Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is Shaun an Evil Baby Torturer?

I have some time before Equal Protection class starts to burn so let me set this in context. Due to the peculiarities of the exchange program I'm currently undergoing, my course credits transfer (which explains why I'm bugged to keep a particular number of credits per quarter) BUT not my grades (which is why they've effectively said, don't bother us unless you fail). Factor this in together with the fact that I'm barred from taking a course once back in NUS that is substantially similar to what I'm taking in UW, together with my somewhat precarious situation of my final year of studies being worth 33 1/3% of my final degree grade and some small amount of strategizing becomes necessary i.e. they are some courses that I'm probably going to score in for various reasons and some I will most assuredly not e.g. structured loans or secured transactions because the top students and corporate lawyer wannabes will flood that course and they are better than me at substantive law.

As a result, I dropped my International Protection of Human Rights and took another class instead. But because of the partial time conflict, this nevertheless gives me the opportunity to audit the class for the first half of every lesson. And since I haven't been kicked out of the class and am still allowed to speak, it probably means that the lecturers don't mind my presence there.

So anyway, the class starts off with the very provocative ticking time bomb scenario which can only be stopped by torturing a known terrorist. And of course, I couldn't resist saying something. So my comment (around the 4th I think) was about a simple acknowledgment that torture is being used and it is better to regulate it then to turn a blind eye to it (and implicitly being moral hypocrites). I would very strongly suggest searching my blog with the keyword "torture' and read every single post because you'll find a very fascinating development in my stance on this very particular issue.

Anyway, having taken the initial step towards cementing the class's view of me as the ultimate evil realist (I'm actually more of an Institutionalist but that's not the point), I was for some reason given the chance to have the last word and I basically made the point I last made when I last faced this scenario. Why draw the line where we draw the line? I personally think this is a rhetorical device without any particularly strong argumentation factor and I would charge this scenario as basically drawing a very morally arbitrary line. And what I did say was, why not given a situation where we have a better than probable knowledge that this terrorist is likely to know where the bomb is, why not torture his 4 month old baby or even his family?

I hope that by the end of my two comments, I left everyone utterly confused as to my personal stance on this issue but I'm beginning to realize that it could just as easily translate to an advocacy to torture and not just the person involved on a routine basis.


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