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Thread: Sirhan Bishara Sirhan

  1. #1 Sirhan Bishara Sirhan 
    Forum Ph.D. Dave Wilson's Avatar
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    Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant to the USA, shot dead Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968. Sirhan is now 66 years old, and has just recently failed in another attempt for parole. Should he ever be given parole ?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...=feeds-newsxml


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    Lynx_Fox, thank you for your very measured response.
    I did think that perhaps, this post would cause endless debate on the merits of Human Rights, and that it would involve many of the forum Liberals. It has not and I do wonder why.
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    Maybe because you have in your mind a mere caricature of what most quote unquote liberals think?
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    The only complaint I have is with some rather shoddy writing by the Daily Mail. Saying he is "now a practicing Christian" implies he wasn't beforehand, yet a quick look at Sirhan's biography will tell you he was born into and raised in a Christian household. He was never not a Christian as far as I'm aware.
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    and you kissed me
    shy as though I'd
    never been your lover "
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Maybe because you have in your mind a mere caricature of what most quote unquote liberals think?
    You got me there inow.
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    The only complaint I have is with some rather shoddy writing by the Daily Mail. Saying he is "now a practicing Christian" implies he wasn't beforehand, yet a quick look at Sirhan's biography will tell you he was born into and raised in a Christian household. He was never not a Christian as far as I'm aware.
    The report in the Daily Mail could have meant that Sirhan had strayed from his Christian roots and into the occult as quoted in Wiki. It seems however that at the end of the day, he still considered himself an Arab even though he was an American citizen. His hatred for Israel and Zionism seemed to be the driving force behind his actions, and was indeed supported by fellow Arabs who were supposed to be American citizens. 1968 was a long time ago but, Sirhan deserves to be locked up until the day he dies.
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    Yeah. I think it's pretty clear that letting him go would set a very bad precedent.

    The problem some people might have is their own misconception that prisons exist solely to reform criminals rather than to punish them. Sirhan Bishara Sirhan is making the case that he has reformed and no longer poses any meaningful threat to society, and he's making the argument very well. He probably is reformed in the sense that would affect his projected future behavior.

    Some people object to revenge. Of course, I don't. I think revenge serves a very useful societal purpose. Clearly our only motivation for keeping Sirhan locked up is revenge, pure and simple, but it's a good motivation.
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    Interestingly, studies repeatedly show that punishment is not a very good way to change/improve behavior. It generally teaches people how to get away with something, or how not to get caught. It really doesn't prevent them from engaging in the deed in the first place. Better for that is positive and negative reinforcement.

    Just food for thought. (also, for those who are unsure, negative reinforcement punishment)
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    You're probably right about the rest, but I highly doubt this last part.

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    It really doesn't prevent them from engaging in the deed in the first place. Better for that is positive and negative reinforcement.
    No criminal anywhere attempts to rob a bank if they can reassure themselves of the likelihood of not getting caught.

    What would be accurate to say is that, often increasing the severity of the penalty beyond a certain point will do nothing to further deter a criminal beyond the level of deterrence that was present with a lesser penalty. The decision is made like a bet, and a lot of people don't mind going "all in" if they think they have a sure thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Interestingly, studies repeatedly show that punishment is not a very good way to change/improve behavior. It generally teaches people how to get away with something, or how not to get caught. It really doesn't prevent them from engaging in the deed in the first place. Better for that is positive and negative reinforcement.

    Just food for thought. (also, for those who are unsure, negative reinforcement punishment)
    To the best of my knowledge, punishment is the basis for every legal system devised by man. If you are aware of any system where laws are enforced without punishment, I would be quite interested to hear about it.
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    I would be interested also to hear about it, Harold. I've linked below a study showing education to be more effective than punishment. I am simply pointing out that punishment is less effective since it generally treats symptoms instead of causes... It generally teaches people to think about avoiding capture instead of avoiding the activity itself, and that it leads to much higher recidivism than does other forms of behavior modification.

    I could have been more cautious in my wording above (in response to Kojax). It has SOME effect, but is limited. Tell me... If you think about stealing something, and you realize getting caught will be bad... Do you really think "I just no longer want to steal this thing," or do you think, "How can I do this without getting caught?" That's the problem with a punishment model. Further, the farther away from the act the punishment occurs, the weaker the association in the brain. On top of that, it assumes the criminal cares about the social consequences of punishment... There are a number of reasons it is less than ideal.

    I guess I thought this was obvious, but I clearly studied different things than you guys while in university. This has been largely known since the '60s. I guess I'm also ultimately agreeing largely with Kojax' point... We put people in prison for purpose of retribution and revenge, not for reform or correction.




    http://www.is.wayne.edu/stuarthenry/...Punishment.htm

    There is no question that prison is seen as a severe punishment for most people. The critical question is whether it is an effective punishment for potential offenders. This depends on what motivates potential offenders. The deterrence argument is based on the arguments of economic rational choice theory and the classical assumption that offenders are self-interested, reasoning, rational cost-benefit calculators. However, much of the criminological literature has demonstrated that there are a variety of motivations that shape criminal activity ranging from biological predispositions, psychological personality traits, social learning, cognitive thinking, geographical location and the ecology of place, relative deprivation and the strain of capitalist society, political conflict and social and sub-cultural meaning. The result is that most criminologists reject the arguments of pure rationality contained in Ehrlich and Becker’s utility and wealth maximization theories. Even those like Clarke and Cornish, who favor the rational choice argument, advocate the idea of “limited rationality.” Indeed, as supporters of Murray’s argument are forced to concede: “The economic theory of crime that has developed out of Becker. . .recognizes that different individuals break the law for different reasons, that not all law breakers are rational utility maximizers, and that different offenders will weight the risks of benefits in different ways.” (Saunders and Billante, 2003: 4). So, who are the offenders who are supposedly influenced to reduce their commission of crime by deterrence through the severity of prison as a punishment? To answer this question we need to examine who are prisoners, and what are their crimes.

    <...>

    Research over the past 10 years has consistently demonstrated that the most effective way to reduce offending, and particularly reoffending is through education, particularly literacy training and GED (Steurer, Smith, and Tracy, 2001). An Arizona Department of Adult Probation Study showed that probationers who received literacy training had 35% rearrest rate compared with a control group that had 46% rearrest, and those who received a GED had a rearrest rate of 24% (Siegal, 1997). Less dramatic but equally encouraging results were received from a Florida study of 18,414 inmates released from prison in FY1996-97 followed up after 2 years, which found that “inmates who earn a GED are 8.7% less likely to recidivate than those who do not complete a program. . . Inmates who receive a GED and improve their TABE score to 9th grade level or higher are 25.0% less likely to recidivate than those who receive a GED and have a TABE level of 8th grade or less.” (Florida Department of Corrections, 2003). The Florida study also found that “Academic program impacts are found even among offender groups that normally have higher recidivism, for example, males, younger males, black offenders and prior recidivists.” Importantly, a New York State study found that “young inmates who earned a GED while incarcerated returned to custody at a rate of 40% compared with 54% of inmates under 21 released with no degree” (Staley, 2001). Most dramatic, however, is the data on those in prison: Inmates with at least two years college education have a 10% re-arrest rate, compared to the national rearrest rate of 62%. A Texas study is most revealing showing that the overall recidivism rate for degree holders in the Texas Department of Corrections between 1990-1991 was 15% compared to 60% for the national rate and a two year follow-up study showed that those with associates degrees had a recidivism rate of 13.7%, those with bachelor’s degrees, 5.6%, and those with master’s degrees zero (Tracy and Johnson, 1994):

    So, if the evidence is clear that prison as punishment is ineffective in deterring offenders, but education makes a substantial difference to recidivism, why do we continue to use prison as punishment? Moreover, why did we stop using education, particularly college-level education, for prisoners? The analogy of criminal justice and social policy as a “toolbox” comes to mind (Einstadter and Henry, 1995). We have many “tools” each refined for serving different functions. Just as a screwdriver, hammer, saw, wrench serves different functions to solve technical problems, so various policy options are available to deal with crime problems, whether this is biologically based treatment, psychologically based therapy, sociologically based education and training, and economically based punishment. However, it seems that policy makers peering into the justice toolbox only see one tool, the hammer of punishment, and they try to use it to fix everything. Imagine what would happen if your plumber showed up to fix a leak and all he had was a hammer. Imagine if you took your car to be serviced and all they had was a hammer! Why, given the bio-social, psycho-political complexity of human beings do we restrict our policy to this one-dimensional approach. It makes no sense.

    <...>

    So what are the policy implications of the prison-as-punishment does not deter crime conclusion? First, we need to consider ceasing to use prison as punishment. Incapacitating the most seriously harmful offenders is a different argument. Second, we should draw on the research of what we know works to prevent recidivism, especially literacy programs, skills training and GED, as well as educating prisoners to associate’s degree level in higher education and restore financial support for these successful practices. Third, we should train corrections officers to be corrections officers rather than guards, and if that means training them to be effective and qualified teachers, then this will be money well spent. Fourth, we should invest the money spent on incarceration on ensuring that the illiteracy rate among the nation’s population is reduced dramatically. Doing so will ensure that our general population is equipped to make the very kind of rational choice decisions that will enable them to make better choices in the first place. Finally, we should abandon the discourse of punishment as our response to unwanted behavior. It doesn’t work for parrots and it doesn’t work for people.

    I've taken us somewhat away from the OP now, though, so my apologies. In response to the OP, I really couldn't care less one way or the other. I have no strong feelings either way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    The report in the Daily Mail could have meant that Sirhan had strayed from his Christian roots and into the occult as quoted in Wiki. It seems however that at the end of the day, he still considered himself an Arab even though he was an American citizen. His hatred for Israel and Zionism seemed to be the driving force behind his actions, and was indeed supported by fellow Arabs who were supposed to be American citizens. 1968 was a long time ago but, Sirhan deserves to be locked up until the day he dies.
    Many Arabs are Americans. Many Arabs are Christian. Many Muslims are American. I've met all these kinds of people. In the 1960's there were Arab-Nationalist, those that believed that Arab blood should be united under one flag and had some kind of inherent superiority; one example of this type of group is the Baath party, who weren't bases on religious lines (the funder was Christian) though would evoke Islamic imagery and biases when it was convenient. There were some Americans who believed in Arab Nationalism more than the US Constitutional system. Perhaps that's what you meant?


    I guess I didn't like the loose categorization.
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  15. #14  
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    Didnt the autopsy of Robert K indicate he was shot from behind?
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow

    I could have been more cautious in my wording above (in response to Kojax). It has SOME effect, but is limited. Tell me... If you think about stealing something, and you realize getting caught will be bad... Do you really think "I just no longer want to steal this thing," or do you think, "How can I do this without getting caught?" That's the problem with a punishment model. Further, the farther away from the act the punishment occurs, the weaker the association in the brain. On top of that, it assumes the criminal cares about the social consequences of punishment... There are a number of reasons it is less than ideal.
    You're definitely right that they're still thinking "how can I do this without getting caught?" And it is less than ideal, but it's also highly functional because most of the time the answer to their question is : "I can't really hope to accomplish that."

    I tend to look at this issue in the same way as I would analyze a physics problem, particularly one involving thermal dynamics. Revenge is a pressure that we're applying to contain a heated gas (human ambition) so it doesn't go where we don't want it to go. Education is like opening a valve so all that human ambition has somewhere to go.

    We shouldn't be discussing this as an "either or". We should be trying to figure out what the right mix of both is. If you try to use a pure revenge strategy, that pressure will build until your whole machine explodes. If you try to use a pure education strategy, with no revenge at all, then equal amounts of that energy will direct itself toward crime as toward constructive endeavors. When you look at a place like Russia, the thug population is highly organized, driven by former KGB agents who certainly didn't lack for education. But with the widespread corruption of the police, they know they'll go unpunished.




    <...>

    Research over the past 10 years has consistently demonstrated that the most effective way to reduce offending, and particularly reoffending is through education, particularly literacy training and GED (Steurer, Smith, and Tracy, 2001). An Arizona Department of Adult Probation Study showed that probationers who received literacy training had 35% rearrest rate compared with a control group that had 46% rearrest, and those who received a GED had a rearrest rate of 24% (Siegal, 1997). Less dramatic but equally encouraging results were received from a Florida study of 18,414 inmates released from prison in FY1996-97 followed up after 2 years, which found that “inmates who earn a GED are 8.7% less likely to recidivate than those who do not complete a program. . . Inmates who receive a GED and improve their TABE score to 9th grade level or higher are 25.0% less likely to recidivate than those who receive a GED and have a TABE level of 8th grade or less.” (Florida Department of Corrections, 2003). The Florida study also found that “Academic program impacts are found even among offender groups that normally have higher recidivism, for example, males, younger males, black offenders and prior recidivists.” Importantly, a New York State study found that “young inmates who earned a GED while incarcerated returned to custody at a rate of 40% compared with 54% of inmates under 21 released with no degree” (Staley, 2001). Most dramatic, however, is the data on those in prison: Inmates with at least two years college education have a 10% re-arrest rate, compared to the national rearrest rate of 62%. A Texas study is most revealing showing that the overall recidivism rate for degree holders in the Texas Department of Corrections between 1990-1991 was 15% compared to 60% for the national rate and a two year follow-up study showed that those with associates degrees had a recidivism rate of 13.7%, those with bachelor’s degrees, 5.6%, and those with master’s degrees zero (Tracy and Johnson, 1994):

    This really illustrates the problem. The uneducated inmates would tell you that they're going back to crime because they have "nowhere else to go". Just like steam breaking through the walls of a steam engine, because none of the pressure was released in time.

    Human ambition/Greed is equally capable of motivating someone to start a successful legitimate business as motivating them to start a drug dealing enterprise. But, they'll only choose the first option if they know how. The best scenario is one where they know how to succeed at the first, and have no idea how to succeed at the second (where "success" is defined as both accomplishing the task and avoiding punishment.) Then they'll always choose the first.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I've linked below a study showing education to be more effective than punishment.
    I would agree with you in one respect. Sirhan's years of indoctination and anti-Israeli propaganda in his native Palestine was more than enough to overcome any fear of punishment. Of course, the governments of the USA and California didn't have much control over that. So I guess they are going to have to keep the laws on the books.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    I would agree with you in one respect.
    Does this mean you disagree with the rest of the data I shared which shows punishment to be less effective than education? I guess I won't have much to go on here with you if even data and decades of psychological research play no role in your preferred approach.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    I would agree with you in one respect.
    Does this mean you disagree with the rest of the data I shared which shows punishment to be less effective than education? I guess I won't have much to go on here with you if even data and decades of psychological research play no role in your preferred approach.
    I don't disagree with the statistics, just the conclusions regarding public policy.
    The group that earned a GED might have had lower recidivism anyway, being more motivated than the other group. The conclusion that "punishment is ineffective in deterring offenders, but education makes a substantial difference" is unwarranted from the data cited. First of all, it is comparing apples and oranges. How much education is equal to how much punishment? There were no studies cited where one group of parolees was given immunity from laws and another was given increased penalties.

    Furthermore, how does this translate into public policy? Everybody wants better education. Not everybody agrees about how to accomplish it, so what exactly are you proposing to do based on the above cited data?

    All government can do is pass laws. You know, those things that require PENALTIES before they can work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Furthermore, how does this translate into public policy? Everybody wants better education. Not everybody agrees about how to accomplish it, so what exactly are you proposing to do based on the above cited data?
    The central theme is one where we focus on rehabilitation, reform, and correction instead of just putting them in a cell to rot... instead of placing them around others to learn to become better criminals (jail is like a crime university, where people go in as elementary criminals and come out as PhDs). We focus on root causes instead of symptoms.

    Instead of throwing a drug addict in jail, throw them into treatment.
    Look at the mental health of a criminal and get them into counseling and therapy instead of isolation.
    If someone stole something, get them vocational training so they can earn money instead of stealing it.

    Those are just a few off the top of my head. There are countless studies supporting my point, and many of them make alternative suggestions to correction. As the previous study I shared suggested, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail... and not everything in our corrections system is a nail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    I would agree with you in one respect.
    Does this mean you disagree with the rest of the data I shared which shows punishment to be less effective than education? I guess I won't have much to go on here with you if even data and decades of psychological research play no role in your preferred approach.
    Have you considered that maybe there are two ingredients, and one only becomes more useful if the other is overabundant? Perhaps you are right that the USA overuses the hammer of punishment. All that tells us is that too much of a good thing leads to diminishing returns.


    It's like if you tried to make carrot soup with no salt. It would taste bad. If you then add salt, it would taste better. But that doesn't tell us that salt is more important than the carrots.



    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I've linked below a study showing education to be more effective than punishment.
    I would agree with you in one respect. Sirhan's years of indoctination and anti-Israeli propaganda in his native Palestine was more than enough to overcome any fear of punishment. Of course, the governments of the USA and California didn't have much control over that. So I guess they are going to have to keep the laws on the books.
    I think it's good for society that he's now realizing that he was wrong, and there actually does exist an amount of punishment he was not prepared for.

    Hopefully some other zealots out there will see him break under the weight of his punishment, and realize that they too, are unlikely to be strong enough to remain committed for all the years they'll end up having to serve after their deed is done. The more he tries to pander his way to a parole, the more a fool he makes of himself. Maybe it is ultimately a good thing he wasn't executed, so he can continue to be further humiliated.
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    All this talk of educating criminals would not cut any ice with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Of course the good Sheriff has his detractors, such as Amnesia International and the New York Times. Zealots like Sirhan Sirhan are a lost cause as far as education goes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Arpaio
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    Zealots like Sirhan Sirhan are a lost cause as far as education goes.
    While you may like to believe this to help reinforce your existing ideology and worldview, you are (quite simply) mistaken... Not to mention that (as my earlier posts quite clearly articulated) education is just one component of a larger approach which includes other rehabilitation measures.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    Zealots like Sirhan Sirhan are a lost cause as far as education goes.
    While you may like to believe this to help reinforce your existing ideology and worldview, you are (quite simply) mistaken... Not to mention that (as my earlier posts quite clearly articulated) education is just one component of a larger approach which includes other rehabilitation measures.
    There is only one rehabilitation method that I think would work on a zealot, it is called water-boarding.
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    I think zealots weakness is their short-sightedness. Any torture that only lasts a few months can be withstood, but a life sentence in a US prison forces them to sit there in a cell and think about it for a while.

    Sooner or later, with nothing but their ideology to think about, and totally powerless to go blow anyone up about it, I think they will start to realize how childish and stupid most of those theories about life were. How little substance there really is to all the wild claims their indoctrinators made. It's easy to pass bullshit off as "god's truth" when your followers are too busy doing stuff to stop and contemplate. That's why cult leaders give their cultists so many arbitrary tasks and rituals to do. It keeps their mind in the moment.

    That's why torture is a bad idea. They need to be bored. Torture is anything but that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    There is only one rehabilitation method that I think would work on a zealot, it is called water-boarding.
    Can you define zealot in an objective way? I ask, because right now you appear from my perspective to be one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    There is only one rehabilitation method that I think would work on a zealot, it is called water-boarding.
    There's no objective proof that water-boarding works.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    There is only one rehabilitation method that I think would work on a zealot, it is called water-boarding.
    A line of moral absoluteness that is not crossed by civilized humans.


    Waterboarding in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. Painting by a former prison inmate, Vann Nath, at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
    Although a variety of specific techniques are used in waterboarding, the captive's face is usually covered with cloth or some other thin material, and the subject is immobilized on his/her back with the head inclined downwards. Water is then poured onto the face over the breathing passages, causing an almost immediate gag reflex and creating the sensation that the captive is drowning. Waterboarding can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage and, if uninterrupted, death. Adverse physical consequences can manifest themselves months after the event, while psychological effects can last for years.
    United States hanged Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners of war in World War II.
    All quotes and images from Wiki; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterboarding.
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    "A line of moral absoluteness that is not crossed by civilized humans "
    GiantEvil, you are very wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    There is only one rehabilitation method that I think would work on a zealot, it is called water-boarding.
    Can you define zealot in an objective way? I ask, because right now you appear from my perspective to be one.

    inow, your perspective is very skewed, you are soooo right about everything, perhaps you need professional help.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    There is only one rehabilitation method that I think would work on a zealot, it is called water-boarding.
    There's no objective proof that water-boarding works.
    Ask the CIA or NSA.
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    "A line of moral absoluteness that is not crossed by civilized humans "
    GiantEvil, you are very wrong.
    So you say. Are you capable of providing a cogent argument to this effect?
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    I do not know what cogent means.
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  34. #33  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    I do not know what cogent means.
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cogent
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  35. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    [i]"GiantEvil, you are very wrong.
    So you say. Are you capable of providing a cogent argument to this effect?
    OK, Cogent according to my dictionary (The Oxford Popular English Dictionary ) means convincing, compelling. All you have to do is read the news and you will find "A line of moral absoluteness that is not crossed by civilized humans " happens every single day in this world that we live in.
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    All you have to do is read the news and you will find "A line of moral absoluteness that is not crossed by civilized humans " happens every single day in this world that we live in.
    Why yes, a perusal of the daily news will provide many examples of many line's of moral absolutes being crossed, but never by civilized humans.
    My original implication is that to waterboard a person, regardless of their past act's, is to surrender the qualification of proper justice.
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  37. #36  
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    but never by civilized humans.
    I see that the key word is "civilized", which of course admits of a lot of proprietary definitions. Some people think you're not "civilized" if you eat with your left hand, or put your salad fork on the wrong side of the plate.
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  38. #37  
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
    All you have to do is read the news and you will find "A line of moral absoluteness that is not crossed by civilized humans " happens every single day in this world that we live in.
    Why yes, a perusal of the daily news will provide many examples of many line's of moral absolutes being crossed, but never by civilized humans.
    My original implication is that to waterboard a person, regardless of their past act's, is to surrender the qualification of proper justice.
    Well, you are most probably a good dude, but I do wonder, that you may share the same ivory tower as inow.
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  39. #38  
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    As should be obvious by now... No, he cannot make a cogent argument.
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    Or to make a non-moralizing argument against torture. If we allow the rule of law to be bent against those broadly seen as undesirable, we weaken the strength and principles of the law which protect all of us. If the law becomes something flexible that we can violate as the powers that be deem fit, then nothing is protecting any of us from gross abuse from the state. Shouldn't that be something even the most ardent of conservatives should be in favour of? Limiting the powers of the state.

    Edit: And as Lynx has said, there is no evidence torture works, and plenty of evidence that people will lie under torture and give their torturer what they want to hear instead. Thus, state sanctioned torture not only threatens our individual liberties and decreases overall respect for human dignity, it is also useless.
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    Not that facts matter to those who agree with torture, but I offer the below in support of the last post. It is for anyone who is still deluded and thinks that torture is our best option.


    Read this document, as it was put together by people who actually know what they're talking about on this subject... The National Defense Intelligence College: Intelligence Science Board:

    http://www.fas.org/irp/dni/educing.pdf


    In short, it robustly argues against the use of such techniques.



    Interestingly, there's also this:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/30/religion.torture/
    The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.

    More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

    White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

    http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/con...8004686~db=all
    People generally believe that torture is effective despite strong counterclaims by experienced military interrogators and intelligence experts. This article challenges us to reexamine some of our basic assumptions about torture by presenting four psychological factors—primarily errors and biases in human judgment—that help account for this mistaken popular belief.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c...act_id=1171369
    This Essay addresses the theoretical debate on torture in an empirical way. It urges that as part of our evaluation of the merits of torture, we take a shrewd look at the quality of information brutal interrogations produce. The Essay identifies widespread belief in what the author identifies as the "torture myth" the idea that torture is the most effective interrogation practice. In reality, in addition to its oft-acknowledged moral and legal problems, the use of torture carries with it a host of practical problems which seriously blunt its effectiveness. This Essay demonstrates that contrary to the myth, torture and the closely related practice, torture "lite" do not always produce the desired information and, in the cases in which it does, these practices may not produce it in a timely fashion. In the end, the Essay concludes, any marginal benefit the practice offers is low because traditional techniques of interrogation may be as good, and possibly even better at producing valuable intelligence.

    http://www.stormingmedia.us/45/4541/A454174.html
    As a part of the response to the Al Qaida attacks on 11 September 2001, the United States found itself having to answer many difficult questions regarding its action in the Global War on Terrorism. One of the most contentious was the use of torture against captured enemy fighters. The United States, a strong proponent for humanitarian law, soon found itself criticized for its treatment of detainees. As a result, commentators and politicians have had endless debates about interrogation techniques and the legal applicability of international law and treaties to a nonstate enemy. The central research question derived from these issues is: Is torture a viable tool for use in achieving goals as outlined in the 2006 National Security Strategy? Interrogational torture was examined from the following standpoints: legal, effectiveness, and ethical. Results showed that torture is wrong. The next step applied the analytical results against the ethical decision-making triangle and also concluded that from the three standpoints torture was wrong and not a feasible means of achieving the United States' national security objectives.


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2005Jan11.html
    Given the overwhelmingly negative evidence, the really interesting question is not whether torture works but why so many people in our society want to believe that it works. At the moment, there is a myth in circulation, a fable that goes something like this: Radical terrorists will take advantage of our fussy legality, so we may have to suspend it to beat them. Radical terrorists mock our namby-pamby prisons, so we must make them tougher. Radical terrorists are nasty, so to defeat them we have to be nastier.

    Perhaps it's reassuring to tell ourselves tales about the new forms of "toughness" we need, or to talk about the special rules we will create to defeat this special enemy. Unfortunately, that toughness is self-deceptive and self-destructive. Ultimately it will be self-defeating as well.
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  42. #41  
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    It's just like anything else. People feel powerless, and so they have to convinced themselves that they have an untapped potential at their disposal (the potential to win the war by temporarily resorting to barbarity.) If there's another 911, we won't want to admit that our failure was inevitable, so I bet we'll go way past water boarding, and maybe start cutting off fingers or something.

    It's a problem of people looking for simple answers when there aren't any, but...... they really really want there to be one, so they just start resorting to make-believe.


    Convincing yourself that an invisible man in the sky is withholding his aid because you've failed to obey an arbitrary ritual is pretty much the same psycholgy. Bhurkas were never a big deal until after the 6 day war, when Israel humiliated the whole Muslim empire on the battlefield. Then all of a sudden the reason has to be because they've been lax about forcing their women to wear headgear. If they get humiliated again, who knows what ridiculous clothing people will start wearing then.
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