From the National Catholic Reporter article cited by Sullivan; http://ncronline.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2006a/032406/032406h.htm
Is the American public apathetic about charges its government uses and sponsors torture in its fight against terrorism?
Not apathetic, according to surveys. Fact is, a majority of Americans actually approve of the use of torture under some circumstances. What’s more, according to one survey, Catholics approve of its use by a wider margin than the general public.
“This may be a reaction to 9/11, the horrible loss of life and the atrocities of those acting in the name of Islam,” says Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., member of the bishops’ Committee on International Policy. “Some people feel the situation is out of control. They feel a vulnerability and a temptation to respond in kind. We have to resist that.”
A survey by the Pew Research Center in October showed that 15 percent of Americans believe torture is “often” justified, and another 31 percent believe it is “sometimes” justified. Add to that another 17 percent who said it is “rarely” justified, and you have two out of three Americans justifying torture under certain circumstances. Only 32 percent said it is “never” justified, while another 5 percent didn’t know or refused to answer.
But the portion of Catholics who justify torture is even higher, according to the survey. Twenty-one percent of Catholics surveyed said it is “often” justified and 35 percent said it is “sometimes” justified. Another 16 percent said it is “rarely” justified, meaning that nearly three of four Catholics justify it under some circumstances. Four percent of Catholics “didn’t know” or refused to answer and only 26 percent said it is “never” justified, which is the official teaching of the church.
Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew center, said these results mirror those of similar surveys.
Regardless of what we each believe or don't believe -- polling data shows that we (Americans) and Christians in particular approve of this ...
The Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi USA, is also making its voice heard on the subject. Its Web site, www.paxchristiusa.org, has many statements on the Christian teaching on torture. It includes a national sign-in statement, “A Christian Call to Stop Torture Now.”
After a quote from John Paul II, the statement says: “As followers of Jesus, we must state clearly and unequivocally that torture violates the basic human dignity afforded all of God’s children, and is never morally acceptable. On this two-year anniversary of the revelations of the cruel, inhumane and humiliating treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison -- the first of numerous revelations regarding institutionalized torture practices in the U.S. war on terrorism -- we reiterate our church’s profound respect for the dignity of all persons and reject as antithetical to Christianity any and all justifications for the use of torture.”
Most disturbing now, says Pax Christi’s executive director, David Robinson, is the “merging of the profit motive with the routine use of torture.” Robinson says the U.S. government is “outsourcing torture to private entities” in Iraq that use abusive interrogation methods. The introduction of profit into the mix, he says, assures that there will be more of it.
During Lent especially, he says, the image of Jesus, who was tortured to death, should be powerful for Catholics, reminding them that “Christ is being crucified today through the practice of torture.”
and down the page Sr. Diana Oritz, a victim of torture speaks to American apathy;
Ortiz, who travels the country talking about how torture affects the tortured and the torturer, speaks from horrific personal experience. During the mid-1880s as an American missionary to Guatemala, she was tortured by men thought to be connected to the American government.
But unlike some professional speakers who seem to lose sincerity the more they speak about their experiences, there’s no doubt that Ortiz sees torture as personal and compelling. When told about survey data showing that half of American Catholics justify torture under some circumstances, she became particularly demonstrative, seeing the survey numbers as reinforcing her torturers’ views.
“All these years, I have tried to disprove my torturers,” she said. But hearing the survey results, “I find myself traveling back to the prison cell, feeling the burning cigarette on my back and hearing my torturers tell me, ‘No one will care.’ ”
An Ursuline sister who grew up in Grants, N.M., Ortiz went to Guatemala in 1987 to work as a teacher in a Mayan village. She arrived in the middle of a long civil war that tolerated no neutrality. Although her only crime seems to have been teaching Mayan children to read and write, she was picked up in 1989 by members of the Guatemalan security forces, whose boss, she says, was an American.
By the time she was freed -- she believes because of pressure on American members of Congress to intervene -- she had 111 cigarette burns on her back alone. She was gang raped and thrown into a pit filled with human bodies, “children, women and men, some decapitated, some caked with blood, some dead, some alive.” And, she said, “worse than the physical torture was hearing the screams of the others being tortured.”
Having gone through that appalling experience, she has dedicated her life to fighting torture, helping to found an organization called Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International.
“Where is the outrage?” she asked. “Where is the demand that this government obey its own law and the international agreements we have signed? Those who lead us must understand that to support torture -- either actively or passively -- repeats the brutality of the past. It puts us in the company of the Stalins, the Hitlers, the Pinochets, and the Argentine generals who also found ethically comfortable reasons for torturing.”
But the poll numbers on the number of Catholics who approve of torture really bother her.
“Whatever those polled may believe,” she said, “I am convinced in my mind, heart and soul that it’s our moral, religious and Catholic responsibility to not only speak out against torture but to do all that we can to end it. That’s what it means to be a Gospel people. Torture can never be justified.”
I also believe that stories of torture in the media are not helping us in the war on terror. But, there's only one way to get them out of the press and that's for it to stop. It's not going to stop unless public opinion changes. Of course the other way is we can start censoring the media -- torture and censorship -- they go together don't they?
Now, if I'm not supposed to say Bush Administration -- what is it supposed to be called?