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Do you love torture?

tortured heart2Do you love torture? Do you watch TV shows and movies where characters are subjected to intense physical pain? Do you play video games where you stomp on characters and mutilate them? Do you read books where evil minds and law enforcement design new ways to extract that important bit of information from the hero or the criminal?

Seems pretty effective in make-believe worlds, but do you believe that torture works in the real one?

Torture is defined as the infliction of severe physical or mental pain as punishment or coercion. If you want to know exactly what I am talking about How Stuff Works provides a list of the top ten torture methods and gives real examples. Check it out and compare it to what you love on the screen and in the book.

You'll discover that fake torture is a lot like real torture. But that's all right isn't it, because no one really gets hurt in the pretend world?.

However, the following statistics collected by Bonnie Tamres-Moore in her article "Learning to Love Torture" show that public support for torture has grown tremendously over the last seven years. In 2005 85% of Americans opposed assassinating known terrorists. Today that number has fallen to 65%. In 2005 83% opposed naked chaining. Now it is 45%. In 2005 25% opposed waterboarding (which is suffocating the person). That percentage has dropped to 10%. The United States now ranks with Indonesia and Egypt in support of torture.

Sure people are scared of the terrorists they hear about on the news. But that isn't enough to make so many Americans approve of torturing real live human beings. Could it be that being seeped in pretend torture while safely curled up on a cushiony sofa makes us inured to the pain of others? Or could it be as Tamres-Moore says that more believe that "torture is the tough, but the necessary thing we must do for the greater good."

On the surface that sounds like at least a reasonable excuse - until you distill it down to  its essence which is the old truism - the end justifies the means. This is the historic justification for torture used by torturers across time from the Inquisition to the Holocaust.

Where do you stand on torture and what do you teach your children about it?

Learn More

Amnesty International

Interrogational Torture: Effective or Strictly Sadistic

The Legal Prohibition Against Torture

The Torture Myth

When Torture Is (And Isn't) Effective

Teach Peace Now
Teach Peace Now

We offer books, activities, lesson plans, and ideas that teachers, parents, and students can use to promote values, attitudes and behaviors which encourage non-violent resolution of conflict, respect for human rights, democracy, intercultural understanding and tolerance.


  1. joan koster says:

    When “the end justifies the means”, we end up being a tortured soul and society.

  2. The worst thing is all the research shows torture doesn’t work. Inflict enough pain and a person will say anything, admit to anything, to get it to stop.

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