Thank you all for your posts. If I don't address them directly, (only just read the last few) thank you still.
Well, the first thing is to pick up on is what Finn said in his initial post about morality. The thing is, I never mentioned morality.
Finn- you miss-read my (rather badly written, I admit) paragraph on the personal situation where I said I didn't know what I would do.
It's true I can't say for sure what I would do because we're talking about a hypothetical (and unimaginable) situation.
In an intense situation (as I'm sure you know), ideas come with surprising speed. I think that we often find we know instinctively what the right thing to do is, but we can only know that in the instant, when we have all the information, clues and signs in front of us, including an assessment of the individual we're dealing with.
I am only human and if I was desperate, if it was personal, I admit that there is an undeniable possibility that in the heat of the moment
I might loose it and break the bastard's nose or something, but I would want that to be an act of stepping outside the law. Do you understand? It's the law that counts. None of us are perfect and I thought very hard about what I would do in such a situation, but how can I know for sure? All I am positive of is that I wasn't talking about cold blooded torture
at all. That wasn't a part of the dilemma.
And I don't agree with you that those at the top have to deal with such a dilemma, either. I don't think they give a fig about morality.
Fil Albuquerque: ...but all in all torture is just a stupid way of sorting things out...
Finn dAbuzz: Yes indeed, and if it is used as anything but an exceptional measure for exceptional circumstances it's hideously damaging as well.
There are no exceptional circumstances Finn. Not if you uphold the law.
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."
--United Nations Convention Against Torture
That's why people are uprising in the Arab world. They are demanding the rule of law and justice.
One of their main grievances is state torture.
The more I read and learn, the more convinced I am that Torture is only good for one thing, and that is for spreading terror by publicising its use as a brutal punishment/revenge – If you're going to do that you might as well join the Joker and become his right hand man.
In Buddhism we take the long view. It’s about what will torturing others do to your mind?
Igm – A good point, which I should have addressed. Thanks.
Fido - That's a very, very dark picture you've painted there – and very apt. We (I mean humanity) are in a dark place.
We live in a world like you've described (in a sense) and you are right, there will always be people who are more than willing (for what ever reason) to torture. And I agree that the moral argument is redundant, to a certain extent.
Thing is, many people only become torturers because laws (like the Geneva Conventions) are dismantled to enable them. There for, the real issue in this (to my way of thinking) must be a) The Law - to protect and b) The Psychological - how we find the mental strength and courage to climb up out of the hellish pit you've described and see those laws put (legally) into place. The morality part can be addressed later. First, there must be respect for the law. (From the top, down).
Anyway, this is a sad business for sure.
It's easy to give up hope, I think. I know. But I do take comfort in the fact that nearly half of those surveyed said No to torture. The fight is not over yet.