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Torture in law, literature and the media

Examining perspectives of torture debate

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The ongoing debate over torture and the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay has raised key questions about American values and the rule of law: Are terrorist suspects deserving of due process and human rights? Do the ends justify the means? What does America stand for?

SageLaw has created an online section devoted to the torture issue. Resources include news coverage, analysis and discussion of recent and past debates on torture. Some highlights:

 Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s ongoing public defense of “enhanced interrogation methods” bears ironic resemblance to two literary critiques of language and torture – to be found in Franz Kafka’s short story, “In the Penal Colony,” and George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language.” In a new analysis, author Bruce T. Murray explores the Orwellian elements of Cheney's rhetoric and its similarities with Kafka's fictional character, "the Officer." See Murray's essay, "From Orwellian to Kafkaesque."


•  Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who has gained notoriety for his so-called “torture memos” written for the Bush administration, defended his legal reasoning at recent forum at Chapman University. See full Web Sage coverage of the debate here, in addition to analyses, documents and news updates.

•  In commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of their internment, a group of 20 former German POWs returned to their place of captivity during World War II at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. In striking contrast to reports of abusive treatment at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, these former fighters from Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s Afrika-Korps had nothing bad to say about their captors. Clearly, times have changed. See the Web Sage article, "Treating the Enemy," which includes a conversation with the former German POWs.

Also see the University of Massachusetts Press book, Religious Liberty in America: The First Amendment in Historical and Contemporary Perspective by Bruce T. Murray.

Religious Liberty in America is available at numerous university libraries and the University of Massachusetts Press.

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