Sunday, December 16, 2007
  Having An LOL Day
Don't you just love those days where something happens that not only proves you right but also just makes you laugh out loud?

Over a month ago I posted a short blurb giving my views on waterboarding. The post generated no response at all until a few days ago when "Phil" and "Greg" both showed up to declare that waterboarding is not torture - which is false - and that, even if it is, torture is an effective means of gathering intelligence - which is also not true.

The discussion sidetracked into a debate on whether it was necessary to use atomic bombs on Japan to force their surrender. (It probably wasn't.) Both Phil & Greg continue to insist that in order to defeat the monsters we are fighting we must become inhuman monsters ourselves. To prove their points they called upon examples from General Sherman's burning of the South to Michael Savage to the Talmud. Greg even quoted Abraham Lincoln.

Well, sort of. Greg wrote, "Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said 'We fight on their level. With trickery, brutality, finality. We match their evil. There is no honorable way to kill. No gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war except its ending.' "That might be a great quote, except President Abraham Lincoln never said any such thing. The quote is rather a line from Star Trek episode #77, "The Savage Curtain" by an actor portraying Lincoln.

Next he'll be quoting Harrison Ford or some other famous "President" to back up his arguments. I can't wait. I've got some President Jed Bartlet quotes all ready to fire back with.
I don't know if we are playing a game, but from The Legend of the Lone Ranger:

[Having just thanked the Lone Ranger for saving his life, Grant now turns to Tonto]
President Ulysses S. Grant: And how can I thank you?
Tonto: You can thank me by honoring your treaties with my people.
President Ulysses S. Grant: We will try.

Great camp
I have a great Bartlett quote.

Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation? He could walk across the earth unharmed, cloaked only in the words ‘Civis Romanis’ I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens.

By the way, just because Abraham Lincoln didn't really say that quote it doesn't mean that the quote didn't characterize how he fought the Civil War.

And regarding President James Marshall (Harrison Ford), do you remember his speech at the beginning of that movie? Talk about the ultimate neo-con. I don't even believe in that level of interventionism. I only believe in intervention when our interests are at stake.
Of course President David Palmer will always be my favorite President.

Since you discovered the source of the Lincoln quote let me finish it.

Rock Alien: You are the survivors.
The others have run off.
It would seem that evil retreats when forcibly confronted.
However, you have failed to demonstrate to me...
any other difference between your philosophies.
Your good and your evil use the same methods,
achieve the same results.
Do you have an explanation?

Kirk: You established the methods and the goals.

Rock Alien: For you to use as you chose.

Kirk: What did you offer the others if they won?

Rock Alien: What they wanted most-- power.

Kirk: You offered me the lives of my crew.

I perceive you have won their lives.

That's the difference between us and them regardless of what we have to do in order to defeat them. It's not how we fight that makes us good or evil, it's what we are fighting for.

You're out of your league, my friend. Why don't you finish up that scene from The West Wing with Leo McGarry's quote?

LEO: And you think ratcheting up the body count’s gonna act as a deterrent?

BARTLET: You’re damn right.

LEO: Then you are just as dumb as these guys who think that capital punishment is going to be a deterrent for drug kingpins. As if drug kingpins didn’t live their day to day lives under the possibility of execution. And their executions are a lot less dainty than ours and tend to take place without the bother and expense of due process. So my friend, if you want to start using American military strength as the arm of the Lord, you can do that, we’re the only superpower left. You can conquer the world, like Charlemenge, but you better be prepared to kill everyone and you better start with me cause I will raise up an army against you and I will beat you!
Greg: "...just because Abraham Lincoln didn't really say that quote it doesn't mean that the quote didn't characterize how he fought the Civil War.

Debatable, at best. That is no excuse for using a specious quote to try and advance your argument. (It's okay, Greg, I know you really believed that was a Lincoln quote. You can admit it.) And who says that how either side fought should be any kind of model for civilized men? Both sides were brutal in their tactics and their treatment of prisoners.

Greg: I only believe in intervention when our interests are at stake.

What interests did we have at stake in Iraq? But, you are straying from the point again. Is waterboarding torture? Is torture wrong? Yes and yes.

And why do you keep returning to Gene Roddenberry as some kind of standard that should define American beliefs and conduct? He was a liberal, secular humanist whose work was designed to denigrate organized religion and Christian thought. He believed good and bad were relative concepts which may explain your devotion.(See "The Enemy Within" or the ways in which the so-called Prime Directive is treated as anything but primary.)

Greg: "It's not how we fight that makes us good or evil, it's what we are fighting for."

Sounds like a great Muslim creed. They are just as convinced in the rightness of their cause as you seem to be in yours. And they believe it justifies any means, no matter how barbaric, just like you. That is of course, utter nonsense. The rightness of any cause does not justify actions. Actions must be humane in and of themselves, apart from motivations. If they are not then we deserve whatever we get.
How about Bonhoeffer? He would certainly disagree with that.

He said:

"Better for a lover of truth to tell a lie than for a liar to tell the truth."

"It is better to do evil than to be evil."

By the way, thank you for bringing up "the Enemy within". More on that later. But I would like to refer you to A Taste of Armageddon as well.

Got to go for now, but back later about "the Enemy within" Jekyll and how our dark side is essential to our survival.

Sorry, actions do not stand on themselves but only in the context they are done in.
Okay, you don't seem to understand. I have no interest in discussing the finer points of "Roddenberry & Star Trek's Philosophy of Human Behavior and Morals" with you.

I appreciate Dietrich Bonhoeffer but apparently you don't understand what he meant when he wrote that in "Ethics".

DB is saying that we judge people's morality by their character and not just their actions. We should not do evil but more important is not to be evil as a part of our nature. A lie is bad, but a liar is false through and through and nothing he says can be trusted.

However, if one does evil then one is evil. God says "Be holy as I am holy," "Can a man takes coals of fire into his lap and not be burned," and "As a man thinks in his heart so is he." If you commit evil acts then you are evil. Torture is an evil act. Waterboarding is torture. No country that sanctions such treatment of anyone can hold itself up as morally superior. Not even America.

(By the way, you really should branch out beyond the "An Unsealed Room" post on Bartlett and porportional response. I've already read it and all you're doing is rehashing the comments from that post.
Grow up. Be a man. Think for yourself.)
From Bonhoeffer's very own actions you know that's not he meant. He entered into a plot to kill the elected leader of his country.

And most of the time that would be a very bad thing, except in Bonhoeffer case that leader was Hitler.

So, most of us would not give a second thought about the morality to enter into a plot to kill Hitler, but Bonhoeffer did. It went against everything he believed (he was a prominent pacifist before the war). But in the end he decided it would be worse to let someone who "is evil" to prevail then to do the "evil" that it would take to stop him.

So, yeah, Bonhoeffer entered into a conspiracy to kill the elected leader of his country. He did evil, but because of the the reasons behind it I would not consider him evil for doing it.
Killing Hitler would not have been an evil act. Taking Hitler prisoner and torturing him would be.
LEO: You can conquer the world, like Charlemenge, but you better be prepared to kill everyone and you better start with me cause I will raise up an army against you and I will beat you!

Had it not been the liberal propaganda show it was President Bartlet should have immediately arrested Leo after he said that.

Just until after the conflict. Then he should have gone to Leo and said. Where's your army? I have the highest ratings in the polls ever. No, America doesn't use its power for conquest, but we take care of our own. I have a responsibility as Commander in Chief to protect my people from anyone outside our country who would do them harm just for being Americans. Any President who fails in doing that fails this great office. All night I have been answering calls from other dictators in the region distancing themselves from the regime we attacked and promising that they will ensure the safety of Americans on their lands. Now it is just a cold hard truth that only power breeds respect. Yes, cold hard power, with a good dose of fear of those who would use it. You may say that humanity has become more sophisticated than that, but that is not true. It is still all about who has the most and heaviest rocks and it is my job to ensure that we have the most and the heaviest rocks in the world and that the world knows my willingness to use them if anyone attempts to harm even a single one of us. Attack one American and you attack us all. And never, ever on our sacred soil! We will not tolerate that ever! Now, Leo, we are friends. I respect your opinion on many issues, but if you talk to the Commander in Chief like that EVER again I will bounce you out of the Oval Office so fast that it will make your head spin. Now are we clear about that Leo?
Killing any human is an evil act.

It is just that sometimes situations present themselves where you must kill to prevent a greater evil from occurring.

Your first statement is completely false.
Killing is not always evil.
Killing is somtimes justfified.

Torture is another matter.
Torture dehumanizes the torturer.
It makes them inhuman.
It is never justified.
It delegitimizes their cause and destroys their moral authority.
Greg channeling Jed Bartlett: All night I have been answering calls from other dictators in the region distancing themselves from the regime we attacked and promising that they will ensure the safety of Americans on their lands.

My, Greg, you certainly live in a fantasy world, don't you. Do you write for television or are you just a frustated novelist. In what globalist utopia do you think such promises would ever be made, much less kept, after such an act of hegemony and hubris.

The attitude you assign to Bartlett above (completely out of character, by the way) is exactly what led us into Iraq and is the reason much of world opinion has turned against us.
Just because some act is justified doesn't mean it's not evil.
It would be made in a post attack environment where they feared they would be next. You are right though just because they promised something like that it doesn't mean they would keep that promise. That would be determined by their belief about what would happen to them if they didn't keep such a promise.
Actually it was Jed Barlett's proportional response (played out in real life by Bill Clinton) that led to 9-11 and indeed Iraq.
Greg: Just because some act is justified doesn't mean it's not evil.

For example?
Killing a human being.

But at times it is NECESSARY to prevent a greater evil.

Just like waterboarding is necessary to protect America from Islamofacism.

Not pretty but it's what needs to be done!
I have to agree with Greg. The Marshall Doctrine went way too far.

Regarding Star Trek "The Enemy Within" and the "Savage Curtain" you seemed to miss the whole point.

Roddenberry didn't believe good and evil were relative concepts. He believed there was a difference and in the end he believed good was ultimately stronger "It would seem that evil retreats when forcibly confronted."

But what "The Enemy Within" was about and the same theme was in a recent BBC miniseries called Jekyll was that all humans have a dark side to them.

And yes, the dark side alone is ugly, violent, hideous, and needs to be controlled by our higher natures.

But that said, the strong person doesn't run from their dark side. They embrace their darkside They take control of their darkside. For ironically without controlled use of their darker nature they are weak.

Those who are "good" have their Jekyll in control and only let their Hyde come out when it is absolutely necessary. Those who are evil have their Hyde in full control of their Jekyll.

Good men can be faced (like in war) with situations when their Hyde must come out in full force. But the good can afterwards have their Jekyll retake control.

As for the Savage Curtain, the alien asked despite the fact that evil seems to run when forcefully confronted, both good and evil use war which end up with death and destruction. So, what's the difference? Kirk asked what did the evil group want if they had won. The alien said power for themselves. Kirk explained the reason he was fighting was because he was forced into the conflict in order to save the lives of his crew. Yes, they both used the same methods but the outcomes they were fighting for were as different as they could be.
Okay, you boys don't seem to get the point. I'm not interested in discussing the finer points of Star Trek philosophy with guys who are still playing D&D in their mom's basement.

THe point of this post was that Greg tried to defend an indefensible position with a quote from Abraham Lincoln. Problem is the quote was from a bad episode of Star Trek.

Either Greg didn't know the quote wasn't authentic - in which case he needs to learn to do more research than Google & Wikipedia - or Greg knew the quote was bogus and presented it as authentic anyway. Either way, he needs to learn to defend his views a lot better than he does.

You both need to get outside of your SciFi Channel existence and learn to live and operate in the real world.

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Retired from the US Air Force after more than 20 years of service. Now working as a contractor for various government agencies.

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