Posts Tagged ‘Acceptability of Torture’

Millions fear torture by their own governments

May 20, 2014

Torture is the ultimate crime against human dignity.

Torture is worse than murder.  To take a human life is a serious thing, but every human being is fated to die of something, sooner or later.  A torturer’s goal is to destroy the human spirit, while allowing the mutilated mind and body to survive.

tortureimageI was horrified, but not really surprised, to read that more than four in 10 people around the world fear being tortured by their own governments, a survey by Amnesty International indicates.

The survey covered 21,221 people in 21 countries, and indicated that (1) 44 percent fear being tortured by their own governments and (2) 82 percent want international rules against torture, but (3) 32 percent think torture can be justified in some circumstances — which indicates there are some who want rules but believe there can be exceptions to the rules.

The fear of torture was greatest in Brazil (80%), Mexico (64%), Turkey (58%), Kenya (58%), Greece (57%), Indonesia (54%), South Korea (54%) and Peru (54%).  But I found these figures less shocking than the finding that 32 percent of Americans fear torture by their government.  Even in the United Kingdom, 15 percent fear governmental torture.

The desire for rules against torture was strongest in South Korea and Greece (87%) and weakest in Peru (a still strong 71%).  The desire was slightly below average in the USA (77%).

The belief that torture is sometimes justified was strongest in China and India (74%) and weakest in Greece (12%).  Some 45 percent of Americans though torture is sometimes justified.

Is the fear of torture in the United States a new thing?  Or did it always exist among black people, poor people and other marginal people, without me, as a college-educated white person, being aware?


Torture is becoming normalized

December 17, 2012

Al Jazeera English discusses how Americans have come to regard torture not as a crime, but as an option about which reasonable people can differ.  Not so the European Court of Justice, which is trying to bring torturers to justice.

Lately I’ve been reading histories of World War Two, when we Americans regarded ourselves as fighters for liberty.  Now many people in democratic nations are coming to regard us as the enemies of liberty.  What will we do when they are no longer intimidated by our power?