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Monday, November 06, 2006

Who's for torture?

This is an interesting poll. To me it's hopeful (since most human beings are still opposed to torture - even when the airwaves are infused with fear mongering).

By the way, the research on torture shows that in addition to being a human rights abomination... it doesn't work...doesn't produce reliable intelligence. Turns out most of us will tell anyone anything we think they want to know - pretty damn quickly when deprived, beaten, nearly drowned, starved, sexually assaulted, electrocuted, etc... Duh?

What do you think?

The survey was carried out for the BBC World Service by polling firm Globescan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA). I have shown only a selection of countries - full item here.

Views on torturing prisoners (3 columns of numbers match headings)
Country 1. Against all torture* 2. Some degree permissible** 3. Neither/Don't Know

Australia 75% 22% 3%
Brazil 61% 32% 8%
Canada 74% 22% 4%
Chile 62% 22% 16%
China 49% 37% 13%
France 75% 19% 6%
Gt Britain 72% 24% 4%
India 23% 32% 45%
Iraq 55% 42% 1%
Israel 48% 43% 9%
Russia 43% 37% 19%
Spain 65% 16% 19%
US 58% 36% 7%

*27,000 respondents in 25 countries were asked which position was closer to their own views:

* Clear rules against torture should be maintained because any use of torture is immoral and will weaken international human rights standards against torture.
** Terrorists pose such an extreme threat that governments should now be allowed to use some degree of torture if it may gain information that saves innocent lives.

India has a big fence to sit on.
Some (greater) interesting anaylis on the globescan site - though I don't agree with their worldwide rejection headline, a third is still a big proportion and opinion can be fickle depending on domestic circumstances.
Ghastly, but enlightening.
Should so many find torture agreeable and benevolent, it is fairly clear what they might believe regarding falsification of evidence, prosecutorial excess, etc., as well as smaller ills, such as lying, adultery, and a myriad of other behaviors harmful though legal.
Several years ago, in one of those moments of insight, I came to the conclusion that the entirety of the body of law came down to 2 things-- treat others fairly, and don't harm anyone. And all laws are a cultural representation defining the meaning of what it is to be treated fairly or to cause harm.
This is appalling. The law has failed to fulfill its role in society.
When so many would consent to so extreme a harm, then it is to be expected that the same tendency should flourish when opportunity exists to inflict only a minor injury.
I wish I could share your optimism.
I wouldn't think it would be too difficult to get me to say just about any crazy thing. I really hate pain.

I'm just relieved that more Americans oppose it than support it. We've had enough national embarrassment lately, I should think.
You boys are right of course - a third of those polled thinking a little torture is probably okay if helpful...well, that's really a little scary. Now you're sending me to bed with nightmares. Thanks!

Sherhazade - nice work on shifting your politics slightly towards sanity yesterday...
Hi Gary,
Lets look towards Gandhi and his non-violence once again. India shows the way.

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