Just Following Orders, part 5
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May 8th, 2009

Just Following Orders, part 5

Sixty years ago the Western world decided “we were just following orders” is no justification for war crimes. When I wrote this series, I figured Obama looking the other way was throwing out decades of wisdom earned with the suffering of our own people and millions of innocents. The feedback has been mostly positive. Most people got the point and didn’t read too much into it. But the negative feedback has me wondering if we ever really had any wisdom to squander in the first place, because it can all be summed up in the following sentiment: “Our war crimes weren’t anywhere near as bad as their war crimes.”

Where do these people think barbarism begins? The Japanese hadn’t always been butchers. The Germans hadn’t always been butchers. It started with people accepting small injustices in the name of security. Then, years later, they’d accept just a little more. Then a little more after that. Before long, they were turning a blind eye because they no longer saw their victims as human beings. Then came the blood. It happened gradually, most of them didn’t think it
was possible, and many to this day can’t accept the reality of what
their nations did.

Sixty years ago, the civilized world decided never to let it get that far again. International laws we championed mandate that member states investigate their own citizens when accused of even the smallest of war crimes, and prosecute them if warranted.

For some reason, President Obama is acting like he has a choice in the matter, when his hands were tied more than fifteen years before he was born. But it’s nothing new. We still haven’t investigated Kissinger.


Discussion (54)¬

  1. jstein says:

    "Sixty years ago, the civilized world decided never to let it get that far again. International laws we championed mandate that even the smallest of war crimes, once alleged, have to be investigated and prosecuted."

    Does that include getting off our asses and getting into Sudan, Haiti, Sri Lanka… (the beat goes on)? At what point do we become the world's police officers or should we be the role model for the world (a role we have forgotten about). Isn't it the UN's job to investigate the war crimes? They should investigate Bush and Co, and not let it be Obama's job.

    • candorville says:

      Didn't make myself clear. It's mandated that each country investigate and prosecute their own citizens when they're accused of war crimes, not that the United States go into other countries and prosecute those country's citizens. We're supposed to do that in cooperation with the UN.

      The UN has no subpoena power, and no authority to investigate inside member states unless the Security Council votes to give it that power (and the US would veto any such vote).

      Unfortunately, it is Obama's job (actually, it's his Justice Department's job).

    • Yomomma says:

      What does prosecuting our own war criminals have to do with invading Sudan? The point of the article and comics is that it was Americans who violated the law, and Americans who need to prosecute the guilty, lest we travel further down the slippery slope towards barbarism. American exceptionalism is dangerous. Seeing other humans as lesser creatures because of our rabid nationalism isn't healthy. Scooping up random muslims and imprisoning and torturing them without trial can only happen because we view them as lesser humans. Bombing and invading nations causing massive civilian casualties for the sole benefit of political clout for the President can only happen when we view those invaded as lesser humans. We are already long on our way to becoming monsters, and Obama typifies this – an outwardly upstanding and moral man who has decided politics is more important than justice, maintaining appearances and hiding dirty laundry is more important than preventing war crimes – and this is only possible because even he views all those people that were tortured and killed in the war on terror as lesser humans. We need to make an example of these criminals and start back on the path to regaining our moral authority.

      • PeaceZGood says:

        We need to be careful in making hasty generalizations about Obama's motives. "even he views all those people….as lesser humans". I am not a mind reader, so I don't know if it's NOT true or if it's true. All we can speak about is what IS or is not. Obama is not prosecuting those who did the torture or who ordered it. That's all we know for certain, but the why is inside of Obama and he's not really saying. It also could be that his military advisors are telling him it could be dangerous for our troops overseas if this happened right now, at this time. If you notice, he's acquired quite a set of gray hairs on his head. It has happened much sooner than I thought. Personally, I have empathy with him. He is caught between a rock and a hard place.

      • candorville says:

        I don't think we have any reason to assume he doesn't see the torture victims as lesser creatures. I don't know what his motives are. I'm assuming he's being pragmatic, picking his battles, and as Ken said elsewhere, he's just being realistic. But his rationalization for it is the same rationalization the NAZIS tried using at Nuremberg. It's a rationalization we rightly demonized for the last 60 years. Embracing it, as Obama's doing, sets a horrible historical precedent.

        But as bad as it is, I believe it's his pragmatic side we're witnessing, not some indication that he sees anyone as a lesser being. I don't get the impression he's capable of that kind of thought.

    • cedricw says:

      It's Obama's job.

  2. PeaceZGood says:

    Please explain why the United Nations has never brought anything against the United States of America. Jstein makes a good point. Also, I don't get it. Does Obama say he is NEVER going to address this issue, or just not right now?

    • candorville says:

      The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China, USA, France, Britain and Russia, can each veto any Security Council vote. So there's no point in trying to vote against one of the permanent members since they'll just veto it. That's why the major powers are never sanctioned, no matter what we do. We can fund death squads in Central America (and we have), we can invade a country that never attacked us, and we can torture and kill prisoner of war, and the UN can't do a thing about it. Only we can do something about what we do.

      President Obama hasn't said he's "never" going to address this issue, but he's said the government will never reveal the identities of the torturers. A couple days ago I posted a clip of the President's chief of staff answering questions about this. You should watch it.

      • jstein says:

        China being on the veto committee is also why it has taken so long to get into Sudan… they want the Sudanese oil…

        Is this also why Candorville is not in my local paper (Portland Press Herald) despite my numerous requests…

        • candorville says:

          Yes, that's why. Permanent members like Blondie and Garfield have vetoes over additions to the comics page. They can even invade, bomb, and fund insurgencies in newer strips with impunity.

          But numerous requests have a way of wearing down editors, eventually, especially if they're also coming from your friends, loved ones, and bitter enemies.

      • motherseer says:

        My criticism has nothing to do with the actual subject – not with torture (obviously wrong), or Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. My complaint is that you're using so much of your valuable space and time to crticize President Obama. OK, politicians are legitimate targets, but 1) he's not just any politician, and 2) he gets so much criticism from so many directions he doesn't need you to add onto the pile. Up until the end, Bush never had to deal with criticism from his party regulars. Why can't Democrats ever do that and support our people? Especially so early in his presidency – can't you give the man a break?

        • motherseer says:

          Does he have to be Mr. Perfectly-Everything-You-Want-All-The-Time? Aren't there any other subjects worthy of scrutiny that don't involve mocking this great man? You're just giving aid and comfort to the enemy, man – they hear about this comic (because I doubt they read it regularly) and they laugh at him and say, "See, his own people don't like him!" That's as sophisticated an analysis as they come up with. Get off President Obama – he needs as many of us to have his back as possible. And don't give me that 1st amendment stuff – when you have national exposure you have a duty to be responsible and thoughtful. Does he need another critic? Are you the lone voice of truth as you see it? Find another, more deserving target.

          • candorville says:

            "My complaint is that you're using so much of your valuable space and time to crticize President Obama."

            And you don't think a president covering for people who ordered the torture and murder of war prisoners deserves a week of criticism?

            "Up until the end, Bush never had to deal with criticism from his party regulars. Why can't Democrats ever do that and support our people?"

            Because we're better citizens than they were.

            "Especially so early in his presidency – can't you give the man a break?"

            No. I'm not on Obama's staff. I don't work for the Democratic Party. I'm never gave Bush a break, and that's not because he was a Republican, it's because I thought he was doing wrong. When I think some decision harms the country, I comment on it, and I don't care if it's a Democrat or a Republican who's doing it. Yes, it's early in his presidency. There's time for criticism from "his own people" to sink in. If people in Bush's party had criticized Bush's crimes and coverups early in his presidency, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now and Obama might not have had any tortured war prisoners to deal with.

            He's the first black president. I spent a lot of my valuable time and space commenting on how important he is to our history. But when he screws up, I'm going to call him out on it.

            "Does he have to be Mr. Perfectly-Everything-You-Want-All-The-Time? Aren't there any other subjects worthy of scrutiny that don't involve mocking this great man?"

            He is a great man, in my opinion. And great men shouldn't be covering for war criminals.

            "You're just giving aid and comfort to the enemy, man – they hear about this comic (because I doubt they read it regularly) and they laugh at him and say, 'See, his own people don't like him!' That's as sophisticated an analysis as they come up with."

            If that's the case, then maybe Obama shouldn't cover for war criminals, then his own people won't have any reason to give aid and comfort to the enemy.

            This reminds me of nearly every negative e-mail I got during the Bush years. "You're giving aid and comfort to Al Qaida. They'll hear about your cartoons and say 'we're winning, we're turning the Americans against their own leader.'" My answer was always that if Bush didn't want Al Qaida to notice dissent in America, he should stop giving Americans reasons to dissent.

            "Get off President Obama – he needs as many of us to have his back as possible. "

            That mentality is what allowed Bush to wreck the economy, ruin our national image, and cost the lives of maybe one million Iraqi civilians. When we had one-party Republican rule, Republicans everywhere felt they had to have Bush's back. That kind of blind loyalty always leads to ruin. Our leaders are at their best when their own people keep them in check.

            I'm not into groupthink. I never joined a gang. I never joined a fraternity. I've never supported a friend who was arguing with someone else when I thought my friend was wrong. I was always the guy taking my friend aside, looking him or her in the eye, and saying "You're wrong. You know you're wrong. Be the bigger person and admit it." That's just who I am.

            "And don't give me that 1st amendment stuff – when you have national exposure you have a duty to be responsible and thoughtful."

            Ignoring transgressions because they're committed by a Democrat (which is what you're suggesting I do) is the OPPOSITE of responsible and thoughtful.

            "Does he need another critic? Are you the lone voice of truth as you see it? Find another, more deserving target."

            I'm not the lone voice of truth, as I see it — but I am the lone voice of truth as I see it. By that I mean I have observations and opinions that are mine and no one else's, and I'm going to voice them. That's what I'm supposed to do. That's what you're supposed to do. That's what we're ALL supposed to do. And yes, he does need another critic. He's the president. He's accountable to all of us. This is a democratic republic, not a monarchy. For our democracy to work, I'd say he needs about 305 million critics.

          • motherseer says:

            The Republicans didn't "have George Bush's back." They just never admit they're wrong & say whatever their leadership gives them in the script. This is different – we literally have to HAVE THIS MAN'S BACK. The crazies are out there in a way they never were (unfortunately) for Bush. And he skated through his whole first administration (and then some) without any major criticism from the MSM. As soon as we get someone in there who's actually brilliant, caring, thoughtful and deliberative – who doesn't lurch from activity to knee-jerk reaction like a dry drunk – we liberals all pounce on him because he doesn't say every damn thing we want him to every day all the time. He's supposed to be Superman, go out into space and spin the planet and make all the bad sh-t just go flying off it.

          • candorville says:

            "And he skated through his whole first administration (and then some) without any major criticism from the MSM."

            He sure got some from me. You're exactly right about the rest of the MSM, though, and I criticized them for that at the time too. But you know what mom always said, two wrongs don't make a right. The solution for a blind and impotent press during the Bush years is not to have an equally blind and impotent press during the Obama years.

            "As soon as we get someone in there who's actually brilliant, caring, thoughtful and deliberative – who doesn't lurch from activity to knee-jerk reaction like a dry drunk – we liberals all pounce on him because he doesn't say every damn thing we want him to every day all the time."

            Just as I pounced on Bush every time I disagreed with him. Yes, Obama's brilliant, caring, thoughtful and deliberative. And you don't reward someone like that by being a lapdog, you reward that person by giving them your honest opinion so they can be thoughtful and deliberate about it.

            "I actually hesitated using the phrase "aid and comfort" because of those Republican-terrorist associations, but it fit here and it didn't there."

            Exactly what they would say. They would say it fit there and it doesn't here.

            "Yes, I think the people who authorized this are war criminals. I think pretty much the whole bunch of them are war criminals, Bush & Dick at the head (and their little toady Alberto"

            I completely agree. Why haven't the Democrats prosecuted them?

            "Speaking of just following orders, where's the strip mocking what Condi had to say at Stanford the other day about just following orders?"

            I spent a lot of years mocking Rice. She's a has-been now, though. She's a powerless private citizen. Why spend time commenting on what some powerless private citizen says at some college?

            "Give the man room to work. You want him to get everyone all pissed off right away so that he spends his time putting out little fires instead of saving us from the tsunami coming at us from all directions. Let this thing lay, man – it's not going anywhere & he has much bigger fish in his pan. Our planet is dying – that takes precedent, along with, oh, say, the economy, Afghanistan, health care, North Korea…"

            Were you aware that Obama brought this issue up by releasing Bush's torture memos two weeks ago? If he wanted to let the issue lay until he first saved the world, won the war in Afghanistan, gave us unviersal healthcare and shot down N. Korea's "satellites," he shouldn't have released those memos. But he did, and so now's the time to talk about them.

          • motherseer says:

            Yes, of course I'm aware that he released the memos. I would consider that doing the right and honest and "open" thing to do. I wasn't aware that that was an invitation to excoriate him for what he (as yet) hadn't done. Talk about the memos, fine. Turn the heat on him for not absolving us of past misdeeds by waving his magic prosecutorial wand, not productive.

          • candorville says:

            OK, so when Obama raises the aspect of the issue he wants to talk about, that's right and honest and open and entirely proper. But when a commentator says "so why don't you do something about it?", that's unproductive and shouldn't be mentioned until we've reversed global warming, defeated the Taliban AND North Korea, and have universal healthcare. I need an invitation from Obama to express my point of view. And prosecuting criminals requires some sort of magic wand. Did I miss anything?

          • motherseer says:

            Yes. You missed the part where the point is to not mock him. Ask a question, ask why no prosecution, not a problem. I agree with your statement that as a friend, the thing to do is take someone aside, look them in the eye and say be the bigger person, admit you're wrong. Can't see how days of mockery in national publications equals taking a friend aside and saying something in private. This is like yelling at your friend in front of the guy with whom he's arguing. Anyway, that's a flawed analogy. This is a tri-corner argument, with Repugnican apologistes on one angle, prosecute-them-for-war-crimes people on another, and Obama in the middle. In your analogy, HE'D be the friend saying can't we work something out here?

          • candorville says:

            Sorry, any president who uses the same rationale the NAZIS tried to use in order to excuse war crimes has earned himself at least a week of mockery, whether he's a great and brilliant man from Chicago or a usurper from Texas.

          • cedricw says:

            Sorry sister, but this has to be the worst line of thinking I've ever heard from a Democrat. What do you think we are, Republicans? We don't bury crap under the rug just because it's from our own party. What you're asking Darrin to do, look the other way, is shameful.

          • motherseer says:

            No, I don't think we're Republicans. The Republicans shore up any idiot they get in office & cling to power with a tenacity unmatched save for barnacles. They stand shoulder to shoulder and march in lock-step. Unity to a fascist fault (see Cheney: Dick, Mary, etc.). We Democrats, however, finally get a great and brilliant man as President and can't wait to throw in with the yammering horde of critics. In the end, it DOESN'T MATTER if it comes from "good Democrats" wanting him to prosecute Bushies for war crimes, or from racist loonies in Idaho who are outraged that a black man is President – the net result is it becomes part of the web of angry abuse in which those that hate him seek to ensnare him. It's as though we're so used to having incompetent, lying idiots in office that we can't adjust to the idea that we now have someone who DESERVES OUR SUPPORT. People like you accuse people like me of thinking Barack is God – but which one of us is it who wants him to change the world in 7 days?

          • cedricw says:

            Of course you don't think we're Republicans. You just want us to ACT like them. I wish you could see the hypocrisy in your argument. You rightly depict Republicans as people who "stand shoulder to shoulder and march in lock-step. Unity to a fascist fault." Then you turn around and demand that we do the same. Only to you it's totally different because you think we're right and they're wrong.

            I don't mean any offense by this (truly), but thank God most of the people in our party don't think like you do. I wouldn't want to belong to a mindless, lockstep, shoulder to shoulder party like the one you're asking for. Thank God the party's filled with people like Darrin who don't look the other way when his own people do wrong.

            "People like you accuse people like me of thinking Barack is God – but which one of us is it who wants him to change the world in 7 days?"

            Wanting him to prosecute torturers isn't the same thing as wanting him to "change the world in seven days." Not even close. That kind of hyperbole isn't helpful at all. It's exactly the kind of outlandish hyperbole Republicans always engage in. I really wish everyone in the Democratic Party were fair debaters, but that apparently isn't the case.

          • cedricw says:

            Of course you don't think we're Republicans. You just want us to ACT like them. I wish you could see the hypocrisy in your argument. You rightly depict Republicans as people who "stand shoulder to shoulder and march in lock-step. Unity to a fascist fault." Then you turn around and demand that we do the same. Only to you it's totally different because you think we're right and they're wrong.

            I don't mean any offense by this (truly), but thank God most of the people in our party don't think like you do. I wouldn't want to belong to a mindless, lockstep, shoulder to shoulder party like the one you're asking for. Thank God the party's filled with people like Darrin who don't look the other way when his own people do wrong.

            "People like you accuse people like me of thinking Barack is God – but which one of us is it who wants him to change the world in 7 days?"

            Wanting him to prosecute torturers isn't the same thing as wanting him to "change the world in seven days." Not even close. That kind of hyperbole isn't helpful at all. It's exactly the kind of outlandish hyperbole Republicans always engage in. I really wish everyone in the Democratic Party were fair debaters, but that apparently isn't the case.

  3. PeaceZGood says:

    Tonight, I went to dinner at a very Republican household. The talk there was that America didn't break a contractual law by doing torture because we had no contract with the terrorists. Therefore, whatever we do to them is ok because it is protecting our children. That was their belief.

  4. connie lamka says:

    Mr. Bell:

    (This message is for you, not for the blog, if that is posssible)

    We had this same discussion several years ago in Detroit with "The Fog of War" (I may have misremembered the name) came out. I concluded that in a free country where dissent is possible, agents are responsible for their obedience to illegal or unjust orders. Here's my reasoning, copied from Metro Times:

    "In his article, "The Fog of Terror (Metro Times, Jan. 28), Jack Lessenberry describes Robert McNamara defending his sending of troops to Vietnam because "the president wanted me to do this."

    • connie lamka says:

      (continued)

      "That may be a legal excuse, but it is not a moral one. In law, the old doctrine of respondeat superior holds an employer (e.g., the president) responsible for many of the wrongs committed by his employees. Morally, some of us would hold that there is a reciprocal onus on free employees to refuse to perform the immoral acts of an employer. Perhaps someone trained in Latin can tell us if respondeat servitor is the correct phrase.

      "Without the willing hands of willing employees, the leaders of the free world would be unable to commit works of evil.

      "It is probably wrong to legally punish people who commit immoral but lawful acts. The earthly punishment for moral wrongs is social scorn. Let Mr. McNamara know what you think.

      "Before he gets a second chance, a wrongdoer must admit his wrong, repent, and make amends to those harmed. "

      • candorville says:

        Unfortunately messages are posted automatically to the blog. I can delete them if you'd like, but I think you've made a well-written, valuable point that contributes to the discussion, so I'd rather not.

        I agree with pretty much everything you've written. Part of what you've written touches on why Obama's reluctance to prosecute is so egregious: "It is probably wrong to legally punish people who commit immoral but lawful acts."

        That's a valid point. But those who ordered and carried out torture in our name were not committing lawful acts. And this isn't hindsight, this is an opinion I and many others advanced when we first heard of the waterboarding and the other torture: The Constitution specifies that foreign treaties become law. When we signed the Geneva Conventions against war crimes, that – notwithstanding any memos from White House lawyers or the CIA – became our law.

        We've been breaking it ever since, first in Vietnam with Agent Orange and carpet bombing of villages, then in Central America when we funded death squads that exterminated civilians, then in Iraq and Guantanamo when we tortured and murdered prisoners of war (I don't buy the argument that they're not POW's, considering the last president insisted we were at "war" with them). We've never successfully prosecuted the ones who gave the orders, and many of them went on to continue influencing government, at least into the Bush years. The mastermind behind our torture in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib is the same one behind atrocities we supported in Central America decades ago. Social scorn doesn't mean anything to people who have no shame.

  5. motherseer says:

    I actually hesitated using the phrase "aid and comfort" because of those Republican-terrorist associations, but it fit here and it didn't there. Yes, I think the people who authorized this are war criminals. I think pretty much the whole bunch of them are war criminals, Bush & Dick at the head (and their little toady Alberto). Speaking of just following orders, where's the strip mocking what Condi had to say at Stanford the other day about just following orders? Give the man room to work. You want him to get everyone all pissed off right away so that he spends his time putting out little fires instead of saving us from the tsunami coming at us from all directions. Let this thing lay, man – it's not going anywhere & he has much bigger fish in his pan. Our planet is dying – that takes precedent, along with, oh, say, the economy, Afghanistan, health care, North Korea…

  6. PeaceZGood says:

    I think also as Democrats we should stand behind Obama in support. We really don't know what are his motives for sure. He may have his hands tied

  7. PeaceZGood says:

    So, what can we answer to the people who say that waterboarding terrorists is NOT against the law because THEY didn't sign the Geneva accord with us? So, we have no contract with them.

  8. motherseer says:

    What you say is this: whether or not the terrorists, whomever they may be, signed the accord is immaterial. We signed the accord, we agreed to a code of conduct, and if we as a government have any honor we abide by that code. Not to be moralistic, but – OK, I'll be moralistic: as we tell children, wrong is wrong & a sin is a sin even if no one sees but God. Or the Great Spirit. Or your conscience.

  9. PeaceZGood says:

    I have to admit, I'm very disappointed that Bush and his cronies won't be prosecuted…but, I hope it is only a temporary lag. Perhaps in the future, they will be.

  10. Ken says:

    Maybe I've been studying politics too long, but I understand and appreciate the views of both sides here. Every American leader has been flawed and failed to meet the highest standard since Jefferson wrote that "all men are created equal" while slaves toiled in his fields. Obama likely understands that he can't really prosecute these Bush administration officials while a good chunk of the country still wants to give them medals for torturing our enemies. People like Darrin play their role in trying to keep the country driving toward a higher goal by tweaking our conscience. The loyalty of others helps Obama maintain his support even as he makes the compromises necessary to govern.
    Darrin has played off the atrocities of World War II. Of course, our treatment of Japanese-Americans was shameful and many people across the globe considers our use of the atomic bomb mass murder. I can accept Obama's occasional failing while still supporting and admiring him because I've seen so many presidents achieve greatness even as they compromised some principles. I would like Obama to be a better man than the men on Mt. Rushmore, but I'll be pretty happy if he earns a similar place

  11. motherseer says:

    Yes, I thought he pointed it out in a way that characterized "Darrin's" (friend of yours?) strip as the work of an artist irritant who takes a position on the extremities of an issue, rather than that of an outraged supporter, as you both seemed to see him. He also did an excellent job of putting presidential decisions in historical context. You should try it sometime.

    As for your previous remarks: I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me & sticks on you. Really, was that heap of insults your idea of fair debate? :P Have Ken explain it to you some more sometime.

    • Darrin Bell says:

      The real American pastime is shooting the messenger.

      • Ken says:

        …especially when the messenger strap a big bulls eye on their chest.

        • candorville says:

          But that's my favorite shirt.

        • candorville says:

          "…especially when the messenger strap a big bulls eye on their chest."

          Oh, I expect this sort of thing. I love that motherseer's speaking her mind. I take shots at people, other people take shots at me, and somewhere in the crossfire we all get something to think about. I prefer a reasoned discussion where we each try to understand where the other person's coming from, but unless things get out of hand I'll take what I can get.

          • Ken says:

            You generally wear your "favorite shirt" well. Sometimes your responses are a little strong. I've learned that those are the product of your artistic flair and your commitment to principle. I can see why some people come away from your posts feeling a little battered.

          • candorville says:

            I can be pretty harsh and sometimes I don't give any quarter, but that's just who I am. The other day I was trying to have a casual talk with my niece about her plans for the summer, and my 90 year-old grandfather interrupted to ask me "did you go to law school?"

            But I say if you can't cross-examine your own eleven year-old niece, who can you cross-examine?

          • Ken says:

            I have no doubt that you could get more out of these terrorists than traditional torture. However, until "evil doers" start posting on Candorville.com we will have to rely on the CIA to get them to change their ways.

            You are unrelenting in pressing an issue. However, I've learned that you truly respect those of use who occasionally disagree with you (roughly as much as your 11 year old niece).

    • cedricw says:

      "I'm rubber, you're glue"? Wow. When you put it that way, I guess I was wrong about everything. I see the light now. Thanks. o.0

      "Darrin's" (friend of yours?) strip as the work of an artist irritant who takes a position on the extremities of an issue, rather than that of an outraged supporter, as you both seemed to see him."

      First of all, it's strange that you're now commenting snidely on how people refer to Darrin (sorry, "Mr. Bell." Better?). You didn't seem to mind when Ken called him that, but whatever.

      Second of all, that's a really sad commentary when someone can, with a straight face, describe opposition to torture as an "extreme" position.

      There was no "heap of insults," but I guess the truth does hurt. My point stands: the whole suggestion that Darrin (sorry, "Mr. Bell") should turn a blind eye to his own guy's failings just 'cause you and I happen to like the president is shameful, un-American, and stinks of Republicanism.

      I didn't get the impression Ken agreed with you at all about that.

      • candorville says:

        Um… I appreciate the passionate defense of my constitutional right to be a smartass, but can we please not call people "un-American"? Let's leave that as a relic of the Bush era. At least on my site. =/

        • motherseer says:

          I'm very glad to hear you're not insulted by my comments, because they were indeed intended as an argument between "friends," for lack of a better word. I very much appreciate, coming from a family of artists, the role of artist as societal conscience-pricker (no offense); and I do, in fact, agree with the position that everyone in the torture permission-commission chain should (ideally) be held accountable in some way. I did NOT mean that being anti-torture was an extreme position (cough*duh*cough); rather, I was objecting to the characterization of President Obama as a Nazi apologiste due to his efforts to find a way to deal with this that wouldn't automatically enrage & inflame the opposition. And I was also saying that, despite the hallowed obligation (and I'm not being sarcastic) of the artist to highlight societal ills and hold a mirror up to the less attractive sides of the American face, in THIS case I do think an exception is called for.

          • motherseer says:

            Why? Because this is an exceptional time in every way, and we must be very, very careful to not be so theoretically righteous that we overlook the real-world implications of those positions. Existentialists still have values and ethics, but sometimes in the real world it comes down to: is stealing always wrong? what about if you're doing it to feed your hungry child? how about lying? what if someone you knew was a murderer, who had gotten away with it in the past, wanted to use you as an alibi – not for the ones s/he had gotten away with, but for a different one s/he actually hadn't committed? would it be wrong to say "no, I didn't see them there" to take a dangerous, evil person off the street?

          • motherseer says:

            This may seem like stretching the argument pretty far, but this is about more than the strip – it's about the question of when do you ignore the theoretical good in favor of the greater actual good? BTW, the torturers did the opposite of this: they ignored the greater, actual evil (many, many bad repercussions for their country in every way) in favor of what they as individuals wanted to do (I hate these guys, they're the bad guys, the POTUS says we can do it, the legal briefs OK it, etc.). Cedric only thinks this is the same as Republican-think because he's thinking too simplistically about it. Not everything is black and white (no pun intended) in the real world, and not everyone who asks that real-world implications be taken into account is a right-wing fascist. That's one of President Obama's great qualities, that he understands all the shades of gray in-between, and how to find where the truth lies among them.

  12. PeaceZGood says:

    All I can say is, Darrin YOU ARE BRAVE. I think you are more brave than is Obama.

  13. candorville says:

    I can be pretty harsh and sometimes I don't give any quarter, but that's just who I am. The other day I was asking my niece about her plans for the summer, and my 90 year-old grandfather interrupted to ask "did you go to law school?"

    But I say if you can't cross-examine your eleven year-old niece, who can you cross-examine?

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