Thursday, 11 December 2014

Seriously Unpleasant

There's absolutely no chance of this, of course.  There never was.  Daniel Larison is kind enough to highlight an article explaining why: 
Willingness to torture became, first within elite government and opinion-making circles, then in the culture generally, and finally as a partisan GOP talking point, a litmus test of seriousness with respect to the fight against terrorism. That – proving one’s seriousness in the fight – was its primary purpose from the beginning, in my view. It was only secondarily about extracting intelligence. 
I'd put extracting intelligence at third, actually, behind not just the search for seriousness but the search for bloody-handed revenge, but otherwise this is dead on balls accurate, as someone once had Marissa Tomei say. The Americans - with our own enthusiastic assistance - tortured people because it suited a certain type of mind to believe that our goals can only ever be bought with the blood of others.  We can't be serious about terrorism unless we torture someone else's sons.  We can't be serious about global stability unless someone else's kids die with their organs staining the sand outside a town they'd never heard of the day before.  We can't be serious about sensible government spending unless other people's daughters are being left alone to starve under bridges. We can't be serious about reforming the healthcare system unless other people's children are allowed to be choked to death by their own windpipes because their parents can't afford medication and every trip to the ER is a crap-shoot that sooner or later will see you roll snake eyes [1].

It's everywhere.  It always has been. Socialism is childish. Empathy is childish.  Wanting as many people as possible to live as dignified a life as possible is childish.  The only way to be serious is to pitch one's opinions somewhere between disinterested sociopathy and outright sadism.  It's like we all got as far as comprehending that nothing important was ever achieved without sacrifice, but tuned out en masse before we could be reminded that something is only a sacrifice if you're the one giving something up. Otherwise, it's theft. Theft of money, or of freedom, or of life, in the name of preserving money, or freedom, or life. Because there's only so much of it all to go around. If you don't believe that you're unserious. And because there's only so much to go around, the best thing to do is make sure those that have the most get more of it.  If you don't believe that you're unserious.

Seriousness is a murderer. You'll forgive me if I take no interest in it.

(h/t to Balloon Juice)

[1] Something the resolutely serious Dr Larison might want to reflect on himself, when he's finished complaining about how keeping one's citizenry alive costs too much.

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