At the South Carolina debate, Republican candidates were asked if they would torture prisoners. Some of them thought torture was just fine.
What is the libertarian answer to the torture question? It’s the American answer, the answer the American people have already given. Torture is a crime against civilization, reviled by all patriotic Americans.
Let’s take it from the top.
First, there is nothing for a President to decide.
Inside the United States, torture is a felony. If you are anywhere in the United States, and you torture someone, you are committing more crimes than I care to list. There is no exception in those laws for government officials.
If you are an American abroad and torture someone, it’s a felony. If your victim dies, you have earned the death penalty. There is no exception in those laws for government officials.
Second, those laws reflect the wisdom of the American people. Torturers are the filth of the earth, properly grouped with child molesters and mercenaries. We need not ask what the founding fathers and their fellows thought of mercenaries. Their position is enshrined in the third verse of The Star-Spangled Banner:“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,”
Third, there are people who get their jollies from snatching people off the streets, hustling them off to remote places, and inflicting great pain and degradation on them. These people have their enablers: television producers and actors who portray torturers as heroes and patriots. Torturers and their advocates are perverts, shunned by decent human beings.
Finally, thoughtful Americans should find it hysterically funny to watch the same gaggle of Republican Presidential candidates first say they would torture a defenseless prisoner, and then pander to the Republican Christian Right. The required depth of hypocrisy surpasses all belief.
Few indeed are the acts more contrary to the actual teachings of Jesus Christ than the torture of prisoners. I could simply quote the Golden Rule, exactly as it was invoked when I was in Army Basic Training and the care of prisoners was taught. Obey the Golden Rule. As a soldier your duty is to protect your prisoners.
I instead remind the Republican moral midgets — the Republicans who did not condemn torture — of the events leading up to Easter. Jesus was crowned with thorns. He was compelled to drag his cross through Jerusalem’s blinding heat. Spikes were driven through his arms. He was left to die. The Romans used their wicked skills to torture and degrade him. No matter what higher plan was involved, the Romans who tortured Jesus are revealed to Christians to be evil men in dire need of forgiveness, forgiveness for which Jesus himself prayed.
And now we have the Republican candidates. Most are asking Republican Christians to vote for them. And in the next breath, half imply they could do a better job at torture than those ancient Romans did, two millennia ago.
Pro-torture Republicans? They’re morally blind from their toenails to their eyelids. They’re totally unfit for the job they seek–or any other job from any other government, either. And they have no business asking any Christian for a vote.
And the anti-torture Republicans? It is indeed true that one Republican said that torture was universally condemned by military officers. Another said that nobody was for torture–I’m not sure what he thought some of the other Republican answers meant.
To the antitorture and dodged-the-question Republicans: Your political opponents advocate a course of action that is illegal, that has historically been reviled by real Americans, and that is totally contrary to the religion those opponents keep pandering to. If you had any moral backbone, it was not your time to play Pontius Pilate washing his hands. It was not your time to make a limpwristed deprecation of torture.
If the antitorture Republicans had any moral backbone, they would have answered the supporters of torture the way the moneychangers in the Temple were answered.
By smiting them. Verbally, of course. But: Smite them!
In the debate we saw a crew of moral midgets. Some are morally shriveled: They get their principals from perverted television shows and books in which torture of non-consenting children and adults is glorified. Some of them lack the gonadal fortitude to denounce their opponents by name. “world opinion won’t like it’ is hardly a debate-winning retort. Complaining about the deed’s name is no substitute for denouncing the deed.
In the end, those Republicans were all the same.
Put them up against a decent Libertarian, and their flaws will become painfully evident.