Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Torture is a Traditional Value

John McCain's principled stand against the Bush administration's attempts to gut Geneva Convention protections and legalize torture has earned him much scorn from the right. After selling out recently on numerous issues, it's nice to see McCain has a core of basic decency. It's also nice to see a significant number of Republicans have not been ensnared by the One Ring. But one of McCain's attackers is none other than Louis Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition. It seems that, to these people, torture is indeed a traditional value, given the response:
"We encourage all of our supporters and affiliated churches to contact their elected representatives and let them know we support President Bush's efforts to update our methods of interrogating terrorist detainees in order to provide greater protection for our troops and the innocent."
That's right, we want churches to lobby for torture. This is the clearest symbol yet of the depravity, hypocrisy, and moral bankruptcy of much that passes for the pseudo-Christian right. I've blogged a fair amount about the torture issue before. For Catholics at least, the issue is non-negotiable, and I think it is time to quote once again from the Second Vatican Council document Gaudium Et Spes (the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) on this issue:

"The varieties of crime are numerous: all offenses against life itself, such as murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and willful suicide; all violations of the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture, undue psychological pressures; all offenses against human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, degrading working conditions where people are treated as mere tools for profit rather than free and responsible persons: all these and the like are criminal: they poison civilization; and they debase the perpetrators more than the victims and militate against the honor of the creator."
So, in terms of crimes against the gospel of life, torture is right up there after murder, genocide, and abortion. Tell that to Louis Sheldon. For that matter, tell that to the self-appointed guardians of what Catholics are and are not supposed to treat as non-negotiable for voting purposes (for more about this, see the post I wrote here). You can find the latest incarnation of this group here, and here is their "voter guide", which outlines their five non-negotiable issues: abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, stem cell research, and human cloning. No torture. Why? Because that would conveniently violate the subtle pretext: vote Republican. This "guide" says it selected the five issues because they "involve principles that never admit of exceptions and because they are currently being debated in U.S. politics". Sounds to me like torture qualifies on both counts, and yet not a single word. Are these people really much better than Louis Sheldon?

Update: Andrew Sullivan draws attention to the words of the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez, who expresses scorn for the fact that Mike DeWine is supporting McCain's anti-torture stance. Ah, yes, Kathryn Jean Lopez. This was the women who, upon Cardinal Ratzinger's election to the papacy, pronounced that "The Holy Spirit, it would seem, endorses orthodoxy", obviously casting aspersions on some others in the Conclave (a standard tactic among the Catholic right). Memo to Lopez: the Holy Spirit does NOT endorse torture.

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