Saturday, May 23, 2009

can't i enjoy just a little payback every now and again?

posted to a sociology list...

Sometime last year when it was finally coming to light how complicit our beloved gov't was in the use of torture, there was a discussion on this list as to whether certain practices constituted torture or not and/or whether or not it would be appropriate for the U.S. to use these methods. I found it incredulous that an issue such as torture could be considered a reasonable topic of debate among any behavioral scientists, let applied sociologists list, but I know I am subject to fits of naievte. I recall at the time that I suggested that anyone who didn't think waterboarding constituted torture should subject him or herself to the technique and then make their assessment. For those on the list that chose not to do that, permit me to ask you to watch/read this.

I also recall at the time, that i argued that there are some things that are true regardless of definition. the effects of waterboarding is one of those things, as is persistent hunger, cold temperatures, physical beating, dehydration, etc. Definitions are for the privileged elites that are free from many, if not most of the consequences of their individual as well as collective behavior. Harsh reality is the privilege of those less fortunate.

Funny, this ridiculous notion of having to define things before actually doing anything about them...Blumer, arguably one of the fathers of symbolic interactionism, knew full well the limits of definition as he stated that there were "obdurate realities" that existed with our without definition. water being forced up your nose while your body is restrained strikes me as one of the obdurate realities...

IMO, this persistent knee-jerk reaction to having to define things before doing anything is precisely why applied sociology remains a stale discipline. that and the fact that there are some who claim to be applied sociologists who willing entertain the notion of torture as a viable applied technique.

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