Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What WOULD Jack Bauer do?

It's nice to see that our Supreme Court is now apparently taking television shows into their decision making. Let's go to Canada and see what happened:
Senior judges from North America and Europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a Canadian judge's passing remark - "Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra 'What would Jack Bauer do?' " - got the legal bulldog in Judge Scalia barking.

The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

Well, I think the point is that this is a FICTIONAL SHOW! He didn't really save Los Angeles and he didn't really hundreds of thousands of lives and he definitely didn't really save California from a terrorist nuke. It's the biggest red herring ever to point at this show and say that we should reconsider our position on torture because it worked on the show.
"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so.

"So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes."

Well, no, obviously no jury is going to convict Jack Bauer because he would probably hunt them down and kill them but also because HE'S NOT REAL! The real face of torture exposes itself in incidents like Abu Ghraib and who knows what stories have come from Guantanamo.
Last November, a U.S. Army brigadier-general, Patrick Finnegan, of West Point, went to California to meet with the show's producers. He asked if the writers would consider reining in Agent Bauer. "The kids see it, and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about 24?" he told The New Yorker in February.

He argued that "they should do a show where torture backfires."

Yeah, but where's the fun in that? I mean, 24's a great show but we really shouldn't be overturning the foundations of our national policy for centuries based on the imaginations of television writers. In the show Jack always has the right guy and that guy really is about to blow up California but what happens if he gets the wrong guy?

Well, we can ask this guy:
Then Lorne Waldman, the lawyer for the famously wronged engineer Maher Arar, emerged from the crowd to say that very little of the conversation sounded hypothetical to him.

Mr. Arar was among a series of Canadian Arabs who emerged from lengthy ordeals in Syrian jails to complain of torture. Their common complaint is that Syrian torture - including beatings with electric cables - flowed from a wrongly premised Canadian investigation after 9/11.

A host of security agents, Mr. Waldman argued, acted with utmost urgency against innocents, after wrongly fearing a bomb plot was afoot.

What does Jack Bauer have to say about all of this?
"Tell me where the bomb is or I will kill your son."
Whoa, settle down, Jack, I don't know anything about a bomb and I don't even have a son.
"When I'm finished with you, you're gonna wish that you felt this good again."
Aw, crap.

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