What Is Torture?

Topics: Suffering, Torture, Human Pages: 3 (1202 words) Published: January 20, 2014
Dr. Brown
Torture Truth and the American Way
17 January 2014
Word Count: 1215
What Is Torture?
    Torture can be defined as many things but according to Webster's torture is: an infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion. I think this definition makes more sense and gives the word more meaning. When we took a look at some of the gruesome pictures of torture, which made me think there is absolutely no reason for this. I found it amazing that people can do such things like beating something to death or electrocuting a person and not even have a viable reason to commit such actions. But there is much difficulty in truly defining what torture really is. What I mean by that statement is that torture has to do with pain and suffering. To be able to define torture one must first define must know a known standard of pain and suffering that can fit everyone. Like we discussed in class that pain differs from person to person. In the essay written by Kenny he states, "That torture is defined by what it is done for"(Kenny 14) and what I think he means is that torture is done either to gather actionable intelligence, a confession, extortion, or something else.     Another difficulty in trying to define torture is because there are many forms of torture. Therefore a definition of what torture is needs to include everything that is torture and exclude all things that are not torture. Torture has become the hot topic since the attack on September 11th 2001. There was more of a want to receive actionable intelligence from detainees acquired in Afghanistan and there on. For actionable intelligence to be effectively extract the information, there were methods used that some would consider being torture. The prisoners were beaten, put in stress positions, and humiliated in various forms. I would think of these acts to be torture but according to United States law this is legal. These acts were allowed because of how lenient the definition was for...


Cited: Kenny, Paul D. “The Meaning of Torture.” Polity. Northeastern Political Science Association, 42 (2010): 131-155. 19 January 2014 Web.
Levinson, Sanford. “Contemplating Torture; an Introduction.” Torture: A Collection. Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 29. Print.
Rejali, Darius. Torture and Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009. Print.
Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of Our World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Print.
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