A Few Things Ill Considered

From DemocracyNow!, specifcally this story, we get the charmingly humble statement from Justice Antonin Scalia I used as this post’s title.

What is his view? Torture is not punishment so it is not actually prohibited by the US constitution‘s eigth ammendment, forbidding the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishment“.

It is fascinating and alarming to see the intellectual gymnastics amoral people go through to deny plain and simple reality. Watch the clip here (requires RealPlayer) or go to Democracy Now’s April 29th broadcast, around minute 12.

And by the way, the answer to his question “what is it punishment for?”, torture is punishment for not cooperating.

Duh.

[UPDATE]
Looking a bit at the context of the 8th Ammendment, namely it is all about due process and rights of the accused etc., it may be true that the ban on cruelty is only for those who have been given due process. Since the US is generally only torturing those it has also denied due process, Scalia can justify his position this way!

And of course the ultimate constitutional escape route is to simply define a “suspected terrorist” as not a person, then all those pesky laws go away at once.

Comments

  1. #1 Andrew
    April 30, 2008

    It is a time honoured way of dealing with problems – just redefine them so they’re not a problem!

    Crime of going up? Chane how you measure it so it goes down!

    Lots of poor people? Redefine the poverty line, eliminate poverty overnight!

  2. #2 Damon
    May 14, 2008

    Actually, he is right. That’s not to say that torture -should- be allowed, but his interpretation of the 8th amendment is constitutionally consistent.

    You can lambaste the man for his viewpoints, but his job is to make judgments on what the constitution actually says, and not to impose current standards on the existing law.

    The real people to blame are in congress. They could easily pass a prohibition against certain types of torture. Look there for your evil doers. Scalia, like him or not, is just doing his job, and he’s doing it the way it ought to be done.

  3. #3 coby
    May 15, 2008

    Yes, congress is to blame for not unequivocally banning torture and all its euphemistics name sakes from use in introgation, though the laws already on the books are pretty unambiguous.

    I do disagree though that it is right, much less clearly so, that Scalia is even technically correct. Torture is punishment for not cooperating. Torture is cruel and unusual. The 8th ammendment bans cruel and unusual punishment.

  4. #4 Tex
    May 18, 2008

    Yeah, you hit the nail on the head when you pointed out how anything seems to be capably of being justified if it is redefined. The efforts of much of mass media, along with the saturation coverage of these repeated distortions of truth seem to have their intended effect in massaging public opinion.

  5. #5 Scot
    June 5, 2008

    @coby – It is your opinion that torture is punishment for not cooperating. My opinion is that it is a method of interrogation when dealing with people who want to destroy your country.

  6. #6 coby
    June 5, 2008

    Hi Scot,

    I don’t see our opinions as in conflict in any way, do you? The only likely contentious question is do you care that torture is illegal or not? We can leave aside the question of whether or not there is room for the concept “innocent until proven guilty” anywhere in the defense of national security and start from the assumption that if you are accused you are innocent if you like.

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