June 19, 2009

Mind Over Matter

I'm simply gonna post this video, and tell me what you think the future might look like in just 5 years:

(original source)

June 15, 2009

Torture - is it Moral?

John Adams, one of the US founding fathers, said: Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Last week, I talked about a religious majority approving torture in certain cases, according to a survey. I believe that religion and morality are closely related, and I think the topic of morality with respect to torture --especially human torture-- is a very important discussion for our nation.

But first, we briefly need to define what torture is/isn't. Personally, I'm not talking about mere "discomfort". Some definitions include:
  • anguish: extreme mental distress
  • unbearable physical pain
  • agony: intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain
  • torment: torment emotionally or mentally (source)
Even just those words make me start to feel queasy inside. But I also know that a picture can speak a thousands words. So in case of any doubt, I have linked to a web page that shows several photos of torture victims in a US detention facility in Baghdad, Iraq. (WARNING: very graphic photographs) [Leaked Abu Ghraib Abuse Photos here] ** Of course, their mental scars are not so easily photographed.

There are hundreds of detainees being held in places around the world: Guantanamo Bay (aka "Gitmo"), Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and others. The vast majority of them (95% maybe?) have never been charged for anything, let alone being tried in a court of law or found guilty. (This fact quickly blurs into the topic of the legality of torture, which I'll blog about later.) But rest assured that many, many innocent --"until proven guilty", right?-- people were tortured by US policies and employees. See the latest story: Rather interviews Boumediene. Here's another sourced article. And this torture scene hasn't stopped yet.

Not quite "moral" conduct, wouldn't you agree?

And what about the guilty ones? Does there still exist a moral argument that could justify the guilty to be inflicted with more than a punitive ruling of repayment, incarceration, detention, rehabilitation, or even death? In fact, the death sentence seems to be the most extreme punishment by our US federal and military justice system -- both past and present, terrorist or otherwise.

But isn't torture even worse than death?

I wonder if anyone sees an argument left to defend the idea that torturing anyone --innocent or guilty-- is remotely ethical or moral?

** Note also the big controversy about Obama rescinding his promise to release more photographs of alleged torturing by US authorities.

June 11, 2009

9/11 Monthly Update - June

Recently, the PBS station "KDBI-Channel 12" premiered the movie called 9/11 Press For Truth earlier this month. I've blogged a little about this movie before, which is an independent documentary that claims a 9/11 cover-up. It has been shown in theaters and broadcast overseas, but it hasn't been aired on any U.S. broadcast station until now.

This broadcast is really brave and admirable of this station, I think, and the overwhelming positive public reception buoys my heart. I love this movie because it exposes the long and troubling ordeal of our government establishing a 9/11 investigation commission, as well as the mire of questions left eerily unanswered by its official 9/11 report.

But here's the great news -- If you missed watching this broadcast (and I'm pretty sure we all did), you can still watch it online right here (87 min). I hope you learn as much as I did from watching it!

9/11 Press For Truth

"75% of our questions were not answered [by the Commission report]."
~ Mindy Kleinberg (one of the Jersey Girls)

Please leave your comments and impressions below.

June 10, 2009

Is There Justification for Torture?

More and more news of the US torturing (or "enhanced interrogations") programs are reaching headlines. The debate is fierce, as political opponents pick their sides and dig in their heels.

But I personally don't see this as a partisan issue at all. I see it as an issue of basic human rights, mixed with notions of "security," "justice," "punishment," and perhaps "war".

I'd like to begin by discussing an article from CNN called Torture prompts soul-searching among some Christians. The article states:
A survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that white evangelical Christians are more likely to support torture than people who rarely or never attend religious services. The survey said that 62 percent of white evangelical Protestants say that the use of torture against suspected terrorists can be often or sometimes justified in order to gain important information. . . .
How can a Christian support torture? They can't -- except in extreme circumstances, some evangelicals say.
I encourage you to read the article. This survey's results totally baffled me as I wondered how any "good Christian" could justify the use of torture against anyone - suspected terrorist or otherwise - for any possible or even hypothetical reason? I must be missing something here because, apparently, I'm in the minority.

I have my own ideas and opinions as to why these views exist, and I'll be following up in the next days and weeks. But first I'd rather hear from you.

Do you believe there is justification for torture? Why/why not?