Monday, June 12, 2006


I thought I'd offer some interesting snippets from this morning's blog reading. First on the Guantánamo suicides...

This protest was perhaps the only autonomous action that was left to them, the only end that they still had effective means to pursue. To be sure, their means of effecting this protest was to destroy themselves. But what they destroyed were not lives imbued with the value of rational autonomy; what they destroyed were lives whose value was already being desecrated daily, with no end in sight. Their personhood was already being used as mere means, by their jailers, and their suicides put an end to that abuse, as the abuse of slavery is ended when the slave dies attempting to escape.

What we would say of the slave is, not that he lacks regard for human life, but that he shows precisely that regard which is appropriate to it. I would say the same of the Guantánamo suicides.

Obsidian Wings:
I guess what Harris means by an "act of asymmetric warfare" is that this makes us look terrible, and may motivate people to commit acts of terrorism. That is possible. Although there's no evidence that the motivation of these suicides was to inspire attacks (rather than to increase pressure to free the other prisoners, or simply to die), they may have that effect. But if making the world think that the US mistreats prisoners is an act of war against the US, then it looks like George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo, David Addington and Geoffrey Miller (to name a few) are also "enemy combatants".

And more (otherwise unrelated) cutting criticisms:
He might have written a book on informal logic. If we thought it was any good, we might recommend that he read it.

Update: more fun, this time from Julian Sanchez:
The idea, insofar as I can make it out, seems to be that if countries where marriage is viewed as less important have been among the first to let gay people in, then any country that lets gay people into marriage will come to view it as less important. Why we might expect this to be the case is, alas, not explained. I notice that both this argument and the "procreative link" one appear to rely on the presumption that "If A, then B" entails "If B, then A." I think we may have discovered the real fountainhead of opposition to gay marriage: It's not homophobia, it's the inability to distinguish between a conditional and a biconditional. Which is a little odd, really: You'd think they'd like a logical operator that only swings one way.

And now Fafblog! weighs in on Guantanamo:
Run for your lives - America is under attack! Just days ago three prisoners at Guantanamo Bay committed suicide in a savage assault on America's freedom to not care about prisoner suicides! Oh sure, the "Blame Atrocities First" crowd will tell you these prisoners were "driven to despair," that they "had no rights," that they were "held and tortured without due process or judicial oversight in a nightmarish mockery of justice." But what they won't tell you is that they only committed suicide as part of a diabolical ruse to trick the world into thinking our secret torture camp is the kind of secret torture camp that drives its prisoners to commit suicide! This fiendish attempt to slander the great American institution of the gulag is nothing less than an act of asymmetrical warfare against the United States - a noose is just a suicide bomb with a very small blast radius, people! - and when faced with a terrorist attack, America must respond. Giblets demands immediate retaliatory airstrikes on depressed Muslim torture victims throughout the mideast!


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