Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Should we prosecute Bush administration officials for torture?

Yesterday, I talked about when torture is or isn't morally acceptable. But what should we do about the torture that already happened in the previous administration?

I agree with the general thrust of this conversation between John McWhorter and Glenn Loury (though I abhor Loury's calculation of the value of American lives vs. other lives):

An apt McWhorterism: "an air of recreationality about it."

The discussion does become abstracted from the torture issue at the end, but I included that part because McWhorter makes a hugely consequential point about how we filter issues through personalities and scapegoats. People don't feel satisfied unless they can point to one person and say, "He/she is great," and point to someone else and say, "He/she is terrible." These evaluations are almost always intellectually dishonest, and they have a distorting effect on our views.