Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!

The Banality Of Evil Revisited - An Interview With America's Chief Torturer

AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
edited April 2012 in Debate and/or Discourse
60 Minutes had on last night an interview with Jose Rodriguez, the head of the CIA's torture program:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57423533/hard-measures-ex-cia-head-defends-post-9-11-tactics/?tag=strip

It's a rather sickening piece of work, and it really strikes home what "the banality of evil" means. But what struck me more was how he wasn't just a monster, but a coward as well. From constantly seeking approval from the DoJ for his actions, to his writing of a book to defend the indefensible, it becomes clear that his actions belie his insistence of the surity of his conduct.

I hope he loves the US a lot, because it's now his prison.

XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
Spoiler:
«13456

Posts

  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Ann Arbor, MichiganRegistered User regular
    Unfortunately, his prison is still not a prison.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Unfortunately, his prison is still not a prison.

    Well, of course. In a just world, he'd be making little rocks out of big ones, or he would have been cashiered by the CIA when he suggested torture.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    It's a rather sickening piece of work, and it really strikes home what "the banality of evil" means. But what struck me more was how he wasn't just a monster, but a coward as well.

    One of the points of the "banality of evil" theory is that the persons who commit these acts are not "monsters", as you said, but normal people who rationalize their actions as “Just doin mah job, ma’am.”

    And, really, that doesn’t even seem like a rationalization.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    It's a rather sickening piece of work, and it really strikes home what "the banality of evil" means. But what struck me more was how he wasn't just a monster, but a coward as well.

    One of the points of the "banality of evil" theory is that the persons who commit these acts are not "monsters", as you said, but normal people who rationalize their actions as “Just doin mah job, ma’am.”

    And, really, that doesn’t even seem like a rationalization.

    Anyone who does these things is a monster. It's just surprising who is capable of becoming one.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • godmodegodmode Registered User regular
    It's just surprising who is capable of becoming one.

    That's a common statement when discussing serial killers as well: how they seem to lead completely normal lives, some with families and active social lives in their communities, right up until they turn themselves in or someone finally tracks them down. Perhaps it could be said that serial killers share the ethos of professional torturers to a certain degree.

  • Boring7Boring7 Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    It's a rather sickening piece of work, and it really strikes home what "the banality of evil" means. But what struck me more was how he wasn't just a monster, but a coward as well.

    One of the points of the "banality of evil" theory is that the persons who commit these acts are not "monsters", as you said, but normal people who rationalize their actions as “Just doin mah job, ma’am.”

    And, really, that doesn’t even seem like a rationalization.

    Anyone who does these things is a monster. It's just surprising who is capable of becoming one.

    The point of the theory is that we are all capable. It took a bit but I dug up my old copy of Small Gods for the appropriate bit, spoilered for size:
    Spoiler:

    Thanatos wrote: »
    Goldman Sachs may as well be named COBRA.
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    It's a rather sickening piece of work, and it really strikes home what "the banality of evil" means. But what struck me more was how he wasn't just a monster, but a coward as well.

    One of the points of the "banality of evil" theory is that the persons who commit these acts are not "monsters", as you said, but normal people who rationalize their actions as “Just doin mah job, ma’am.”

    And, really, that doesn’t even seem like a rationalization.

    Anyone who does these things is a monster. It's just surprising who is capable of becoming one.

    Again, that's not what "banality of evil" means.

    "Banality of evil" is meant to communicate the idea that persons who commit these acts are not sociopaths or monsters or demons or Satan; they are normal, regular, everyday people who simply go along with whatever they are told, and follow orders. Their acts are not horrendous evils carried out with malevolence. Rather, they are simply boring, mundane rule following.

    If you think the guy is a monster, then you don't think evil is banal. "Monster" means that it's this heinous soul-twisting act of destructive malevolence. But if "evil is banal", then it isn't monstrous. It's just some dude doing his job.

    If you aren't going to use the phrase correctly, then please don't use it.

  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    But what struck me more was how he wasn't just a monster, but a coward as well. From constantly seeking approval from the DoJ for his actions, to his writing of a book to defend the indefensible, it becomes clear that his actions belie his insistence of the surity of his conduct.

    I'm not sure how you are coming to this conclusion - because he made sure he had approval for his actions, he is a coward? Is that what you are saying?

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    A further problem with your statement is this sentiment: "It's just surprising who is capable of becoming one".

    Phrasing it in that way indicates that some transformation took place; he "became" a monster. There was a time when he was not that way, then something happened, then he was a monster.

    That, again, completely fails to grasp the concept of "banality of evil": Evil is not something one becomes; evil is not a transformation; evil is not an estranged way of being. Evil is just some guy going to work and doing his job.


    That's supposed to be more frightening than the idea of evil as "monstrous". If evil is "monstrous", then there is a qualitative difference between evil individuals and normal individuals. Something magic has to happen to the person, some transformation has to take place in order for them to commit evil acts. However, if evil is banal, then anyone can engage in an evil act without thinking that what they are doing is wrong.

    Non-banal evil: "I can't do evil because I am not a monster. But that guy? That guy did evil, so he's a monster."

    Banal evil: "Holy shit that guy is exactly like me, and he tortured people / killed jews because he was just doing his job. That's something I could do!"


    If the guy is monstrous, then his act was not a banal evil; it was a demonic sort of character modification. You don't have to worry about being evil, because you haven't had a demon infect your soul.

    If that guy engaged in a banal evil? Then he's just doing his job. And you just do your job. So you could potentially do the exact same sort of thing that he did without thinking it was evil.

  • ED!ED! Registered User regular
    I'm fairly certain you folks were supposed to accept the "monstrous" label at face value and use this as another trip down memory lane that houses The House That Bush Built.

    As for the contention that Rodiriguez should be behind bars; more wishful thinking. Shouldn't happen, and will never happen - least of all for the people (as has been said) that were following orders.

    "Get the hell out of me" - [ex]girlfriend
  • ZythonZython Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    ED! wrote: »
    I'm fairly certain you folks were supposed to accept the "monstrous" label at face value and use this as another trip down memory lane that houses The House That Bush Built.

    As for the contention that Rodiriguez should be behind bars; more wishful thinking. Shouldn't happen, and will never happen - least of all for the people (as has been said) that were following orders.

    Didn't we come to the conclusion about 60 or so years ago that this is a piss-poor excuse for horrendously inhumane actions?

    Zython on
    3DS Friend Code: 4854-6465-0299 | Wii U: zython
    Steam: pazython
    Lv 90 Tauren Shaman Lv 90 Pandaren Monk
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    I'm glad he's doing this is out there. Even though he'll never be held accountable in a criminal sense, anything that gives us a better idea of what the government actually did is a good thing.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    'let's all get high, from the income angle'
  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    A further problem with your statement is this sentiment: "It's just surprising who is capable of becoming one".

    Phrasing it in that way indicates that some transformation took place; he "became" a monster. There was a time when he was not that way, then something happened, then he was a monster.

    That, again, completely fails to grasp the concept of "banality of evil": Evil is not something one becomes; evil is not a transformation; evil is not an estranged way of being. Evil is just some guy going to work and doing his job.


    That's supposed to be more frightening than the idea of evil as "monstrous". If evil is "monstrous", then there is a qualitative difference between evil individuals and normal individuals. Something magic has to happen to the person, some transformation has to take place in order for them to commit evil acts. However, if evil is banal, then anyone can engage in an evil act without thinking that what they are doing is wrong.

    Non-banal evil: "I can't do evil because I am not a monster. But that guy? That guy did evil, so he's a monster."

    Banal evil: "Holy shit that guy is exactly like me, and he tortured people / killed jews because he was just doing his job. That's something I could do!"


    If the guy is monstrous, then his act was not a banal evil; it was a demonic sort of character modification. You don't have to worry about being evil, because you haven't had a demon infect your soul.

    If that guy engaged in a banal evil? Then he's just doing his job. And you just do your job. So you could potentially do the exact same sort of thing that he did without thinking it was evil.

    Further, and just because I love the scene:

    It's Col. Kurtz's realization that the men who cut off all the childrens' arms were not monsters, but men with families of their own.
    Spoiler:
    And it is the viewer's realization that Kurtz, too, is a man like any other. A man thrust into extraordinary circumstances, perhaps, but an ordinary man just the same.
    I'm glad he's doing this is out there. Even though he'll never be held accountable in a criminal sense, anything that gives us a better idea of what the government actually did is a good thing.

    Except for the part where he has apparently spun this into a fucking book deal. I'm not super glad about that.

    Automata-Sg.png
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    It's Col. Kurtz's realization that the men who cut off all the childrens' arms were not monsters, but men with families of their own.

    Yup.

    "This is something human beings do."

  • BastableBastable Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Al_wat wrote: »
    But what struck me more was how he wasn't just a monster, but a coward as well. From constantly seeking approval from the DoJ for his actions, to his writing of a book to defend the indefensible, it becomes clear that his actions belie his insistence of the surity of his conduct.

    I'm not sure how you are coming to this conclusion - because he made sure he had approval for his actions, he is a coward? Is that what you are saying?

    That he begged for licence does indicate a strain of cowardice. Dixon's work On Psychology of military incompatance floated the idea that Miltaries promote/attract the wrong sort of people. (along with the "right sort").

    Buller was a murderous psychopath when gallivanting around on horseback when being ordered around, but when he was given command in the Boer war he was indecisive and lacked morale courage.

    Falling into the so called authoritarian leader bracket "Such people may well be drawn towards military organizations because the latter have, of necessity, perfected devices like ‘bull’ and discipline, hierarchical command-structures and rigid conventions which not only allow aggression without anxiety, but actually reduce anxiety that may have originated at a much earlier period of life."

    and "This fear of criticism follows directly from their need for social approval."

    Plus the whole brutalising wounded helpless detainees with torture does not exactly scream BRAVERY.

    Inspite of him invoking tough guy bullshit like "big boy pants" and "new Sheriff," I'd go with judging coward in both the moral and physical sense.

    Bastable on
    Philippe about the tactical deployment of german Kradschützen during the battle of Kursk:
    "I think I can comment on this because I used to live above the Baby Doll Lounge, a topless bar that was once frequented by bikers in lower Manhattan."

  • CasualCasual flap flap flap wiggle wiggle wiggle Registered User regular
    Zython wrote: »
    ED! wrote: »
    I'm fairly certain you folks were supposed to accept the "monstrous" label at face value and use this as another trip down memory lane that houses The House That Bush Built.

    As for the contention that Rodiriguez should be behind bars; more wishful thinking. Shouldn't happen, and will never happen - least of all for the people (as has been said) that were following orders.

    Didn't we come to the conclusion about 60 or so years ago that this is a piss-poor excuse for horrendously inhumane actions?

    Only if you're not American apparently.

    i write amazing erotic fiction

    its all about anthropomorphic dicks doing everyday things like buying shoes for their scrotum-feet
  • Boring7Boring7 Registered User regular
    Casual wrote: »
    Zython wrote: »
    ED! wrote: »
    I'm fairly certain you folks were supposed to accept the "monstrous" label at face value and use this as another trip down memory lane that houses The House That Bush Built.

    As for the contention that Rodiriguez should be behind bars; more wishful thinking. Shouldn't happen, and will never happen - least of all for the people (as has been said) that were following orders.

    Didn't we come to the conclusion about 60 or so years ago that this is a piss-poor excuse for horrendously inhumane actions?

    Only if you're not American apparently.

    Pretty much.

    Thanatos wrote: »
    Goldman Sachs may as well be named COBRA.
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    It's Col. Kurtz's realization that the men who cut off all the childrens' arms were not monsters, but men with families of their own.

    Yup.

    "This is something human beings do."

    Obedience to Authority

    Is a book every human being should read. We all will do evil, if put in the proper position to do so. It is possible to monitor yourself and your situation in order to reduce your propensity for "just following orders", but so long as you assume a priori that you are "a good person" and would therefore never ever do something mean you're just another asshole who's going to jack someone up to 450 Volts because someone in a lab coat told you too. Avoiding evil requires attention and maintenance.

  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    It's Col. Kurtz's realization that the men who cut off all the childrens' arms were not monsters, but men with families of their own.

    Yup.

    "This is something human beings do."

    Obedience to Authority

    Is a book every human being should read. We all will do evil, if put in the proper position to do so. It is possible to monitor yourself and your situation in order to reduce your propensity for "just following orders", but so long as you assume a priori that you are "a good person" and would therefore never ever do something mean you're just another asshole who's going to jack someone up to 450 Volts because someone in a lab coat told you too. Avoiding evil requires attention and maintenance.

    It's similar to those cases where someone gets murdered, and an entire apartment block, who would've been in a position to help or call the police before it happened, instead does nothing because they assume someone else has acted. Or even how you react when emergency presents itself.

    A lot of stuff is largely dependent on teaching yourself about past incidents, and reminding yourself to pay attention to your circumstance. It seems like a lot of military training is very much based on this too - pre-baking that response you have when you're too scared or amped up to think straight into being the correct one.

    Of course there is a downside: I loathe kids yelling and shouting at night, because it puts me on edge that it might not be playful yelling and shouting.

    Dis' wrote: »
    Cancer is when cells stop letting the body mooch off their hard work - clearly a community of like-minded cells should isolate themselves and do the best job each can do, even if the rest of the body collapses!
  • CaptainPeacockCaptainPeacock Registered User regular
    Casual wrote: »
    Zython wrote: »
    ED! wrote: »
    I'm fairly certain you folks were supposed to accept the "monstrous" label at face value and use this as another trip down memory lane that houses The House That Bush Built.

    As for the contention that Rodiriguez should be behind bars; more wishful thinking. Shouldn't happen, and will never happen - least of all for the people (as has been said) that were following orders.

    Didn't we come to the conclusion about 60 or so years ago that this is a piss-poor excuse for horrendously inhumane actions?

    Only if you're not American apparently.

    Ah-Merkin is the correct pronunciation in this case.

    Cluck cluck, gibber gibber, my old man's a mushroom, etc.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    It's similar to those cases where someone gets murdered, and an entire apartment block, who would've been in a position to help or call the police before it happened, instead does nothing because they assume someone else has acted.

    What you've described is the popular narrative of the Kitty Genovese case - a woman was assaulted outside of a large apartment building in New York City and nobody called the police because nobody took responsibility and she ended up dying.

    However, the popular narrative about Genovese also wrong. Several people did call the police, and the police didn't respond. The American Psychological Association journal had a very good in-depth analysis of the event a few years ago that debunked the popular notion of it.

    The bystander effect is a real thing but "an entire apartment block failed to call the police on a murder" is largely an urban legend.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • CasualCasual flap flap flap wiggle wiggle wiggle Registered User regular
    Casual wrote: »
    Zython wrote: »
    ED! wrote: »
    I'm fairly certain you folks were supposed to accept the "monstrous" label at face value and use this as another trip down memory lane that houses The House That Bush Built.

    As for the contention that Rodiriguez should be behind bars; more wishful thinking. Shouldn't happen, and will never happen - least of all for the people (as has been said) that were following orders.

    Didn't we come to the conclusion about 60 or so years ago that this is a piss-poor excuse for horrendously inhumane actions?

    Only if you're not American apparently.

    Ah-Merkin is the correct pronunciation in this case.


    Spoiler:

    i write amazing erotic fiction

    its all about anthropomorphic dicks doing everyday things like buying shoes for their scrotum-feet
  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    That, again, completely fails to grasp the concept of "banality of evil": Evil is not something one becomes; evil is not a transformation; evil is not an estranged way of being. Evil is just some guy going to work and doing his job.

    This is what the banality of evil is.

    It's also what makes it a specious concept at heart.

  • programjunkieprogramjunkie Registered User regular
    Further, and just because I love the scene:

    It's Col. Kurtz's realization that the men who cut off all the childrens' arms were not monsters, but men with families of their own.
    Spoiler:
    And it is the viewer's realization that Kurtz, too, is a man like any other. A man thrust into extraordinary circumstances, perhaps, but an ordinary man just the same.

    What I got from that scene is that Kurtz had gone past the moral event horizon into complete moral insanity.

  • BubbaTBubbaT Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    A further problem with your statement is this sentiment: "It's just surprising who is capable of becoming one".

    Phrasing it in that way indicates that some transformation took place; he "became" a monster. There was a time when he was not that way, then something happened, then he was a monster.

    That, again, completely fails to grasp the concept of "banality of evil": Evil is not something one becomes; evil is not a transformation; evil is not an estranged way of being. Evil is just some guy going to work and doing his job.

    Okay, how about this (also famous) phrase instead?

    Those who fight monsters should take care that they never become one. For when you stand and look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you."

    I mean, transformation from a normal person into a "monster" can and does occur. It happens when the other is dehumanized to the point that empathy for them as a fellow human being is lost. The transformation does not require demonic possession, or any other sort of singular traumatic event. Empathy can be eroded over time, and it's not some magical process. MRIs show that activity in certain parts of the brain is associated with the level of empathy a person feels towards another.

    (Which isn't to say that all people without empathy are monstrous - people with autism, for example, lack empathy but don't go around looking for people to torture)

  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    Bastable wrote: »
    Al_wat wrote: »
    But what struck me more was how he wasn't just a monster, but a coward as well. From constantly seeking approval from the DoJ for his actions, to his writing of a book to defend the indefensible, it becomes clear that his actions belie his insistence of the surity of his conduct.

    I'm not sure how you are coming to this conclusion - because he made sure he had approval for his actions, he is a coward? Is that what you are saying?

    That he begged for licence does indicate a strain of cowardice. Dixon's work On Psychology of military incompatance floated the idea that Miltaries promote/attract the wrong sort of people. (along with the "right sort").

    Buller was a murderous psychopath when gallivanting around on horseback when being ordered around, but when he was given command in the Boer war he was indecisive and lacked morale courage.

    Falling into the so called authoritarian leader bracket "Such people may well be drawn towards military organizations because the latter have, of necessity, perfected devices like ‘bull’ and discipline, hierarchical command-structures and rigid conventions which not only allow aggression without anxiety, but actually reduce anxiety that may have originated at a much earlier period of life."

    and "This fear of criticism follows directly from their need for social approval."

    Plus the whole brutalising wounded helpless detainees with torture does not exactly scream BRAVERY.

    Inspite of him invoking tough guy bullshit like "big boy pants" and "new Sheriff," I'd go with judging coward in both the moral and physical sense.

    I don't think I agree with this line of reasoning. I don't know that the man is or is not a coward. I view him as without a doubt a war criminal, and I view the people who enabled him as the same.

    That said - this wasn't "social approval" he was looking for. This was direct professional, military, approval. I don't know that you can draw parallels between Buller being indecisive and lacking moral courage and this man. Him seeking approval is like, SOP.

    I don't even know that this point is entirely relevant to the whole discussion really; it just struck me as saying "he is a bad man! a coward! evil! and hes ugly and probably never gets laid! And his breath smells!" Like people are just tacking on any negative connotation they can. That's just how it seemed to me with the "coward" statement (because again: in my mind seeking approval is more of a Standard operating procedure than a coward's action).

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    That, again, completely fails to grasp the concept of "banality of evil": Evil is not something one becomes; evil is not a transformation; evil is not an estranged way of being. Evil is just some guy going to work and doing his job.

    This is what the banality of evil is.

    It's also what makes it a specious concept at heart.

    Why is it specious?

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    BubbaT wrote: »
    I mean, transformation from a normal person into a "monster" can and does occur. It happens when the other is dehumanized to the point that empathy for them as a fellow human being is lost. The transformation does not require demonic possession, or any other sort of singular traumatic event. Empathy can be eroded over time, and it's not some magical process. MRIs show that activity in certain parts of the brain is associated with the level of empathy a person feels towards another.

    (Which isn't to say that all people without empathy are monstrous - people with autism, for example, lack empathy but don't go around looking for people to torture)

    One can explain evil via the notion that a good person transforms into an evil monster. One loses some trait, such as empathy, and so that loss explains why they performed an evil act.

    But one cannot apply the phrase "banality of evil" to that scenario.


    That was my point. "Banality of evil" means that there is no transformation, no significant shift in a person's way of being. They're simply doing what they have always done. They're just doing their job. It just so happens that Instead of loading mangos onto trains, they are loading jews onto trains.


    One can defend the thesis that evil occurs in monsterous individuals who have lost some of their humanity, that they are fundamentally flawed or have undergone some dramatic shift in their personality. That's fine. But if you maintain that thesis, then don't fucking use the phrase "banality of evil", because that's not what the fucking phrase means.

  • override367override367 Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    It's Col. Kurtz's realization that the men who cut off all the childrens' arms were not monsters, but men with families of their own.

    Yup.

    "This is something human beings do."

    Obedience to Authority

    Is a book every human being should read. We all will do evil, if put in the proper position to do so. It is possible to monitor yourself and your situation in order to reduce your propensity for "just following orders", but so long as you assume a priori that you are "a good person" and would therefore never ever do something mean you're just another asshole who's going to jack someone up to 450 Volts because someone in a lab coat told you too. Avoiding evil requires attention and maintenance.

    I'm glad I have such a natural hatred of authority. I've lost jobs to my ethics and will probably do so again at some point.

    Sure it means I'm probably never going to be successful, but at least I can be fairly confident I would have been one of the ones to say "fuck off" in the Milgrim experiments, because my natural tendency is to tell an authority figure to fuck off.

    XBLIVE: Biggestoverride
    League of Legends: override367
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    _J_ wrote: »
    It's Col. Kurtz's realization that the men who cut off all the childrens' arms were not monsters, but men with families of their own.

    Yup.

    "This is something human beings do."

    Obedience to Authority

    Is a book every human being should read. We all will do evil, if put in the proper position to do so. It is possible to monitor yourself and your situation in order to reduce your propensity for "just following orders", but so long as you assume a priori that you are "a good person" and would therefore never ever do something mean you're just another asshole who's going to jack someone up to 450 Volts because someone in a lab coat told you too. Avoiding evil requires attention and maintenance.

    I'm glad I have such a natural hatred of authority. I've lost jobs to my ethics and will probably do so again at some point.

    Sure it means I'm probably never going to be successful, but at least I can be fairly confident I would have been one of the ones to say "fuck off" in the Milgrim experiments, because my natural tendency is to tell an authority figure to fuck off.

    I dunno. I'd shock an undergrad to get a job.

    _J_ on
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    I do think Angel Hedgie not knowing what 'banality of evil' means is quite a bit less important than the US actually having torturers.

    I always wonder is the US particularly bad among developed nations because everyone knows that your government tortures and there aren't mass protests etc etc?

    Or is it a little bit better because you actually know this stuff? Does every western nation do this stuff too but it doesn't even reach the news? Does my government do it too?

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • LolkenLolken Registered User, __BANNED USERS, Dumbasses
    ED! wrote: »
    I'm fairly certain you folks were supposed to accept the "monstrous" label at face value and use this as another trip down memory lane that houses The House That Bush Built.

    As for the contention that Rodiriguez should be behind bars; more wishful thinking. Shouldn't happen, and will never happen - least of all for the people (as has been said) that were following orders.

    So the friendly Nazis who slaughtered thousands of Jews in Babi Yar, or the Soviet soldiers who raped every woman they could find in Eastern Germany, shouldn't be behind bars because they were following orders?

    Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?

    "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton.

    "Money tends to corrupt, and lots of money corrupts lotsely" - Me.
  • BastableBastable Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote: »
    I do think Angel Hedgie not knowing what 'banality of evil' means is quite a bit less important than the US actually having torturers.

    I always wonder is the US particularly bad among developed nations because everyone knows that your government tortures and there aren't mass protests etc etc?

    Or is it a little bit better because you actually know this stuff? Does every western nation do this stuff too but it doesn't even reach the news? Does my government do it too?

    The recent opening of UK files concerning the pull back from empire post WWII during the 50s-70s showed the commonwealth was merrily torturing and conducting civilian massacres with great abandon. Much like this little CIA creep Jose HM government actually destroyed incriminating files.

    I'm not saying Jose crimes are lesser because of precedence but that we should actually be the "good guys" our national stories have told us we are. You know stop being dicks to people.

    The Imperial experience is edifying as like the US we pretty much casually ignore the morally bankrupt behaviour.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/23/british-empire-crimes-ignore-atrocities?INTCMP=SRCH

    Philippe about the tactical deployment of german Kradschützen during the battle of Kursk:
    "I think I can comment on this because I used to live above the Baby Doll Lounge, a topless bar that was once frequented by bikers in lower Manhattan."

  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    [e] Spoilered as Apocalypse Now discussions are probably a teensy bit off topic
    Spoiler:
    poshniallo wrote: »
    I do think Angel Hedgie not knowing what 'banality of evil' means is quite a bit less important than the US actually having torturers.

    I always wonder is the US particularly bad among developed nations because everyone knows that your government tortures and there aren't mass protests etc etc?

    Or is it a little bit better because you actually know this stuff? Does every western nation do this stuff too but it doesn't even reach the news? Does my government do it too?

    Hopefully not. You could take comfort in the fact that many intelligence people seem to agree that torture is actually a terrible means of getting information; and the US might be the only one dumb enough to bother. (I bet England does, though)

    I think I always assumed we (the US) did when I was growing up, but I imagined it took the form of unofficial, impromptu interrogations. Some romanticized notion of a lone-wolf spy caught between a rock and a hard place and no option left but to start breaking fingers to get some kind of dreadfully important codes. I assumed everyone did it, and, whatever, I've got games to play and shenanigans to be up to.

    Then I grew up, realized all CIA agents are not James Bond, torture is a lot harder to get over than a broken finger, and our government was not just fully aware, but actually supported it. The early 2000s were pretty eye opening period, and I'd hope any western nations still engaging in the practice at that time might have noted our example and quietly shut their programs down.

    ArbitraryDescriptor on
    Automata-Sg.png
  • Handsome CostanzaHandsome Costanza We sell products... ...and get in ROBOTS!Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Coincidentally, in the book Kill Bin Laden Jose Rodriguez is the name of the no legged undercover CIA operator who stakes out Bin Ladens compound and sets up the site for the raid. It's also said in the book that he was an interrogator at guantanamo. I know the book was fiction but I wonder if the author used that name on purpose.

    Handsome Costanza on
    We sell fights and get into products.
  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    There could be a link there. However I'd imagine its a very common name

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote: »
    I do think Angel Hedgie not knowing what 'banality of evil' means is quite a bit less important than the US actually having torturers.

    Perhaps, but we don't need to misuse phrases in order to talk about torture.

  • BastableBastable Registered User regular
    Al_wat wrote: »
    Bastable wrote: »
    Al_wat wrote: »
    But what struck me more was how he wasn't just a monster, but a coward as well. From constantly seeking approval from the DoJ for his actions, to his writing of a book to defend the indefensible, it becomes clear that his actions belie his insistence of the surity of his conduct.

    I'm not sure how you are coming to this conclusion - because he made sure he had approval for his actions, he is a coward? Is that what you are saying?

    That he begged for licence does indicate a strain of cowardice. Dixon's work On Psychology of military incompatance floated the idea that Miltaries promote/attract the wrong sort of people. (along with the "right sort").

    Buller was a murderous psychopath when gallivanting around on horseback when being ordered around, but when he was given command in the Boer war he was indecisive and lacked morale courage.

    Falling into the so called authoritarian leader bracket "Such people may well be drawn towards military organizations because the latter have, of necessity, perfected devices like ‘bull’ and discipline, hierarchical command-structures and rigid conventions which not only allow aggression without anxiety, but actually reduce anxiety that may have originated at a much earlier period of life."

    and "This fear of criticism follows directly from their need for social approval."



    Plus the whole brutalising wounded helpless detainees with torture does not exactly scream BRAVERY.

    Inspite of him invoking tough guy bullshit like "big boy pants" and "new Sheriff," I'd go with judging coward in both the moral and physical sense.

    I don't think I agree with this line of reasoning. I don't know that the man is or is not a coward. I view him as without a doubt a war criminal, and I view the people who enabled him as the same.

    That said - this wasn't "social approval" he was looking for. This was direct professional, military, approval. I don't know that you can draw parallels between Buller being indecisive and lacking moral courage and this man. Him seeking approval is like, SOP.

    I don't even know that this point is entirely relevant to the whole discussion really; it just struck me as saying "he is a bad man! a coward! evil! and hes ugly and probably never gets laid! And his breath smells!" Like people are just tacking on any negative connotation they can. That's just how it seemed to me with the "coward" statement (because again: in my mind seeking approval is more of a Standard operating procedure than a coward's action).

    Read the book, SOP exist to reduce anxiety in doing terrible things like kill people. The problem is you get people in charge who are inhumane as all they have to do is follow SOP's and therefore "win/promoted, or in the case of things like the Dreyfus affair or the RN Royal oak court martial/mutiny where the authority group then just re writes the SOP. Like how now torture is now legal and laudable

    His statements include trying on the idea that stress positions are not even as bad as going to the gym, he makes statements that yeah we hit people but it's open handed so it's softer. . .

    Yeah I do violence against unarmed prisinoers but I'm doing it for the authority group: Social approval. Also I know that the tapes recording us torturing people will meet with social disapproval and have to therefore be destroyed.

    And seriously A man who commits violence (and engendered a system predicated on committing violence) against hapless prisioners and talks about "big boy pants" and "New Sheriff" is the poster boy of a coward morally and physically.



    Read the book and then read Jose's interview: The Guy screams authoritarian personality, and manages to lack the personal/physical bravery of failures such as Buller and Ragland never mind his moral cowardice.

    One of the least attractive aspects of the authoritarian personality is his generalized hostility, what the Berkeley researchers called ‘vilification of the human’. This was the trait which was manifested to such an extreme degree by members of the Nazi S.S. that they could commit wholesale murder, not just without guilt or shame but, perhaps more surprisingly, without the slightest evidence of revulsion. This cool detachment and complete incapacity for empathy with other human beings was not only reflected in the bleakly unemotional title for their task – ‘the final solution’ – but was also a sine qua non of its tidy execution. At first sight, this mixture of brutality and bureaucracy is strange, to say the least. After all, it is one thing to shoot helpless prisoners in the back, to drive old women into gas chambers

    and to hang your ‘enemies’ with piano wire and meat-hooks – but quite another to plan such operations down to the minutest detail, to make ledger entries of hair and calcium, wigs and artificial limbs; to stack corpses and extract the gold from their teeth. In fact, of course, this horrific concatenation of traits is an extreme if grotesque example of the relationship touched on earlier – that between authoritarianism and the anal-obsessive personality. It does, however, add a new dimension and meaning to that undervaluing of other human beings which characterizes the authoritarian personality.

    Philippe about the tactical deployment of german Kradschützen during the battle of Kursk:
    "I think I can comment on this because I used to live above the Baby Doll Lounge, a topless bar that was once frequented by bikers in lower Manhattan."

  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    _J_ wrote: »
    _J_ wrote: »
    That, again, completely fails to grasp the concept of "banality of evil": Evil is not something one becomes; evil is not a transformation; evil is not an estranged way of being. Evil is just some guy going to work and doing his job.

    This is what the banality of evil is.

    It's also what makes it a specious concept at heart.

    Why is it specious?

    Well, since the guy's original argument was concocted to explain how Germany could do what it did during WWII, I don't buy people becoming indoctrinated to the point where, like a bird-beak record player from the Flintstones, "It's a living," in less than a generation. It doesn't make sense but has an appearance of truth, ergo it's specious.

    I think the argument should really pertain more to an idea of "diminishing returns of evil." Like the fifth cheesecake slice you eat not being as satisfying as the first, I think a stronger argument can be made that when you take a frothing-at-the-mouth Nazi and get him to turn on his neighbors and start executing them in mass, no matter how filled with hate he is, that level won't be the same when he's killing victim 1000 as it was did during victim 1.

    But that's my own addendum to the concept. It's not the concept which I feel, by itself, makes a specious argument.

    Mad King George on
  • override367override367 Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Most Germans weren't directly exposed to the worst horrors, and while many who committed them "were only following orders", the vast majority of the german army and populace (while complicit, don't mistake me) was just "lets just get through this and keep our heads down and everything will be fine"

    Most Americans don't even think waterboarding is torture, which is part of our problem. People are willfully ignorant.

    override367 on
    XBLIVE: Biggestoverride
    League of Legends: override367
«13456
Sign In or Register to comment.