Saturday, July 29, 2006

V. I confess: I am!

'You hold a terrorist who knows the location of a defusable bomb which, if exploded, will kill x million people. Do you have the right to torture him/her to find the bomb?'

Instead of offering an answer to this question, I'm going to look at a question that follows immediately, but doesn't seem to have been asked. Suppose that you have used torture to extract information from a prisoner in the belief (correct or not) that doing so was justified by a "ticking bomb" situation. What should you do next?

My answer is that you should turn yourself in, and plead guilty to the relevant criminal charges. I think this answer can be defended from a wide variety of perspectives, but I'll take an intuitive one first. If the situation is grave enough to warrant resort to torture, it's certainly grave enough to justify losing your job and going to jail.

John Quiggin

The Confession (1999) by David Hugh Jones shows us Ben Kingsley as Harry Fertig who – in an act of revenge - kills the three people he holds guilty for the death of his child. After the murder he turns himself in to the police and of course asks for proper legal defence. The only task of his lawyer is to plead guilty. Harry Fertig insists on punishment. He has broken the law and for him it was G-d's law that's been broken. Their was no escape. He was the murderer who had only one way to make peace with his G-d: accept without the least bargaining the punishment immediately. Thy will be done!

Yes, I will not let the kidnapper get away with the information about my beloved. I will use every means at my command to extract the information needed and try and save my love.

I will commit a crime to save my wife... I will become guilty. And I will accept this personal guilt and accept proper punishment without mitigation. I want the kidnapper go to prison and I will accompany him.



Blogger The Heathlander said...

Certainly, I think if you have committed the crime you should tunr yourself in.

But I don't think that turning yourself in, or committing the act in the knowledge that you will turn yourself in afterwards, does anything to justify committing the act itself.

So, if the Bush administration authorises torture (what am I saying, 'if'?), then of course they should be punished. But the most important point is to find a way to ensure no=body commits torture.

3:08 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

*turn, obviously (oh dear, the typos are starting...)

3:09 PM  
Blogger Per said...

The deed is not justified. It is punished. There's no innocent way out here. I would became guilty either way: if I tortured the wrongdoer or if I betrayed my wife's hope. I will not let my beloved die - but I will go to jail and repent. And I will not make any excuses...

And again: this is a private act of a private citizan. It must not be legalized in any way. Anyone anyhow under any reason torturing a fellow human being must be ready to accept the punishment.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Hey, congratulations! I flagged you guys for feature, and you made it! You're an official blog-a-thon featured page.

Good work :) Keep up the awesome blogging.

3:16 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

Yes, I think the way to look at it is this:

there are two seperate wrongs. The first is perpetrating torture. The second is avoiding punishment.

The Bush Junta are guilty of both wrongs at the moment - hopefully the second one will be remedied. But nothing can ever undo the first wrong, nothing.

Good post, per.

3:17 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

EVERYONE - just to let you know, we've been linked to on the front page of Blogathon!


"Blogs Against Torture is doing an amazing job of education on their Blogathon blog. If you are curious about the state of torture around the world, tune in."

3:19 PM  
Blogger De said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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12:34 AM  

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