The research paper covers the topic of the torture issue. To be more specific, it studies the question whether torture is acceptable in the modern world. In order to understand the problem, the essence of the torture issue is described. Two opposite points of view on the question are represented. The arguments for and against torture usage are covered. The opinion of the investigator and the arguments, which support the position of the researcher, are discussed. The conclusion concerning the unacceptability of torture in the contemporary society is made.

Is Torture Ever Acceptable?

The modern society is a democratic one: it defends human rights and struggles for peace and equality for people. Nevertheless, humanity still has a number of unsolved issues, which contradict the norms of the democratic society. Persons can often face such occurrences as wars, terrorist attacks, murders, cruelty among adults and even among young generation. One more issue, which takes place in today’s democratic society, is torture. This is the question that provokes debates all over the world. The main topic, which is discussed in relation to this problem, is whether torture is acceptable and can be justified. People have two opposite points of view on this problem as well as on all contradictory issues of the current time. Some individuals confirm that torture can be justified, especially when it refers to the violent criminals such as terrorists, murderers, maniacs, and rapists. Others express opposite position and tell that nobody deserves being tortured, no matter who a person is. Thus, it is evident that torture issue is controversial and disputable, and it does not have a single solution yet.

People have tried to define the torture during different periods of time. As a result, there are different definitions of this phenomenon based on various beliefs, time and country of origin, social norms, and other criteria. Nevertheless, in spite of the differences, which influenced definitions of researchers, the main idea remains common: torture is “the torment and suffering of the body in order to elicit the truth” (Peters, 1996, p. 1). However, analyzed concept can not be only of physical nature but also of psychological one. Both types of torture are used to make a victim do or say what is needed for his/her abuser.

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Torture is a widespread phenomenon nowadays. It can occur in everyday life in any family or community, or it can take place on the governmental level. In both cases, this action is cruel and destructive. The research paper is about to have a closer look at the issue discussed in order to understand how and why it is used in the contemporary democratic society.

As it has been mentioned above, torture can be of physical and psychological nature. It is evident that physical torture is different from the physical abuse such as beating or other kind of hurt. As a rule, physical torture is aimed at provoking physical pain of a victim. The second type of torture is psychological one. While carrying out this type of torture, an abuser makes everything possible to make a victim suffer emotionally. An abuser can threaten a victim with hurting him/her, force to look at pain of his/her close people, make him/her feel psychological stress by threatening with kidnapping relatives or friends of a victim.

Torture has been used by people since ancient times, and it still takes place in the modern world. Any person can face torture in everyday life: for example, at home or at school, university, or work. It is a frequent occurrence when children or teenagers threaten each other or beat those, who are weaker to get what they want. Domestic violence can be also regarded as a kind of torture. Nonetheless, torture is also used on the governmental levels. It is applied by police officers to obtain information from violent criminals or terrorists. Some researchers, such as Henry Shue (1978), confirm that sometimes torture serves not as a way to know the truth, but even more – to defend a country: “. . . a number of governments are heavily dependent upon torture for their very survival” (p. 124).

Viewpoints on the Issue: For and Against

It is evident that torture is an inevitable part of life nowadays. However, it is cruel as for the society that aims to be democratic, and it is condemned by numerous politicians and governments of the world. Nevertheless, it still exists. This incongruity determines debates around the torture issue. As it has been stated previously, people are divided into two groups on the basis of their beliefs: one group of individuals justifies torture, while another one condemns it and says it should not be applied to anyone. According to the data from Debate.org (n.d.) survey, the above-indicated two groups of opponents are almost equal: 51% of people justify torture, and 49% condemn it respectively. In this regard, it is needed to consider the main arguments for and against torture issue to understand its essence better.

First of all, it is necessary to mention that people, who think that torture is acceptable, do not agree it should be always applied. In most cases, they believe that it ought to be acceptable only in relation to such violent criminals as terrorists. One of the arguments, which are used to defense torture, is that it can be used if it “both meets some test of reasonableness in prospect (minimum torture necessary, no alternative, high probability of success, and so on) and succeeds” (Davis, 2005, p. 173). Thus, it is obvious that groundless and ill-conceived torture will not be justified. The second argument, which defenses torture, is referred to terrorists, who threaten a great number of people. In relation to this case, the researchers confirm that modern state of society force governments “to inflict pain on one guilty person than place at risk hundreds or thousands of innocent people – potential victims of a terrorist atrocity” (Bellamy, 2006, p. 124). Moreover, it is confirmed that torture can be not only acceptable but even justified. Therefore, there is a belief that it can be “morally justified in just those cases where the moral right of the innocent to live preempts the moral right of the ‘guilty’ to be exempt from ‘retaliation’” (Davis, 2005, p. 171).

Another point of view is that torture is unacceptable in the contemporary society

The following arguments are represented in order to prove this belief.

Torture is considered as unacceptable because it contradicts moral and legislative norms (Chazelle, 2009). Torturing people means doing harm to their health and sometimes even life. However, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (n.d.) and domestic laws of majority of countries claim that “everyone has the right to life.” Moreover, there is an article which says that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, n.d.). It is evident that torture contradicts laws, and that it why persons condemn such actions. One more thing, which is used to argue that torture should not be used today, is that the information got under torture is not always true. For instance, some people, for example, terrorists, who are convinced that their actions are right, and they conduct a terrorist attack for some important goals, will not say any information. The “goal” for which they do their evil is more important than their lives, and they do not care about themselves. Hence, it is probable that they will suffer pain and even die but will not tell the truth. However, there is another type of individuals who cannot suffer physical or psychological pain that is why they will tell wrong information or tell anything in order to stop torture. Thus, it turns out that torture is not effective, and there is no reason to use such cruel methods.

Having analyzed different points of view on the torture issue, and having found arguments for and against torture in the works of the researchers and journalists, it became interesting what reasons ordinary people provide while discussing the issue. with respect to the issue, I carried out a survey, which included 5 questions. The respondents were the Internet users. The results of the survey are based on the answers of 37 people, who took part in the process. The majority of respondents believe that torture is acceptable and even justified. As for the arguments for the torture usage, people name getting important information from terrorists and criminals, making criminals feel and understand what their victims feel when suffering, evaluating torture as effective way of getting information, and so forth. Moreover, people, who support torture, are sure that punishment, which violent criminals and terrorists get, is not fair in relation to pain, which their victims and families of victims suffer. Opponents, who regard torture as an unacceptable occurrence, stress that it is immoral, illegal, ineffective, and non-democratic. Moreover, they say that torture causes torture, and using this method for any purposes contradicts the norms of democratic society and is destructive. While studying information concerning the issue, it has been found out that people often encourage others to think what they would do if their relatives were kidnapped by terrorists. In this way, the last question of the survey is aimed to understand how people are going to behave in such situation. As it turned out, the majority of people hesitated to answer the question, and could not give a clear reply.

Torture Is not Acceptable

Having analyzed information concerning the torture issue, its essence, and different points of view on it, I would like to express my opinion. Regardless the fact that the majority of people support the idea that torture is acceptable and justified, I cannot agree with this position. I believe that torture is unacceptable in the modern society. I would like to represent the arguments to support my perspective.

First and foremost, I believe that it is illegal. As it has been mentioned above, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the statement that no one can be tortured. Thus, if someone is tortured, it is illegal. It appears that if police officers or representatives of government allow things like torture to occur, even in case with violent criminals or terrorists, it means that they break the law. Thus, they give bad example to ordinary people to follow. As government is an example for the nation, it can lead to negative consequences. For instance, people may start thinking that if government can torture citizens, so they can too, and cruel behavior can spread in everyday life of individuals. On the other hand, torture may be used with good intentions – to know where terrorists hid the bomb or to save innocent persons. However, if government decides to fight criminals with cruel measures, the representatives of authority will be remembered as tyrants, and there is no guarantee that cruel methods will always work.

The second argument against torture is that it destroys democratic society. Nowadays, the majority of countries of the world consider themselves being democratic states. In other words, they protect human rights; they want to make the world peaceful, and change life of people for better. Nevertheless, the goals of democratic society disagree with their actions. For example, journalists often speak about America’s attitude to the torture issue. What is more, it is a well-known fact that the USA is a democratic country. On the contrary, it is confirmed that Americans used such torture techniques as hypothermia, water boarding, prolonged isolation, stress positions, and sensory deprivation to “enemy combatants” who were imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay (Lindley, 2013). Thus, it is evident that even democratic countries use tortures. Nonetheless, each time using such cruel methods, they make society less democratic. Torturing people, no matter who they are, governments or police officers contradict democratic laws, and return to society of ancient times, when individuals did not know other kinds of treating criminals except threatening, beating, or killing them. However, ancient people understood that such measures were not as good as they thought, and they took steps to make society better, and created democracies. Modern humans live in such society, and I believe that it is necessary to correspond to the democratic norms otherwise people will degenerate, and return to the society of ancient times with its cruelty.

As it has been discussed earlier, torture can be of two types – physical and psychological. No matter what kind of torture is used, both of them have negative consequences. Hereby, I believe that physical tortures as well as psychological ones “leave deep psychological wounds” (Lindley, 2013). Period of torture, which was experienced by a victim, will forever remain in his/her mind. At best, torture will be only a negative experience and unpleasant memory for the whole life of a victim. It can also lead to numerous psychological disorders such as stress, insomnia, constant fear of pain and people. At worst, torture can provoke negative traits of character in individuals, e.g. spite and desire to revenge. Even if a person, who was tortured, will not revenge, his/her relatives or friends may want to hurt those who had made their close person suffer. It is obvious that revenge for physical and psychological pain will be cruel, and, certainly, it will be regarded as illegal actions. Thus, the whole family or families can be imprisoned. If torture is applied to people, who are not citizens of this or another country, it can even lead to the international conflict or even war.

One more argument against torture is that the information, which is got from victims, is not always true. As it has been noted above, people, who are tortured, can be nominally divided into two groups – those, who will never tell the truth under any pain, and those, who will tell anything in order to avoid sufferings. To the first group terrorists can be determined, whose beliefs are grounded on religion. As a rule, religion is the strongest belief, which can rule people. Therefore, terrorists are often desperate, and they have nothing to lose. It makes such persons strong and invulnerable to any threats: they are not afraid to die; they do not value lives of their families (if they have them at all); there is nothing sacred for them except their aim. With regard to the issue, they are ready to suffer any pain and even die in order to perform their “mission.” The second type of people is those who cannot suffer pain, and they will tell false information or say anything to stop tortures. Such behavior will not lead to positive results. For example, if a criminal, who hid a bomb in a public place, gave false information during the torture and police evacuated people from the place, which was named by a criminal, a number of innocent people, who were in the real place of explosion, will be injured or die. Thus, no matter to which people torture is applied, it is an ineffective way of getting information.

The last but not least argument against torture is that it is not always used to real criminals. It is evident that the workers of police, courts, and governments are people, and all humans are predisposed to make mistakes. In a situation when an innocent person is wrongly accused in terrorism, one is considered being a violent criminal. Of course, the innocent person will refuse every accusation and will not tell anything concerning a crime because he/she really has no relation to it. However, as police is sure that this is a real criminal, and he/she lies or tells nothing, police officers will search for more “effective” methods of getting information. In this case, if such person is tortured as a violent criminal, harmful consequences can occur: an individual will definitely suffer pain, and negative psychological effects of torture will remain for the whole life. This situation can have two solutions. At best, law enforcement agencies will understand that a person is innocent, free him/her and apologize. Nonetheless, hardly their apologies will recover a state of a tortured. At worst, a charged unfairly will not be able to suffer pain and will admit a crime he/she did not commit, and will spend years in prison. Besides, no one knows what kind of person will return after years of punishment for a crime, which he/she did not commit.

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Regardless the fact that modern society is democratic, the torture issue still remains controversial and disputable. People discuss this problem for years, and express two opposite points of view. Some individuals believe that torture can be acceptable and even justified nowadays. The others confirm that torture cannot be applied to anybody, no matter who a person is – an innocent citizen or a terrorist. The advocates of torture tell that this method of getting information is acceptable because it is effective. Additionally, it gives criminals a possibility to feel what their victims have felt, and it is fairer than any punishment criminals get for their crimes. People, who are against torture, believe that it is immoral, inhuman, illegal, and ineffective.

In my opinion, torture is unacceptable in the contemporary world because of several reasons:

  • First of all, it destroys democratic society.
  • Secondly, torture usage on the governmental level serves a bad example for ordinary persons, and it can lead to the rise of cruelty levels in everyday life.
  • Moreover, torture always leads to psychological disorders, which make people more aggressive than they were before.
  • Torturing people can result into such negative consequences as desire to revenge, international conflicts and wars.
  • At last, torture is not an effective way of getting information, and sometimes it can be falsely applied to innocent people.

Although the torture issue is still debatable and unsolved, I believe that people should pay more attention to this problem in order to address it. Besides, they should do it in the way which will not do harm to both human rights and democratic society.

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