Monday, November 14, 2005

Euphemism Warning

Here we go again. We are getting manipulated by the "word smiths" again. This time they are attempting to take some of the sting out the word "torture".

In this article discussing Stephen Hadley's chicken dancing around the President's "do not torture" statement last week. A new term is weaseling it's insidious way into the dialogue. The new phrase they are trying to make stick is "enhanced interrogation techniques". Does that make you feel a little better about it? "Enhanced interrogation techniques" sounds a lot less forbidden than "torture". It doesn't automatically bring to mind bamboo manicures, electric penis clips or the big favorite "Palestinian Cross".

We can't let them use these weasel phrases to take the focus off the fact that torture is wrong. There is no "torture light". If you torture or condone torture in any fashion you are a war criminal plain and simple.

A good example of how we have been brainwashed by the use of euphemism to soften the reality of something unpleasant is how we now refer to the nervous collapse in soldiers too long in combat as PTSD or "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder". That sounds a lot better than the original term used in World War I..."Shell Shock". Shell Shock is too brutal for today's sensibilities it is simple and pussy footing around. Tells you everything you need to know...Shell Shock.

In WW II "Shell Shock" evolved into "Battle Fatigue". That's a little softer, not so brutal. "Fatique" is better than "Shock" you know it doesn't sound nearly as bad. "Battle Fatigue" still wasn't soft enough though for the war mongers because in the Korean Conflict it evolved yet again into "operational exhaustion" ... still a little softer and less alarming. In Vietnam we finally managed to weasel "shell shock" into "PTSD" and not only did we totally take all of the simplicity and directness out of the phrase we now had something that was easy to abbreviate and remove that last vestige of emotional baggage.

This is what they are attempting to do with "enhanced interrogation techniques". Take all of the emotional baggage associated with "torture" away so it will be a little more palatable for the sheep who really don't like to "dirty their beautiful minds" with "torture".

You will see the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques" more and more as this unbelievable discussion around how much torture is enough torture proceeds.

An example is from Republican Senator Kit Bond, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who told Newsweek magazine that "enhanced interrogation techniques" had worked with at least one captured high-level Al-Qaeda operative, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, to thwart an unspecified plot.

The article goes on to state that compromise discussions are underway between the White House and the Senate on the language in the McCain ammendment.

I guess it is OK to consider a compromise if you are only talking about "enhanced interrogation techniques" while it would be unheard of to talk of compromise over "torture".

Don't be distracted by the arguments that the ends justify the means and that they are only doing it to protect us. The argument over torture is not about any of this.. it is about who we are as a country. If we continue to torture or condone torture we surrender all moral authority over human rights anywhere and anytime. Holy Keerist one of the many excuses Dubya used to justify attacking Iraq was because Saddam tortured people. There is absolutely no gray area here... it is a totally black and white issue. Yes or NO.

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