Submitted by frlarry on Tue, 11/29/2005 - 04:28
In a recent posting on Mirror of Justice, Rick Garnett compared two highly divergent points of view on the issue of state-sanctioned torture. The more incisive of the two, in my humble opinion, is by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, given in a reflection on the essay by Charles Krauthammer in the Weekly Standard at the November 28, 2005 edition of Observations and Contentions at Among his more telling points, Fr. Neuhaus points out,
Establishing a principle is not “merely for show.” Recognizing, clearly but sotto voce, that there will sometimes be exceptions to the principle is not hypocrisy. Those who, under the most extreme circumstances, violate the rule must be held strictly accountable to higher authority. Here the venerable maxim applies, abusus non tollit usus–the abuse does not abolish the use. We are not talking here about the reckless indulgence of cruelty and sadism exhibited in, for instance, the much-publicized Abu Ghraib scandal. We are speaking, rather, of extraordinary circumstances in which senior officials, acting under perceived necessity, decide there is no moral alternative to making an exception to the rules, and accept responsibility for their decision. Please note that, in saying this, one does not condone the decision. It is simply a recognition that in the real world such decisions will be made.