9/25/2007

Global views of torture...

Some degree permissible by Country vs. Global views on torturing prisoners Against all torture

Torture is a subject that some might like to think is no longer an issue in the 21st century, but that would be a denial of reality, as much of the world still believes that torture is both necessary and justified. As this chart from Swivel.com and based on a survey from the BBC shows, torture is far from a universally reviled practice, even in supposedly "civilized" societies.

Nearly half of Israelis polled believe torture is to "some degree permissible", which is slightly higher than the percentage of Iraqis. Would anyone have guessed that based on the way these two countries are portrayed in the media? Iraq is made to look like a state embroiled in a barbaric civil war, where hundreds of civilians are killed daily and terrorists operate with impunity. Israel is a state that is the innocent victim of invading terrorists who wish the "destruction of the Jewish state"; hardly a picture of a people disposed toward brutal tactics.

It is very disturbing to see that there is only a slight drop-off in support for torture in some circumstances among the countries profiled above. I must admit that I can in fact imagine more than a few situations which would absolutely merit the use of extreme interrogation tactics, but I absolutely reject the arbitrary use of "torture" when questioning non-immediate threats to national/global security. I know this is a highly ambiguous position, but this is a highly ambiguous poll that provides stats that portray a very complex and nuanced issue as if it were a black and white affair.

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