Andrew Sullivan has been discussing Torture (and the meaning of words) lately. Today, in response to a reader describing other species’ “torture” instincts:
Torture, it stikes me, cannot be a base instinct. We cannot know what is going on in the consciousness of whales or dolphins as they appear to torture. Some scientists have observed it as a kind of play, or training for the young. Cruelty? It requires human consciousness, so far as can know at this point.
Yes. It requires human consciousness. It requires, well… empathy. Which is why we should keep “empathy” out of Court. Let’s keep this a government of law, rather than of man. When we start getting too deep into the “man” territory–when Justice removes her blindfold–then things stop being clear. When things are unclear, even those charged with the duty to define words may be reprimanded for their actions. And…that’s just not how America rolls.