3 in 5 teens believes it's acceptable to abuse captive enemy soldiers - and a long list of Americans shares blame for a generation less enlightened than their elders
Historically torture has been a tool of legal systems, used to get information needed for a trial or, more directly, to determine guilt or innocence... In other words, torture didn't come into existence to give vent to human sadism. Righteousness, as much as viciousness, produces torture. There aren't squads of sadists beating down the doors to the torture chambers begging for jobs. Rather, as a recent book on torture by Edward Peters says, the institution of torture creates sadists; the weight of a culture, Peters suggests, is necessary to recruit torturers.
You have to convince people that they are working for a great goal in order to get them to overcome their repugnance to the task of causing physical pain to another person. Usually the great goal is the preservation of society, and the victim is presented to the torturer as being in some way out to destroy it. ~ Phylis Rose, writing in The Atlantic Monthly, October 1986
Three-in-five teenagers thinks it's sometimes acceptable for the United States to torture its enemies, according to a study published by The Red Cross. In fact, kids are more likely than their elders to take that position.
Outspoken torture opponent Adam Serwer reacts to the news as follows:
I think Americans are still in the midst of a kind of national post-traumatic stress disorder over the 9/11 attacks, and we really still have yet to come to our senses. Why would young people be any different? Growing up in a world where one of the two major political parties has all but embraced torture as policy must make torture seem, well, normal. Treating it like a crime might have changed that, but no one in the U.S. government has any intention of doing so.
I am inclined to go farther.