Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt
from the abuse-of-power dept
When you get down to it, there are two central overlapping reasons to be opposed to torture. One is that it’s wrong, and the other is that it’s ineffective. The latter pretty much seals the deal on the former, since the only way someone could even conceivably argue that it’s not wrong is if it’s clearly preventing more harm than it causes, which has never been the case. After a commenter questioned some of these conclusions, That One Guy won first place for insightful by providing a thorough and excellent rebuttal:
Whereas people who claim that torture does work, or even defend it’s practice, have shown clearly that they have lost what little humanity they may have had.
Before I get to the meat of your comment, let’s get the most obvious part out of the way:
Even if torture was found to be 100% effective and accurate, it would still not be justified. Ever. Anyone claiming otherwise has shown themselves to be a pure sociopath and/or sadist at best, and absolutely no better, and barely different, than the ones they are fighting.
“That’s all very well, but you’ll still need to use torture in situations like the one just after 9/11.”
You mean like the situations where the torture report found that the information obtained was either useless, or had been found through other, perfectly legal and humane methods? Those ‘situations’?
“That’s because torture works. It is indeed useless for extracting confessions (people will confess anything, that’s true), but it has always worked quite well to extract informations.”
For the life of me I cannot see how you typed this up and didn’t spot the glaring error in it. If torture is useless for extracting confessions, because people will confess to anything, why in the world would you believe that it would be effective at gathering information? In both cases the person being tortured is going to say whatever they think will make the torture stop. They are going to say what they think the one torturing them wants to hear, true or not.
“And not extracting informations when you have the chance means making it more likely that terrorists will be able to kill more of your civilians.”
Here’s a hypothetical situation for you: Say you torture someone, and thanks to the information you get from them(assuming, for the sake of the example, that you actually got useful intel), you manage to stop one attack. Good trade right, the basic humanity of the ones performing the torture, and the rights and life of the one being tortured, in exchange for innocent lives?
Right, well that was only half of the equation. Thanks to the intel you gathered, you managed to stop one attack. However, due to the way that you got it, you caused a dozen more attacks(and if you think ‘Let’s just torture more people and stop those attacks!’ you haven’t been paying attention). You stopped one attack, and caused even more. Still think that was a good trade?
I mean come on, if a group, or in this case military/government is known to torture prisoners, do you really think that’s going to make people like them? Not even close, but what it will do is to increase the hatred of people that already don’t like you, or are fighting you, and drive those that might have supported you before straight into the arms of the people who are already fighting you, causing more attacks, and more deaths. It will also significantly decreases the possibility that those fighting you will be willing to surrender, no matter how bad their situation is, as they know death in combat is preferable by far to what might happen to them if they surrender, which also increases the deaths on both sides.
“People who say torture doesn’t work think they have found a clever way to avoid the moral dilemma, but they haven’t.”
Not really. The people who put forward that argument do so primarily because they know the people who support torture are such sick bastards that appealing to emotion or basic humanity isn’t likely to get them anywhere, so they instead appeal to the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the actions. And as has been shown, and has been known for decades, if not longer, torture is a terrible way, both morally, and in terms of effectiveness, in gaining useful intel.
Torture, at its core, seems like a product of authority and power gone wild — something very familiar in the US, where you’ve got cops like those in New York asking that resisting arrest be elevated to a felony. Second place for insightful this week goes to Trevor for his counter-proposal to that idea:
Maybe we can compromise?
If Resisting Arrest is classified as a felony, make it so that if the accused is found not guilty or the charges are dropped, the arresting officer is automatically charged with False Arrest, also classified as a felony.
For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we’ll start with one more comment about the cops, this time regarding their fear of Waze and the possibility that people might share speed-trap locations. As usual, the cops trotted out the line that this practice puts officers in danger of being attacked — and one anonymous commenter quickly underlined how weak that argument is:
People killed by (US) police so far in 2015: 119
(US) police killed by people so far in 2015: 0
Next, we head over to the conversation about Sriracha and its creator’s refreshingly open and forward-thinking mentality about trademarks. One commenter suggested that, if Tabasco starts making its own “Sriracha”, then the company will be profiting from the original creator’s work — but an anonymous response clarified why this oh-so-common misconception just isn’t true:
I disagree. The Tabasco Corp profits from putting sauce in bottles, and selling them. The money is in the work, not the idea. Lots of people don’t get that.
Over on the funny side, we’re sticking with the Sriracha post for first place. One commenter expressed some off-brand preference, pointing to Shark Sriracha as his favorite for its “base vinegar flavor” — but Zonker had even more particular tastes:
I prefer Left Shark Sriracha. It just has its own offbeat flavor.
And for second place, we double back slightly to the story about cops and Waze, where one anonymous commenter felt what the situation really needed was some healthy sarcasm:
Those poor, poor, persecuted police…such a risk they take, riding around in a clearly marked police vehicle, with lights all over it, sidearm, club, taser, and a trunk full of small/mid-size firepower.
And now citizens *gasp* knowing where they are!
How can they be expected to remain riding around in their clandestine state with this app ruining their cover?
Oh, the humanity!
For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ll head off to two entirely new topics. First, after the University of North Carolina attempted to “fix” hate speech with a totally unenforceable ban on a social media app, we noted that it’s possible to teach people better ways of dealing with this kind of thing. But, as beech asked, how could a university possibly do that?
If only we had a place where we could send people to learn about things…
Finally, we’ve got a response to the FCC’s Ajit Pai, whose argument against net neutrality is that it will make it harder for the US to push for open internet in other countries due to how its own policies will be perceived. Except, instead of something like “appearance” or “perception”, he was worried about the much flashier-sounding “optics” of the situation, and this led one anonymous commenter to coin an excellent rule of thumb that I’m certain to quote again in future:
When someone uses the word “optics” to mean appearance, it’s best to maximize your temporal utility by leveraging the geo-spatial functionality of your feet.
Well poorly said! That’s all for this week, folks. We’re off tomorrow for Presidents’ Day, and will be back with regular posts on Tuesday.