Thursday, July 8, 2010

On torture and stoning: National Review's Andrew McCarthy is as dumb as a rock

Here's how Andy McCarthy begins a National Review column that, ostensibly, about lambasting Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan:
I wonder if Elena Kagan knows about Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Ms. Ashtiani is about to be stoned. That’s where they bury you up to your chest and hurl rocks at you until you die. The rocks can’t be too big. You see, this is real torture, religion-of-peace torture. It’s the kind that happens every day but that Democrats prefer not to talk about.
First: The last sentence. Huffington Post is promoting a petition to save Ashtiani's life. Feminist blogs like Shakesville are raising a ruckus. There's lots more examples of this. Ten seconds perusing Google could tell you that Andy McCarthy is wrong.

And probably lying. But maybe he's as dumb as a rock

But let's focus on the "real torture" part of McCarthy's statement -- with its implication that American treatment of Gitmo prisoners was relatively benign. Because here's what Andy McCarthy says about the Ashtiani case just one paragraph later.

The stoning of this 43-year-old mother of two has been ordered by a court in her native Iran, where the only legal code is Allah’s law, sharia. It is the Islamic sentence for adultery, the crime to which Ashtiani confessed after serial beatings by her interrogators.

Well: Andy McCarthy's right to be angry about this. A "confession" elicited under physical duress is -- at the very least -- unfair, and probably even suspect and tainted. Who knows what pain Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani decided to avoid by confessing? Maybe she lied to make the beatings stop. He doesn't come right out and say it, but McCarthy's construction of that sentence certainly seems to indicate that he disapproves of how the confession was elicited. And rightly so.

Only problem: Subjecting suspects to physical duress in order to elicit information is precisely what America did to terror suspects at Gitmo! It wasn't just waterboarding: It was sleep deprivation and beatings!

Andy McCarthy, seeking to snort at liberals' anger over torture, ends up vindicating their vision! He's probably just a moral relativist -- if Iran does it, it's wrong; if we do it, it's noble -- but it's possible that he's also just as dumb as a rock.*

I try, I really do, not to be in the business of name-calling. Andy McCarthy is one of my exceptions.

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