Tuesday, May 11, 2004

On Blogging and Human Nature

Josh Marshall once again gets it on the issue of the day - or days - which continues to be Abu Ghraib.

He cites Senator Inhofe's outrage over the outrage. The Sentaor, as others have before him, argues that the prisoners in the photos were in jail and given their location they were probably murderers, terrorists, insurgents, etc, some, or many, with American blood on their hands.

Josh cites to another article saying that between 70% and 90% of inmates were there by mistake. And that according to CNN, McCain walked out during Inhofe's statement.

Here's what troubles me - even without the 70%/90% stats. How can we be satisfied with leadership that devolves into "well they started it"-ness? I guess it's human nature to duck responsibility - no likes to get in trouble or to be disliked. But citing an offenders sins as an excuse for mistreatment? Aren't we better? Isn't our moral superiority, er, clarity, our Almighty-derived freedom, our civility what separates us from those-that-want-only-death? Can't we rise above? There is NO excuse for what happened there. To attempt to sleep better by saying they were probably murderers anyway - I'm sorry, it doesn't cut it. We're losing humanity by drops and gallons over there.

These dueling arguments - that we were wrong at Abu Ghraid v. they were wrong first and that's how they got to Abu Ghraib - have made me think more about the death penalty here generally. That and the Kamala Harris flap in San Francisco. I'm not sure if I'm 100% in favor of it or against it at this point. But I think we have to acknowledge a certain baseness if we sanction killing. Maybe it can't be avoided. But I want more open-minded leadership - more deliberative leadership that can recognize - and if need be make peace with - hypocrisy.

And on blogging - it seems to work a lot like briefing your legislator boss. Somewhere there's a huge file that gets distilled into a bill. The bill is synopsized in an analysis which is then paraphrased verbally at a briefing which turns into a blurb on a document and then sometimes even into a thumbs up or thumbs down offered from across the room. So here there's volumes of evidence into an article into a headline into a post into my post. That's kind of the world, though, isn't it.

Somewhere there's one huge book with absolutely all the information, answers, and of course - and most importantly - questions. But it's all been summarized into 8 million blog posts. Crazy.

Thanks, Josh, LJ, LA Observed, and all the other blogs out there - and Google for the blogger button that makes my ripping and linking possible.

Update

Read this
NYT editorial on what's going on. Most compelling sentence: "These practices go well beyond any gray area of American values, international law or the Geneva Conventions."

We shouldn't need a handbook, a training manual, or a set of international agreements to prevent this kind of behavior. Just like frat boys shouldn't destroy furniture and stupid kids should play with matches in the woods. Some things just happen because, as a camp friend once said, "little boys are stupid." That they're stupid isn't an excuse, it's an explanation to help you understand why. But this goes beyond that, doesn't it? Or maybe it doesn't. Maybe this is what happens when the other crap goes unchecked. It really makes you wonder . . . .

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