This I Believe

Brittnea - Batavia, Illinois
Entered on October 18, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: setbacks
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I Believe Torture is Wrong!

I believe that torture should not be used under any circumstance. The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) Defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person…” (1) Several weeks ago I attended a meeting at the Batavia Public Library called the Great Discussions program. The meeting focused on the use of torture to gain information from enemy combatants. There were many contrasting viewpoints regarding the effectiveness of torture. Some felt that torture could be a valuable tool; others expressed outrage that America would act in a manner not humane. My own belief is that torture is always wrong.

Torture is considered a reliable way to gain information. During the Rape of Nanking, the forgotten Holocaust of World War II, millions of Chinese soldiers and civilians were tortured and killed by Japanese soldiers in the name of war. In Vietnam, American prisoners of War suffered torture when captured by the enemy. Now in Iraq, American soldiers and journalists are being detained and subjected to torture by the enemy. This outrages most Americans, yet few want to believe that America maybe committing heinous acts of torture also. What has actually been done is somewhat unclear, but I believe America has acted inhumanly against enemy combatants.

I believe torture fails as a method of obtaining information and it is a disgusting act that destroys humanity and compassion. Information gained from someone ill-treated and in severe physical or emotional pain may not be accurate. Aristotle said “torture doesn’t work very well. Under physical torture, some people will lie; some will say anything to make the pain stop, even just for a while; and a surprising number will refuse to yield” (2) Torture should not be used under any circumstances.

I believe that torture is wrong! Today in the War or Terror America is not fighting a governed military, instead we are fighting civilians. The majority of the prisoners kept at the military prisons such as Guantanamo Bay are civilians; civilians with families, neighbors, and friends. If we believe that torturing these civilian enemy combatants is a rational way of learning about future attacks, where do we stop? After torturing the men accused of terrorism do we then torture those close to them in case they have information? Torture should not be used under any circumstances.

(1) Article 1, United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT)

(2) Aristotle in Book 1, Chapter 15 of Rhetorica