Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Tortured State of Exception

In class, we discussed the issue of whether or not a state of exception of should be created for torture. While I presented an argument in class, I feel that it got a bit derailed and would like to clarify my position. The initial point that I wanted to make regarding the use of torture is that there is no fundamental difference between what we have already deemed an illegal human rights violation and be carrying out as a newly legalized human rights violation. While we do not hold the state and its agents to the same legal standards as non-state actors, we do not generally go so far as to say that a state may simply ignore human rights all together. As torture has already been identified as a human rights violation, I don't think it is right that attributing it to state actors is enough to justify its use. Furthermore, those cases in which we do make exceptions for things that we would normally consider illegal and immoral (whether for the state or non-stat actors) are highly qualified versions of the acts such that there is some significant difference in the conditions under which they would occur legally and illegally. For instance, we make a distinction between murder, killing in self-defense, and the death penalty; however, the already illegal form or torture as an interogation technique and the proposed legalized form do not appear to differ in any distinguishable way. Given these considerations, I see no reason to weaken our stance against governmental use of torture as an interogation technique.

1 comment:

  1. Now that you have laid out your argument, I think I understand your meaning. I agree that there is no distinction offered in this example between what we have deemed impermissible and what is being offered as a legal means of doing such. I think you are right to see this as a major violation and not a good argument. Either we are pro-torture or against it, you can't waver on the issue.


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