“Perhaps,” he added, “they should clarify it. We were in the middle of a war, and there was no teaching on that. But the church only gives general moral guidance, and people of good faith have to interpret that guidance.”
Reverend Brian W. Harrison, Catholic Apologist for Torture, NY Times, February 26, 2010.
That's lie number 1. Reverend Harrison, defending a Catholic defender of water-boarding, rather glibly qualifies his stance: we were in a war. In a war, torture is allowed. In a war, water-boarding is not torture. In a war, human dignity doesn't count. In a war, all the things we live for, all the things of the greatest spiritual and moral significance, don't matter.
No, it's just a torture. Torture is torture is torture. Torture is the act of a savage, a barbarian, of a people so utterly bereft of morality and spirituality and ethics, that they should be sponged off the face of the earth. I say "sponged"-- not killed or beaten or abused or-- heaven forbid-- tortured. Sponged-- sucked out of government and institutions; squeezed out of positions of authority and influence. Torture is what we, in that remarkable compact called "society" and "culture" and "democracy", cannot abide, and the right to be treated with dignity at all times-- no matter what the suspicion or crime or act-- cannot be abridged.
It's too late to undo much of the damage now. When America's enemies capture a soldier or a scientist or journalist-- why not torture? Reverend Brian W. Harrison, defending the American government, has declared that torture is morally acceptable, as long as it is necessary, and by God, when America attacks us, whether we are Muslims or communists or negroes, it is necessary.
Perhaps the most amazing facet of Reverend Brian Harrison's remarkable hubris is the astonishing arrogance of it: I have the authority to proclaim that God himself approves of one of us violating the most sacred right of another of us, to deprive him of dignity, to extract whatever information he will give, to enact a sadism, an indignity, a violence, a cruelty beyond imagination for most of us.
Ye humble sinners: cower before Brian Harrison and quake with tremulous awed appreciation! Then go forth and torture, because it is something, according to Harrison, that Jesus would do, if necessary, and if Jesus were here today, he would find it necessary.
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© Bill Van Dyk
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