that prison may not be humane is not an arguement that flogging is."

    True, but flogging is the more humane when the two are compared. If I had written imprisonment and not flogging, would you have contested my comment? I doubt it.

    ReplyDelete
  39. @Mark -

    You argument continues to boil down to "We must seize the One Ring and take Sauron's place."

    Aw, you're just trying to avoid any competition from other Dark Lords! Boromirs of the world, unite!

    ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  40. @love the girls -

    Please just once write down a definition of torture that makes some sense and show me where that definition comes into play with a terrorist fighting outside of uniform with the intent to kill innocent women and children in our home applies. Show me where it says we do not have the right to protect our home from terrorist attack.

    First, I have a counter-proposal: because several definitions of torture (from Church teaching as well as from secular authorities)have been set forth and either ignored or rejected, it seems reasonable to me that YOU present a definition of torture that would be acceptable to you. At this point, I'm not sure if anything would qualify as torture in your book.

    Second, no one is saying that we cannot defend ourselves - either individually or as a nation - against the threat of terrorism. We are simply saying that we should not stoop to the level of terrorists or other villains in order to do so. Do you really think that torture is the only means we have to defend ourselves?

    Even if that were the case, if we had no means of defense except to commit mortal sins, we still would not be justified in exchanging the life of God for the life of the flesh.

    ReplyDelete
  41. @love the girls and @Greta -

    Sorry, my attribution for the quotation in the last comment was incorrect: it belongs to Greta, not to love the girls.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Personally, I've given very little thought to the question of just criminal punishment. But one punishment may be worse than another without either being moral.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Tom writes : "one punishment may be worse than another without either being moral."

    True. But when beginning an investigation into the truth of some matter, a universally accepted truth, such as imprisonment for 20 years for armed robbery is a morally legitimate means of punishment, is typically a good place to start.

    Thus since imprisonment of 20 years for armed robbery is universally held as humane. And since a flogging of 30 lashes is more humane than the a fore mentioned 20 years. Then if follows that flogging is likewise humane.

    Granted, the punishments vary but from a quick google search 20 years banishment to a to a small steel and concrete cage seems about average.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Let me see if I'm following you: You're saying that imprisoning an armed robber for 20 years is both just and inhumane, right? Just because it is universally accepted as just, and inhumane because...?

    ReplyDelete
  45. What I'm saying is that when a proposition is universally held, it's reasonable to expect it to be true. And that those who argue that it's not true have the burden of proof to prove that it's not true.

    It's a principle Mark Shea applied above when he said that it's universally held that flogging was recognized as inhumane. It's an argument by authority.

    And of course reply to Mark Shea that his universally held authority was only apparent. And further, that just because it is held does not make in necessarily true.

    Nevertheless, it is an accepted place to begin an investigation, which is likewise why Mark Shea used it. And likewise why I challenged his position by using an example I expect almost no one to contest, (and of those I did ask, all choose the flogging). What man would not choose 30 lashes, or make it 15 lashes, versus his being banished from kith & kin to concrete & steel cage for 20 years?

    ReplyDelete
  46. Let me rephrase my poorly-written comment, since I didn't mean it to read as "Merely because...":

    "You're saying that imprisoning an armed robber for 20 years is both just and inhumane, right? It is in accord with justice, because it is universally accepted as just; and it is inhumane, because...?"

    I'll grant that everyone would rather be lashed 30 times than spend 20 years in prison. But I don't see where that gets you.

    If anything, it seems to establish that it's universally held that 30 lashes is a lesser punishment than 20 years imprisonment. But if 20 years imprisonment is a just punishment for armed robbery, then 30 lashes for armed robbery is a lighter punishment than could justly be imposed. And who wouldn't want a lighter punishment than could justly be imposed?

    It's not as though as a culture we are universally careful with our own human dignity.

    ReplyDelete
  47. "If anything, it seems to establish that it's universally held that 30 lashes is a lesser punishment than 20 years imprisonment. But if 20 years imprisonment is a just punishment for armed robbery, then 30 lashes for armed robbery is a lighter punishment than could justly be imposed. And who wouldn't want a lighter punishment than could justly be imposed?"

    Not only that, but this whole discussion leaves out the fact that imprisonment is not meant to be entirely punitive. Right or wrong, imprisonment is also aimed at removing the criminal from the streets and, although its effect is debatable, at rehabilitation of the criminal.

    ReplyDelete
  48. "I'll grant that everyone would rather be lashed 30 times than spend 20 years in prison. But I don't see where that gets you.

    My original comment was that flogging could be humane and was subject to prudence. Mark Shea challenged my assertion arguing that it was intrinsically disordered and thus not subject to prudence. In the same way as torture is not subject to prudence because it's intrinsically disordered.

    So all I've done so far is appeal to authority that it's not intrinsically disordered. It's baby step, but a step in the direction that proves that flogging per se isn't intrinsically disordered.

    _________________

    Tom writes : "who wouldn't want a lighter punishment than could justly be imposed?"

    But it can be justly imposed. For instance Delaware which was the last state to use flogging as punishment had the lowest incidence of rape among the states while using something akin to flogging with 30 lashes. Thus it can not only be more affective but likewise more humane

    ReplyDelete
  49. So all I've done so far is appeal to authority that it's not intrinsically disordered.

    Okay, but what was the authority? I don't recognize "people who are asked whether they'd rather be flogged than imprisoned" as an authority on whether the object of flogging can ever be ordered to the good.

    But it can be justly imposed.

    Hold that thought. I haven't followed you that far yet.

    What I'm saying is that preferring to be whipped 30 times rather than imprisoned 20 years is not proof -- heck, it's not really even evidence -- that whipping is humane. What it is, is evidence that people think being whipped 30 times is less of a punishment than 20 years in prison.

    But so what?

    And I mean that as an actual question:

    What follows from the fact that people think being whipped 30 times is less of a punishment than being imprisoned 20 years?

    ReplyDelete
  50. @love the girls -

    For the record, Mark does not say that flogging is inhumane. He points out that the unanimous opinion of legal and ecclesiastical authorities considers it so. Here is what he said:

    Contemporary law in the civilized world would dispute that. There's a reason we have that clause in the Constitution about "cruel and unusual punishment".

    Now, I'll grant that it would be interesting to examine the humanity of various kinds of punishment, including prison and flogging.

    But the fact is, while they certainly have problems and whether or not they are the best solution to crime, they are not presently horribly and systematically abusing their inmates.

    Flogging is nowhere in our criminal justice system used as a punishment, nor as an interrogation technique, and therefore is a hypothetical question.

    Meanwhile, despite President Obama's executive order to not use torture and other abusive techniques in dealing with prisoners suspected of terrorism, it remains a policy that is regarded in some circles as legal. Moreover, there are many (Thiessen perhaps foremost) who are trying to argue that it is moral, even necessary.

    So, by all means, let's talk about better ways to punish and rehabilitate criminals in society. But let's not use that conversation as an excuse to justify the torture policies of the military and the CIA.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Tom writes : “Okay, but what was the authority? I don't recognize "people who are asked . . .”

    The authority is what is generally held as true, and we can expect any reasonable man to choose the one over the other. As I wrote, it’s the beginning of an investigation. Not the conclusion.
    _____________

    Tom writes : “ that preferring to be whipped 30 times rather than imprisoned 20 years is not proof -- heck, it's not really even evidence -- that whipping is humane.”

    That a reasonable man would choose the one over the other is not definitive proof, but it certainly is an argument for it, and a reasonable first step in a more complete argument. All else being relatively equal, men will choose to be treated humanely.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Robert writes : “So, by all means, let's talk about better ways to punish and rehabilitate criminals in society. But let's not use that conversation as an excuse to justify the torture policies of the military and the CIA.”

    The pertinent post is this. And while I’ve come to expect those who write on this site to see torture apologies in every post I write, still, this is a bit much.
    http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/2010/02/but-its-not-like-theyre-human.html?showComment=1266685167593#c676924838714550829
    ________________

    Robert writes : “But the fact is, while they certainly have problems and whether or not they are the best solution to crime, they are not presently horribly and systematically abusing their inmates”

    To the contrary, I consider the current system to be doing just that “horribly and systematically abusing their inmates”

    ReplyDelete
  53. Please note, "I consider the current system to be “horribly and systematically abusing their inmates”

    But Robert is correct, the current and common understanding is that “they are not presently horribly and systematically abusing their inmates”

    ReplyDelete
  54. All else being relatively equal, men will choose to be treated humanely.

    Granted (with reservations that aren't relevant right now). In those terms, then, my question was:

    Why do you say that all else is relatively equal between 20 years imprisonment and 30 lashes?

    ReplyDelete
  55. Tom writes : "Why do you say that all else is relatively equal between 20 years imprisonment and 30 lashes?"

    Because they can have the same affect, i.e. obedience to the law. Using Delaware as example, which had the lowest incidence of rape among the states while using something akin to flogging with 30 lashes, where as the other states imposed imprisonment.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Because they can have the same affect, i.e. obedience to the law.

    But using Delaware as an example, they don't have the same effect. To the contrary, if flogging produces a lower incidence of rape than imprisonment, doesn't that mean people would rather be imprisoned than flogged?

    ReplyDelete
  57. Tom writes : "if flogging produces a lower incidence of rape than imprisonment, doesn't that mean people would rather be imprisoned than flogged?"

    Yes. Obedience to the law is more affective using flogging as punishment. But yet as you noted above : "I'll grant that everyone would rather be lashed 30 times than spend 20 years in prison." Thus we have the happy situation where a lighter punishment has the better effect.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Mr. Schwartz writes : "imprisonment is also aimed at removing the criminal from the streets and, although its effect is debatable, at rehabilitation of the criminal."

    If men are not acting on their vice, then why lock them away? The law aims at making men good either through their willing the good the law intends or because they fear punishment. Flogging accomplishes the second.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Thus we have the happy situation where a lighter punishment has the better effect.

    Evidently rapists didn't consider it a lighter punishment.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Tom writes : "Evidently rapists didn't consider it a lighter punishment."

    Evidently not. Perhaps it's the immediacy of the punishment which is the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  61. For what it's worth, I don't think anything can be concluded using Delaware as an example.

    (I wrote that meaning "anything about flogging and imprisonment," but now that I think about it, Delaware's pretty far down the tails of most all distributions.)

    ReplyDelete
  62. Tom writes : "I don't think anything can be concluded using Delaware as an example."

    Of course not, but it does perhaps point in the right direction. On the face of it, flogging certainly appears a more humane approach. If not humane per se. But given that it commonly recognized that the current system is humane, and that on the face of flogging in the Delaware example appears even more humane than the current example, it can at least be said that flogging is not inhumane per se.

    But for those who disagree, as I pointed out in the first post where I brought up flogging as example: for those who don't agree with flogging as ever being justified, choose a lesser punishment which would likewise qualify as inhumane when done arbitrarily.

    ReplyDelete
  63. On the face of it, flogging certainly appears a more humane approach.

    You seem to be using "more humane" to mean "preferred as a choice given an absurd hypothetical" when referring to your straw poll; "avoided as a choice give a real-world difference" when referring to Delaware's rape statistics; and "less humane" when referring to the universal judgment of legal systems in the United States.

    a lesser punishment which would likewise qualify as inhumane when done arbitrarily

    And here I think you're using "inhumane" to mean "unjust." Or at least, the problem isn't with the punishment, but with the arbitrariness.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Tom writes : "You seem to be using "more humane" to mean "preferred as a choice given an absurd hypothetical" . . ."

    That's approximately correct, sans the added commentary by you.
    ______________

    Tom writes : "And here I think you're using "inhumane" to mean "unjust." Or at least, the problem isn't with the punishment, but with the arbitrariness."

    Yes. As similarly arbitrary imprisonment is contrary to justice. And as Veritatis Splendor refers to arbitrary imprisonment as offensive to human dignity.

    ReplyDelete