You know what I want to write about at this site? Cool stuff on the Web, better ways to develop software, and generally speaking, stuff that fascinates me. You know what I find myself writing about? Torture. Habeas corpus. Assertions of executive privilege. I’d prefer not to, but I just can’t stop myself.
While some Republicans made a halfhearted show of conscience and Democrats hid in the most craven fashion imaginable, the Bush Administration managed to pass a bill that will enable the government to imprison people for as long as it likes without giving them a day in court, and to torture those prisoners as much as it likes. This law diminishes this country, sullies the values upon which it was founded, and rolls back many centuries of progress in how governments relate to the governed.
How can people not get it? This is a do or die situation, and Democrats in government treated it as an issue to be managed with regard to the upcoming election. I won’t even get into the Republicans. The New York Times lays out the stakes of passing this law in no uncertain terms today. Read the editorial. Plenty of people have pointed out that this law not only trashes the constitution, it trashes the Magna Carta.
And in the midst of this, the excuse makers are trying to tell us that there’s a difference between “torture” and “coercion” and that one is OK and one is obviously bad, as though there’s some kind of bright line between the two. There is a bright line, but torture and coercion are on the same side of it. Don’t take my word for it, read the Washington Post op-ed by Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. I can’t quote from it without just pasting the whole thing. Just read it and think about what kind of country you want to live in.
I apologize for repeatedly returning to this depressing subject. My posts about the evils of torture aren’t going to change which laws get passed or keep people from being ordered to intentionally inflict pain and suffering on other people, but I do hope to convince people, or maybe just a single person that torture is wrong and that the things our leaders pretend aren’t torture really are. Someday people will ask where we stood on these issues, and I’ll be able to tell them that I stood on the side of civilization.
Update: I just read that my representative, Bob Etheridge (D-NC), voted in favor of the bill. I won’t be voting for him in November.