Torturous logic

1 February 2005 at 09:57 Leave a comment

I remember as a kid in the 70’s that the Salem witch trials were a very popular horror of the American past and I think that’s where I originally developed my, ‘no, never, it’s futile’ attitude to torture. You always get results, but you rarely get the truth. The truth is more reliably found in other ways. A person being tortured will say whatever they need to say to get you to stop. They become so ‘in the moment’ of that pain that they can’t think of the repercussions of their ‘confession’, which is so frequently death. I mean, if it’s not a case so serious as to bring death as its penalty, then why bother with torture at all? But that memory seems to heve been lost. People don’t seem to connect with the idea of the horror and futility of torture. And I don’t understand why not.

I also felt as a kid, and felt this was something true of Americans at the time, that we’d all rather see 10 guilty men set free than 1 innocent man go to prison. Well, that’s certainly not the case anymore. The resistance within the prosecutorial branches to new DNA evidence is an indication of that. These are usually elected positions. The will of the people, and all that. There’s some idea that if he was innocent then God wouldn’t have let this happen to him. Or something.

And forget the American tradition of championing the underdog. Something we were all proud of when I was a kid. There’d be some small town up for the high school basketball championships, playing some big city team, and we’d all be for that little school. Not anymore. If teams don’t keep winning they lose their fans.

I wonder if we didn’t get callous when we weren’t the underdogs anymore…

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Entry filed under: misanthropy.

Stamina A couple academic mysteries

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What I’ve been reading:

  • James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. (London, 14 King William Street, Strand: William P. Nimmo, 1876). 3 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 3, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985). 4 years ago
  • Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 4 years ago
  • Stephanie Kallos, Broken for You (New York: Grove Press, 2004). 4 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 2, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985) 4 years ago

T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.

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