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DPChallenge Forums >> Rant >> "Why This Tolerance for Torture?"
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05/07/2009 12:40:09 PM · #1
This column by Leonard Pitts, Jr. was printed in the Cape Cod Times this morning. I found it very thought-provoking. Excerpt:

So who can be surprised by the new Pew report?

Specifically, it's from the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, and it surveys Americans' attitudes on the torture of suspected terrorists. Pew found that 49 percent of the nation believes torture is at least sometimes justifiable. Slice that number by religious affiliation, though, and things get interesting. It turns out the religiously unaffiliated are the least likely (40 percent) to support torture, but that the more you attend church, the more likely you are to condone it. Among racial/religious groups, white evangelical Protestants were far and away the most likely (62 percent) to support inflicting pain as a tool of interrogation.


Read entire column here.

R.
05/07/2009 01:41:41 PM · #2
Why can't we find those questions on the Pew Report? I'm trying to see the report itself and I don't see anything about religious affiliation at all. I did find a post on the Pew Forum that went into details here, but we have nothing on margin of error. If you note on the original report when looking at political affiliation it lists a margin of error of about 8% for a group where the n=167 (republicans). The unaffiliated group has an n of only 94 which may drive that margin of error to 10-14% (don't know the stats). Anyway, it's possible it's all damn statistics and lies, but there may be a truth reflected in the poll as well.

I've worried about the mainstreaming of torture in our society. I stopped watching 24 on Fox after two seasons because the takehome message there was clearly that torture, at the right time, was justified. I just couldn't stomach it.
05/07/2009 01:46:53 PM · #3
I think that the problem is, as Dr Achoo gets at, is that so many people see torture in so many places in pop culture that it has become acceptable. While I do watch 24, I know that I am able to seperate fiction from non-fiction. Unfortunately, most of our society seems unable to do so.

What is amazing to me is that so many people stand up for what we have done, yet if the roles were reversed, our sabres would be raised, and we would be screaming another war cry into any other country that supported this practice.

Sad. Truely sad.
05/07/2009 01:47:38 PM · #4
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Why can't we find those questions on the Pew Report? I'm trying to see the report itself and I don't see anything about religious affiliation at all.


//pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=156

R.
05/07/2009 01:54:07 PM · #5
Ya, that was the link I linked Robert. :)

Another beef with the article (which raises a valid point overall in my mind), is that there is a subtle insinuation that "white evangelical protestants" represent "Christianity". The link shows that if we consider "white catholics" or "white mainline protestants" as representing "Christianity" then there is no article to write as they fall easily within the assumed margin of error.

Often we hear people complain about how the Republican party has been hijacked by the evangelical Christian movement. I personally like to complain that Christianity has been hijacked by the Republican party.

Message edited by author 2009-05-07 13:55:04.
05/07/2009 02:02:02 PM · #6
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Ya, that was the link I linked Robert. :)

Another beef with the article (which raises a valid point overall in my mind), is that there is a subtle insinuation that "white evangelical protestants" represent "Christianity". The link shows that if we consider "white catholics" or "white mainline protestants" as representing "Christianity" then there is no article to write as they fall easily within the assumed margin of error.

Often we hear people complain about how the Republican party has been hijacked by the evangelical Christian movement. I personally like to complain that Christianity has been hijacked by the Republican party.


Well, the reason we have these discussions at all, basically, re: "Christianity", is that like it or not the Evangelical Protestants *have* essentially hijacked Christianity in this country, and it's scary. GWB was one, of course, for what that's worth. I just finished reading a long article in the current New Yorker that explores this issue in regards to the military, and it's a scary read I tell ya...

R.

Message edited by author 2009-05-07 14:02:23.
05/07/2009 02:02:35 PM · #7
Originally posted by amathiasphoto:

While I do watch 24, I know that I am able to seperate fiction from non-fiction.


The question in my mind is whether the constant drip, drip, drip of reinforcement that torture is ok (they got the bad guys on 24 right) wears and alters the society over time. I have no doubt you realize 24 is fiction, but does that awareness even matter? I have grave suspicions that our craving for entertainment and titilation is altering our society in many, many profound ways from topics such as this to the mainstreaming of pornography to violence in video games or media. Sometimes the change may be good (global warming awareness?), but often the change may be bad, even if causing that change is unintended and merely a result of our demand for the greatest and latest in entertainment.
05/07/2009 02:06:11 PM · #8
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Well, the reason we have these discussions at all, basically, re: "Christianity", is that like it or not the Evangelical Protestants *have* essentially hijacked Christianity in this country, and it's scary. GWB was one, of course, for what that's worth. I just finished reading a long article in the current New Yorker that explores this issue in regards to the military, and it's a scary read I tell ya...

R.


Perhaps you want to put "right wing" before "evangelical protestant" because I think the two can be separated. I probably qualify on a poll as a "white evangelical protestant", but my overall social position is quite a bit to their left (despite the reputation I probably have in Rant). So I'd agree with you if you qualify to say that right-wing, evangelical protestants have hijacked Christianity.
05/07/2009 02:19:10 PM · #9
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

So I'd agree with you if you qualify to say that right-wing, evangelical protestants have hijacked Christianity.


Okay! "Right-wing, Evangelical Protestants have essentially hijacked Christianity in America."

R.
05/07/2009 02:22:30 PM · #10
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

So I'd agree with you if you qualify to say that right-wing, evangelical protestants have hijacked Christianity.


Okay! "Right-wing, Evangelical Protestants have essentially hijacked Christianity in America."

R.


Preach it brother! :)
05/07/2009 03:43:06 PM · #11
I get polled a lot for some reason. Maybe it's because I am a White Evangelical Protestant. What I can say is the questions I have been asked were no where that simple and by far were leading. I did one poll/survey and since that time I refuse to do any when it comes to religion.

Message edited by author 2009-05-07 16:03:33.
05/07/2009 03:59:21 PM · #12
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

I've worried about the mainstreaming of torture in our society. I stopped watching 24 on Fox after two seasons because the takehome message there was clearly that torture, at the right time, was justified. I just couldn't stomach it.


I stopped watching 24 for similar reasons, but started again this season. Interestingly, they are examining this issue quite a bit through the story line, although I'll probably be disappointed where they net out.
05/07/2009 06:21:51 PM · #13
why this torture of tolerance?
05/07/2009 10:16:20 PM · #14
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

It turns out the religiously unaffiliated are the least likely (40 percent) to support torture, but that the more you attend church, the more likely you are to condone it. Among racial/religious groups, white evangelical Protestants were far and away the most likely (62 percent) to support inflicting pain as a tool of interrogation.[/i]


religion, at the very core, uses punishment (torture?) as a form of deterrent.
so, if you look at it that way, it isn't at all surprising why the poll results turns out that way.
05/07/2009 11:14:34 PM · #15
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by amathiasphoto:

While I do watch 24, I know that I am able to seperate fiction from non-fiction.


The question in my mind is whether the constant drip, drip, drip of reinforcement that torture is ok (they got the bad guys on 24 right) wears and alters the society over time. I have no doubt you realize 24 is fiction, but does that awareness even matter? I have grave suspicions that our craving for entertainment and titilation is altering our society in many, many profound ways from topics such as this to the mainstreaming of pornography to violence in video games or media. Sometimes the change may be good (global warming awareness?), but often the change may be bad, even if causing that change is unintended and merely a result of our demand for the greatest and latest in entertainment.


Now you got a John Lennon song stuck in my head. Can you imagine that?
05/08/2009 01:27:19 AM · #16
Originally posted by eqsite:



I stopped watching 24 for similar reasons, but started again this season. Interestingly, they are examining this issue quite a bit through the story line, although I'll probably be disappointed where they net out.


Didn't need torture to stop me watching 24. After the second season the idiotic 24 shows, 24 hour concept becomes tremendously boring. Plus the star is a drunken drug abuser who doesn't have any respect for societies laws. I'd rather watch a fist bump convention with the Prez as the masters of ceremonies. :)

As for torture, I think it accomplishes nothing. I'd rather let them all stay together in big barracks ala' Stalag 13. Fill the sucker with hidden mics and vid cameras. Feed um good and respect their religious practices as much as possible. Mix up the populations on a regular basis. Recruit experts in psychology to mix in with the guards to befriend them. Be sure that many of these peeps are the same religion. After a while friendships develop and you never know what type of information you might turn up. Be sure that the camps are shown in the press on a regular basis. Never keep the Red Cross or other aid entities from inspecting the prison. Allow next of kin to visit from the associated countries. Be sure to provide private rooms for them to meet and bug the shit out of them. :) There are a lot of smart things we could have done, but we did Quantianamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib. The bobsey twins from the W admin were the driving force behind this stupidity. Cheney and Rummy.

05/08/2009 09:07:03 AM · #17
Originally posted by FireBird:

Plus the star is a drunken drug abuser who doesn't have any respect for societies laws.


Way OT, but I had to laugh a little at this... how many of the great artists would fall into this category. BTW, I am in no way implying that Kiefer Sutherland is a great artist.
05/08/2009 07:37:24 PM · #18
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

This column by Leonard Pitts, Jr. was printed in the Cape Cod Times this morning. I found it very thought-provoking.


Interesting.

As I get older and more conservative I find myself thinking more and more that if I have done nothing wrong then what have I got to hide. Of course the reason for concern is that "wrong" is relative - so I consciously reject that line of reasoning.

Torture is acceptable as soon as you start seeing the world in black and white, right and wrong terms. It does not matter if you only torture wrong-doers, in order to protect the righteous.

I don't know if religion attracts people with this mindset, or if it promotes this binary and uncompromising worldview. However, it comes as no surprise that people who can see themselves as being fundamentally right have a higher tolerance for torture.
05/08/2009 08:02:43 PM · #19
IF there indeed is a link between the evangelical movement and willingness to allow torture, I think Matthew has hit on it. Torture does become more palatable if one can describe things (or people) in terms of "evil" rather than seeing them as merely another view.
05/08/2009 08:18:51 PM · #20
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

IF there indeed is a link between the evangelical movement and willingness to allow torture, I think Matthew has hit on it. Torture does become more palatable if one can describe things (or people) in terms of "evil" rather than seeing them as merely another view.


Bingo!

R.
05/08/2009 08:57:45 PM · #21
Originally posted by FireBird:

Plus the star is a drunken drug abuser who doesn't have any respect for societies laws.

"Have you heard this story? They're trying to pass a bill now that allows politicians to insist that they be addressed by gender- neutral titles. Is that really necessary? I mean, don't we already have gender neutral titles for politicians? 'Crook,' 'liar,' 'adulterer,' 'pinhead,' 'moron,' these are all gender-neutral." (Jay Leno)
05/08/2009 09:01:23 PM · #22
It's posts like this that make me want to ask you to marry me...

R.

ETA: supposed to be quoting Paul, sigh....

Message edited by author 2009-05-08 21:02:13.
05/08/2009 10:40:43 PM · #23
Originally posted by Matthew:

Originally posted by Bear_Music:

This column by Leonard Pitts, Jr. was printed in the Cape Cod Times this morning. I found it very thought-provoking.


Interesting.

As I get older and more conservative I find myself thinking more and more that if I have done nothing wrong then what have I got to hide. Of course the reason for concern is that "wrong" is relative - so I consciously reject that line of reasoning.

Torture is acceptable as soon as you start seeing the world in black and white, right and wrong terms. It does not matter if you only torture wrong-doers, in order to protect the righteous.

I don't know if religion attracts people with this mindset, or if it promotes this binary and uncompromising worldview. However, it comes as no surprise that people who can see themselves as being fundamentally right have a higher tolerance for torture.


That was the core rhetoric of our previous administration to meld policy and erode Constitutional rights.

"The Axis of Evil" was pretty well crafted language to scare enough people into submission. "Evil - doers"..."if your not with us you're against us" actually sound like the Taliban's words if you've been reading about Karzais failed attempts to embrace them.

Bottom line, it's the same play book the only difference is how far you're willing to go with it.
05/09/2009 12:50:26 AM · #24
Just can't seem to have any discussion involving religion without Matthew and Paul jumping in. Mr. Skywalker should be along any moment now...

Message edited by author 2009-05-09 00:50:48.
05/09/2009 02:40:14 AM · #25
Originally posted by scalvert:

Just can't seem to have any discussion involving religion without Matthew and Paul jumping in. Mr. Skywalker should be along any moment now...

Hey, I was talking about politicians, and people who flout the law and social conventions ... ah, but I repeat myself. ;-)
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