The unbearable lightness of being. This is a case history of what happens when good people trade good will for a stunned complacency.
Garrison Keillor, of all people, thinks that prosecuting the miscreants who attempted to square the circle on torture would be victor’s justice, a pallid, sour mockery of the real thing. Let’s have the truth, he says, then forget about its implications and go back to chuckling with the stolid, unflappable Protestants of Lake Wobegon, who never hurt anyone, and can endure anything if it doesn’t interfere with the return of Spring.
I like Garrison Keillor, and I’ve never doubted that his folksy wisdom is, in fact, wisdom, but here we part company. If you let people get away with murder, then murder will come to seem unexceptional, routine even. And then what? Do we just sweep the bodies up off the streets every morning, along with the horseapples, and go about our business proud that we can handle anything?
I think not, not while I have anything to say about it anyway. Refuse to criminalize policy, and as sure as God made little green apples, you’ll get policies which make the Swensons and Ericsons of Keillor’s fictional home town rue the day they were born.
Yes, torture is as old as the human race is. Yes, we might any of us resort to it if sufficiently provoked. No, you can’t trust public piety to be an accurate reflection of what’s really going on. So what?
We’re trying to build a decent, humane civilization here. We’ve been at it for centuries — God knows with mixed success. Garrison, you’re not helping.