Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Questions that have no right to go away

BooMan is expressing something that has become conventional wisdom for liberals: We need to hold the Bush/Cheney administration accountable for torture. As my bio up above says, I have "a distaste for conventional wisdom and a sometimes maddening attraction to asking the hard questions." So here goes:
  • What does it mean to "hold someone accountable?"
  • Is holding someone accountable the same thing as punishment? 
  • What are the goals of punishment?
  • Where does one draw the line between punishment and a desire for revenge?
  • Is sending someone to prison the only form of punishment?
  • Is one of our goals to ensure that our government doesn't torture again? Does punishment/prison achieve that goal?
  • Are political leaders the only ones accountable for torture? Is there a need for community accountability?
  • How are the needs of the victims of torture best addressed? What role does punishment/prison play in that?
  • As I wrote about today, where is the accountability for this country's history of torture?
BooMan suggests that the United States loses its credibility on the world stage if we don't hold Bush/Cheney accountable. If so, where is the accountability for slavery, Native American genocide, manifest destiny, covert sponsorship of military coups all over the world that resulted in the deaths of thousands, etc. And those are just some of the things sanctioned or carried out directly by our government. We haven't even started talking yet about the effects of our economic colonialism. 

So yes, I have lots of questions about this call for accountability. I am no more nor less appalled by what Bush/Cheney did than I am by a whole host of things that this country has done both domestically and around the world. When it comes to accountability for all of that, honestly...I have WAY more questions than answers.

P.S. I have a lot of these same questions in regards to our criminal justice system in general. If punishment/prison was the answer, we wouldn't have a 60% recidivism rate

P.S.S. My title comes from the last line of one of my favorite David Whyte poems titled: Sometimes

1 comment:

  1. Better late than never.

    There's no practical way to hold anyone accountable for our national crimes of the 19th and early 20th centuries. All the slaveholders are dead; and Custer got his. I guess you could say the Civil War, with its expense of lives and treasure, was the Union being accountable; lot of different ways to look at that.

    But Dick Cheney is right there in Virginia, somehow still alive because he stole a young person's heart. He should die in prison. (Though I don't know if that would be a future deterrant. People like him are scared of prison, but at the same time, they're arrogant enough to think they'll never be there.)

    Your other questions are all good ones, but there's no more reason to apply them here than there is for every shoplifting or check fraud case.

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