Torture Is Never Justified

Torture is never justified. Torture dehumanizes the torturers, even more than the victims, and demoralizes the society that condones and … Continued

Torture is never justified. Torture dehumanizes the torturers, even more than the victims, and demoralizes the society that condones and allows it. Torture does not produce safety or security or even accurate information. Under torture, people will say anything, implicate anyone. The use of torture undermines our moral credibility and makes a lie of any claims that we stand for democracy or even decency. Every time we torture, we create a hundred new enemies.

On a spiritual level, torture, pain and death release powerful energies. We have a choice: we can nurture our souls on the energies of love and compassion, or we can pump up our power by feeding on the pain of others, and become addicted to the rush. We might begin torturing under the justification of safety and security—but we end by torturing for the sake of torturing, crack addicts of pain infliction.

Torture has long term, poisonous affects on the society that practices it. One reason many of us choose to call ourselves Witches is to consciously identify with the women and men who were tortured and burned by the inquisition throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries during the Witch persecutions. Our traditions remind us of how people were taken, on the word or whisper of a neighbor, an enemy, a rival for land or lover, and tortured until they confessed to anything the Inquisitors suggested, naming others to be subjected to the same pain and humiliation. The Salem Witch trials in Massachusetts in the 1690s were the last spasm of the torture-fest. Nineteen people were hanged, one died under torture, at least five more died in prison, and all were later exonerated—after they were dead.

Those events are now hundreds of years in the past, but they still leave cultural residues—in our hesitation to stand up and speak out as strong women, in our mistrust of our own intuition and of information that is not officially sanctioned by the authorities, in all the cultural icons that identify women’s strength with evil.

What will be the residues of our current bout of torture? When I was a child growing up in the Fifties, we played endless games of war and spies in which we imagined standing up to the horrible tortures many of our elders had actually experienced. Torture was something the bad guys did—like the Nazis. Torture was the defining characteristic that made them the bad guys—and not torturing, treating even our enemies with some minimal human decency—was what made us the good guys.

What will it mean for our society in the long run that this divide has broken down? Do children today play Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo? If so, who will they grow up to be? How will the soldiers who have participated in torture ever come back and be reintegrated into a gentler world?

And if we begin by torturing suspected terrorists, how long will it be before we start torturing political dissidents? Terrorists won’t need to bother destroying our society, should that be their aim—we will already have done it to ourselves, and made ourselves into exactly what we most fear.

(For more information on the Witch Burnings, see Starhawk. Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics. Boston, Beacon, 1982)

(Two current movies that explore these issues are Rendition, that dramatizes our policy of secretly sending suspects abroad to be tortured, and In the Valley of Elah, that shows the destructive impact on our own soldiers of the demoralization of war. Both are based on true stories, and excellently and sensitively written, directed and acted. All our policy makers should see them.)

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  • Terra Gazelle

    Starhawk,Pagans are blessed that you are one of us. You bring to mind again what not only our past is, but what humanity can condone and carry on. I was a young child when my Dad was stationed in North Africa. We lived in Tripoli and I went to a UN school. Dad would take us to different places so that I learned of the culture and history of that place. It was awesome and beautiful. One place that wasn’t was in Tunis. I remember the jeep ride over the mountains to what had been a Nazi POW camp. It was white cement block buildings. Inside was dirt floors and white walls. But on the walls of the one long narrow building, that I went into, I remember seeing scratched into the long walls, women, naked ladies with tiny parachuters landing all over her. Also etched into the cement block was names…hundreds of names, beside many were “Star of Davids”. What was also all over those walls were holes…bullet holes, and from those holes dark brown stains that splattered and ran down those while walls. Shall I talk about the smell? The smell that was imbedded into the firt floors and the very blocks? I was in my Dad’s arms and he told me what this place was..and what men did to other men. I was 6. I remember. We all need to remember.Where is the line we will not cross as humans? What line will we not cross as Americans? I have seen to much of what can happen when we start crossing lines.We can not allow our leaders lead us into a black hole of self destruction.Thank you Starhawk for your wise words.

  • JoeT

    Thanks for the convincing demonstration that the argument that “traditional” religious faith is the only source of moral rectitude is utter nonesense. the contrast with Cal Thomas couldn’t be more stark.

  • Alex

    If we have a suspect who may give potentially life saving information regarding imminent terrorist plots i.e Osama’s right hand man, then I think the legislative and executive branch can provide proper oversight to allow torture. To take it completely off the table is ridiculous. Guantanamo/abu bears no resemblance to Nazi terror camps, to make the comparison is intellectually dishonest. I’m sure Adolph had a hard time with all the lawsuits against the Nazi gov. I bet Hitler an his staff really made sure his prisoners were well fed and allowed lawyers. I think he also allowed the Jews to freely practice there religion (or was that the reason he exterminated them?)If you want to make the argument against torture , then fine, but pls dont insult every one’s intelligence by making comparisons that dont stand up to the light of day.

  • lepidopteryx

    JJ, you’re really getting freaky, man.

  • DW

    Well put, Alex. And with all due respect, much more intelligent than the post above yours.

  • JoeT

    Alex: I don’t recall Patton waterboarding Nazis. I doubt he would approve. I’m with Patton.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Alex,Waterboarding that was used by the Spanish Inquisition, by Pol Pot, and by the Japanese on our soldiers is ok? So we are a nation of laws, unless it is inconvient that is. We make of our honor such a unimportant thing.So you think that this administration can provide oversight? This administration ordered tortureing in the first hand. And until the Democrats gained the small majority that they have, there was no oversight. The pictures of Abu Ghraib had to be made public before there was one hearing by the Republican congress. The pictures were a year old by that time. And then only some of the info got out…there was so much worse that was not brought out into the public realm. After all we need protected. And what did that conmgress worry about? That it had happened? No..that it was made public. I am a witness to what humans can do to each other…from police turning dogs and water hoses on children, lynching a black 14 year old for whistling at a white woman, to pulling a man by a chain from the back of a pick up truck until his body falls apart. So what would you say is torture? terra

  • DW

    I think General Patton’s overall view was the best way to get hurt (in war) is to worry about getting hurt. There was no need for him to even remotely entertain the idea of waterboarding Nazis..he just flat out wanted to eliminate the b*******. Understandable.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Starhawk,As usual I agree with you completely.For those without much knowledge of the Salem witch trials, I would like to comment on this quote from your essay:”The Salem Witch trials in Massachusetts in the 1690s were the last spasm of the torture-fest. Nineteen people were hanged, one died under torture, at least five more died in prison, and all were later exonerated—after they were dead.”To say that “…one died under torture… is objectively true, since heavy stones were placed on his prone body until he expired.But without further explanation, the statement is misleading. The process to which the accused was subjected was an established legal procedure both in England and in British colonial America.It was called the “peine forte et dure.” It was applied to any criminal defendant who refused to plead either guilty or not guilty. The stones were added slowly to give the accused time to think about his refusal to plead and to change his mind.The purpose of the process was not to torture for torture’s sake, or to punish, but to coerce the accused to plead one way or the other. Ultimately the weight of the stones on the chest prevented breathing and the defendant suffocated.Prisoners in capital cases often refused to plead, because, if they pleaded guilty, or were found guilty at a trial after pleading not guilty, all of their property would be forfeited to the Crown.Under the prevailing law, a trial could not begin unless the prisoner had entered a plea. Where, as in the case of Giles Corey at Salem, the accused died without pleading, his family inherited his property.If Giles Corey had pleaded either guilty or not guilty, he’d undoubtedly have been pronounced guilty and hanged.His family would then be penniless and he’d still be dead. He made a wise choice. His reputed last words were: “More weight!”You can read more about the peine forte et dure at:

  • JoeT

    Alex and DW: I was of course referring to the Nazis Patton didn’t shoot. There were thousands, and somehow I don’t think he shot any who surrendered either.

  • Henry James

    Starhawk only has 13 comments so far.Cal Thomas has 172!!!!!Starhawk, You have to become a complete crackpot like Cal and you will get more reaction.Stop being so humane and sensible and lovely!!!

  • Alex

    Terra, No one says it s a harmless or painless process. No need to go over the various types of torture. That is not where the argument lies. My point is that in exceptional cases, we may consider it. It doesnt have to be for this administration or just the re pubs and neocons. There would be oversight , much more then at abu, the Nazi’s and the gulag. The constant use of horrid examples of human behavior doesn’t answer the question …If there was a high degree of certainty that a prisoner who is guilty of heinous terrorist activities knew of additional plans to hurt innocent people, then should some form of torture be considered ? Nothing s/b taken off the table. The Nazi’s , Stalin ,pol pot have done many things that we do today, that doesn’t make them us nor does the reverse hold true. That type of logic is faulty at best.

  • SCHMOOZEALERT

    If Cal Thomas is a crackpot…..then Henry James is a schmoozer.

  • Athena

    Waterboarding is similar to the ducking of accused witches that was commonplace during the witch trials. (From Wikipedia) In medieval times, ducking was seen as a foolproof way to establish whether a suspect was a witch. The ducking stools were first used for this purpose but ducking was later inflicted without the chair. In this instance the victim’s right thumb was bound to left toe. A rope was attached to her waist and the ‘witch’ was thrown into a river or deep pond. If the ‘witch’ floated it was deemed that she was in league with the devil, rejecting the ‘baptismal water’. If the ‘witch’ drowned she was deemed innocent. This particular method of ducking was also inflicted on men accused of witchcraft.Sound familiar, anyone? But no, Christians don’t torture.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Alex,Torture is wrong and will only bring more terrorists. We have more terrorists now then before we went into Iraq. We have more trouble in more places and there are more nations that are breaking with us. We need a global united fight to end terrorism…we need to know why we are no longer trusted to stand up for our so called Beliefs. What beliefs do we have? What do we stand for?As for as my logic goes…it is not just my logic but what this country signed onto.Waterboarding is considered torture according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, of which the United States is a signatory. ~Stalin ,pol pot have done many things that we do today, that doesn’t make them us nor does the reverse hold true. That type of logic is faulty at best.~So the bad guys do bad things…and we do bad things..so where are the good guys? and my logic is faulty?terra

  • SCHMOOZEALERT

    It is a known fact that ‘witches’ believe they can cast ‘spells’ on people, some of them spells that bring harm to the people.But no, witches dont torture.

  • wiccan

    Posted on November 7, 2007 16:50 “SCHMOOZEALERT: But no, witches dont torture.”Smooze-Where do you get your information? Because they’re lying to you, sweetie. It is against Wiccan ethics to work magick (cast spells) on another without their express consent. Also, by the Law of the Three-fold Return, any harm that was caused by a “spell” would return to the one who cast it three times as strong.Please don’t rely on the Brothers Grimm for your information.

  • A Hermit

    Alex says:”If we have a suspect who may give potentially life saving information regarding imminent terrorist plots i.e Osama’s right hand man, then I think the legislative and executive branch can provide proper oversight to allow torture. To take it completely off the table is ridiculous.”While this might sound reasonable at first glance there ares some serious problems with it.First of all; how certain do you have to be about the person’s possession of “potentially life saving information?” If you had good enough knowledge of the situation to be certain that the person had such information you probably wouldn’t need the information they might give you! Torture, in any case, usually produces false information; forced confessions, stories told to make the torturer happy, confirming his already existing beliefs regardless of the truth of those beliefs, etc.The second problem is the morality of the act itself; is inflicting suffering on another human being justified simply in order to obtain information? If so, what if you haven’t got the terrorist, but you do have his children? Would it be acceptable to torture his children to find him so you could torture him to get the information you want?The question isn’t as simple as you might have thought…RegardsA Hermit

  • SCHMOOZEALERT

    Norrie Hoyt was referring to the Salem ‘witch’ trial…not the Salem ‘wicca’ trial.And my info wasnt from the Brothers Grimm.Nice try. But lame.

  • wiccan

    Smooze-Why lame? Do you have better information on my religion than I do? If so, teach me.

  • Terra Gazelle

    SCHMOOZEALERT,Witches are indicted against harming others. We can also not even try to heal anyone without their express agreement. We have strict laws that we have to follow…and without a devil to blame for our wrong doing, we have to accept it on our own fate. In many ways when we join this religion we become signatories on Priciples and Ordaines that we have to live with…without the out of changeing the definitions.Please stop getting your info from fictional books and bad B movies. terra

  • wiccan

    I’m with you here, Terra. He probably watched “The Craft” and now thinks he knows everything about Wicca.

  • alex

    A hermit writes:”First of all; how certain do you have to be about the person’s possession of “potentially life saving information?” If you had good enough knowledge of the situation to be certain that the person had such information you probably wouldn’t need the information they might give you! Torture, in any case, usually produces false information; forced confessions, stories told to make the torturer happy, confirming his already existing beliefs regardless of the truth of those beliefs, etc.”- torture usually produces false results ? no method is foolproof, simple question and answer sessions will no doubt produce even more false results. I dont understand how you make the “leap” that if we knew for certain that someone “had” more information, that we would somehow know what that person knows before he even tells us. Doesnt make sense

  • Terra Gazelle

    SCHMOOZEALERT,When Witchcraft was renewed there was a law in England that wouold have thrown Witches in prison. So the word Wica was used…but the law was repealed in 1954 so Witch was used. But then some folks still do not use the word Witch because of the discrimination they have to go through. People believe the old tales and are repeating lies of the inquisition. Read The Malleus Maleficarum…and check out the writers Heinrich Kramer & James Sprenger. Check out the hate and pure nonsence. The church feared women and burned Witches. You and your ilk only promote the same kind of nonsence and hate. Just because there has not been any auto de fes lately does not mean that people do not face losses because of stupidity.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Wiccan,Now I loved The Wickerman! lol…the old one of course…; )What is that saying? Lies can go around the world while truth is putting on his shoes.Truth tends to be much more boreing also.terra

  • SCHMOOZEALERT

    wiccan,Now where would the Brothers Grimm have come up with ‘evil witches’ some 200-250 years ago when they lived? I guess you would probably say they were misled too. The whole world is misled on wicca/witches. Nobody understands them. Sorcery, witchcraft, spell casting yada yada yada were pinned as evil looooooooooong before the Bro’s Grimm. They deny a creator God…yet they think others should believe, accept or recognize that they have powers? Yeah, right.Apparently, you think it starts with those here who comment. If you have Google..do a search. Its everywhere. To the lay person, you all seem to be a very confused bunch.

  • SCHMOOZEALERT

    >>We have strict laws that we have to follow…and without a devil to blame for our wrong doing.Do you not realize this is exactly what the majority of people associate witches with…the devil..for centuries?To think you can ‘heal’ and ‘cast spells’ is amazing. To you, can every human being inherently will to heal someone else, or does something ‘magical’ happen when you become a wiccan?This just defies imagination. Its like having a discussion within a lame Harry Potter book. To think its the majority of people are wrong about witches is ludicrous.

  • David

    Your first Paragraph is 100% accurate and should be imprinted in the mind of every law-enforcement or military person in our country.

  • Arminius

    Hoo-boy, this is getting deep.Terra, you said to Starhawk: “Pagans are blessed that you are one of us.”. NOT good enough! The whole damn world is blessed!As to Smooz. He seems to have a predefined definition of witch as evil. Do I detect right wing Christian? As to the defenders of torture. Can you put yourself in the shoes of one who is tortured? What would you say to get out of it? And if, per chance, you knew when the bomb would go off, and the torturers kept going after you said when, what would you say next? And what would they believe? You disgust me, and you disgust any decent human being.Arminius

  • Steve B, UK

    Hi Schmoozealert, Since you find it confusing, I’ll try to clarify for you:Wicca is one form of modern witchcraft. There are many other forms of witchcraft as well. Wiccans are, however, witches. So are the other witches.The word ‘witch’ is loaded historically to imply causing harm, but this is not the case when applied to modern neo-pagans or most wiccans. While the “threefold return” and “wiccan rede” are not held to be absolute laws by all, there are enough other facets of the faith that promote love for mankind and responsibility for your actions.’Wicca’ is too broad a term these days to claim that *all* wiccans do anything in particular, but if you a large number don’t believe in Creator Gods, you’d be very wrong.Most wiccans don’t care if you believe they have powers, just as they don’t care that everyone else isn’t wiccan. That would be an old habit of several other religions instead.To get back to the main question, no, the fact that Wicca includes spell-casting does not mean that it in any way condones torture, and the allegation is ignorant and offensive. As is becoming the norm on here.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Steve,Blessed be,

  • Henry James

    Hey!Is this where the Pagans hang out?Wild Bill, wait for me.Hi everyone. I feel all warm and comfy with wiccan and terra and pagan and starhawk.lubHenry the Dead GuySince I no longer have a body,

  • Steve B, UK

    Hi Terra,I know it’s only one or two people, but I’m getting bored of the attacks. They can always be defeated by the question Ignorance about Wicca is fine, even assuming thar it has practices you wouldn’t like is fine to an extent (the words ‘pagan’ and ‘witch’ aren’t neutral for everybody, and I understand that.) But while Starhawk may follow a particularly feminist form of Wicca, for anyone to read her article and still assume that the Wiccan path promotes torture and/or cursing is beyond stupid.—Schmooze: “People” are often wrong about a lot of things when it comes to minority groups. Assuming the Devil has something to do with modern neopaganism is one of those cases – an Adversary figure does not feature, because it’s a pagan cosmology. Neopagans don’t generally want a single creator god, and don’t believe in ‘the devil’ either. If your point is that everyone but christians are being deluded by the Devil, then think of Wiccans as about in the same camp as Buddhists (and about as harmful).As for witchcraft being associated with The Devil centuries ago, yes. Funnily enough, NEO-paganism does things differently. Try selling animal sacrifice to most neopagans and see how far you get.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Steve,And the others? let them stew in their own juices..they are the losers.terra

  • Arminius

    Terra, Steve, et al,You have opened the mind of this Christian. Not that I’m converting, but you have a beautiful thing going. Thanks.As to the bashers on this thread. Yup, minds like a steel trap. Rusted shut.Arminius

  • Terra Gazelle

    shmoozie,as far as healing…what do Christians do when they pray for a healing for someone? focused prayer except with props. Is it magick? Well yes, if you consider the definition of magick being, “the art of focusing your will and emotions to effect change.” Do we think it works..sure, or people would not have been doing it for thousands of years. Oh and we do have Creator God…s. Two who art One.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Arminius,It would be nice to have an On Faith Meetup one day…wouldn’t it? terra

  • Arminius

    Terra,Yes, it would be absolutely fantastic to have an On Faith meet-up. Count me in.Arminius

  • Terra Gazelle

    Arminius,Well our props are just a focus point. They help us to concentrate deeply. We do use music, art, poetry, dance…but also candles and incense.terra

  • Gandalf

    Maybe Cal Thomas could read this and learn something! It is never too late to learn…

  • wiccan

    Amen, Gandalf, amen!

  • RSS

    There seems to be 2 arguments here.. One does torture work? And without endorsing it I don’t see how anyone can say it doesn’t work.And to me while certainly not every form of it goes, in a FEW EXTREME CASES shouldn’t we at least consider some methods IF it is the People who are against ever using waterboarding never want to get into a discussion on what they would do when all conventional methods to get

  • wiccan

    Merry Meet, ladies!If I understand CCNL and others of like mind, we have to stop being Americans because the terrorists hate Americans. To Hell with the rule of law, to Hell with being the good guys, lets all wet our pants from the fear we might be attacked again.Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.- Ben FranklinHow much more so when we’re talking about our souls.

  • Paganplace

    “RSS:”There seems to be 2 arguments here.. One does torture work? And without endorsing it I don’t see how anyone can say it doesn’t work.”You could ask the CIA about that one. “Think about it, why would torture have been around for thousands of years IF it didn’t work?”So have purported penis enhancements, as well as witch trials, for much the same reason. 🙂 It’s been around because the behavior is often *rewarded,* …not cause people sat down and said, “Wow, this really gave us good intel.” Torture does one thing… gets people to say whatever it takes to stop the torture. If you are trying to enforce a party line or Witch-trial narrative, why, then, if you torture people, yes, you get someone to confirm your beliefs and finger others, …anyone. “I mean do you think the KGB learned nothing over the years using torture? Or how about the Mob?? Nothing? If torture never works doesn’t it beg the question why give spy’s going behind enemy lines in WWII cyanide capsules?”Cause being tortured to death sucks a lot more than breaking a capsule? Cause it gives the interrogatee a measure of control that can help them get through a bad situation?Sure, people might give up true information, but the torturer has little way of knowing. Torture is most effective at *terrorizing* a populace into compliance, and you don’t need actual guilt or good intel for *that.*

  • Paganplace

    Anyway, even those cyanide capsules are way out of favor in the intelligence world: the general idea, I’m given to understand, is to play for time and not be a hero. Modern information management means that you don’t know too much, anyway, and intelligence networks just consider what you *do* know compromised, if you get picked up. People might say *anything* under torture, you see. It induces confused, dissociative states, which means you mostly get nonsense, if the subject can even remember what the heck it was really all about in the first place. Even if the torturee is so turned around that they even think the story is sincere, by then their sense of reality’s so messed-up they might not be able to tell the truth if they wanted to. Look at what happens in domestic abuse situations. ‘Exorcisms,’ …other cases of severe abuse. People can be ‘broken,’ ….anyone can. But people’s memory is not a tape recorder with a lock of willpower on it, that once cracked plays back for you. It’s interactive, …torture’s really only good for hearing what the interrogator wants to hear.

  • Mr Mark

    Poor Alex & DW. They think that bush uses torture to protect them. How delusional is that?There is one reason and one reason only that bush uses torture:BECAUSE HE CAN.Bush’s use of torture has nothing to do with getting information or protecting anybody. It has everything to do with his flaunting The Constitution, domestic and international law – and ignoring and belittling the “reality” to which the rest of the civilized world subscribes.Torture isn’t a reason for bush. It’s an opportunity. An opportunity to remake the world in his own pathetic and ghoulish image.The sooner you disencumber yourself of the belief that bush does anything for anyone’s good, the sooner you’ll understand what his gleeful celebration of torture is all about.

  • Terra Gazelle

    P/A,We are small granted…but from 2000 to today we have grown 1600%. And people search us out.As far as Will? I know several Wiccan leaders that have had Christian pastors come to them and learn how to pray with better focus. I have had a Pastor for several years now as a friend and student. He is a Christian that knows we do have tecniques that work. There is always your Will in anything, you don’t focus and want what you are praying for…it will not happen. Shoot, I have watched those TV preachers and their congregation raiseing power .lol. They have no idea what they are doing, but they like the feeling… umm Witches? They are raisen and prayen…

  • Paganplace

    Now, apparently, the problem with people not understanding ‘Bamboo under the fingernails is pretty much never virtuous’ …falls on ‘Pagan self-righteousness.’ (Didn’t we have ‘no morals’ last week?)No, conservative Christians, we think your ‘morals’ are repulsive, because they are apparently meant to make innocent people suffer for being gay, while justifying atrocities against the ‘enemies’ you say we’re terrible people for not hating, and… torturing… and… ‘forgiving…’ I think on the ‘morality’ issue, well, I’m guessing you could either admit we have some ‘morals’ and stop saying we ‘believe what we want to,’ or….. figure when we take a stand on something like sick children or on drowning people within an inch of their lives and past sanity in hopes this will supply a dataset… It’s not cause we needed something to feel ‘self-righteous about.’

  • Mr Mark

    Good points, Paganplace.Is it just me, or does it appear that the Xians on this blog are saying that the use of torture is justified when used to fight evil regimes that employ torture?[head explodes]

  • SCHMOOZEALERT

    >>Most Wiccans don’t have a problem with Christians until they start telling us that their beliefs are superior to ours (which you just did).then another states..>>Shoot, I have watched those TV preachers and their congregation raiseing power .lol. They have no idea what they are doing, but they like the feeling… umm Witches? (Opinion: ~As if they are the final word on knowing what theyre ‘doing’~)Now, one says we dont have a problem with Christians until they start telling us that their beliefs are superior to ours…and then the next one states their superiority by stating that TV preachers have no idea what they are doing. Whose acting like the superior one here? also..And the poor, poor clueless one above who stated:>>(re: Christians)…ignoring and belittling the “reality” to which the rest of the civilized world subscribes….Doesnt even realize the full ‘reality’ of the ‘civilized’ world.Many nations of the ‘civilized’ world of which you speak ignore and belittle you also.(Now..watch them all huddle together and schmooze one another…(again. Sad. Its all they have. They are not the majority. And, face it, it will be a long time before their bandwagon will be offered at the polls, if ever)

  • Arminius

    Mr Mark, you said:Let’s say that it is the right wing Christians (That’s Christians, not Xians; please be with me on this. I capitalize Pagan, after all). Anyway. I am one Christian, to the left, who despises all torture and any who support it. I ask these benighted people: What Would Jesus Do? And even the Pagans here know the answer to that one!Arminius

  • Paganplace

    “Now, one says we dont have a problem with Christians until they start telling us that their beliefs are superior to ours…and then the next one states their superiority by stating that TV preachers have no idea what they are doing.Whose acting like the superior one here? “Well, OK. Yes, to our view, wildly shooting a nail gun is not the same as building to code. Yet, you do not have to believe in our Gods and practices to acknowledge we’re human beings with a legitimate and actually pretty-studiously-responsible point of view.

  • Paganplace

    “And even the Pagans here know the answer to that one!”Yes, “even” us… like a Christian in America ever got tortured by Pagans.

  • Arminius

    Hi, Paganplace,You must realize that the Schmooze and his knuckle-dragging fellow pack members reject anything you say or do because you are not ‘Christian’. For that matter, they do the same to me because I do not fit their narrow, twisted definition of Christian. Talking to such people? We should try talking to a brick wall instead. At least it won’t insult our intelligence – or any morality we do possess.Arminius

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,I said: “And even the Pagans here know the answer to that one!”After I sent that, I realized I should have said this:Or something better than what I said.Arminius

  • Paganplace

    And, actually, the sex hangup has everything to do with the blowing-the-crap-out-of-innocents thing. Humans really aren’t as awful as monotheists seem to need to believe, just, you tie a man’s member in a knot, and, it’ll usually come out ugly. Real ugly.

  • Paganplace

    And, yes, Arminius, I think I know you for having a good heart. I just don’t think you always know what you’re saying. :)Most of the ‘divil’ of issues like this is actually in what you don’t think twice about, or actually see for yourselves, if I can be so bold as to say. Peace.

  • wiccan

    Merry Meet, Arminius!Figures. Just when I wash off all the woad, Smoozealert shows up. Guess we should be grateful, without him we would never know that there are more (supposed) Christians than there are Pagans. I never knew we were in a competition. You were just being sweet not telling us, right? :-)I know I’m not so smart, being Wiccan and all, but how come those Christians who would gladly consign me to Hell for not appreciating how Jesus suffered on the cross for me are so willing to make others suffer for them?

  • Paganplace

    “Smoozealert shows up”Hey, it’s possible, though uncertain, that someone finally picked a name. And a fitting one, as it seems to amply-demonstrate his priorities.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Snoozie,It has nothing to do with your God…but in the Will of the congregation. Stop looking for thinks to whine about.

  • Paganplace

    “but how come those Christians who would gladly consign me to Hell for not appreciating how Jesus suffered on the cross for me are so willing to make others suffer for them?”Cause suffering is commerce and commodity to them, really.*Obviously* they think that it’s very important that people suffer and, through inexplicable and unnecessary suffering, confess the ‘power’ of the torture victim who somehow never managed to get the point of, ‘You guys could actually not do this to each other, it does tend to hurt and give people generally-unproductive ideas about ending the world’One thing I never got about Christians who wouldn’t pay taxes, while claiming only Christians deserve a voice in government, ..is their dead-set on-annihilation thing. Seem to say, ‘Make all the money you can or we’ll make you suffer,’ then say ‘It’s easier for a Camel to go through the eye of a needle, …unless, apparently, you ensure no one’s left behind to call you a bonehead.’ So it’s gone a number of centuries. World’s always about to end, no one gives a care cause they think they’re outtie as long as they deny life and sex and the future enough and call it ‘faith.’ Somehow I’m just not figuring this is the Ultimate Answer, specially after a few lives like that.

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,I’m having trouble with your words. What is apparent is that there is suffering there, you have seen things that I have not – and I do not want to know what they are. I sense a bitterness and a bit of defensive behavior. I also sense that this is not unearned. Feel free to stomp on me if I am wrong.Hell, most people, not just us Christians, will tend to stand back and ‘not get involved’. Which, of course, goes against most religious or moral codes. And the fat, happy populace is content to view war as something on the news that does not touch them… ‘Switch channels to football, please…’Aaarrgh.At least switch to baseball.Arminius

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,Jesus is not ‘proof against violence’. He did not want violence. He died a horrible death to prove that. He truly is the Prince of Peace. What a damn tragedy that so many ‘Christians’ cannot see that. It makes me weep.I do not want violence. I will never provoke it. But if threatened, or if my neighbor (including you) is threatened, then my claymore is at hand. But talk first. Fighting is the absolute last resort.True Christians know that violence is bad. I am glad to be reassured that Pagans do too, but I never doubted it.Aaarrrgh.Now to the REALLY important stuff! I did figure out you were from Beantown. Now, I am a National League freak, and hold, as a ‘religious’ principle, that your AL rule of the DH is an abominable heresy. But I have a lasting love of the Red Sox Nation, for they brought down the Evil Empire in 2004! Lord, what grand baseball that was!Religion in baseball? Sorta. Try this:Arminius

  • Paganplace

    Heh. Guess Plan B is up to you, ennit? 🙂

  • Terra Gazelle

    What is worse then the outright violence is the subtle bone pricking of hate. Judges that favor the Christian against the Pagan in child visitation. The Virginia judge making the Wiccan Dad give up practicing his faith when the child was there…not have his books, or Wiccan friends, nor wear his Wiccan religious symbol, nor take part in any observance of Wiccan holidays. A young Wiccan Mom gets bomb threats to blow up her business and home , so leaves the town with her honor student son.A Wiccan Mom goes to the school board to try to get teaching aids for her autistic son. They discover she is Wiccan and her son is taken from her, placed in an institution and while she is fighting to get him back, he dies. It goes on and on. People distrust us and think the worse,many do not want to know us..it is so much fun to think the worse. But Goddess bless..there are those like some here On Faith that are different, and I appreciate the leap opf faith it took for them to take us at our words…literaly. There will always be dimbulbs…and for us it is often like dipping the water out of the swamp with a teaspoon…But I think each spoon is closer to draining the swamp. In your face violence is easier to take then the ugly mind set of hate. I have my Athame…yes it is the symbol meaning things can cut both ways…but also a symbol of balance and energy…that is never to cut life. terra

  • Anonymous

    Alex says:”- torture usually produces false results ? no method is foolproof, simple question and answer sessions will no doubt produce even more false results. I dont understand how you make the “leap” that if we knew for certain that someone “had” more information, that we would somehow know what that person knows before he even tells us. Doesnt make sense”If you take a little time to look into the issue you will find that according to professional interrogators those ” simple question and answer sessions” are exactly what produce the best intelligence; gaining the subject’s trust works far better than fear, intimidation and pain.And you misunderstand the reasoning in the second art of that argument; if we have intelligence to know a) that there is an imminent threat b) what the threat is and c) who the threat is coming from there is very little chance that torturing someone is going to produce any more information. Such scenarios exist only in spy movies and the fevered imaginations of people who have allowed themselves to be intimidated and frightened by the terrorists. In reality, you can’t even be certain at the outset that the person you are interrogating has any useful information.You haven’t addressed the other points I raised, by the way; would it be morally defensible to torture an innocent third party in an effort to get life saving information? How good does your other information have to be in order to justify torturing anyone? Do you need to know with certainty that there’s a bomb about to go off. or is a suspicion that one might go off enough? Where do you draw that line?Have you really thought this through?RegardsA Hermit

  • wiccan

    P/A-“It seems that Schmoozie was digging for answers along with disagreement on issues (just as pagans disagree with Christianity and huddle among their own for strength in the same manner)…but received alot of tirades instead. Witches, wiccans and pagans have a enormous job before them to prove to the masses that their beliefs are far superior, easier to understand or maybe just plain better than the basic, non-human-altered, Christ-centered Christian beliefs. There are important reasons why so much more of mankind has followed Christianity the past 2000 years than have followed wiccan, for example. Human nature, and all if its flaws, is incorrectly attributed more to Christians than to wiccans or pagans. A fundental flaw of wiccan’s and pagan’s own brand of self righteousness”First, our “tirades” were responses to Smooze’s snotty posts. Second, we never said Wicca was better than Christianity, or that more people should follow Wicca. Third, the only person here being self-righteous is YOU.Wiccans believe that each person must find their own path to the Divine, and to to coerce someone to follow one path or another is just plain wrong. Most Wiccans don’t have a problem with Christians until they start telling us that their beliefs are superior to ours (which you just did). We have the right to define ourselves, not to be defined by others. So we do.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    The Realm of Reality: War is Hell!!! We enter Hell to include its torture and terror to win said wars!!! That is and has always been the nature of war. Comparisons: waterboarding vs. suicide bombing massacres? waterboarding vs. loss of arms, legs and/or sight? waterboarding vs. five hundred pound bombs? waterboarding vs. fire bombing? waterboarding vs. cluster bombing? waterboarding vs. hydrogen/atomic bomb holocausts?

  • lepidopteryx

    P/A: **Witches, wiccans and pagans have a enormous job before them to prove to the masses that their beliefs are far superior, easier to understand or maybe just plain better than the basic, non-human-altered, Christ-centered Christian beliefs.**I never said that my beliefs were superior to Chrisitanity, only that this is the only path that works for me. I’m not going to lose any sleep over trying to convert people to Paganism. But please don’t fool yourself into believing that your holy book was written by anyone other than human beings – just like every other book that has ever been written. There is no such thing as a “non-human-altered” religion. **There are important reasons why so much more of mankind has followed Christianity the past 2000 years than have followed wiccan, for example.**Persecution and sword-point conversions, for example. And I seriously doubt that those who “accepted” Christ under duress were sincere. It’s one of those “say whatever the person threatening you wants to hear so he’ll go away and leave you alone” things. **Human nature, and all if its flaws, is incorrectly attributed more to Christians than to wiccans or pagans. A fundental flaw of wiccan’s and pagan’s own brand of self righteousness**Perhaps the reason Christians get slammed more often for their human flaws is that there are so many of them who seem to get a kick out of telling all us non-Christians who and how we should be worshipping. I don’t claim to be anything more than a human being who makes mistakes and does her best to make amends when she does. And I refuse to be treated as anything less than that. I have many Christian friends, and they know that we can have theosophical discussions, as long as they don’t cross the line into attempting to convert me.

  • Paganplace

    *sigh* So, now we have Christians saying we’re unqualified to say ‘Don’t torture thy neighbors and enemies’ cause… We aren’t morally-superior like them?Gods, what a world. The ‘ticking bomb’ fantasy, folks, you know, that one used to justify routine use of torture as policy, is just that… a fantasy. The reason it’ll never happen is that these groups use a cell structure that means you just won’t *know you have someone who knows what’s going on* without having observed that cell anyway… It’s about police work, not violence. Torture is just no way to get credible *confessions,* never mind good intelligence. Seems this just isn’t something that gets through to the pro-torture people: apart from being horrible and damaging the nation’s soul to even do, it’s an illusory form of seeking power over people we’re afraid of. For me, when it comes down to it, if someone *really* believes they’ve got to tune someone up to find a ‘ticking bomb,’ then they should be prepared to defend their actions in court, not have legal cover to make torture *policy.*

  • Paganplace

    ” Concerned The Christian Now Liberated:”The Realm of Reality: War is Hell!!! We enter Hell to include its torture and terror to win said wars!!! That is and has always been the nature of war.”As we so often have to point out, we Pagans don’t compare things to the Christian Hell. Tends to make a lot of things more clear-cut that way. Cause when people compare the horrors they wish to in inflict on others to Hell… the worst torture they can imagine, funny how they always seem to feel justified committing atrocities. “Comparisons: waterboarding vs. suicide bombing massacres?”If you’d ever been tortured cause someone made the “comparison” between what they felt like doing and the ‘Hell’ they imagined must surely result if a young person didn’t obey their version of their theology, you might be closer to understanding why some people think it’s a good idea to commit ‘suicide bombing massacres’ in the first place. Torture does not make people ‘repent’ of that worldview: it only reinforces in them the idea that they are fighting the good fight and avoiding a greater torture, and the ‘Hellishness’ goes on. If we’re comparing our own behavior to ‘Hell,’ then it’s well past time we embraced a new basis for comparison.

  • Mad Love

    You go girl! I would chime in with more, but you seem to be covering all the bases. All I can say is that if these people don’t realize that they are at total odds with everything Jesus said, they might as will poke their own eyes out with a stick.

  • Paganplace

    Frankly, they have lumber and ocular membrane issues. Gets to a certain measure of, lead, follow, or get out of the way. We don’t have time for this right now.

  • Steve B, UK

    >>”If America falls, it will *not* be cause someone didn’t smack a detainee hard enough.”Tom Cruise in the trailer of “Lions for Lambs”: “Do you want to win the War on Terror, Yes or No?”Problem is, what do we mean by “win”? How to you stop ‘terror’, or terrorism, which can never have an endpoint and is fuelled by violence? The suggested option is to use torture, pre-emptive war, bugging US citizens etc.If we bring terror attacks down to a minimal level by doing this, but in the process turn into a country of Muslim-hating, paranoid war-mongering torturers, that *doesn’t count as a win*. (I include the US and UK here).If we turn into the monsters our enemies say we are, THEY win. And the violence never ends.And yes, the “for us or against us” good/evil worldview from dry-alcoholic born-again Bush is *exactly* responsible for getting us here. It has nothing to do with Jesus, or real Christians, or compassion.I’m just picturing someone trying to sell “Blessed are the poor and the peacemakers” to Dick Cheney, or any of the current Administration.In the meantime: Schmooze, P/A, etc? Neopagans aren’t pro-torture, no matter what threat or patriotism you try to justify it with. Give it up. The official verdicts from everyone who would know (CIA, MI6, official bodies) is that torture is unreliable and does more harm to the struggle than help it. Even if I didn’t reject it on its own principles, it’s not even practical for saving lives. Find another way.

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,You said:Just. Put it down. I would sooner fight in your stead than see this twisting of what you say you believe, Arminius. Paganplace, please explain how I have twisted my beliefs.The claymore is a symbol – the symbol of freedom in the hands of William Wallace. But if you were my neighbor, and were threatened, I would be there to help. And I would be unarmed. Yet I am no pacifist – I will defend me and mine, if absolutely necessary.Yes, a sword can cause horrible wounds. So can bullets. Worse ones, really.Plan B? Love your neighbor as yourself.Respectfully,Arminius

  • Viejita del oeste

    Frankly, I have a hard time taking anyone who claims there is any religious or humanistic justification for torture seriously.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Vie,How can Americans, who are inheritors of the fight for justice and human rights, even contemplate torture? How can our honor allow us to go against our own signatures on the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Convention. That not just our President and Vice President can be held for Crimes against humanity…but so can our nation. Germany was seen by other nations to have acquiesced to what it’s leaders did. To many people Germany was a nation that cheered at the death camps and the ovens. Why? They had a democratic election…those leaders were elected. As was ours.Are we going to do away with 200+ years of history, of our people fighting and dying for what we, as a nation were built on? People that say it does not matter who the president, legislature and judges are, are crazy. It matters…there is a difference in “values.” Who are we?terra

  • Rob Adams

    Torture or killing is an extremely slippery slope. What is the stopping point? Torturing one man to save thousands? Killing one man to save thousands? Killing 10 to save 10,000?Nuking 200,000 to save a million?Seeing that we a re a Christina nation by demographics I would like to sight the idea of dying for our ideas. Today when we send our soldiers any where to fight for what we stand for we consider that willing to die for a cause. What we have failed to realize is this is not quite true. In the interim I am killing others and if I am good enough and lucky enough I have not died for my cause but killed others to fight for my cause. This is actually called killing for a cause.I am not sure when it became popular to die for your cause but only if you failed to kill those you were fighting. The early Christians died for their cause by not denying their belief. They allowed others to kill them if the need be, but they would not raise up a finger to the aggressor. That is dying for a cause. You define yourself by your actions. If you want a world where the best killer succeeds, then kill. If you want a world where money rules, then support economics over values. Defeating ‘evil’ and hate can only be resolved by love, not by force. To get rid of the opposite of what you want, you need to create more of what you want. This plays out in physics and in life. Simple physics shows you do not get rid of matter with more matter. You need anti-matter. Through out history life has shown that force, killing and more hate does not get rid of hate, it simply creates more hate, more fighting and more killing.We create our own reality by our actions. If you want peace, be peaceful. If you want compassion, be compassionate. To quote Gandhi “There is no way to peace, peace is the way”.

  • Priver

    Rob,I agree.. and your post made me think of something that’s been lurking in the back of my brain for awhile.. Why is it that a lot people in this country seem to hold up those who died in such a battle far higher than those who live and return home? In everything I’ve learned about war, most people don’t go there expecting to die. Don’t all people deserve to be honored?

  • Rob Adams

    Terra.I get your point and agree with it to some extent. While I don’t agree with going to war there is no doubt that those serving in the armed forces are making a special sacrifice for the country. It goes back to the old saying. If there were no more soldiers how could a country go to war? If enough people said no, even a government mandated draft would fail. You couldn’t put everyone in jail.I guess my main point is giving your life for a cause while not hurting others is different than giving (or potentially) giving life or limb for a cause and killing people. I find the latter counter productive in the long run. Killing and hate only creates more killing and hate. The only way to overcome war is through peace and compassion. Of course the argument will always be what if we took that approach with Nazi Germany? Would they not have over run the whole world and indeed end up with their version of the superior race?Can we ever say there is no case for war… ever! I don’t know that I currently posses the level of wisdom need to answer that question.The only real solution I can see is heading off the issues that lead to the rise of Nazi Germany or other such regimes. Perhaps the communication tools (internet) we have today compared to back then and the UN, as dysfunctional as it is can help. Knowledge and choice is what is needed. If we provide violence or force as the only choice then what choice do we give our enemies?Rob.

  • Morgaine Swann

    Just a note, everyone – Witch, Wicca or Wicce, and Pagan should be capitalized, thanks, as should Goddess.Starhawk is correct – there is never an excuse for torture. There is no Jack Bauer who is going to save the world by roughing up a suspect. Torture is !00% ineffective. It doesn’t work. Period. The ony thing is accomplishes is in destroying our humanity. The harm it does both to the torturer and the tortured are too costly to our society. We need leaders who understand that. We need to oppose it unequivocally. If we can’t stand against torture in all forms with a definitive and resolute refusal to tolerate it, we simply are not civilized. We have to have the strength to resist it now matter how great our fear might be. When we are afraid our reptilian brain causes us to react rather than think. We need to be brave and use our mammalian empathy and our human mind to do what we know is right.

  • Paganplace

    All this said, I have to wonder *where’s the outrage.* Some will speak sanctimoniously about the matter, but still remain silent when the religious conservatives in government tell them to look the other way and get fussed about some minority wanting to get married, or have equal representation in their own government, or get married, while important facets of our American law, like habeas corpus, like posse comitatus, even the judicial system itself and the checks and balances and separation of powers that help *prevent* this kind of brutality, …are done away with or compromised, be it quietly or brazenly. We seem to spend a lot of time on this forum being told by fundamentalist Christians and others that we aren’t ‘morally qualified’ to speak for our own rights and those of others, but I think there’s few better. Especially those that have been on the receiving end of the xenophobia and threats and abuses and even hysteria that the people who want to support and cover up torture by our own government also seem to want to promote. We’ve heard people accuse us of “being with the terrorists” for not calling *all* Muslims ‘terrorists,’ and it doesn’t take a genius to see where *that* could go. We’ve heard people claim we ‘have no morals’ because we don’t think it’s good or right to hurt gay people over Christians’ religious beliefs, heard people say our soldiers don’t deserve chaplains, our dead don’t deserve headstones, …even heard people claim it’s some kind of child abuse for their kids to read anything that *doesn’t* condemn us as ‘evil…’Even claim we don’t know ‘forgiveness’ while supporting war and torture and injustice… claiming we’re ‘unamerican,’ while using their belief in a ‘Christian Nation’ to sell out these most basic and essential of our American rights and values and principles. I, for one, know just how fragile and precious these rights can be… And how Christian beliefs are no real protection against the abuse of them. Good people doing nothing is the real threat.

  • JoeT

    Mad: well quoted!

  • victoria

    i agree with paganplace- talk is cheap

  • terre duniva

    Torture is absolutely and unequivocally wrong, always and for any reason. I say the same thing about cannibalism, which was popular all over the world for a long time as well. It’s easy to agree with me about cannibalism because the majority agrees. The odd few who practice it now are considered criminals in every nation. This particular barbarism has been legislated almost out of existence. A civil society is based on laws respecting human rights, which are natural (or God-given) and therefore inherent and inalienable. People who harm others are criminals. They must be prevented from continuing to harm, so they lose precious freedom. But as a civilized society, we do not condone cruel and unusual punishment for even the worst criminals. Torture is obviously cruel. It’s also unusual, because before Bush & Co took over, very few Americans would have expressed support for torture. You could make a case for killing and eating someone to save other lives, as some do for torture, but you wouldn’t. It’s just no longer an accepted practice. Torture was not accepted in our society either, until Bush & Co. said it was. And here is the crux of the disagreement between matriots and patriots on issues like war and torture: Christianity requires obedience to a father figure, as well as faith in what he tells you to believe and do. That’s why Bush & Co targets this demographic, trained from birth to run with the flock, unaware that their shepherd may lead them to pasture or to slaughter as he sees fit. The shepherd is the authority, the big man, the father figure, the Holy Father, Pope. President. The father of the “Abrahamic religions” – Christianity, Islam, Judaism – thought God wanted him to kill his son Isaac to prove his faith. Abraham said God told him to do it, but he also said at different times that his wife Sarah was his sister. This led to her being taken as wife by two kings, until plagues and bad dreams prompted them to send her back. Sarah (Hebrew Sarai, translated variously as woman of high rank, princess, goddess, prophet, high holy one, free woman) had one son – Isaac – whose name means laughter. She didn’t believe God’s messengers, disguised as three guys, when they told her she would finally get that baby she always wanted. She would be 90 years old, so she laughed when she heard it. Abraham would be 100 and had waited all his life for God to fulfill a promise that he would be the father of nations. Some father. Isaac went with Abraham, asking, where is the lamb we’ll be sacrificing? Abraham said the Lord would provide, built the altar, laid the wood, then bound up his son and laid him out as a human sacrifice. Isaac lay still, ever obedient to his old man’s authority – or maybe he was paralyzed by shock and fear when he realized Abraham’s big lie and murderous intent. Abraham was poised to bring down his knife when an angel called out to stop. Prevented from killing his son, Abraham found a ram nearby and slaughtered it instead. Mission accomplished. Today many of Abraham’s troublesome descendents are willing to sacrifice their children to the army, and their children are willing to go. Originally they all wanted to kill bin Laden, a Saudi, but apparently Iraqis will do. Different interpretations of this story say that Abraham did kill Isaac, who later rose from the dead, but not before his mother Sarah had died from grief. People have interpreted these fables lots of different ways, but essentially, Abraham heard voices that told him to kill. Even in the days of Genesis, killing a beloved son was not normal behavior, and today it would rightly put the perpetrator in jail. Abraham had something to prove and nothing else mattered – not Isaac and his life, not Sarah and the loss of her only son, not the multitudes who would never be born of Isaac’s seed.Somehow these patriots have missed the whole point of the story: Abraham was wrong. God did not give life to the child so the old man could take it – whatever claim the man made to justify his actions, whatever voices he thought he heard, whatever his personal aspirations to get into heaven. Somehow these patriots have also missed the point of the American Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civil rights and other laws that are the foundation of a civilized and enlightened society. There is no reasoning with a guy like Abraham, or a patriot who thinks torture is OK, or a war profiteer making money by the truckload, or a parent who is proud to send their child to kill or be killed. They follow the leader, ignore the facts, fear the worst, disrespect the lives of others, and propogate the delusion that this is a defensive war. Those of us who know that the great white father in Washington is dishonorable will continue to work for peace. We’ll continue to speak out against torture for any reason, and we will continue to legislate out of existence the death cults that glorify war, jihad, suicide bombs, torture, and human sacrifice (Isaac and Jesus Christ).

  • zxevil160

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  • zxevil160

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  • zxevil160

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