Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Marcotte Resigns

The sweet, demure Amanda Marcotte has regrettably resigned her post as blogmaster for the John Edwards campaign. I'm sure the entire campaign staff breathed a sigh of relief when Amanda chose to decamp depriving the ambulance-chaser of her legendary charm and wit. Here's a sample of what the Edwards folks got when they hired Ms Marcotte. One has to wonder what kind of people John Edwards has put in charge of his campaign that they would have thought this sort of thing appropriate to represent a man who aspires to be president of the United States.

Caution: this is most definitely not for children.

In a way it's too bad Marcotte resigned. She would have provided all of us with many mirthful moments during the primaries.


Panning <i>Jesus Camp</i>

Joe Carter skewers Jesus Camp, a documentary supposedly about Evangelicals but, according to Carter, really about Pentacostals. Jesus Camp has been nominated for an Academy Award (although as PC as Jesus Camp may be, it probably has no chance of winning against Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth), but I haven't seen it so I can't comment on Carter's review. If you've seen the film, you might want to check Carter's post out for yourself.


Is Assassination Moral?

A week or so ago I invited comment on reports that the Israelis had assassinated a key Iranian physicist working on their nuclear weapons program. I asked if killing this man averted a wider war and possibly a nuclear explosion in an American city would it be the morally right thing to do. Here are several of the responses we received. The following opinions should not be assumed to be consonant with our own views:

I am all for the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientists. It doesn't seem like anything else will stop them from continuing down the dark road to nuclear power. One thing to keep in mind though is that the U.S.A. has to keep its hands "clean" of the matter. Otherwise the world will once again call us a "bully" and constantly attack our world cop nature. Also Iran would most likely be very upset by the time it actually develops nuclear weapons, and be very volatile. Of course from what I understand they're already quite volatile and very likely to use their nuclear prowess when it becomes available. Maybe I'm not really for the assassination of Iran's nuclear scientists, I just like the sound of it. NM


If we are to make the assumption that a war was certainly averted by assassinating Iran's physicist, then I say it was the most moral thing that could have been done. Who can argue that losing one life is not preferred to losing thousands of lives? I suppose that one could argue that had the physicist been allowed to live and war broke out there would still be hope for a positive outcome. What that positive outcome could be I have not the slightest idea. I think that the world would look back after a war and ask why there was not more done to prevent Iran from gaining nukes.

On the other hand, perhaps the guilty party should have spared the man's life and destroyed the nuclear technology the man was working with instead. That would certainly halt the production of nukes, at least until new machinery and equipment could be acquired. That would be the morally superior thing to do, that is, if destroying a nuclear facility could be done with the assurance that people at, or nearby, the facility would not be killed in the process.

The ultimate question here is whether or not more lives were ultimately saved by killing one. But who can really answer that? There are too many variables to consider. We will never know for sure if the actions taken truly result in the saving of lives. Situations like this one are tough because there is no clear right way to go. If it were up to me, I would not have killed the man because I am confident that I should not murder under any personal circumstances. But, under the authority of a government like this was (if it was indeed done by the Israelis), I have no problem choosing to act in favor of the lesser of two evils. SL


I think that every attempt to maintain peace in the Middle East should be made because if it isn't there will be a disasterous affect throughout the world. There might have been better ways to go about this, but this was effective. Taking the lives of people is always a questionable deal, but in this situation I think it might have been the right step. DJ


Is this ethical? Wow, that is a loaded question...even if it can be worked out that assassinations to avert nuclear war are a morally okay thing...who decides who the targets are? Why the scientist overseeing production? Why not the people who are actually ordering the production to exist in the first place? Why not those who run a government which would support such a plan?

It is a difficult thing to say that murder is ever morally fine; however I feel there is precedent in history for such singular acts in order to save lives. If you see a man walking into a school with a gun, do you say please stop, or do you go into action to stop him? Be it you or the police, one would naturally say force. This is because there are situations where our "instinct" to protect, or our desire to avoid a coming calamity shows us the course of action to take. This might, on another day, be considered amoral. However, there are situations where force is warranted. JY


I do not believe that assassinating nuclear scientists is a moral or workable solution to the Iran problem. First of all, killing a man for his abilities is a dangerous thing to do. Arguments could then be made for killing young Arab men who could potentially become suicide bombers that would become a slippery slope. Assassination is viewed worldwide as cowardly and wrong. It is not right to kill a person for their deeds without a proper trial. Not only is this morally wrong, it would not serve its purpose. If nuclear scientists are killed, new ones will receive training, and take over research. Problems are always best settled head on, though that sometimes is not the easiest way. A band aid over the gaping wound that is Iran would do no one any good. MS

All of these comments came from college students.



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Torture on 24

My friend Jason sends along this article in The New Yorker about Joel Surnow, the co-creator of the television hit 24. The article is a little long, but it makes for interesting reading, especially when the author, Jane Mayer, talks about Surnow's youth.

Her main point in the essay, though, seems to be to challenge Surnow's use, and evident approval, of torture in the series. Lots of interrogation experts are trotted out to tut tut about the harmful effects the show is having on the attitudes of American youth and to offer their arguments for absolutizing a ban on torture.

Surnow is given the last word, however, and in the last paragraph I think he blows his critics' arguments right out of the water.

Torture for the purpose of amusing the torturer or punishing the victim is an absolute evil, but if there's a chance that innocent lives may be saved through the application of painful coercion to someone who withholds information that could save them, such coercion is morally justified, if not obligatory.

Anyone who finds this view offensive should put themselves in the place of a parent or spouse whose loved one is threatened with death. We've discussed this problem several times over the last couple of years and the interested reader might wish to check out some of our previous posts on the matter. This one is probably the best one to start with, but others here, here, and here might be helpful in making our position clear.