The rifleman mustering for a firing squad is honest - an icon of retribution without pretense. If we can own his violent act on our behalf, capital punishment suits us. But clinical killing is euphemism - a cowardly way for us to deceive ourselves.
While in some areas, like LGBT rights and freedom of speech, the United States' human rights record fares far better than that of other parts of the world, in many areas -- including national security, criminal justice, social and economic rights, and immigration policy -- the U.S. has an abysmal record compared to other liberal democracies.
At this point we all know that, in President Obama's words, "We tortured some folks." The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report on the CIA's rendition, detention, and interrogation program revealed shocking abuses that went far beyond even the torture that the administration had authorized.
Because of the unacceptably high possibility of an erroneous conviction, I am a reluctant opponent of the death penalty. Reluctant, because some murderers undoubtedly deserve to die.
Leon Trotsky once said: "you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." Unfortunately, that is true for the two innocent hostages -- one American, one Italian -- that were killed accidentally in a January 2015 CIA drone strike near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
KIPP Schools, Success Academies, Democracy Prep and any number of other "no excuses" schools are not developing true grit and resilience other than the numb grit required to endure humiliation and the resilience necessary to get up and go to school every day.
Any rational person would conclude that as a first obvious step just to begin to address the debacle for the APA, the current executive leadership group must be replaced. Without that, internal repair cannot even begin.
Just as we consider torture and hostage taking unjustifiable under any circumstances, we deem the use and threat of nuclear weapons fundamentally unethical. There is a need for a political consensus on their unacceptability.
Fordham University's award of an honorary degree to John Brennan, an unapologetic advocate of torture, is a scandal for Christians, a dark moment in the university's history, and a betrayal of its Catholic commitment to human dignity.
During times of persecution, discrimination and repression, there are always brave defenders, like the ones in the Warsaw ghetto in 1943, who dare to stand up, speak out and resist torture and other human rights violations. Their stories are not widely known, but it is important that we honor them.
Many younger prisoners may feel they have nothing to lose by refusing to cooperate with the prison authorities and are likely to riot again and again. If Bahrain wants to fix its prison problem properly, it will stop trying to hide the truth about what's happened, improve conditions, and release all those prisoners who shouldn't be in jail in the first place.
The long-awaited fifth season of Game of Thrones begins on Sunday 12 April. Broadcast in 170 countries, the show shocks viewers and generates controversy with graphic violence, especially against women. Yet many aspects of real life around the world today are worse than the mythical Westeros.
Last week I had lunch with the pastor of the church where I'm currently the writer-in-residence. I asked him how the three members of the Trinity -- God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit -- decided who was going to have to take on physical form, be born in a barn, and then be crucified.
The time has come for the international community to end torture as a cheap form of investigative tool by the authorities -- and it is possible. In the words of the historical Rabbi Hillel: "If not now, when?"
When Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, addresses the U.S. Congress this week, his government's commitment to human rights is likely to get a passing reference in his speech -- but given the formidable challenges Afghanistan faces in protecting fundamental human rights, it deserves much more than that.
The Middle East is suffering the blowback from rotten U.S. policies, disastrous wars, and cultural turmoil. ISIS and its ilk are one result.