Debate:Define torture

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Torture needs defining because liberals have blurred the true meaning. Is torture to stand on one foot with a black hood over your head? Maybe it is when you cut a persons fingers off. Is torture a degrading naked pyramid of men? Or maybe it is hammering nails into someones skull. Is torture having a scary dog bark at your face? Maybe it is beating your face silly with brass knuckles. Is torture three square meals a day, tropical skies, a free Koran? Or maybe it is locked in a cold dungeon, no light, starving to death. Help, the issue is so distorted. Jpatt

Simply use the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Commence booing as was done at the SC Republican Debate 2012) Bazman 03:22, 22 March 2012 (CDT)

Torture is any cruel or unusual punishment, forbidden by the 8th Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the highest law of our Republic, assuming we still have a Republic. Teresita 03:22, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

So to call you a bad name, that is torture?--jp 03:34, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

Thee square meals a day, tropical skies and a free Koran? You make prison sound like club med. Answer honestly, who was treated worse: enemy combatants and terrorists held by US forces in Abu Graib, or innocent British sailors captured by the Iranians?

There is no real line where you can say 'interregation stops here, then torture begins.' Horrible things go on in American prisons, but no one raises holy hell. The fact of the matter is that the US is supposed to be a moral nation, based on individual rights and liberty. When the world hears we stick people in jail without trial and use techniques like water boarding...well, how are we any better than those we are trying to fight in their eyes? Czolgolz 08:53, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

I am not comparing prison to club med. I am comparing torture situations. Another America basher comments, way to Golz.--jp 10:14, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.[1]
Well its a start...
WhatIsG0ing0n 09:01, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

How do you suggest that we get information, Ask nicely?

That might not work ... on the other hand there are aparrently people trained in non-torturous interrogation who do know how to get information out of people. Their success rate is quite high and the information is usually of good quality. Under torture people are likely to admit to anything. One never knows if the information acquired is any good or not. Then again ... if you just like being cruel to people...
WhatIsG0ing0n 09:39, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
like what? truth serum?Jaques 09:45, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
Never mind. Just carry on recruiting terrorists.
WhatIsG0ing0n 09:47, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
Never mind, leave alone the terrorists so they can kill the innocent. Was there recruitment prior to 9/11?--jp 23:53, 15 May 2007 (EDT)

I think that only American citizens should be protected by the constitution (even the 8th amendment). We are better than the terrorists because they attacked us, and because we are the ones who will eventually win. I don't think that we should use anything that I personally would define as torture (sticking splinters up their fingernails, skining and salting them, etc.) but we could definitely be doing a lot better to persuade them to confess. I suggest that we:

  1. Regularly starve them for a week or so; nothing life-threatening but we don't want them to get comfortable.
  2. when we do feed them it should be nothing very good.
  3. Put them in solitary confinment; we might do this already but I wouldn't know.
  4. We can certainly pretend that we're going to do something cruel. I suggest we have somebody really good at special effects make a video to show them of some horrible torture method. --BenjaminS 09:25, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
I am all for that benjamin, but to the left, everything you mention is cruel and unusual punishment, a.k.a torture. --jp 10:46, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
  • my definition of torture: techniques that cause irreversible physical or psychological damage. Jaques 09:37, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
You know torure is not an effective means of getting accurate information, right? And you do know that the best way to get accurate information is, in fact, to be nice to them. It's like good cop bad cop, but they're already in prison so you don't even need a bad cop. Just the good cop.
And Benjamin, while your ethnocentrism is to be applauded on this site, our various governmental documents don't make any allowance for all men to be created equal and certain unalienable rights... except then not so much for people that are different. And you say that "we are better than the terrorists because they attacked us." Well... how exactly do you know that the man you have in custody is a terrorist or was responsible for attacking us? So you're going to detain a man, deprive him of food on suspicion of being a terrorist? Well guess what: you can never let this man out because when you do, he's going to be a terrorist. And regardless of whether you let him out, his friends and brothers will be terrorists. And "they will be better than us because they wrongfully imprisoned my brother."

I thought we were discussing the ones that we know are terrorists. We obviously don't want to deprive them of food for information that they don't have or we will get a pack of lies. --BenjaminS 10:56, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

Maybe we should abide by the laws we write and the treaties we sign, hm? Myk 09:56, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

I didn't know that we signed any treaties with radical Islam. --BenjaminS 11:00, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

that'll probably require one-on-one therapy session with a psychologist over a 2 year treatment, ha ha ha. Jaques 10:06, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
maybe the terrorists will abide by international law, hmmm--jp 10:14, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

Torture is also defined in the Geneva Convention. The fuzzy area is who the Convention covers, that's the real line that's been blurred. And to Jpatt's original comment, the liberals didn't blur the line of what's torture, that's totally up to interpretation. Same as hazing laws in the US, they're vaguely worded to allow the legal system greater leeway in prosecuting and protecting rights. Jrssr5 10:35, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

When liberals accuse the USA of torture, it is defintely been blurred because a slow painful death to me is torture, not inprisonment by America.--jp 10:50, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

If countries like the UK and US practise torture, then haven't we given up a bit of what makes us better than terrorists? JPatt's comment is a perfect example of the childish view of international affairs that has caused this problem - 'cause they're breaking international law, we can too! Cheney, get me those thumbscrews now!' You can't fight fire with fire. Torture just recruits terrorists - as was shown when Aussaresses justified torture in Algeria. Wikinterpreter
To fight fire with fire or torture with torture, is just fubar. My point which is too complicated for Wiki, I was not asking for vague law interpretation, which one side doesn't adhere to and the other side blames it's leaders for breaking. It is a matter of treatment, suffering, unspeakable human behavior. Defining torture to seperate what is and what is not political fodder to accuse and point fingers. Calling you the name FAT, if overweight is cruel. Does it fit as torture? Black hooded standing on one foot, does it fit as torture? If you hate America, yes it does mean torture. I say hell no as I outlined what torture really is above.--jp 15:05, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
One other point I forgot to respond to. Torture recruits terrorists? Who was the US torturing when the WTC was attacked? I guess they were recruited before 9/11, when we were so comfy safe at home. It's the same method of operation liberals use to discredit why we are in Iraq, just recruits terrorists. Except, they were attacking us well before we occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe they were attacking us because no response after the USS Cole was bombed embolden them to do more harm. 2000 plus days after taking the fight to them, the homeland hasn't suffered.--jp 15:24, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome? Jaques 13:05, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
Wuh? Wikinterpreter Jaques 13:12, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
'Wow! Because we're us, anything we do must be right!' Sorry, doesn't cut it. Wikinterpreter Jaques 13:22, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
'They're worse than us; they've got to be, because they're not us!' Kerching, next. We should really get closer to the topic, though this is fun. :) Wikinterpreter
'They are not us, so they have no moral' Sorry, doesn't cut it. Jaques 17:41, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

My litmus test: if The Enemy did the given disputed action to an American, would we call it torture? If yes, then it's torture, if no, not.--WJThomas 14:28, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

1a. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion. b. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain. 2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense. 3. Something causing severe pain or anguish.American Heritage
1 a : anguish of body or mind : AGONY b : something that causes agony or pain
2 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
3 : distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument : STRAININGMerriam-Webster
I'm waiting with considerable interest to see just what language Bush and Blair come up with to describe the treatment of the captured British sailors by the Iranians. I nominate "torture lite" as the ugliest phrase to emerge in the last ten years. Dpbsmith 15:39, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
If you include "anguish of body or mind" in your definition of torture, then every criminal locked in jail in America is being tortured.Jaques 17:45, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
My definition of torture? No, please, the dictionary's definition of torture. Dpbsmith 18:58, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
doesn't matter, do you support freeing all criminals in jail? Jaques 15:45, 7 April 2007 (EDT)
Do you support distortion of overrefinement of a meaning or an argument? Dpbsmith 19:46, 7 April 2007 (EDT)
Even if I don't, lawyers will.Jaques 20:48, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

"We are better than the terrorists because they attacked us, and because we are the ones who will eventually win." Benjamin, did you not criticize another user in the discussion on morality for allegedly saying that might makes right?--Άθεος 20:23, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

Okay, now that we've settled that, how about Debate:Define terrorism? --Ed Poor 20:43, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

I thought we were discussing the ones that we know are terrorists. We obviously don't want to deprive them of food for information that they don't have or we will get a pack of lies. --BenjaminS 10:56, 6 April 2007 (EDT) Ah, "Innocent 'til Proven Guilty" is for wusses, eh? You _are_ aware that some of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have had to be released after several years of imprisonment, right? [2] Since the US Government generally (I hope) isn't in the habit of locking people up just for the fun of it, I think it's safe to assume that someone THOUGHT they 'knew' these guys were Terrorists, and turned out to be wrong. It's hilarious to see members of the Small Government Party arguing for the infallibility and unwavering righteousness of a bunch of bureaucrats. Bureaucrats with GUNS, but bureaucrats nonetheless. --BDobbs 21:26, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

And for the 'definition of torture', why not break out the ol' Ouija board and ask some of the Suspected Terrorists who died under the tender care of Lynndie England, She-Wolf of the US? I suspect they'd have a few choice words on the subject. --BDobbs 21:34, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

Lynndie England wasn't so bad, she just mocked some guy's genital.Jaques 22:27, 11 April 2007 (EDT)
I guess that one guy whose corpse she was photographed grinning over just died of embarrassment? --BDobbs 22:44, 11 April 2007 (EDT)
Like you've never grinned during a funneral.Jaques 00:41, 12 April 2007 (EDT)
I can say without hesitation that I've never stood over the coffin at a funeral, grinned at the camera, and given a thumbs up. And I can say with even more certainty that I've never stood over the dead body of murder victim and done it. --PF Fox 11:55, 12 April 2007 (EDT)
I don't believe any US Soldier has been convicted of murder of an inmate at Abu Griab. There has been an instance in Afganistan. No such thing as torture in Abu Griab, unless you are an American hater and site the black hood, naked pyramid and barkin dog as torture. What they did was wrong and hurt the credibility of our troops.--jp 21:46, 28 April 2007 (EDT)

"If The Enemy did the given disputed action to an American, would we call it torture? If yes, then it's torture, if no, not." Wise words WJThomas, wise words.

Middle Man

Multiple definitions:

  • Torture is painful or humiliating treatment used to punish or coerce.
  • Torture (as defined in law or treaty): such treatment which the government agrees to refrain from doing

Shining bright lights in a suspect's eyes to make him talk can be considered "torture", but most people have in mind things like cutting a man's ears or nuts off. --Ed Poor 11:42, 19 April 2007 (EDT)

As a family member of a survivor of torture at the hands of the government of Argentina, I am saddened that Americans would even suggest some of the things you have been speaking of. Until you have looked first-hand at the results of prolonged torture sessions, do not be so hasty to condem another human being to it.

What's sad is that at one time, "most people" understood that torture involves far more sophisticated methods than simply maiming someone. Bright lights, sleep deprivation, stress positions, sexual humiliation, all were methods of torture widely understood to be torture back in the 60s and 70s, when both living memories of the Second World War and the publication of THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO were there to remind us. Ever read Solzhenitsyn's chapter on torture?
Today there seems to be a concerted movement online to redefine the word "torture" to the point where it's meaningless. Apparently, if you want to countenance torture, but just can't get around that visceral reaction most decent people have to the word "torture," the next step is to just change common usage of the word -- right Ed? --PF Fox 13:15, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

What is Torture

I think when considering this discussion, one should accept that there are different thresholds, and different responses to pain.If any of you take the time to look at the Al Qaeda handbook, part of the evidence used in a trial in NY in 2003, I believe, you'll see they train their people to spill the beans at the first threat of physical abuse. The first fingernail you pull out, they are expected to scream bloody murder. In this way, we are led to believe we are getting true information. Sadly, this will almost always not be the case.

Further, remember that when you condemn these people to be tortured, you also condemn our soldiers to be tortured by them. So, at the risk of sounding like Bill O'Reilly, why do you hate the troops? Flippin 21:41, 20 April 2007 (EDT)

most information from confession can be verified for authenticity, and Al Qaeda usually just cut off soldiers' head without bothring to torture them.Jaques 03:43, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

Not resorting to torture is one of the things that separate free countries from dictatorships. Torture is also very inefficient: untrained prisoners will confess to anything to make the pain go away while trained prisoners will simply lie, or not talk at all.

Also consider what this was originally about: a war on terror. If one side wants to claim moral superiority it has to stick with the Geneva conventions, no matter how cruel their enemies are. If both sides practice the same ethics, neither side can claim to be morally superior: the war would be nothing more than a struggle for territory and resources.

If the United States were one of these two sides, its government would have a hard time explaining why the war is necessary and why it's not imperialism, to its own citizens as well as potential allies.

Middle Man

Depends on your definition of torture. All free countries put some people in jail, which some people would consider torture.Jaques 16:27, 17 May 2007 (EDT)

putting underwear on someones head is not torture. cutting someones head off w/ a dull, rusty blade is torture. So is slapping them with a wet codfish. or a wet cod PIECE. now THAT is torture. duh. --The vigilante 14:33, 23 April 2007 (EDT)

Putting underwear on someone's head while making them stand nude, taking their picture, and/or putting them in a stress position for several hours and not allowing to sleep for long periods of time can definitely be a part of torture. People who trivialize what happened at Abu Ghraib by concentrating on the "underwear on the head" thing as if that were all that happened keep leaving out those bits. --PF Fox 15:04, 23 April 2007 (EDT)
It cannot be definetly defined as torture. Could be described as a means of gathering intelligence.--jp 21:52, 28 April 2007 (EDT)
In college, I knew some people who wear underwear on their head on purpose.Jaques 16:24, 17 May 2007 (EDT)

So if captured US soldiers were piled up naked you'd say their treatment would be acceptable?

Middle Man

Sounds like a frat party.Jaques 16:24, 17 May 2007 (EDT)

I am not excusing their actions MadMiddleMan. I am also not claiming it was torture.--jp 23:55, 15 May 2007 (EDT)

Tell me, jpatt -- was sticking underwear on someone's head all that happened at Abu Ghraib? --PF Fox 14:36, 29 April 2007 (EDT)

This just hit the wires, torture now described as unscented soap, under inflated soccer balls and a noisy fan.--jp 23:48, 15 May 2007 (EDT)

Cite please, Jpatt. --PF Fox 14:26, 17 May 2007 (EDT)
Note, folks, that Jpatt hasn't answered my question about whether or not sticking underwear on someone's head is all that happened at Abu Ghraib. JPatt doesn't answer because Jpatt knows that going into detail about what actually happened there reveals the moral bankruptcy behind Jpatt's attempts to trivialize torture. --PF Fox 14:29, 17 May 2007 (EDT)
He's just being a moral relativist. Jaques 16:25, 17 May 2007 (EDT)
I suggest everyone actually research's everything that occured there before typing. I think we should simply let those who have experienced torture establish the rules on torture, John McCain for example. ITfreq51 19 April 2008


I am for the following:


sleep deprevation

light or darkness deprevation

reduction in food and water

solitary confinement no visitors

hot and cold environments

deception(making them believe something is happening when its REALLY not)

deprive them of clothes

make them sleep on a cement floor

hoods and handcuffs are good

no reading material of any kind

UNTIL the first nuke/bio weapon goes off on American soil...then the gloves come off... </pre>

--Wally 12:56, 26 June 2007 (EDT)

So you're claiming that if enemy combatants stripped American soldiers naked, starved them and waterboarded them, you wouldn't consider that torture?

So you're an admirer of the manner in which the inmates of Soviet gulags were treated. Interesting. --PF Fox 09:24, 28 June 2007 (EDT)

yeah right...i noticed you forgot to mention that in the gulags they were beaten, raped, killed given electric shock and had body parts cutoff, burned, medically experimented on and were forced to do hard labor. one might note 50 million died in gulags VS what 2-3 in US custody? nothing like i described aboved. typical liberal response of more fantasy than fact. --Wally 13:11, 28 June 2007 (EDT)

Actually, Wally, Solzhenitsyn's famous chapter on torture in the gulags doesn't really describe much maiming, burning, medical experiements, etc. What he describes are all those things you think WE should be doing. --PF Fox 16:02, 28 June 2007 (EDT)

I believe this debate to be inflated far beyond the proportions it should be. The Amendment pertaining to cruel and unusual punishment was not protecting against bad food and sleep depravation. If it was, college would be unconstitutional. The laws were passed to protect United States citizens from being maimed and mutilated in ways reminisce of the medieval inquisitions. In England in colonial times you could be inprisoned for multiple years with horrible conditions on a cold stone floor with no medical treatment and minimal food for not paying taxes. Tortures such as ripping out teeth / nails, beating, blinding, boiling, bone breaking, branding and burning, castration, choking, cutting, disfigurement, dislocation, drowning, flagellation, whipping and beating, flaying, roasting, genital mutilation, limb/finger removal, starvation, and tongue removal, and quartering were used. Horrible devices like the catherine wheel, the rack, the iron maiden, thumbscrews, the heretic's fork, and many, many more were used to implement terror among political prisoners, heretics, and anyone who so much as stepped out of line. Christ himself was nailed to a tree and left to die because he spoke out against Rome. We are not treating the terrorists as enemy combatants, we are treating them to a resort hotel. I respect human life and dignity, but obviously anyone who would blow themselves up to kill as many "infidels" as possible doesn't. previous unsigned comment added by User:CRD 10:39, 3 July 2007 (EDT)

So you figure soviet dissident Solzhenitysn was just a big ol' crybaby? And nobody who "respects human life and dignity" would mistake places like Abu Ghraib or Gitmo for a "resort hotel." --PF Fox 01:10, 4 July 2007 (EDT)

People! Ann Coulter has already given us guidelines. It's not torture if:

  • The same acts performed on a live stage have been favorably reviewed by Frank Rich of The New York Times;
  • Andrew Sullivan has ever solicited it from total strangers on the Internet;
  • You can pay someone in New York to do it to you;
  • Karen Finley ever got a federal grant to do it;
  • It's comparable to the treatment U.S. troops received in basic training;
  • It's no worse than the way airlines treat little girls in pigtails flying to see Grandma.


A More Specific Definition

I propose that the reasonable definition of torture be "any situation in which a prisoner or captive has reason to fear for their life." Discuss. Underscoreb 22:30, 11 November 2007 (EST)

How about "any imposition of physical or psychological pain that would cause a reasonable person to falsely admit to crimes, just so they can make it stop".... for anyone who says sleep deprivation, starvation, and waterboarding are not torture, here's a test--let me try them on you for a few days, and see if I can't get you to "admit" to a crime.... Pandeism 12:44, 12 November 2007 (EST)
Hmm, good point Pandeism. Although I would suggest that sleep deprivation does not qualify as torture unless there is reason to believe the prisoner's life is in danger, e.g. heart palpitations or seizures. While I could easily be described as a filthy commie liberal, I'm aware that detainment centres are not supposed to be a particularly pleasant experience. Of course, an equally important issue is the need to improve implementation of habeas corpus and provide clear grounds for detainment in the first place. Underscoreb 17:06, 12 November 2007 (EST)
What people are overlooking though is that it is the combination of techniques.... let me put it this way, the prisoners who are being waterboarded are not getting eight hours of sleep on a downy mattress, they are also being deprived of sleep and nutrition, and it is the combination of activities that has the cumulative effect of being torture.... Pandeism 23:58, 12 November 2007 (EST)
I hadn't thought of that, but I see what you mean. Perhaps - and this is a wild suggestion - we could keep prisoners in a safe, hygienic environment and accord them some measure of dignity; even supplying religious texts on request. Perhaps real terrorists might reconsider their extremism when they encounter the Great Satan firsthand. Underscoreb 00:21, 13 November 2007 (EST)
I have to say I agree, though for different reasons. I seriously doubt that they would give up their Jihad, they're fundamentalists, they've substituted their beliefs for reality. The reason torture cannot be condoned is that to be the good guys, you have to be the good guys. You can't destroy a monster by becoming one, because then all that's left is another monster. People seem to think that torture has to leave physical scars or it isn't torture, when the truth is that you can cause monstrous amounts of pain without leaving a single mark.

Or you can cause no pain at all, extended bouts of complete sensory deprivation can lead to extreme anxiety and hallucinations, keep a person in long enough and their sense of self breaks down. But the question is what do all these things have in common? It isn't physical damage, it's the mental damage. A person who is raped can often heal the physical wounds in days, yet the mental damage can last a lifetime. Torture is an act that strips a human being of their status as a human being, and doing that lessens us. What is it to be safe if that safety means we must be monsters to attain it?

In the end, it's not about being safe. When I speak to my grandchildren, I don't want to tell them I bought my safety with the pain of others. I want to be able to tell them that I accepted greater danger because it meant doing the right thing.

The deliberate infliction of severe physical pain on a sentient being for a prolonged amount of time--TedM 23:21, 9 March 2009 (EDT)