I heard a teaser on NPR this morning that there is new evidence from the questing of certain detainees that undermines the best justification for torture. (BTW, is there more than one justification for torture? Isn’t the only justification that by torturing one person you get information that saves many?) I didn’t hear the story but I’m sure it has something to do with the effectiveness of information gathered from people being tortured. My thoughts are torture, however, do not depend on its effectiveness. I really believe we should not torture because we should be a people who does not torture. The idea of someone poisoning a citizen of the United States by direction of our court system troubles me as well. But unlike capital punishment, we have decided not to torture and it bothers me to backslide.
I’m reminded of the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. We asked to bow down to a golden idol they refused. Even when threatened with execution by being thrown into a furnace. However, when thrown into the fire Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not harmed. By refusing to give up what is essential to their character they survived.
Likewise, we continue to value human dignity and recognize limits on what we will do in the pursuit of our interests, even when it seems impossibly dangerous. Otherwise, we will lose who we are.
The full story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is in Daniel 3, and can be the source of much discussion.
The Beastie Boys rap which has less detail on the story is available here. Lyrics here, but why would you be satisfied to just read lyrics like, “I’ve got more stories than J.D. Sallinger.”