So, there's been a lot in the news lately about the newly released 'torture memos'. Of it all, or rather of what I've heard out of it (which is by no means all that's been said or written), the one line that's stuck with me the most was Brit Hume's comment that banging someone's head against a wall isn't torture because "it's a soft wall".
There are times when, if we heard ourselves, we'd be caught up short realizing that we'd lost our grip, our sense of perspective, on whatever topic we were talking about at the time. Everybody has hot button issues, everybody has things they feel so passionately about that they're not really open to rational argument on these points. We may not always be able to recognize them in ourselves, but I wd submit that trying to describe attempting to torture information out of a terrorist in terms that make it sound like a Monty Python sketch ("Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!"), complete with comfy chair/soft wall, is a pretty clear view that you're in one of those moments.
In the meantime, "It's a soft wall" will serve as pretty good shorthand for apologists veering off into the hitherlands of what they desperately wish were true.
Tolkien Studies 13: an announcement
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