Posts Tagged ‘morality’

(I know I said this was only theater reviews now, but whatever, I need to do something with my life guys, I need to feel like it has meaning.)

I want to write briefly about this “Yale Psychologist Says Pizzagate Gunman Has Too Much Empathy” and I need a little more room than a Twitter MANTHREAD so I guess it’s going to be here, at Medium, the Place for Long Tweets.

It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly I find so reproachable about this guy, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, so I am just going to go through his interview and see if I can work it out.

(This interview was probably highly-edited, so if the problems that I’m having come from the fact that Paul Bloom was edited to incoherence, then I’m sorry Paul Bloom! But I don’t think that’s the problem.)

Let’s start at the beginning:

Now I will write about this article by Andrew O’Hehir over at Salon, which is a discussion of several movies (Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, and The Gatekeepers), because it is actually pretty appalling.  Let’s just set aside the headline (“Is Feminism Worth Defending with Torture”) as being race-baiting hokum (it carries the attendent implication that 1) the War on Terror is being prosecuted in order to improve the lives of women, and 2) all “enemy combatants” in that war must be misogynist because they are Muslim), and talk just about the torture bit that he brings up.  Here, I will quote the relevant material.

Does a society that produces female CIA agents (and reelects a black president) gain the right to commit atrocities in its own defense? Is torture justified if the torturer is a university-educated woman, and the tortured a bigoted Muslim fundamentalist?

I think those are excellent questions for us to ask ourselves, arguably defining questions of the age, and I think the longer you look at them the thornier they get. I certainly incline toward the predictable left-libertarian response that torture and other illegal and unconstitutional actions (like, say, the government assassination of United States citizens on secret evidence) are immoral and unjustifiable in almost every instance. But you’ll notice that I’ve left myself a little wiggle room, and if we’re honest we recognize that morality is always relative, and only available in shades of gray.