Torture, Like Rape, Is All About The Lack Of Consent

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Several conservative defenders of waterboarding have recently made the argument that waterboarding is not torture because we do it to Navy Seals as part of their training. Most recently, Liz Cheney used this argument on Morning Joe. They seem to ignore that we waterboard Navy Seals to teach them how to resist torture. The biggest problem with this line of argument is that it ignores the value of consent. Actions--even painful actions--that you consent to are not torture. Navy Seals are not forcibly waterboarded. They agreed to this treatment and know that the people doing it are not planning to kill them.

This argument in support of waterboarding is the same as an argument in support of rape. Just because some people voluntarily allow themselves to be sexually penetrated, does not mean you can legally sexually penetrate anyone you want against their will. Chemotherapy is another good example of the value of consent. Chemotherapy can be incredibly painful, but people consent to it as a way to treat cancer. For that reason it is not torture. If you tied someone down and injected them with these same drugs against their will, it would be torture.

There are plenty of activities that do inflict intense pain (bondage, pro-fighting, skin branding, medical treatments), but some people choose to take part in them. Just because someone, somewhere, previously consented to an action does not mean it is not torture.


Garik said...

great point. great blog. maybe you should move from blogger to something more user friendly. the userface is cumbersome. also when i subscribed to your feed on google read, the entire story does not show up. it annoying to have to click on the story to see it.

Anonymous said...

another well-thought and direct analysis.



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