The Shasta Groene discovery: anybody else think some torture might be beneficial?

I’ve been reading about the unexpected recovery of Shasta Groene and while I’m delighted (and surprised) she’s still alive, they are presuming (but not certain) that her brother Dylan is dead. Either way, Joseph E. Duncan surely knows for certain.

The reason this is in the pit is that it makes me dislike myself, because try as I might I’m just not really seeing any downside to torturing the bastard to make him tell anything he knows that might find that kid alive (or find his body) and get a little payback for his abuse of those kids. In fact, I’d be more than willing to supply them with an extra set of jumper cables, some rusty hog castration tools, any type of electrodes needed, some dental drills, etc., that will make him sing like Sammy Davis Motherfuckin’ Junior. If there’s a chance that kid could be recovered I’d violate every single civil right ever even theorized to find him before some sick fuck accomplice hauls ass with him to another location.

I just hope that with intense therapy and love Shasta can salvage something from her childhood. (Best case scenario is that she’s witnessed the murder of her [meth using] mother, stepfather [actually her mother’s boyfriend], and one brother and been held as a captive for two months. She may have witnessed the murder of her other brother and God knows what she’s been through physically and sexually and emotionally.

Again, I’m just not seeing any downside to torture here, and I know that I should be.

Well, I’ve heard several times on this board and elsewhere that torture isn’t a good way to get accurate info, so if that’s true the downside is you’re wasting time that could be used in better methods to find the boy, and possibly save him in the unlikely event he’s not dead yet and time is a factor.

I am of the opinion thatdoing torture is harmful to the person doing, unless they, too, are a monster.

I personally would not disagree with torture in cases where a person has committed a truly heinous crime against others, we are 100% certain he/she is guilty and the torture will save someone’s life. However, I strongly oppose ever allowing state-sponsored torture precisely because I think it is inevitable that those standards would slip. Torturing an innocent person or torturing someone for any other reason than as a last resort necessity to save another would be an evil that would far, far outweigh the potential good it could do in isolated cases, in my opinion. I’d rather we as a society erred on the side of decency and humanity, even if it is frustrating at times to have to be better than those who do evil, horrible things.

The OP apparently missed this line from the report:

At the time the article had been written, the man had not yet been questioned; he is already in custody with a fairly airtight case for the abduction of the girl, so its not as if he’s going to be released simply because no one knows where the boy is, and IMO the chances of the boy being alive or there being an accomplice who would spirit him away are both rather low.

In any event, even if the OP had made a better case for legalized barbarism, I still must oppose torture under all circumstances. The problem with legalized torture probably is less that it may may or may not be effective (although I’ve seen numerous credible reports than that it is not) that that it inevitably ends up being used against people who are innocent.

I also believe that despite the excuses often cited for its use, in many if not most cases the torture is really an end to itself; it is used simply to short-circuit the judicial process and punish the the person for their presumed crimes, rather than as a means of extracting information.

I’m against the use of torture under any circumstances, and think the desires expressed in the OP are disgusting.

‘Frustrating at times’ to have to let children (or anyone else) die because the investigator’s hands are tied when it comes to extracting information? I don’t think that even covers it. It is a terrible thing to brag about ‘moral superiority’ when some kid could be out there tied up in a shed starving to death.* I think that at times it is necessary to be barborous toward the barbarians lest we allow ourselves to be their powerless victims.
*I don’t know that this is what’s happening. I’m only following the assuptions in the OP.

If we torture one man once, we’ll be setting a precedent. Then after that, if we want to torture someone, we can use that initial case and say “look we did it then, so what difference does it make if we do it again?” Before you know it we’ll be doing it all the time.

We can’t ever have torture as an official punishment. It’s forbidden in our constitution. And if you have to ask if a particular punishment is “cruel and unusual,” it probably is.

Can you imagine legal torture in the present age of fear and convictions-by-TV-commentators? Everbody would get tortured just for political reasons.

I’m all about the “Go Medieval” in this case.

Heck, I theoretically hope for “Universal Salvation” in the afterlife- or at least Annihilation for the Wicked. But for these creeps- I have no problem with Eternal Torment.

And those who say that such attitudes make us just as bad are moral retards! Nyah!

The problem with advocating torture to get answers, even in a case as egregious as this one, is that if the torturers are working from flawed premises, you’ll end up peeling the schmuck like an onion - looking for the seeds.

I cannot imagine any set of circumstances where an investigation of a kidnapping would be both so stymied and so certain that suspect ‘A’ knows the answers where I’d be willing to advocate torture to get it from the suspect.

And this argument comes to you from someone who’s pro-death penalty. :dubious:

Really? How’s about this one:

“Smith is suspected of kidnapping a family of three comprised of a motherand her two small children. Smith is approached by the police and makes a run for his sedan. When he is apprehended the police find one of the children in the trunk. It is a fact that the three were kidnapped as a package and that it was Smith who did it. He tells the cops that they won’t ever learn where Mother and OtherKid are that they will die of dehydration unless he goes to them.”

So now what? You know that Smith is the kidnapper. You know that he knows where they are. You suspect that they will die unless you get the information from Smith. Is it ok to torture the info out of him now?

I am of the mind that what separates us (non-barbarians) from them (the barbarous people who commit acts of a heinous nature) is that we won’t do under any circumstances what they would.

Ask again when you actually have that case. 'Cause this ain’t it.


Set the precedent and regulate the use such that it can only be used in extreme and certain cases. The Constitution has been modified many times. It is not inviolate.

At a time when criminals feel that they have power over the State by virtue of superior cruelty it is the responsibility of the State to dissuade them from this feeling.

No, it’s not. The poster above stated that they couldn’t envision any circumstances in which torture would be an appropriate way to extract information.

Are you saying that if this is the case then torture is acceptable?

My Darn Snake Legs - first, by saying that the risk is dehydration, not drowning, or anything of the like that moves the time frame of risk out to, say, 2 maybe three days. Now, assuming KidinTrunk is able to communicate at all - ask KidinTrunk when was the last time she’d seen Mom and OtherKid. With simple time frame analysis - the location for Mom and OtherKid is likely to be within 100-200 miles. A large area, yes, but not impossible for a first rough search.

Then look at where the vehicle was registered - if it’s in the same area, you’ve got a residence to begin looking at. Likewise, other clues in the vehicle may include gas receipts and the like.

Maybe, after two days of running traditional leads like this down, I might be willing to allow torture. But I doubt it. As you’ve listed it, your scenario allows far too many traditional leads for me to coutenance torture.


From Robert Bolt’s screenplay for A Man for All Seasons (an exchange between Thomas More and Will Roper, an enthusiastic prosecuting-attorney type):

The above has been floated around so much that it’s almost a parody of itself; but if I could work my will (and it’s just as well I can’t), it’s one of the two quotes that would be tattooed on the insides of everyone’s eyelids. (The other, BTW, is Pastor Niemoller’s “First they came for the Communists . . .”)

IMHO, this critter is an excellent argument for retroactive birth control. And it doesn’t help my opinion of him that he started his “career” in the Tacoma area—while that’s merely an unpleasantness which pales in comparison to the brutality of his actions, I didn’t need to know it. I have trouble imagining a sufficiently gruesome punishment for him—after he’s properly tried and convicted.

But only at that point. The law exists to shield us as well as him; and (again, IMHO) a society which can decide in advance that this person or that person is not entitled to the protections it demands for itself is well on the road to “the promiscuous squalor of barbarism.”[SUP]*[/SUP]

[SUP]*[/SUP]Thank you, Michael Crichton—and the judge at the trial of Edward Pierce.

Fine. You want Hollywood? Smith has strapped a bomb to the victims who are currently in some other state. He has to turn it off via a very small transmitter or they will be blown to small pieces. This transmitter is hidden in a place that will make it as near to impossible as is statistically allowable to find.

Look, the point is that I can imagine a situation where one knows with certainty that a person is guilty of a crime and the situation does not allow for a lengthy search. What is it about torture qua torture which makes it so very objectionable aside from vague claims that it is “bad?”