Some people might be wondering why I’m so focused on the torture issue. Part of the reason that we should not torture is that people come here to the United States because we don’t torture. That’s why they come. It’s not the only reason why they come. They also come become of the rights of free speech and free expression, the freedom of religion, the freedom of assembly, and for the economic opportunity. Especially the economic opportunity.
But they also come because we don’t torture.
You won’t really appreciate this because most of you were born here, but the United States really was a moral beacon for the rest of us after World War II. I remember seeing my first picture of John F. Kennedy, back when I lived in Europe as a small child. He was so handsome. He was the iconic representation of all that was good about America. The States had so much good will around the World at that time, and some of that was squandered on shenanigans like installing the Shah of Iran or overthrowing the Allende regime in Chile. Or supporting the contras.
Still, the United States is a symbolic beacon of hope. And one of those reasons is because we do not torture. Even though we incarcerate more of our citizens than any practically any other country — more than South Africa, more than China, more than Iran, more than Saudi Arabia, more than practically anyone else — we don’t torture. And that’s why we’re still considered a land of liberty. And when we did choose to torture, we flushed that moral standing right down the toilet. If we want to regain it, we have to take a principled stand against torture.
According to the PEW Research Center, American acceptance of the use of torture has been increasing in the last decade. At the same time, according to the Gallup organization, something like between 72% and 83% of Americans literally believe in heaven and hell.
I’ve got news for you Americans: nobody who tortures other people is getting up to Heaven! It’s not going to happen. Can’t happen. Torture is a morale absolute. It should be the 11th Commandment. Thou shall not torture. God, who smites a lot of people, doesn’t torture anyone. Okay, he tortures Abraham. A little bit. But it’s only mental torture. And yes, he fucks with the mind of a lot of others in the Bible, but he doesn’t allow humans to torture other humans. It’s a moral absolute. And it’s part of what continues to make the United States a beacon of liberty: that we don’t torture. So, it doesn’t matter what the polls say, don’t torture.