Jack Bauer, Torturer

"24" is just a TV show. But in her Los Angeles Times column of today, America Tortures (yawn), Rosa Brooks cites the actions of the show's characters -- and the American public's reaction to them -- as evidence of the way in which we have become inured to U.S. government-sponsored torture. In doing so, Brooks unwittingly raises another, more interesting issue.

Writes Rosa: "If you need any more evidence that the American public has gotten blasé about torture, consider the hit Fox action drama '24.' The show featured 67 torture scenes during its first five seasons, and most of those depicted torture being used by 'heroic' U.S. counter-terror agents."

Note Brooks' placement of scare quotes around "heroic." For the enlightened folks of the liberal media elite, Jack Bauer is no hero -- he is best viewed as a torturer. But Brooks leaves an important question unanswered. '24' has taken the ticking-bomb scenario one lethal step further. As devotees well know, that nuclear bomb didn't just tick -- it exploded, killing thousands of people right in the heart of the LA Times subscription base. The '24' terrorists have three more nukes out there and are doing everything within their power to use them.

And so the question arises, if torturing people with crucial knowledge about the imminent explosion of nuclear weapons to kill Americans is off Ms. Brooks' refined table, just what would she propose? We can joke about subjecting terrorists to a reading of Barbara Boxer's Senate floor speeches. But in all seriousness, what would Ms. Brooks do? If it had been her loved ones in Valencia along with thousands of other people about to die, and the person with life-or-death knowledge was bound before her, would she have been unwilling to push the plunger on the torture drug that would make him talk? And if not, what?

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net

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