Scalia, Jack Bauer, and Torture

There’s a bomb going off in an hour—Jack Bauer
Must find and disarm it, before we all die
And just ere the clock reaches zero, our hero
Comes through, thanks to torture! And so goes the lie.
In truth, this scenario never—not ever—
Describes what we do, or describes what we find!
The truth stands in stark contradiction to fiction
Excepting, of course, in Scalia’s cold mind.

For Justice Scalia (both ruthless and truthless)
His fictional ends more than justify means
And though they hurt innocent victims, his dictums
Are needed (according to 24’s scenes)
Since torture yields sound information, salvation
Can come in the form of the cruelest of cruel
So… let his detractors spout argle and bargle…
If Jack wants to torture, Scalia is cool.

For some reason, Scalia is all over the news these days, both with new stories and old. Today’s verse is inspired by a slightly older piece, an examination of his defense of torture. In a nutshell, the constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, so if someone were tried, convicted, and sentenced to torture that would be unconstitutional. But if it is not used as punishment–that is, if we are torturing someone before they have been tried and convicted, Scalia says the constitution is mum on that.

Because Jack Bauer.

No, seriously, Scalia’s view of torture was informed not by what actually happens in the real world, but by what happens on TV.

But hey, I am also reading things that say Scalia was on the side of good when it came to 4th and 6th amendment cases, and that he was thus not entirely evil. The scary thing is, that means that the guy who defended torture has left at least a couple of people on the bench who are worse than he is.

Predictably, the GOP is already gearing up to prevent the president from doing his job (would that be “again”, or “still”?), despite a full year left in office. Such interference would be unprecedented, though not in the least unpredictable.

What I am wondering, though, is how the Democrats will still manage to self-destruct over this. But I have the sinking feeling that they will.


  1. hoary puccoon says

    I (literally) gave blood trying to get the ERA ratified. It failed, but because of our campaign, the Supreme Court suddenly realized the 14th amendment gave equal rights regardless of gender. So that was okay, because at least the in-your-face discrimination disappeared. And the in-your-face discrimination, believe me, had done plenty to mess up women’s lives. (“Trial by a jury of yer peers? Why would ladies ever need that? If they’re ladies they wouldn’t be on trial, har, har har.” At least that ended.)

    But recently Scalia started making a lot of noise about how the 14th amendment really didn’t apply to women. He was obviously fishing for a case to test that. And I saw everything I had helped win for myself, my daughters, my granddaughters, for all American women, put in jeopardy by one vicious, manipulative man.

    It’s now appropriate to express satisfaction that Scalia died peacefully in his sleep. Screw it. I wish the sucker had died screaming.

  2. Cuttlefish says

    Yeah, there are entire other verses that could be written over that line of what-passes-for-reasoning, or his marriage arguments (oh, wait, I already did), his belief in a genuine Satan, his disdain for church-state separation…

  3. Menyambal says

    Scalia was very wrong on the Second Amendment, too. I am not a lawyer, but I looked into muskets, militias and history, and concluded that the Second had nothing to do with individuals owning guns. Scalia was saying the same thing that the NRA does, and backing that up with scholarly arguments. Except, when I looked closer, the other Justices were saying the same thing I was, and backing that up with scholarly arguments that matched my work and conclusions.

    The NRA is a tool of the gun manufacturers, and a lot of people have bought the crazed rhetoric and the unnecessary guns. Scalia followed along, and used all his power and presence to further the NRA’s un-Constitutional agenda. He was wrong, and he did anything he could to keep being wrong.

    Fittingly for him, he spent his last day with a gun, hunting for sport. I’m tempted to imagine him arriving in the afterlife to be met by all those he killed, and caused to be killed, because there would be more than just quail.

  4. Intaglio says

    Every time the efficacy of torture has been examined rationally it has been found to lack any benefit at all or to be counterproductive. The British found this numerous times, whether it was practiced at the London Cage (WWII), or in Aden or during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. I believe that at least one US investigation found a similar lack of success for extreme duress.

    In large part I suspect that the continued resurgence of torture is because of a desire for revenge punishments and the need of interrogators to feel like they are doing something other than just passively examining the numerous statements of compliant prisoners.

  5. Pliny the in Between says

    My chief regret is that I went to the trouble of creating a perfectly good image map (for my comic library) of him that it looks like I won’t have much use for at this point.

  6. Rich Woods says

    There’s a bomb going off in an hour—Jack Bauer
    Must find and disarm it, before we all die
    And just ere the clock reaches zero, our hero
    Comes through, thanks to torture!

    Yet all the times Jack was tortured, he never gave in, even when it went on for years. That’s the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, you see: enhanced interrogation is ineffective on one group but the other always spills the beans within 59 minutes.

    The sad thing is that there are people who believe this drivel. They have a vote and they know how to misuse it.

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