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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/15/2016 Category: Games
Updated: 6 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 131 times Debate No: 89746
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Torture is repulsive. Even on the scaffold or in front of a firing squad, a man can meet death with dignity. The torturer sets out to strip his victim of dignity, to break him, to violate not only his body but also his soul. In England, torture was outlawed in 1660, and for most of the past 350 years, that seemed to be a final verdict. Torture had been a barbarous relic of the dark ages. Anyone who suggested that it might still have a role would have been laughed to scorn; no doubt he would also have been in favor of burning witches.
If only it were still that simple. But the dark ages are not over. In the Middle East, there are fanatics who seem to despise death as much as they despise the West. Their challenge has to be confronted, and it would be fatuous to assume that this can be achieved within the constraints of the Geneva Convention.
That said, the question remains. Could torture ever be justified? There are many who blindly insist that the answer must be an emphatic "No": that if we were to use torture, we would destroy any claim the West might have to moral superiority.
Such arguments are an eloquent appeal to our better nature and would be irrefutable, if only the world were inhabited by angels, not by men. "Original sin" is still the best summary of the human condition. In this fallen world, we face a challenge from ruthless enemies whose malice knows no bounds. Alan Dershowitz, the American lawyer, has used the phrase "ticking bomb" to refer to a scenario which we all devoutly wish will never occur. A terrorist group is believed to be in possession of a nuclear device. Time is desperately short, but we have captured a member of the group. In such circumstances, torture would surely be justified.
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