Straw Men

William Saletan compares torturers to people who execute death-row prisoners and people who perform abortions. He writes:

In the fury of a moral backlash, naming names and holding people accountable feels like the right thing to do. But before you go down that road, remember that the choice of targets won't always be yours.

A reader points out the false equivalence:

His logic would be acceptable if it wasn't that execution is legal under public law while torture is only 'legal' under executive secret law. Conflating the two is extremely dangerous and factually wrong.

How does anyone get to the utilitarian argument without confronting the illegal argument? I guess I've been asking this question for six years so it's a little optimistic to expect clarity at this point.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Just In