Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pretend it's 1999 or so again. Matthew Shepard is still in the forefront of the national consciousness. Everyone knows about the President, Monica Lewinsky, and Linda Tripp. The word "globalization" is no longer limited to economists and radicals but has become generally known. The Y2K bug joins other, more religious millenial doomsaying. The economy is doing great, partly because of tech investment which will turn out to be a bubble. America's most recent military venture in Bosnia, despite its share of criticism, was successful by any measure. Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh are the faces of terrorism that Americans are familiar with, but the rest of the world still has Palestinian suicide bombers, Basque seperatists, Japanese cults, and more - at least Northern Ireland is calming down, thankfully.

So back in the world of 1999, suppose you saw the following sentence in an editorial in a mainstream American publication.
Torture is like almost every other issue: It involves trade-offs between the rights of individuals and the needs of society.

What would your emotional reaction to that phrase be? Assuming of course that it's being used seriously and not as a caveat or qualifier to introduce something else*, you'd think that the writer was nuts and you'd be right.

The world didn't change on 9/11. We did. And not for the better.

*This is how it's being used in the article I link to. Michael Kinsley is not supporting torture, he's dissecting the "ticking time bomb" "argument". I choose this quote at this link because it's a succinct summary of what many people really are arguing, and those people really are nuts.

No comments: