Monday, April 27, 2009

When "balance" is a lie

Teen aged acne can be handled in two ways:

a) The problem can be treated with ointments such as Clearasil or prescription medications like Acutane.

b) The problem can be solved through decapitation.

The difference between these two approaches is that one is a sensible way to treat the embarrassing, unsightly condition, whereas the other is insanity.

One would never expect a respectable news organization to treat these two options as "debatable" points of view deserving of equal and balanced consideration. Indeed, to do so would be to write an article more suited to the satirical humor periodical The Onion than a newspaper with serious pretensions to journalism. Indeed, I can imagine a rather humorous piece along those lines in the right hands. I cannot imagine a serious piece along those lines.

So one wonders how on Earth the New York times can maintain that the question remains unsettled as to whether the violent and criminal interrogation technique known as Waterboarding is anything other than a form of torture. Andrew Sullivan quotes the New York Times' Washington Editor Dough Jehl thus:

“I have resisted using torture without qualification or to describe all the techniques. Exactly what constitutes torture continues to be a matter of debate and hasn’t been resolved by a court. This president and this attorney general say waterboarding is torture, but the previous president and attorney general said it is not. On what basis should a newspaper render its own verdict, short of charges being filed or a legal judgment rendered?”
The problem with treating a long since answered question as still open, of course, is that one legitimizes the unjustifiable. The second you add a question mark at the end of the word "war crimes" you affect the culture in such a way that makes those crimes more palatable, more likely, more imaginable. But the crimes themselves are no less horrible. They are no less execrable. They are no less criminal.

What changes is you. You have become a facilitator, just as much a facilitator as the despicable lawyers who wrote sophistic opinions justifying the use of illegal techniques that the Administration wanted to use. Having a mob lawyer approve your crimes beforehand does not make you any less a criminal.

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