Tuesday, October 10, 2006


One of my favorite writers, Mark Steyn, had occasion to use the following phrase in an online debate with a correspondent who equated Mark's description of Gitmo after a US government sponsored trip there to the disgraced 1930's NYTimes foreign correspondent Walter Duranty's description of Stalinist Russia:

"That is a corruption of language and meaning that makes communication impossible".

I have long been looking for a phrase to describe my feeling of frustration when engaging dems in debate on a number of subjects, notable among them, that we are "torturing" prisoners at Gitmo and elsewhere. We seem to be speaking different languages. They seem to change the definition of any word they choose to as it becomes convenient to do so; it makes communication impossible.

Immediately below are the Merriam-Webster definitions of "Torture":

Main Entry: 1torĂ‚·ture Pronunciation: 'tor-ch&rFunction: nounEtymology: Middle French, from Old French, from Late Latin tortura, from Latin tortus, past participle of torquEre to twist; probably akin to Old High German drAhsil turner, Greek atraktos spindle1
a : anguish of body or mind : AGONY
b : something that causes agony or pain
2 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
3 : distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument :

It is apparent that none of our described treatment of the bad guys conforms to (a),(b1) or (b2) unless you wish to describe the infliction on them of loud and cacophonous music as causing "agony". If that is your preference I refer you again to the Steyn quote above. Pain? Hardly.

For me, and I think for most honest people "the infliction of intense pain" is what we think of as torture in the context we are discussing. We are obviously not doing that to the prisoners we hold. If we were the IRC, the detainees' lawyers and their handlers, being Americans, would not tolerate it.

I do find it very amusing that the dems arguments on the torture issue in particular and many issues in general actually fit the description of (b3). Remember "it depends on what the meaning of is is"?. What a wonderful irony. Its them doing the torturing!

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