A tortuous use of language

I’ve mentioned before how important I think words are, and how frustrated I get when I see words misused, abused, and exploited. And I see it happening yet again.

“Torture” used to mean something. It was an obscene word, with an obscene meaning. It meant the deliberate infliction of great pain, great suffering, injuries, maiming, even killing people.

Nowadays, though, anything sort of the kindest and gentlest treatment by US captors is considered “torture.” By calling the admittedly rough interrogation techniques reported being used in Guantanamo “torture,” we devalue the word, and allow those nations who do genuinely torture people to draw moral equivalence with us.

I have a simple definition of “torture” as it would apply in Guantanamo. I would like to see the military not treat the detainees any harsher than they treat their own members. As long as the techniques are less than our troops routinely endure as part of boot camp and SERE training.

It’s a simple matter of applying the Golden Rule. I don’t want the interrogators doing anything to their captives that they themselves would not be prepared to endure.

It strikes me as an elegant and simple solution. Naturally, I expect it to go nowhere.

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