OK, I've tackled gay marriage. What about the other hot topic, "torture?" Or rather, should I say, "enhanced interrogation techniques?"
Let's start with a history lesson. The tension between America's principles and security has gone on for centuries. Woodrow Wilson, FDR, even Abraham Lincoln violated important principles we hold dear in wartime because they thought it was necessary to keep America and Americans safe. That doesn't make it OK, but it does mean that the Bush administration is not the first to ever make this faustian bargain. You could even argue that when America is scared economically, we likewise surrender liberties--for example in the New Deal and in today's big-government binge. Fear causes us to do dumb things, and then later we regret them.
All that said, there are a couple of points to be made. First, we don't WANT to regret today's actions later. And I think most people (although not all) would agree that, in general, we do not want to be a nation that tortures--not even if it "works."
For that reason, I think the argument voiced by some, "it doesn't work anyway," is not important at all. If it's just plain wrong, it shouldn't matter if it works. Or, conversely, if that's your only argument, and I can convince you the techniques are effective, your point should evaporate (and I doubt that's going to happen).
And I think we all (or most of us) agree that, except posssibly in the case of a ticking nuclear time bomb in a major city, we would NEVER want to resort to things that are definitely torture--mutilation, removing fingernails with pliers, electric shocks to genitals, or causing permanent physical harm of the sort that crippled John McCain.
The trick comes with such techniques as "waterboarding." It's psychologically freaky, but our own troops volunteer for it as part of their training (so they can learn to resist it). Supposedly it was used on only a very few high-level detainees, most notably 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Muhammed, and resulted in a treasure trove of information on Al-Qaeda that may have even prevented an attack on LA.
I don't know if that rises to the level of what I'd personally call "torture." But I can understand the people who say, "if you're not sure where the line is, shouldn't we err on the side of basic human decency, and be the kind of culture that affirms our best principles and respects human rights?"
Here's the deal, though--why can't we say the EXACT SAME THING about abortion? If I say that waterboarding is a necessary evil that should be "safe, legal, and rare," I'm an inhuman monster. But if somebody else says the exact same thing about taking the lives of unborn babies, they are progressive and sophisticated. Sorry. I'm not buying. One day we MAY regret pouring water on the face of a terrorist. Or not. But I pray that one day we WILL look back on abortion like we do now on slavery--a relic of a day when we were uncivilized and barbaric.