Torture-- is it justified in certain situations, such as matters of national security, or is the act too cruel to justify the means? This intense method of extracting information has been around since the dark ages, and continues to influence society today. Though multiple countries (194, to be exact) have 'banned' torture of any kind, it still takes place behind closed doors. An age long debate continues-- are there circumstances in which torture is justified, or is it always unethical?
Here is one side of the story: torture is pointless and will ultimately get us nowhere. Of course, the various brutal methods do get people to talk, but are the spewed confessions accurate? Not usually. In fact, "After more than five years analyzing 6.3 million pages of documents, they found that the CIA’s enhanced use of interrogation techniques were ineffective in obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation." Much of the gained information resulting from long standing torture methods are inaccurate and result in more hassle than help. Next begs the question of how much torture is moral, if it ever is. A slippery slope to go down. How should one determine when to stop? When the captive is dead, or are there boundaries--who gets to decide when enough is enough? Also, who could live with the repercussions brought upon the interrogator, lawfully or mentally? Finally, the use of torture actually tarnishes the government's reputation. Forcefully interrogating any person violates their right to remain silent, which every citizen has, and ultimately demotes the 'good guys' down to the social standings of the very criminals they are holding.
The other side: torture is necessary to gain crucial information, and should be allowed to practice. There are certain circumstances in which torture is the only available methods to extract time-sensitive information. These scenarios are called "ticking bombs," in which crucial feedback is needed in a specific-- usually very short-- time period. How else to gain this information? Torture may be old-fashioned, but it is still quite effective. We all know the phrase 'all is fair in love and war,' which happens to be true for this topic. Countless prisoners of war are tortured in the hands of our enemies, and there are training sessions in our own military to help prepare soldiers for that very situation. Our own prisoners of war have been tortured here in the U.S., so we are not exempt. Then, there is the case of torture simply being in the culture. Countries such as Al Qaeda and Vietnam are known for their use of torture as a commonplace method. Can we blame them for following their own government's rules?
What do you think? Is torture justified in any circumstances, or is it inexcusable?
Violence, it's not a new development; however, with the creation of television now anyone can watch someone getting hit by a car. It's not only T.V. that brings violence into focus, video games these days have become increasingly violent and the graphics are just that: graphic. Parents are obviously concerned about the effects on little Timmy if he is shooting someone in the head and watching the blood splatter on a beautifully rendered digital wall. The debate has raged since 1976 with “Death Race” but it really started in 1993 when “Mortal Combat” was released. The violence was astounding at the time with beheadings and spines ripped out of bodies. People everywhere wondered if violence in video games causes violence in the real world.
Just this year the debate continued when President Trump, several Republican lawmakers, video game industry representatives, and others met to discuss the implication video games have on the real world. The meeting was in response to the gunman who killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida who appears to have played violent video games. However, according to this graph from videogames.procon.org violent crimes and video game sales do not correlate. There have also been studies that show video games that do affect aggression levels.
In truth, video games (and the media) have desensitized us to violence. What do you think though, is it because you play “Call of Duty” that you bashed that guys head in or because you already had problems to begin with?
Learning a second language can be beneficial in so many ways. It expands one’s job opportunities, makes communicating with more people easier, it has nothing but positive effects on the mind, and research has even gone far enough to conclude that it prevents age-related cognitive decline. Brain scans have proven that bilingual people have more gray matter in brain areas involving executive brain function which means that bilingual people are not only more efficient in language processing but they are also more efficient at basic tasks. Studies of thousands of high schoolers have shown that students that knew a foreign language, on average, performed better on the ACT than monolingual students. Some have suspected that learning a foreign language at a young age might confuse a child but in reality, the research points to the opposite. Bilingual children perform better in their first language than monolingual children.
Of course, it is not easy to acquire knowledge of a foreign language. Especially after the communication part of the brain is almost completely developed. The easiest and most effective way to learn a foreign language is to be exposed to it as young as possible. Babies are said to be the “sponges” for learning language and children ages 7 to 8 also have a much greater ability to learn and retain a language. The ability to become fluent in a foreign language declines over time, especially after puberty.
With that and all of the benefits in mind, should children be required to take a foreign language early on in school? Some would argue that they should get to choose but if they get to choose that, why do they not have a say in other classes like math or PE? Personally, I think that I would have benefited from learning a foreign language even though younger me most definitely would not have wanted to. I did not want to learn math or English either but it sure helped to have that information later in my life.
During Tuesday’s midterm, Florida voted to repeal the ban on felons voting. In America, there are approximately 6.1 million felons without the right to vote. There are currently thirteen states that remove a felon’s voting rights indefinitely depending on the severity of the crime, twenty-one that do not allow felons out on probation or parole to vote, and fourteen that return the felons voting rights automatically after the time incarcerated. The only two states where felons never lose the ability to vote in currently are Maine and Vermont. In states such as Idaho, Alaska, Texas, Colorado and seventeen others, previously convicted felons are required to pay certain fees in order to vote. Sentences are determined based on the class of the felony, class "E" being the least serious with generally at least one year, and class "A" being the most where felons can receive life without parole.
What do you think on this topic? Does a criminal act invalidate a person’s value to society? Is the amount of time served by these people worth re-enfranchisement? Should the severity of crimes affect one’s right to vote while incarcerated? Is the permanent ban reasonable? Could these 6.1 million votes from currently or previously incarcerated felons change the morality of the results? Is voting a civil privilege and not a civil right?