Ethical Dilemmas

12 May 2004


While watching 24 on RTE last night I started to think about what we approve of in our TV heroes, and what we would say were it real. Then this morning while I took a look at Crooked Timber there was a question about is it ever right to torture some one, and suppose you had, in order to track down and find a bomb that would kill millions of people. What should you do then?

John at Crooked Timber suggests that the torturer should turn themselves in and accept any punishment, which is a valid option imo.

But my thoughts were more with the difference between what we cheer on on the TV and in films. I’m not talking about way OTT Ah-nuld type films here, but ones that are based more in “real” emotions, even if the situations are totally unbelievable.
To take 24 as an example, I don’t think that while I was watching the second season that I was overly concerned when that fella (actor also in Buffy, cabinet man? worked with Sherry?) was tortured, this time round however, with what is going on in Iraq the question of whether Jack and Chase were right to stick a knife in someone’s hand in an attempt to extract information did bother me.

The difference between then and now? Last year it was just fiction. This time there is an element of reality in it.

I think that torture is wrong. Without a doubt, but if I had to weigh torturing one person with saving a thousand others?
Of course, is one life less valuable than another? And there is also the fact that maybe you got the wrong person? And once the first person is abused, wouldn’t it be easier to justify doing it again?

And here was me thinking that 24 was just harmless entertainment!

Current track: Lover, You Should’ve Come Over by Jeff Buckley

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