The debate continues. A reader writes:
"Many women believe they are acting out of compassion (however mistakenly); is it possible for a torturer to hold similar beliefs?"
In fact, it is possible. During the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, the primary purpose of torture was to get the victim to convert to Catholicism. Those doing the torturing believed that the conversion would save the victim's soul. So they did, in fact, consider torture to be an act of compassion (the ultimate act of compassion, actually). And often the victim would be killed after the torture, but that was okay because the soul had already been saved. How compassionate.