Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ticking Bomb Unless Shopping

Those who attempt to justify one of the most heinous things human beings do - torture - as well as the "war on terror" (note that it is Phronesisaical Patriotic Policy to use scare quotes around the GWOT), usually resort to the bogus "ticking bomb" argument. It's a basic utilitarian claim designed to defeat absolutist opponents of torture: wouldn't you torture one person to find out where the bomb is and save one million people? If you say, "well, yes, in that case...," the torture justifiers pull out their slippery slope guns and say "aha!" The ticking bomb case is then used to go on to justify torture, "war on terror," and other sundry items on the proponent's shopping list.

WalMart has seen through this technique. The company has generously come to the defense of those who fall for the ticking bomb argument. The corollary principle - call it "The Walmart Retort" - is now: "unless shopping is involved."
Last Saturday afternoon, Eva Voorhees heard the clatter of feet on the roof of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Mitchell where she works in the photo department - but it wasn't the pitter-patter of reindeer.

It was the police looking for a bomb. Up front, police officers, the SWAT team and others were busy searching the store next to customers who were browsing for gifts. The police looked in jewelry counters, wrapping paper rolls, freezers, the back room where trucks unload and closets at Tire Lube Express.

During the nearly two-hour search, Wal-Mart officials opted not to evacuate the busy discount store even though police recommended they do so. Wal-Mart officials said the call was a hoax and not a threat...

Overweg said police recommended the store be evacuated to allow SWAT team and other officers to search the building. But Wal-Mart opted not to, he said.
Aha! Freedom Fighters!

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