Saturday, July 29, 2006

IV. Are You A Torturer Too?

In October 2002, Daschner [Frankfurt Deputy Police Chief] had threatened to inflict severe pain on Magnus Gaefgen, the kidnapper of 11-year old banker’s son Jakob von Metzler, if Gaefgen did not reveal where he had hidden the child. Gaefgen promptly admitted that the boy was already dead. Gaefgen was later sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.

Justus Leicht

It is always very easy to give general answers. The 'ticking bomb' scenario is not really ours: the bomb is always somewhere far away and our folks are not dying. So we are quick in demanding rights to be observed. Righteousness is more often a curse than a blessing. We want rights respected and others to face the reality of the loss of a loved one. Moral principles must not be shattered.

But let's fathom our sincerity. I pray beg you on my virtual knees to consider this as an exercise to be followed precisely. Go deep down inside your heart and feel the answer. Do not think about it. Do not be afraid. Be honest! After answering you will still be a good person – a good person who knows a little more about him/her self...

It is your spouse, your child, your brother or sister, your friend, that's been kidnapped and by chance you get hold of the villain. You know the victim's buried in an earth coffin – another two hours to breathe.

If you turn over the culprit to the police you will miss your chance – they are bound by law. This is your moment:

Will you see in him your Neighbour – your fellow human being that has to be treated with respect and - if you are Christian – with love? Will you open your heart and show him your most tender sorrow, become vulnerable and readily 'turn the other cheek'?

Will you be prepared to cry an Ocean of Tears?

Will you refrain from beating the shit out of him?



Blogger The Heathlander said...

I'd certainly like to think that I wouldn't resort to violence, although in actuality I almost certainly would.

But I think there is a difference between the personal and the state. With the personal, there's very little chance that, by using violence in that exceptional circumstance, it would lead to using violence and torture increasingly and for wider and wider purposes. That is one of the big problems with state torture.

Also, the personal level doesn't carry with it some of the problems associated with state torture. So for instance, one of the downsides to authorising the use of torture on detainees is that US soldiers captured abroad will also become legitimate targets for torture. That problem, of course, does not apply in the personal situation you've sketched out.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Per said...

Yep! That is the difference. Daschner should've turned of Gäfgen to the father: that is - he shouldn't have arrested him in the first place. The state must never ever be allowed to torture...

Article 1 of the German Constitution is:

The dignity of the human being must not be touched. To honour and to protect it is the first most duty of all state authority! (Get a lawyer to translate that...)

Still a long, long way to go...

1:46 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...


It's 21:43 in the evening at my end, and getting perilously close to my usual bedtime.

I've got my iPod at the ready, a big bottle of Coke in the fridge, a burdger cooking in the oven and I'm currently listening to a Democracy Now! debate, so I'm doing alright for now.

Everyone else holdin' up OK?

1:49 PM  
Blogger Per said...

yeh! I don't want to be a p.i.t.a. but do ye really want me to check comments by the seconds or might I get some slot allocations? Three in a row? And what about the quote? I called it 'the real world'?

1:53 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

That is a very good question. You all are doing a wonderful job here. Keep up the good work!

PS: I honestly don't know. I have a pretty bad temper.

1:54 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

barbara - cheers. I'll try not to annoy you :)

per - well, we've got Robbie at 1400 and 1430, and Mash at 1600. Do you want to do 1500 and 1530?

1:56 PM  
Blogger Per said...

Yes! But I wouldn't want #vii to be seperated to long from #vi

and else: what is the general situation? Have we got enough?

2:01 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

Well, some people havn't shown up yet, so no we don't have enough yet.

Hopefully we'll manage..

2:08 PM  
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12:35 AM  

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