With the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, which does its mendacious best to blame the CIA for enhanced interrogation methods (torture) while giving Senate Democrats the Sergeant Schultz defense, I know nothing, nothing!, Mark Shea has decided to climb Mount Sinai again and damn every one who disagreed with him as to the inherent evil of torture:
Now that the Torture Report is out and we are discovering that the lies we listened to for so long (We only waterboarded three high value targets! We had to do it to save lives! Valuable intel! Are you telling me that some filthy terrorist is more important than an unborn baby in your sick twisted liberal mind?) are all exposed as appalling lies, it’s important to do an examination of conscience. Why? Because we Catholics consistently supported torture in larger percentages then the average American population. And the more we self-described as “faithful conservative” and “prolife” the more likely we were to do so. God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of us. (Romans 2:24)
The ugly fact is that in our fear and rage, we became the thing we hate.
Go here to read the rest. The comments are a hoot:
…Mark Shea, do Catholics that respond to your articles ~really support torture? Where is the link to the ‘Torture Report’ as released by Senator Feinstein? There is a long list of events in your article that appear to be torture. – Are they all in the Feinstein report?
…The force feeding, of the prisoners through their anus, is referred to as torture. Does the Catholic Church, consider keeping someone alive, by force feeding, – torture? I read where the villains were refusing to eat and drink. Do Catholics approve of inaction, when someone is attempting suicide?
…Waterboarding has been used by members of the Catholic Church. It’s part of the historical record of the Spanish Inquisition. Is there a specific teaching about “The use of ~Waterboarding” as preformed by members of the Catholic Church, when they claimed to be acting on behalf of God, during an inquisition?
…Participating in Torture, through ‘thoughts, words, deeds, and inaction’ is objectively speaking, – a mortal sin.
…We as Catholics need to pray for the souls of the people that are involved in torture. ~Jesus Christ was tortured before he was crucified, which was a prolonged death of torture. As Catholics, we need to stop torturing Jesus Christ with our sins.
And the dialogue of the deaf continues for 319 comments. To Shea of course torture has become the Original Sin and only truly evil people would ever advocate it. However, the problem with this analysis is that being against torture in all circumstances is very much a product of the late 20th century. Torture has been utilized by all civilizations since human history began. It has frequently been condemned, and just as frequently resorted to. The Church for over a thousand years utilized torture in judicial proceedings, the Popes as rulers of the Papal States having both official executioners and torturers. The US has been anomalous in usually banning torture by statute, although even here informal police beating of suspects during interrogation, known as “the third degree”, was not uncommon until the Sixties.
The sudden discovery in the pontificate of John Paul II that torture was intrinsically evil would have struck almost all of his predecessors as an absurdity.
We are all children of our times. Since World War II there has been a great revulsion against the use of torture in the West, unless the torture is applied as a consequence of abortion. I think this has largely come about due to a desire by most people in the West to pretend that history has stopped and we have turned the page on torture, war and capital punishment, unless an unborn child is under a death sentence called abortion. Needless to say, this is a delusion, as events like 9-11 amply demonstrate. When we feel under threat, torture of our enemies who wish to slay us and our kids doesn’t sound so bad. When danger passes, back to the moral soapbox.
Of course even without physical torture being considered intrinsically evil, the application of physical torture in particular circumstances would frequently be evil. Additionally there are a whole host of prudential reasons to view the utility of physical torture skeptically. For example, while physical torture has elicited truthful information, there is also no denying that most people will say anything, true or false, to stop being tortured.
I personally draw the line at physical torture including water-boarding. On the other hand I have no problem with psychological manipulation, sleeplessness, white noise and other non-physical means of coercion in order to get terrorists to talk. However, to pretend that physical torture is some manifest evil on a par with abortion, is to reveal a shocking level of historical amnesia and to display the peculiar moral blindness of our times that is unable to make the most elementary of distinctions, say between an unborn child and a terrorist, that prior ages made with ease.