Hard Measures


“Hard Measures” examines the definitions of lawful violence as condoned by the government. This is an issue rarely discussed as the execution of such methods is most often shielded from the knowledge and view of the public. Still, somewhere in the shadows of the minds of the people, there is knowledge that the practices exist.

It is not so much the existence of said methods that calls into question the ethical foundation of the practice as much as it is the methods that are employed. Such a consideration brings into question where the lines should be drawn in defining such actions as inhumane or tortuous. It appears that within this text, such definition must yield to the result, especially as it related to the greater good of society. While society admonished the use of torture and inhumane treatment of others, and the government with great force prosecutes those who engage in such activity, there is a level of subjectivity in the interpretation of “wrong” of such behaviors when they are associated with ensuring national security. This is yet another aspect of the “gray area” that is widely understood, yet seldom discussed.

In “Hard Measures” the use of violence and torture that could easily and normally be defined as inhumane, is justified against terrorists in pursuit of the necessary outcome, which is to ultimately ensure public safety. In such instances, most people would condone this behavior, but again the question arises, where is the line to be drawn. Ethical dilemmas can cause one to become blind to what is right, in consideration instead of what is right at that time and in that particular circumstance. If such determinations are to be so subjective, there is the increased risk of reasons being replaced by excuses. Most disturbing in this is that there is really no way to determine the difference between the two, especially within that movement and time.

Often used as a guide in the decision of government to abandon commonly help perceptions of right and wrong are public fear and its responsibility to address that fear. The war that resulted from the 9/11 attacks is a prime example or such. As Americans responded to the media frenzy that sent shivers down the spines of civilians with the simple mention of the word “terrorism”, the government responded with a decision to engage in war and the holding and torturing of prisoners of war without trial for over a decade. It was only when the constant push from the media in igniting fear in the hearts and minds of the people ceased, that it became clear to them what had been done, and there began a call to withdraw from a war that was draining the nation from both morale as well as a financial perspective.