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

What Advice Would You Give to Adults?

"If you have a problem, go meditate or go on a vacation. Don't think about it."

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

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

Just In