Slate’s Julia Lapidos recounts an “eerily prescient” torture-themed episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which the Cardassians torture Captain Picard — they “string up their captive in a stress position, strip him naked, and subject him to extreme physical torment” — to try to get him to tell military secrets. Key quote:
Powerful when it aired in 1992, the episode is even more resonant in 2009. When Picard’s comrades on the Enterprise learn of Picard’s capture, they insist that the Cardassians abide by the terms of a Geneva-like “Solanis Convention.” The Cardassians rebuff the request: “The Solanis Convention applies to prisoners of war … [Picard] will be treated as a terrorist.”
That sounds so much like the Bush Administration’s justifications for tossing aside America’s core values that it makes you wonder if perhaps they had more inspiration than just the insipid, irrelevant, torture-fantasy-fueled 24. If so, they completely missed the lesson of this episode, which Lapidos summarizes thusly:
Torture is counterproductive for the interrogator and devastating—both physically and emotionally—for the subject. It makes one wonder it is still practiced.