Thursday, February 01, 2007

Situational Ethics and the Case for Torture

The essay that I have to analyze this week for my WR 122 class is actually a blog posting. Go figure. The piece in question is "Situational Ethics and the Case for Torture" by McQ over at the Q & O Blog. This posting is printed in my textbook along with a variety of others - Like John Ashcroft's testimony to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary extolling the virtues of the PATRIOT act and a piece on post 9/11 Racial Profiling.

My task for the class, as I've noted before, is NOT to argue the issues at hand, but rather to analyze how well the writers used evidence to make their points or to assess which specific rhetorical devices they use in effort to persuade.

It is an interesting exercise. It definitely helps stretch my capacity for critical thinking. Some weeks it goes smoother than others. This week I am in a "my dog ate my homework" frame of mind. But even when it gets tedious, I'm kinda diggin' the class. It exposes me to writing to think about that I probably would not have seen otherwise.

It terms of what McQ has to say....

Is there EVER a justification for torture? If you could save 5 or 20 or 300 lives by doing something abominable to one or two or three people identified as "terrorists" to elicit critical information, would that make it ok?

It seems to me the whole point of his posting is NOT about terrorism or torture at all. Rather, it is about principles. Do the ends justify the means? If you claim to believe in and support human rights can circumstances justify violating that principle?

The strength of McQÂ’s essay, IMHO, is his ability to clearly focus on issues rather than resorting to emotionally charged attacks, personal criticism or down right name calling which, sadly, seems to be so prevalent in the blogosphere. He shows a respectful engagement with others in dialogue, even when it is clear he disagrees with them.

I was exposed to this guy as a simple homework assignment. I can tell I will want to do more reading over in that direction as time goes by.

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