[T]he comments yesterday spawned a question many of us would like asked of all the Jack Bauer wannabees in the GOP field who would literally do ANYTHING to save us from terrorist attack:
“Would you have sex with a man to stop a terrorist attack?”
Sure, it is a silly hypothetical, but so is the idiotic ticking-time-bomb scenario people throw around so damned much as an excuse for torture. So what is it, Mitt, Sam, Rudy, Mike, and company? Which is worse? A hot gay dicking or a nuke detonated in NYC?
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Mark Olson calls me out on inappropriate humor. In my defense, this arguably isn't a rape joke, per se -- assuming the unnamed male partner is consenting, the question is "would you consent to having sex with a man to stop a terrorist attack"? But it skirts close enough to the line, and I'm not that interested in splitting hairs. I've blogged before on how rape (particularly male-on-male prison rape) as a joke is one of the key barriers to reforming what is one of the primary human rights violations currently going on in American prisons. Clearly, I'm not immune to the cultural penetration of this sort of humor.
On a related note, though, I think the question of rape as a tool of our "war on terrorism" is a reasonable ground for inquiry as to the "end game" for the Republican approval of torture (at least in certain circumstances). Republicans have been falling all over themselves to assure their base that they're "tough enough" to torture (suspected) terrorists if its necessary for America's defense. Well, if we're willing to waterboard them, what else can we do? Can we rape them? Why not? What makes rape different from other forms of torture? If we catch Osama bin Laden, and our interrogators think this is the way to crack him, what then? What about "material witnesses"? What if we have someone in our custody who might help us crack a terrorism case, but isn't directly implicated in the plot? Is his body forfeit as well? The extreme case would be trying to "smoke out" a terrorist leader by capturing his family and threatening to sodomize his four-year old child with a spiked bat. Horrifying, yes -- but there is nothing inherent in the position of this administration that would render it out of bounds.
The point isn't that I seriously think Mitt Romney would endorse such behavior. It's that we need to draw a line that we will not cross. "We're fighting evildoers!" just isn't good enough anymore. In the wake of Abu Gharib and our "secret prisons", I wish I could be confident that sexual abuse is off limits for American personnel. But that fact is, that's no longer settled. And the people who are rushing to claim the toughness mantle deserved to be asked about how far is too far. "Would you sanction the rape of a suspected terrorist in order to defend America from a terrorist attack?" is, unfortunately, a live question. And it deserves answer.