Sunday, November 13, 2005

Laura Rozen on WSJ and torture

This is one I want to capture. She says it all.

WSJ editorial board comes out for torture. I wish I had 100 WSJ subscriptions to cancel. Appalling and history's scum. I will never post another WSJ story here. Ever. Even their website outreach guy sends me about 3 emails a day with their stories. Save it for the the pro-torture media. Can we get the WSJ advertisers to sign off on the next batch of Abu Ghraib photos to be released? Maybe there are particular techniques they'd like to weigh in on? Yes on humiliating and degrading, no on organ failure? Yes on child rape and using guard dogs on detainees, no on holding the chain of command responsible? Yes on gulags in Eastern Europe? I'd like to hear the advertisers weigh in on what they think seems reasonable and how they'd like to be associated with the forthcoming releases.

Update: Rereading this editorial, the content is so awful, but it's written in that
typical let's be reasonable, contrary to what you've been hearing and taught at church, the kind of torture we're doing is really the only way to win the war. Honestly, this one should be saved for the history books, like those photos of lynching, about a low point in American history. The WSJ editors should truly be ashamed of themselves. And I hope the advertisers are ashamed of their association with such views that do not befit a first world country, or a democracy.
Back in February I was afraid the torture discussion would be swept under the rug. Those of us of the lunatic fringe are forever being swept aside in the name of "common sense" or "utopian thinking" or "zealous over-reactions." We get used to it after a while. In my case, it is almost a way of life. I have had ideas and opinions dismissed so often that when I find someone in agreement with what I have said about a "controversial" subject I wonder I might have failed to make myself clear!

Sometimes, though, we hit pay dirt. Sometimes there is a soft spot in the armor and we are able to penetrate just a little. In the case of the torture question, that "just a little" comes in the form of a Senatorial initiative from none other than John McCain, inspired by the letter of Capt. Fishback, advancing the notion that the US should have a clear and unambiguous policy against the use of torture. Period.

One would think that such a proposal would be as routine as passing a pork-laden highway bill to be signed by the president without further ado. But there is a snag. Seems there are people in high places that don't want to go along with such a clear and all-encompassing official. They use words like "rarely used" and "in some cases" to leave space for those times that torture -- and that is exactly what we are talking about -- is to be officially used.

Enough of that. The public debate is up and running. Smarter people than I are carrying the torch now and I can direct my attention to another related point that has started to come clear in my mind just today. This post is not the place to elaborate on that point, but I feel vindicated that a serious debate is now under way about torture. Here's another reference.

There remains the matter of trading war images for pornography which is related to a lack of leadership in professional expectations. I have learned in life that the tail cannot wag the dog. The same leadership that finds a way to permit torture will consider trading war pictures for porn to be a trivial matter, not an indication that a moral compass needs replacement. These stories could not compete with two hurricanes. Let's hope the ticking Libby bomb will remain out of the spotlight long enough that a meaningful policy against torture can make its way through Congress. We can hope that a veto-proof majority will not be required, but who knows?


Deborah said...

I read the WSJ for many years. Cancelled my subscription about two years ago, and will never, ever again subscribe. (And I get discounted offers all the time from the WSJ.)

It constantly amazes me how a paper that once had credibility almost beyond all other papers can slide downhill so quickly in the quality and morality of its editorials and viewpoints.

Hoots said...

Deborah, there is more going on here than moral terpitude on the part of a single famous paper. As one of the ex officio voices of business and political leadership the Wall Street Journal is only doing the bidding of the marketplace. Successful media simply echo the sentiments of their subscribers. (Same for movies, music, books, etc.)

The famously "liberal" New York Times peddles their product to a more diverse constituency and so can get away with a more outspoken (read politically incorrect, not PC)viewpoint.

All this prating about what is or is not politically correct is nothing more than shadow boxing in the spin arena. The only "correctness" that matters is that of the party in power. Anything else is just smoke.