What if it Saves Us?

Richard Cohen:

This business of what constitutes torture is a complicated matter. It
is further complicated by questions about its efficacy: Does it
sometimes work? Does it never work? Is it always immoral? What about
torture that saves lives? What if it saves many lives? What if one of
those lives is your child’s?

It’s not, actually. It’s not complicated by questions of its efficacy because torture isn’t effective.Read your own newspaper. Jesus tits.


Seriously, what if it saves the life of YOUR CHILD? What a dickhead. I regret not having children because without them I can’t tell RIchard Cohen to keep his ideological ugliness to himself and stop using them as an excuse to be the asshole he really wants to be.

There are many things to which this argument could be applied. What if universal, absolutely free, single-payer health care (which indisputably works, wingnut myths about Britain and Canada notwithstanding) saved lives? What if it saved many lives? What if one of those lives is YOUR CHILD’S? Then do we have a moral imperative to provide it regardless of how many Republicans sign on to support it? I mean, if we’re going to raise the incredibly stupid idea that anything that saves YOUR CHILD is therefore worthy of consideration, let’s spin the argument out to its absolute bitterest end.

And not for nothing, but let me be cold here for a moment. Of course you’re in favor of saving your children. Of course you are. And what you say in that scenario is that you’d sign on to any bloodthirsty thing on the planet in order to make your children okay. That’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s your job as a parent. It’s not, however, your job as a politician, an interrogator, or a journalist. There’s a reason we don’t let the families of murder victims pronounce sentence on the murderers of their loved ones. There’s a reason we institutionalized some balance of power in this country, to give ourselves the necessary distance to make decisions like this. Not that anyone remembers that now.

Don’t shove your shit onto me with pronouncements about YOUR CHILD and dark fantasies about what kinds of threats would let you waterboard some imaginary terrorist. Cohen and his ilk like to talk about liberal pussies who prize “our national soul” and “the idea of America” over their hysterical concept of AMERICAN LIVES ARE AT STAKE when it comes to talking about national security. As if it’s the height of courage not to refrain from insane behavior in the face of terror but to give in to every wild impulse they’ve ever had. Don’t you care about YOUR CHILD? That isn’t the argument.

If it saved MY CHILD? Absolutely, I would want to torture everybody on the planet.




20 thoughts on “What if it Saves Us?

  1. “Read your own newspaper. Jesus tits.”
    In fairness to Cohen, maybe he only read the wonderful anonymously sourced article about how torture totally works great and waterboarding totally got KSM to give a “terrorism lecture” and also cures cancer.
    I hear that cockpunching Richard Cohen saves ferrets and would stop the White Sox’s current skid.
    Not to mention:
    “Special prosecutors are often themselves like interrogators — they don’t know when to stop” and “One of them managed to put Judith Miller of The New York Times in jail — a wee bit of torture right there”
    The rule of law: it’s just like violating the law!

  2. I’m curious what Cohen thinks about the morality and legality of armed robbery, as it might be the only way to pay the bills and feed your child…

  3. Have you noticed that they ALWAYS put themselves (and then you) in the position of the person who is going to do the torturing? Never the person who is being tortured?
    “What if it was YOUR child THEY WERE TORTURING?” Who wasn’t a terrorist but was caught up by someone who wanted to throw the trail off of them?
    “Yes, I have proof that Richard Cohen’s child is a terrorist. This Cohen child has information about a ticking time bomb. Only his child has the location.”
    Okay NOW what does Cohen do? Torture away?
    h/t to Interrobang for pointing this out to me.

  4. To chime in with Spocko and add a slippery slope:
    If we allow this immoral activity with Gitmo-types who haven’t ever been found guilty, what is to prevent us from using torture to get criminal confessions on US soil?
    So do you want to be subjected to torture because you ***MAY*** have knowledge of a crime? Wouldn’t just the threat of that possibility be disastrous to the idea of a free society? What becomes of due process?

  5. Torture is against the law, international law and US law, as well as being against the Constitution. That should end the argument, but if it doesn’t: What if executing every single person arrested for a crime would possibly save your child from becoming a crime victim sometime in the future? What if imprisoning every single person with an income below $30,000 per year would prevent your child from ever becoming a victim of a crime? What if all courts could force defendants to admit to every single law violation they ever committed? What if voting was a privilege limited to men? What if…I were dumb enough to seriously propose any of the above?

  6. What if…I were dumb enough to seriously propose any of the above?
    Then you would have your own talk radio show and a TV show on Fox.

  7. Well, here. I’m a mother and I love, without any doubt at all, my Son more than I love anything in the world. He’s the best, the very best, most wonderful son that any mother ever had and I’d gladly take a bullet or a swine flu sneeze or whatever if it gave him 15 more minutes to enjoy life. And I have the world’s most innocent, sweetest, most adorable, seriously, most wonderful 3 year old G/Son in the entire history of the entire universe, ever. And there is nothing that I would not do, would not give up, would not bear for him.
    And I do not want either of them to live in a world where torture is accepted. I do not.

  8. Seriously, what if it saves the life of YOUR CHILD?
    I am a parent (scary, but true) and I’ve had this argument flung at me on many occasions. It’s a dishonest argument, meant to embarass you into silence – I mean, c’mon, you don’t hate your kids, do ya? DO YA?
    My standard response now is to point out that children were tortured at Abu Ghraib in order to get their parents to talk. What do you think those parents now want to do to us?
    The answer I usually get to that one is, “Better their kids than mine!” At least it makes plain what kind of person you’re dealing with.

  9. Good response Dan. I HATE being in those kind of arguments because to REALLY flip it around, I would need to go deep and point out how they have been used by the right to justify torture.
    By placing you, the parent, in a position of torturer they use the most powerful protective impulse in a human’s life, for a hypothetical situation that rarely exists. Thank you wingnuts for turning us into a nation of potential torturers!

  10. I haven’t read anything Cohen’s written since he expressed amazement that none of the people he dined with predicted there would be no WMD. I wrote him and said he should start eating with smarter people.
    What a fuck.

  11. Cohen begins with a straw man–that what constitutes torture is a complicated matter.
    Actually, it’s not. It’s pretty well defined in Common Article 3 and the War Crimes Act. I also have the sneaking suspicion that Cohen himself, subjected repeatedly to any of the techniques that have been described as legal by various Bushies and their enablers (such as Cohen) over the years, would not hesitate to describe those techniques as torture and beyond all moral distinctions.
    As Cohen knows quite well, though, the only way to prove that point would be to lower one’s self to the same moral level as the torturer, and that is something the person arguing in favor of moral restraint simply is unable to do–logically and morally.
    Because Cohen chooses to ignore the rule of law in order to promote his argument of necessity, and because one cannot convince him otherwise by more direct means, he believes himself free to assert a greater moral good on the basis of necessity.
    I wonder, however, if he would be willing to make the same argument on behalf of the accused in the war crimes trials following WWII, who also felt that they were acting out of necessity in defense of their families and their nation. If he’s not willing to do so, then the morality argument is mooted. It’s simply a matter of who wins, with the winner getting to try the losers (something that Curtis LeMay made quite clear in remarks on the subject he made around 1960 with regard to the firebombing of civilians). So, if we lose in either Iraq or Afghanistan, in either some technical or literal sense, will Cohen accept the judgment of a tribunal on the guilt of all U.S. leaders and personnel involved?

  12. The major problem with the government believing torture works it that we the people will be next.

  13. Jeebus Fucking Christ, Cohen can fuck off.
    Asshole, MY CHILD is in Afghanistan right now. Thanks to the previous administration’s amoral and illegal actions, not only do I have to worry about him being killed in battle, I have to worry about how he’d be treated were he to fall into enemy hands.
    Which, to be honest, I’ve always had to worry about, but in the past, my govt. operated from a higher moral ground and hadn’t given the fucking green light to torture as acceptable. No reason for the Taliban to be restrained in how they would treat him – all they have to do is point to one of the MANY locations and instances where the US said, oh this is ok. It’s not like we gave them the winning hand in the propaganda battle by dropping to their level or anything.
    Fuckheads. Talk about losing the battle for hearts and minds – and as someone pointed out, maybe here, yesterday, made the next battle harder because the enemy will be less likely to surrender because they all know how the Americans will treat them – might as well fight to the end and take out as many as you can.
    This whole argument makes me weary and tired and sad – because some things you just don’t do. Don’t. do. Evil shouldn’t be on the table as an option. I hate that somehow the neocons have made it one, and managed to drag a chunk of the population with them into believing it a good option.

  14. Gott in Himmel, what is it with these conservatards who get such a giant boner from the idea of torture? What a bunch of sick fucks. Makes me think they gather in dark basements to wank off while watching “Saw” or “Hostel.” Cohen’s asinine argument from moral equivalency is just another in the avalanche of evidence that the right wing has not only lost whatever vestiges of morality they might have had (debatable) but have also completely lost any trace of sanity, which begs the question…why should we listen to the mad ravings of a mob of zombie lunatics?

  15. Cohen also misses the basic point of, you know, laws and a justice system.
    Families are not rational when one of their own gets hurt. And irrational vengeance impulses will destroy society or cause had blood feuds that last generations.
    Did Cohen miss the parts in history class where societies instituted set punishments for crimes precisely to remove justice from the hands of vengeful parents? Did he never read the Orestaia, even?

  16. I had a family member murdered in January, and if I got the chance to be in the same room as the person who did it, I think I’d just…shake my head and walk away.
    Damnright that makes me a better fucking person than Richard Cohen, and it makes me wonder what his fucking problem is. We have laws for a reason. I don’t really want to live in the sort of society that exists some places in the world, where every crime, slight, and matter of personal honour is settled (or not settled) with family feuds. (If he does, maybe he could go live in one of those places.)
    I’d also wager that it’s damn easy to be bloodthirsty when it’s all just pictures on a tv screen and stories in the newspapers, but it gets complicated in a hurry when there are, you know, actual people involved.

  17. I love you A.
    And I love you, too, leinie. May the universe keep your son safe.
    And may that same universe help Richard Cohen acquire those missing neurons that keep him from understanding why moral, decent behavior on our part will go a lot farther in keeping us safe than any amount of torture.

  18. What if it was YOUR CHILD who was being tortured because the government paid a bounty to informants who had an incentive to lie? How would you feel about the morality of torture then, Richard Asshat Cohen?

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