JONAH’S POINT I

Here’s a specific point of disagreement. Jonah writes:

One can make the argument that we should not torture mass murderers on moral or pragmatic grounds without elevating the moral status of mass murderers.

My argument would be that you cannot raise or lower the moral status of mass murderers with respect to torture. The only salient moral status with respect to torture is that the mass murderers are human beings. And what this hideous policy has necessarily done is to create a new class of prisoners that are regarded as sub-human, i.e., beneath the most basic of Geneva protections for even illegal combatants. My second argument would be that this is not about the moral status of terrorists or mass murderers. It’s about us, the moral status of the West, and places where as a civilization, we simply will not go as a matter of policy. I guess others will differ and I am glad at last that they are now prepared to say so. But for me, this is a clear line. And we cannot cross it, by enshrining the right to torture into law.

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