By David Swanson
How does sex differ from torture? The one is good and the other bad, might be your immediate reply. But were I to describe an act of torture, this would be taken as a serious article. Were I to describe an act of sex, then political publications wouldn’t publish it, spam filters wouldn’t allow you to receive it, and if you did receive it, you might turn away. In fact, we have set up numerous mechanisms, external and internal, to protect you from sex that just don’t exist for torture and should possibly be considered. Such as:
1.-The Federal Communications Commission. Numerous things sex-related are banned from the airwaves for our protection, while discussions of torture and an expanding range of depiction of torture is acceptable. Police shows and exciting crime dramas depict torture and techniques bordering on torture as noble and good, while either avoiding sex or treating it so grotesquely as to unintentionally turn you off it.
2.-Presidential Impeachment. Sex, or at least some types of sex, or at least lying about it, or at least lying about it under oath, is considered to fall under the category of Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Torture of all sorts, from the mildest up to murder, in plain violation of a variety of laws, treaties, and the U.S. Constitution itself, and lying about it, and using a tyrannical “signing statement” to overturn a new redundant law banning it, and using it to generate faulty “intelligence” with a wide range of disastrous results beginning with an illegal war that has slaughtered approximately 658,000 people, and lying about the reasons for that war in formal signed reports to Congress and speeches made before Congress and the American people, is all considered to fall into the category of faithfully executing the Office of the President of the United States and to the best of one’s Ability, preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution of the United States.
3.- Ed Classes and Transmitted Diseases. Sex-ed classes serve to discourage sex. Many, known as “Abstinence Only” classes, simply demand complete renunciation of sex. I’m not commenting one way or another. But where are the Torture-ed classes teaching total abstinence from torture? Isn’t there any way to amend “Thou shalt not kill” to include “or torture”? Sexually transmitted diseases have starring roles on public service announcements and are widely reported as reasons to be careful when engaging in sex. Well and good. But torture transmitted diseases are unheard of, although they include the full gamut of known injuries and diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases and every other kind, with a particularly high frequency of Post Traumatic Stress disorder, including proclivity to suicide. As with sex, in torture, all partners including tortured and torturer are at risk of picking up the diseases.
But, you may object, people are not routinely torturing each other. We’re leaving it to the CIA to torture evil doers and the occasional 400 innocent prisoners picked up by mistake. Of course, but this is part of the problem. When people fantasize about sex, they put themselves in their fantasies. Most people who fantasize about torture, fantasize about someone else torturing another someone else to protect good people from enemies. But this should be thought of as someone else smoking crack with another person to protect you. It’s actually less effective than that at protecting you, but it has some similar results. Neither person will stop smoking crack and return to their previous state. Neither person will cease to exist. Either might end up in your neighborhood or household. So you should give some thought to what torture will have done to them.
Sex, as you know on some level and resist on another, is one of the most beautiful things in life, involving the most extreme pleasure, the most extreme expressions of love and connection. Sex is sustaining and beneficial. How does this differ from torture? Torture is the very worst thing in the world, involving the most extreme suffering, pain, agony, humiliation, despair, and misery. Its devouring effects are long lasting, very long lasting, often longer than a lifetime. What does it say about America that we increasingly tell each other that wisdom involves more openness to torture than to sex?