It has been about a year and a half since the previous season of 24 ended. In the past I might have been planning a big season premiere party tomorrow, but I've been doing some thinking over the past 19 months. I still think that 24 is a an incredibly exciting show and love to see Jack Bauer fight to save thousands of lives, but this year I am making a stand: I will no longer watch 24.
A little over two hundred years ago, a bunch of people got together to design a government unlike the many that came before. They felt strongly that the government should not have unlimited power. They shared a common belief that all governments everywhere should have limited power, and checks on the power they are given. This emphasized the idea that there were certain powers that a government should never be given. Thus for over 10 generations, the United States has stood as a lighthouse shining a light of human rights throughout the world.
There have been dark periods in the history of the US, where the government and its leaders have marred its human rights record. Yet, no period has been darker than the past eight years. In this short time, we have fallen from the high place of global respect and influence to a pit where despots around the world can torture with near unaccountability, since the US can no longer call them out for their wrong doing, and when others point it out, they can point at the US and say "If they can do it, so can we."
I do not blame 24 for making the world less safe, but far too many people think there are situations where torture is acceptable and that torture leads to useful intelligence. 24 has certainly helped to spread the idea that torture is both acceptable and useful. In the real world, many intelligence professionals have stated that torture gives less information than using more humane approaches. To make matters worse, we have tortured far more innocent people than guilty, people from whom no useful information could ever be obtained. None of these people have been given a fair trial, so not only do we treat them cruelly, but we deny them due process.
I have no great influence in Washington, so I cannot make the sweeping changes we need. I can hope that our new president will take action, but until then I can remind people what has happened, and I can refrain from watching shows that glorify torture.
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