By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Torturing our values

Rory O’Connor has an excellent post that illustrates how torture has warped the thinking of otherwise sensible folks like Slate’s Jacob Weisberg and the New York Times’ Tom Friedman.

He also takes on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s bizarro decision to give a column to torture advocate John Yoo.

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  1. lkcape

    Are you advocating censorship, Dan?Your comment regarding John Yoo writing a column certainly can be viewed that way.One wonders what point of view would allow such limitation.I guess “Liberal” might well fit.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Ikcape: Do you know what censorship is? Not hiring someone to write a column for your newspaper isn’t it.Let Yoo start a blog.

  3. lkcape

    Advocating the silencing of a view is. You seem to do this regularly…for any view that cuts against your grain.

  4. UUbuntu

    Where does Dan advocate the silencing of anyone’s views, much less Yoo’s?

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Ikcape: Only the government can engage in censorship. Please try to acquire a clue. You need one. Badly.

  6. lkcape

    Insults… the last refuge of ones with a failed argument.

  7. Mac

    I’d be cautious about placing Tom Friedman in with the “otherwise sensible.” In 2002 and early 2003, he advocated endlessly in his Times columns the idea of invading Iraq, all the while viciously mocking those who warned against it.On the eve of the war, he took part in the then-common vilification of the French, who were urging us not to make the mistake of invading Iraq. He wrote:“Indeed, the French argue that only bad things will come from this war — more terrorism, a dangerous precedent for preventive war, civilian casualties. The Bush team argues that this war will be a game-changer — that it will spark reform throughout the Arab world and intimidate other tyrants who support terrorists. Can this war produce more of what the Bush team expects than the Europeans predict? Yes, it can.”This is the sort of stuff reputations for wisdom are built upon these days.

  8. Joel Monka

    lkcape- the first amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law…”. It doesn’t say, “Every newspaper must print every view, such that it’s thicker than a phone book.”

  9. NewsHound

    To quote a good rule from the article – “Newspapers should protect free speech, but should project moral vision.”

  10. lkcape

    Indeed, no paper should be forced to print everything that comes down the pike. But the publication of an opposing view should not be so offensive as to be categorized summarily without reference to it’s actual content. Given Dan’s clear and unequivocal views on the subject of “torture advocates and their governmental supporters”, he has been curiously silent on the predicament that Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats of both House and Senate find themselves regarding the same subect.The “I know nothing” defense is disrespectful to accountability.

  11. NewsHound

    This would be a better world if torture were never invented. The inverse is true about newspapers.Of course newspapers are and should be free to print as they choose.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Ikcape: So it’s not “censorship” anymore, eh? Just slip and shift, and hope no one will call you on it.Pelosi and Graham have said unequivocally that they were not told about waterboarding. Do you have evidence that either or both is lying?

  13. bostonmediawatch

    So what if they WERE told about waterboarding? Weren’t the details of the Congressional briefings classified anyway?The fact that they’re not using that as a perfectly good explanation points to the probability that they weren’t told.When the sun comes out, Repubs are pussies. Why are they trying to hide behind Nancy Pelosi’s skirt?

  14. Nial Liszt

    **Do you have evidence that either or both is lying?** calls Pelosi statement “False”.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Nial: Read this.

  16. Bill H.

    Before we launch into a discussion of censorship, let’s first understand what it is. Only the state or its agents can censor. Private parties (newspapers, tv stations, etc.) can choose to disseminate, or not disseminate, whatever they wish, and for any reason. That’s not censorship–it’s business. And theoretically, those who don’t like the decisions that have been made can turn elsewhere to see their views reflected. It’s been said countless times, maybe even on this blog, that while you have the right to speak, you certainly do not have the right to be heard.

  17. eoin

    I agree that not hiring a columnist would hardly amount to censorship, but I wouldn’t go as far to say that censorship is only the domain of governments. Any institution powerful enough to make speech unavailable can rightly be said censor.For example, it’s not unreasonable to classify the murders of crime reporters in Mexico by drug gangs as a form of censorship. The same could probably be said of a private corporation (or cartel of corporations) that effectively controls the distribution of information over a given medium.

  18. Nial Liszt

    **Nial: Read this.**Thank Dan, but you’ll forgive me if I stick with the independent, non-partisan, Pulitzer Prize winning website on this one–for now.Anyway, why did I immediately think of mike_b1’s avatar when I first read your above three-word comment?

  19. Dan Kennedy

    Nial: I love PolitiFact, but in this case there may be problems with the underlying document. Bob Graham’s a pretty credible guy. I don’t think Pelosi’s *not* credible, but Graham’s out of politics and wouldn’t seem to have much reason to lie.

  20. Nial Liszt

    **…there may be problems with the underlying document.**Mary Mapes isn’t working in the Greater Langley area nowadays, is she?

  21. L.K.

    Dan, the advocacy of the silencing of any opinion is offensive. But it appears as if that is your view when it comes to people like John Yoo or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

  22. Dan Kennedy

    L.K.: I would never advocate that Yoo’s, Beck’s or Limbaugh’s freedom to speak or write ever be constricted in any way. Where have I said otherwise?Keep in mind that if Fox News fired Beck tomorrow, he would be free to speak and write, just as you and I are.

  23. L.K.

    Beat the Press. And Joe Sciacca called you on it.

  24. Dan Kennedy

    L.K.: Damn straight. I called for Beck to be fired. What’s that got to do with censorship?

  25. L.K.

    We see debate, Dan, very differetly. I have faith in “The People” making the best choices from all of the personages making their case. Your view tends to veiw the “professional person” as the sage and wise and expect The People to follow just because. Your anger and your annoyance at my catching your contradictory contentions is a fine example of your dynamic at work. We can now get on to the discussion of whether the marketplace of ideas can support a Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaug, or an Al Franken, or whether that marketplace synthesizes new sets of ideas from the compromises to be explored. I remain unconvinced that the elite of academia can be effective in the role of governance, or for that mater, in the cool and calm assessment of the opponents’ point of view so as to foster meaningful compromise without the self-serving political posturing.

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