Brevity is the soul of “omg what is wrong with us as a country that we have ever taken this woman seriously?”
I know a lot has been written about this statement already, but I won’t be able to sleep properly until I say my peace. For starters, I don’t know if Ms. Palin considers waterboarding to be “torture” or not, but it really doesn’t matter what she think; it is considered torture under international law. This is important because, when Reagan signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, this international law because U.S. law. Sarah Palin is blithely stating that, if she were President, she would set out to break the law*.
Now, since she reads all the magazines, I’m going to assume that Ms. Palin is up to speed on the Senate report on torture which concluded, among other things*, that it doesn’t actually work as an intelligence gathering tool. Unless I’m missing something, that suggests that she’s advocating torture not as a means of keeping the country safe but just as a way to hurt people accused of being terrorists just for the sake of hurting them.
That’s not really true; not just for the sake of hurting them. By saying that she would “baptize” the prisoners, she’s also forcing a religious rite on them that is presumably against their beliefs. You could argue that she was just incredibly clumsy in her choice of words, but that strikes me as extremely unlikely. Given the crowd, given her past, given everything else in the speech, I think the word “baptize” was chosen very carefully.
So, to summarize, she’s saying that if she were President, she would willfully break the law to hurt people for no reason other than to hurt them and to abuse their religion at the same time.
Over beers during happy hour, you hear these sorts of wild, unlikely hypotheticals all the time: “If I won the lottery..” or “If I were king…” and the like. There nothing particularly harmful about them because they’ll never ever come true. The same should be true of someone like Sarah Palin saying “If I were in charge…” but there are still so many people who take her seriously that I can’t completely dismiss her as a noisy crank. It’s not that she says really dumb things; it’s that people hear it any think “yeah, that makes sense to me.”
But honestly, she should be dismissed as a noisy crank, and anyone who buys into her views should be mocked openly and often for it.
* Those other things include “Why yes, we have tortured the crap out of people, even by the extremely narrow definition of torture that some people insisted on using.