Friday, June 11

How many points are you worth?

It seems that I've become a pretty strong supporter of America and its policies in recent years. Its always seemed to me that the recent wave of anti-Americanism has been pretty childish and overblown.

But boy, some Americans don't make it easy let me tell you. Catch a load of this. Steve Sturm has some insightful comments on when is it ok to torture. To back up his arguments good'ol Steve assigns point values to human lives.

-US citizen: 50 points
-US military: 47.5 points
-Citizen of a 'Friend of the US' country (England, Spain, Israel, for example): 25 points
-Citizen of a 'Not acting like a friend, yet not totally hostile' country : (Germany and France, for example, and for the time being): 20 points
-Citizen of a country that we just don't have a lot of experience with: 8 points
-US Human shields: 5 points
-Non US citizen human shield: 0 points (sorry, I just don't care)
-Innocent (non-arms bearing) citizen of a hostile country: 4 points
-Those wishing for the US to 'get its butt kicked' (Tom Robbins, Chrissie Hynde): 1/2 point each

As amazing as that is, it gets better. Good'ol Steve thought some more about this.

(UPDATE II) After writing this, it occurred to me that many people in this country would put a much lower value on the lives of Americans, whether military or not, and a much higher value on the lives of people elsewhere in the world, perhaps even to the point at which an Iraqi life was valued higher than that of an American, either civilian or soldier. Is this the point at which charges of anti-Americanism are justified?

Gee, anyone that thinks my life might have the same value as an Americans is anti-American. Doesn't that just give you a warm glow all over? No wonder when I start a defense of American policy with "I know they are arrogant pricks, but ..." it tends to go much better.

Sadly, the boys at Oxblog dont even blink at this argument.

However, our own Murray at Southern Cross has the time to take on the American uber-humans. Murray thinks he rates at least a 15 on the scale. I wouldn't push my luck if I were him though. He might get moved over to the 'Anti-American' side.

On the topic of torture? Yes, I believe that theoretically there can be times when torture could be the only option.


It should however be a case of dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. It is and should be the most horrendous of crimes and should be punished accordingly. If there is a bomb about to go of and a terrorist must be tortured to stop it, the people responsible must still bear personal responsibility for their actions.

If it saves a 1000 lives, then that would not negate the fact that they did torture. They should still be punished for their actions.
Sadly there is no limit to torture as a method. You either use torture or you don't. There is no such thing as "We'll only torture him if ..." or "We'll only torture him a little".

To take a much overused example, Abu Graib was a crime. It should be treated as such no matter the end result. Even if the warders at the prison uncovered the next 9/11 plot, justice should still demand that they answer for their crimes.

When would torture be justified (if not acceptable)? If the warders at Abu Graib felt that the punishment they would received for their crimes was less important than the lives they could save by committing them. Sadly on Mr Sturms scale they would probably only have to stand in the corner for almost the whole afternoon.


Blogger steve said...

Well, duh! If one definition of anti-Americanism is taking positions that run counter to the interests of America(ns), then yes, putting a higher value on an Iraqi citizen than on an American is just that.

What I find amazing is that anyone would find this odd. Paraphrasing what I said in a full response on my site, how high do you value the lives of your countrymen?

What is odd is that I'm blasted for acknowledging that we do what everybody else in the world does as well - smug South Africans included.

11 June 2004 at 21:50  

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