Sixty Percent of American Teenagers Now Support Torture Sixty Percent of American Teenagers Now Support Torture

Sixty Percent of American Teenagers Now Support Torture

by Cord Jefferson

April 17, 2011

Chalk it up to the Jack Bauer School of Interrogation, in which the infamous 24 hero teaches us to beat the hell out of whomever it takes to save the planet. In a new survey from the Red Cross, nearly six out of 10 American teenagers said they thought it was OK to torture a prisoner of war. More chillingly, over half of the young respondents said it was acceptable to murder a prisoner if that prisoner had previously killed Americans. A smaller number—41 percent—thought it was alright for American soldiers to be tortured if captured by an enemy.

Despite the widely accepted folk wisdom that young people are always more liberal than older generations, the Red Cross study says that's not the case: The teenagers surveyed were more consistently likely than adults to support torture in the cases presented them.

Characters like Bauer aside, Lawrence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard, theorized to the Daily Beast that younger Americans are becoming more influenced by a world in which unwavering rules of engagement have gone AWOL. "It suggests the national conscious is becoming more and more corroded," he said, "and more accustomed to the violation of fundamental principles of human rights and international law."

Exhibit A: Bush authorizes torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Exhibit B: Obama's unwillingness to stop the brutal treatment of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning, who is stripped naked every night for no discernible reason whatsoever.

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Sixty Percent of American Teenagers Now Support Torture