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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 20, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Torture

A call to abandon our principles

Charles Krauthammer’s assertion that torture is permissible when it will save lives, rests upon a belief that the end justifies the means [“Sometimes you do what you have to do — even torture,” Opinion, May 3].

The problem with an “end justifies the means” philosophy is that we use it to justify cruelty in the name of a righteous cause — but everyone believes his cause is righteous. By this reasoning, a Northerner captured during the Civil War could be tortured if such cruelty would save Southern lives. After all, Southerners of the time, though fighting to preserve slavery, thought their cause was just.

We see that the sacrifice of principles for expediency can lead to the absurd proposition that it is morally permissible to inflict inhuman suffering on a just man who is trying to prevent an unjust man from committing atrocities.

Let’s not be so arrogant as to believe that Americans could never be misled or end up on the wrong side of a cause. We can be confident of our righteousness only so long as we refuse to compromise our principles. The call to abandon our principles is a call to abandon what makes America America. It is always a sign that we are being misled.

— Michael Sheehan, Langley

U.S. prisoners suffer, too

The severity of torture that detainees in the Guantánamo prison received caused less suffering than some of the inmates right here in U.S. prisons have had to endure.

Popular reality TV shows featuring this violence show rapes, stabbings and murders among other atrocities.

Maybe we should shut down some of our own prisons!

— Lowana Krewson, Stanwood

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