Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Deformed Conscience

Thoreau, of Unqualified Offerings:
The media doesn’t invite the Flat Earth Society to “discuss the controversy” every time they show a picture of the globe. They don’t invite a North Korean official to argue that his country isn’t a shithole when they want to do a story on North Korea. They don’t invite NAMBLA to offer an opposing perspective when somebody is accused of child molestation. And they don’t give a guest column in leading publications to a cheerleader for the Libyan regime. Yet when somebody wants to show up and argue that Iraq is a success story, that torture (fricking torture!) is OK, that unchecked executive power is just peachy, they invite that person onto the show and thank him. Instead of reporting the abuses of power they treat the apologists as honored guests...

...At some point you have to say that an idea has been sufficiently discredited that it’s time to move on and stop treating its proponents like the Serious People that they insist they are. As long as the worst ideas in circulation are treated as Serious, it’s impossible to hold their proponents accountable because what they do is not a crime but merely a controversial decision.
Yeah - there's a very good point here. But let me take this briefly in a somewhat different direction.

Consider that the prohibition of torture, for instance, is a basic peremptory norm (jus cogens) under international law (along with slavery, genocide, and others). Peremptory norms are the most fundamental norms of international conduct, and any normative stability that exists to international law in the absence of a global legal system and mechanisms for enforcing it. Peremptory norms are such that they are widely agreed and allow for no violation of the rule underlying the law. In other words, if there is anything institutional at the international level that functions like universally agreed morality it is jus cogens.

is what the US has violated and whose defenders the media trots into the public discourse as if that which is beyond law and morality has a place in the public discourse of a any decent society. The conscience of the polity, as a result, is deformed.

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