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Image of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Torture (HBO)

The US Senate Torture Report revealed horrifying details of America's interrogation program. Helen Mirren will fill you in.


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It gives me the willies hearing people joke about torture, and even more so realizing that comedy is the only way most people can digest a discussion about how terribly wrong it is. There are just some things one shouldn't joke about and you can bet your life the people who were tortured weren't smiling. It's exasperating to hear him at 13:09:

So look, there is no proof that torture does any good but there is real proof that it does serious harm to America's image overseas. References to American torture show up everywhere, from terrorist recruiting tools to statements from North Korea who've called our techniques "brutal medieval."

How it looks to others should be a decisive factor when deciding the use of torture? What a disgusting thought. You shouldn't even ever get that far in your analysis. He redeems himself later:

Here's the thing: if enhanced interrogation were not torture, which it is, and even if torture did work, which it doesn't, America should not be a country that tortures people because it is brutal, it is medieval, and it is beneath us. And when the rest of the world thinks about America, they should not think of this because that's not what this country is about.

Try putting yourself in the victims' prison cells and see if you can still laugh or find any of this funny. Still, I'm pleased the viewpoint that torture is immoral, however it is communicated, is becoming more acceptable.

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It's not America that tortures people. It's monsters in the American government and their supporters. Not everyone in America has gone mad. He's putting it in terms and in places where it will get more exposure. That's not a bad thing, especially if it increases awareness.

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In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. - Carl Sagan