The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rapid City Journal editor volunteers to be waterboarded. South Dakota bloggers recoil.

Randall Rasmussen, copy editor for the Rapid City Journal, South Dakota's second largest daily newspaper owned by Lee Enterprises, publicly volunteered on the world wide web yesterday, to be waterboarded, apparently to prove to himself and to his readers that waterboarding is not a form of torture.

In addition to his copy editing duties for the RCJ, Rasmussen also co-hosts an award winning regional blog "Mt. Blogmore." which has an avid regional following. "If you can find someone who is actually “qualified” to waterboard terror suspects, I’ll volunteer to be waterboarded." wrote Rasmussen in response to a blog reader who challenged the editors assertion that waterboarding is not torture.

"The term “torture” is, I believe, that used by the ACLU, et al, who are driving the effort to prosecute CIA officials and those higher up. ...Interrogation of prisoners is allowed in war." says Rasmussen.

In response, several regular posters to Mt. Blogmore have voiced significant and serious concern. One noted local attorney, Patrick Duffy also a veteran from a family of veterans filed an impassioned plea for Rasmussen to reconsider his position.

"To people like... Randy, my family’s continued sacrifice for the good of this nation, spread out over more than half a century, is meaningless because we are Democrats. And, because we are Democrats, we are “libs,” whatever that childish and useless word means. And because we are “libs,” I guess, our opinions are meaningless.

This is childish, of course, and more than just craven. We live in a nation led to war by men who are demonstrable cowards, whose probable destruction of the democracy we once knew has been cheered by others who, by the measure I’ve laid out here, are cowards as well. Now, it is the cowards who strap on guns and carry automatic weapons to presidential speeches. At some point, you people will be met by a wave of principled intolerance, a fierce resistance to your appetite for the blood of other men’s sons.

That time can’t come soon enough, that time when my son’s generation, those men who were actually willing to stand, fight and die for all of you will say, enough. Honestly, many of you should be ashamed of yourselves."

A fellow South Dakota blogger, Madville Times editor, Cory Heidleberger seemed shocked by Rasmussen's willingness to be waterboarded.

"Randall, weren't you watching the last guy who took up a challenge like that?" wrote Heidleberger, and provided a link to a video wherein Chicago radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller allowed a U.S. Marine to waterboard him live, on air to prove the same claim Rasmussen made. Muller, as is now widely known to have changed his mind in six seconds.

Other bloggers around the state have written to express their concerns, among them Doug Wiken of Dakota Today. and Mike Sanborn of The Decorum Forum.

Most bloggers seemed horrified at Rasmussen's offer, but one noted political activist, Donald Pay wrote, "I think Randy needs to submit three names of waterboarders he thinks are “qualified.” Then the Mount can vote on which one is going to torture him, er, excuse me, enhancely interrogate him."



Neal said...

Everyone who has tried this has had the same reaction...

Christopher Hitchens:

Mike Guy:

I could keep going, but it's not necessary.

If Rasmussen puts his money where his mouth is, he'll be on this list too.

Anonymous said...

Fellow "libs:" Let's not buy into this foolishness--waterboarding is not funny and is not a joke and joking about RR being waterboarded, even at his own unbelievably ignorant and naive invitation, is a place to which we don't want to go. I am naive as well--until a few years ago I didn't know what waterboarding was, then news accounts started reporting it as something that "simulated drowning." I have since learned that it doesn't "simulate" drowning--it is in fact "drowning" from which the subject is "rescued" by his interrogators. Let RR continue his rants alone and let us hold the high ground.

betty76 said...

i can't believe randy intentionally put himself in this position.... now he'll either have to go through with it, or bow out.

caheidelberger said...

Do any of us dare agree to be part of such an event? Can we in good conscience agree to subject a fellow being to torture to prove a point?

If this grim spectacle does take place, we should approach it with exactly the tone with which Mr. Fleming writes this piece. We must not lick our chops with glee at the prospect of inflicting pain on the ignorant Mr. Rasmussen. "Yeah! This'll teach him a lesson! Let's get him!" No. That's not who Americans are. We should approach it with the utmost moral trepidation.

Michael Sanborn said...

It's a bait and switch. If there is someone "qualified" to waterboard a newspaper employee, they won't and couldn't.

IF such a demonstration could take place and;

IF Rasmussen didn't find a way to chicken out, and;

IF the demonstration was done as it is against prisoners...

it's still a publicity stunt. Rasmussen goes into the demonstration knowing that he will live to write about it. He'll recover quickly and write that he was scared, but it wasn't torture.

Prisoners under real interrogation do not enjoy the knowledge that the waterboarding they go through will not result in their death.

I predict he'll find no person "qualified" to waterboard him. And,I predict that IF he finds a "qualified" waterboarder, he'll back out, perhaps citing that the Journal's insurance would not cover the ensuing heart attack, psychotherapy, or other resulting medical issues.

It's a scam folks. Why should we buy into it.

Bill Fleming said...

Then Randy should admit that, don't you think, Mike? He is, after all, a community leader.

Like Rush Limbaugh, many of his readers on Blogmore take his opinions as gospel. Just read their defenses of him.

Like Cory H says, NOBODY I know wants Randy to go through with this, even Bob who issued the challenge. Because it's torture!

We're just trying to get him to understand that the majority of his fellow Americans as well as the majority of people in the civilized world don't condone the use of torture.

And for those few that do, there is decidedly nothing funny about it. To maintain that there is, or to make a mockery of the subject is perverse.

Michael Sanborn said...

Yes, Randy should admit that the whole thing is a publicity stunt. He isn't going to.

I don't want anybody to be tortured. But if some idiotic copy editor wants to make a name for himself by allowing himself to be tortured, I see it as no different than dropping of Niagara Falls in a barrel. It's stupid, but he's free and 21. Who am I to try to stop him?

I probably haven't learned all that much in my 50+ years on the planet, but I have learned that you can't make people smarter and you can't polish a turd.

Taunia Adams said...

This is probably the most "shocking to the conscience" post I've ever read.

I read the posts/responses at the Mt. twice to make sure I was really reading what I was reading.

Is RR an American or a Muslim? I feel he's making fun of American ideals, practices and beliefs and is instilling terrorism himself!

A big ol' *WTF*???

Bill Fleming said...

here are some hot links to neal's recommended sites.

Christopher Hitchens:

Mike Guy:

Bob Newland said...

I'll go with whatever Randy wants. He says waterboarding isn't torture. Fine. I'm sure he'll whistle "Singin' in the Rain" while his nose fills with water.

He thinks it's cool to waterboard some kid turned in to the Army by some jerk from a rival religious faction, let him see how cool it is.

Anonymous said...

Randy's on the copy desk. That's way worse than waterboarding.

betty76 said...


i have to disagree with you because it wouldn't be 'us' inflicting pain on randy, it would be randy inflicting pain on randy.

we don't consider boxing to be torture. those guys are making the choice to go in there and possibly come out a bloody mess.

i think the psychological impacts that randy would suffer from the experience, especially because it would be self-inflicted, might cause him to be a little more careful about the power of his words.

he might not admit that waterboarding is torture... but he'll probably think twice about hitting that 'submit' button (pun intended) in the future.

Steve Sibson said...

"Rasmussen goes into the demonstration knowing that he will live to write about it. He'll recover quickly and write that he was scared, but it wasn't torture."

And now the terroists know that too, thanks to the unthinking peaceniks and the Obama administration.

Michael Sanborn said...

I rest my case made in my 12:57 post.

Bill Fleming said...

Steve, the world, including our enemies — especially our enemies — should always know that about us. It's what makes ours the superior code of honor, and the reason why terrorism and man's inhumanity to man will ultimately fail to capture the hearts and minds of the people.

In other words, love is safe.

Indeed, it is the only safety.

Bill Fleming said...

This goes to the root of a discussion we had earlier on the Forum having to do with love and fear being opposites. Sibby, correct me if mistake your position, but I understand you to believe that we must somehow (paradoxically) fear God in order to demonstrate our love, fealty and obedience to him.

But at the same time, we are instructed that God is the only one we should so fear/worship. So for us to surrender to our fear of terrorists would be immoral, indeed idolatrous, even under your world view, wouldn't it? Are we not instructed to serve only one master?

Bill Fleming said...

And conversely, for us to attempt to control our fellow man by employing fear and terror would be likewise immoral (blasphemous) since we would be presuming to exercise powers that are the exclusive providence of the Almighty.

Bill Fleming said...

In other words, Steve, Jesus was tortured, but he didn't torture back.

...even though he could have, even though that's what the disciples wanted him to do, even though some of them still want him to do it to this day.

It's not going to happen, Steve.

He'll never do it, and he doesn't want you to do it either, nor does he want you to defend those who do.

But don't take my word for it.

Re-read the Sermon on the Mount.

Bob Newland said...

Sib, just so I know...

Do you think it's okay to waterboard folks you think might have info valuable to "U.S. security interests"?

Steve Sibson said...


Again you make the mistake of misapplying Christian principles. The Biblical principle that needs to be applied to this issue is found in Romans 13 3&4:

"For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."

So it is wrong as individual citizens to take the law into their own hands and punish evil doers. But it is the God-given duty of a righteous government to protect the good from wrong doers.

But Bill, thanks for bringing up the Sermon on the Mount. After reading that, Mark Gabriel understood that Jesus Christ was the true God, and Allah was not, and converted from Islam to Christianity. When Gabriel told his dad, his dad pulled out a gun and started shooting at him.

This all goes to show that the Bible and the Quran are as different as night and day. And for you and Senator Johnson to compare Christians to the Taliban is a huge error.

Furthermore, if Obama refuses to protect God-fearing Americans from the evils of Islamic Jihad, then he is not worthy to be our president.

Bill Fleming said...

Interesting, Sibby.

Did Jesus say that, or was it St. Paul?

Paul was a politician, you know.

Bill Fleming said...

Regarding Paul, Thomas Jefferson noted that he was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."

(...ok, now for a little Sibby style cut and pase action):

Thomas Jefferson said "Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."

Albert Schweitzer said "Paul avoids quoting the teaching of Jesus"

Carl Jung stated ""Paul hardly ever allows the real Jesus of Nazareth to get a word in." in US News and World Report Apr, 22/1991, p.55



Steve Sibson said...

So Fleming goes from trashing Rasmussen to trashing the Apostle Paul because he can't deal with the truth that they bring forward. Not much decorum in that forum.

Bill Fleming said...

I didn't trash him Steve, Thomas Jefferson did.

Bill Fleming said...

...and Steve, this Forum is precisely designed to accommodate such conversations.

We think and discuss such topics here.

It is my opinion that the Apostle Paul's philosophy is flawed.

If you want to dispute that, do it.

But do it with your reason, don't just wag your finger at me. Because my response to that will be simply to present a finger back to you in kind.

And that doesn't strike me as a particularly interesting conversation.

Bill Fleming said...

Oh, and Steve, I didn't trash Rasmussen either. He soiled himself, and Mt. Blogmore, and his readers, and the newspaper and publisher he works for.

Steve Sibson said...

Bill, you are the finger wager. It doesn't take much logic and reason to understand that a government should protect good people and punish bad people.

Bill Knight said...

Steve, very true. But are we Machiavellian in our ends justify the means?

On a side-point, I had a discussion with my friend in DC yesterday... we discussed the waterboarding. Just so everyone knows, he has his Masters in Strategic Intelligence from the DIA. He has done some various work for various agencies. I have invited him to join this forum with us, whether he does or not is yet to be seen.

As someone who has had to collect intelligence, this is what he said. "Torture... doesn't really get you effective information. It may get a tidbit of quality information, but it is not worth it. It (torture) is inhumane and goes against everything that we stand fore. And, from strategic standpoint (emphasis mine) it fails. It undermines our entire system of intelligence gathering and places other soldiers at risk."

He also said that there is no "certification" for waterboarding. And that if someone were stupid enough to do it to themselves, its not that hard to do, just go online and figure out how to do it. Just ensure there is a doctor present when doing it.