November 23rd, 2008

Why I Stopped Watching 24

photo credit: Victor Bracco

As I write this post, families across the nation are settling in to watch the season premiere of 24. I’ve talked to a few individuals who have come to use this show as a bonding experience in their family; since each person in their family enjoys the show, it becomes an opportunity for everybody to spend some time in the same room… staring at a TV screen.

I once was an avid fan of the show myself, and had a bit of fictional “hero worship” pointed in Jack Bauer’s direction. But a few seasons into the show, I became disgusted with what I was watching. At that time in my life, I began making a habit out of scrutinizing the philosophical and moral implications of everything around me. Rather than just doing something for fun or out of habit, I would try to rise above the issue to get new perspective and assure myself that the action was acceptable.

It was roughly during the same time period that I became intensely interested in politics and philosophy. With the new personal interests and constant analysis, I soon came to an epiphany that I was surprised I had not before realized: my favorite TV show was absolutely detestable!

The reason is quite simple, yet effectively subtle. I only noticed its presence in the TV show after having studied the methodical deterioration of the rule of law in the Bush administration, and the lopsided media campaign used to shape public opinion and drum up support for the abandonment of time-tested doctrines such as the Just War theory and the golden rule.

In 2000, George Bush ran on a successful campaign that continually asserted the need to have a humble foreign policy, follow the rule of law, not police the world, nor build other nations. Like the man himself, Bush’s most ardent supporters quickly began an evolution of ideology that resulted in a 180 degree shift. Under the threat of terrorism, these individuals soon supported foreign intervention, nation building, policing the world, and even torture—the very things they had not long before so vocally opposed.

Once the scales fell off of my eyes, I realized that Jack Bauer embodied every one of these principles, and perhaps aided in deceiving the people that safety is even worth the price of liberty.

You see, the entire premise of the show 24 revolves around a lawless individual pursuing whatever methods he thinks proper to stop the antagonists. These antagonists usually pose some immediate threat, and so the viewer is treated to one ethical violation after another, all in the name of safety and defense. Whether chewing off an enemy’s jugular with his teeth, or blowing off somebody’s kneecap with his gun, Bauer never shies away from torture and violence as an acceptable method of protecting the homeland. In the world of 24, the end always justifies the means, whatever they may be.

Like any other form of media, this one is not without its implications for affecting the human psyche. After being tantalized with explosions, hard-hitting last-minute scenarios, and general lawlessness, the viewer is left with a surge of adrenaline, but also with a (likely unnoticed) depreciation in the value of liberty, the rule of law, and due process.

In my own informal surveys I have found that fans of the show do indeed condone similar actions conducted by the government, carried out in the name of safety and defense. I believe that this show is partly to blame for creating a culture of tolerance for the rejection of the rule of law. That each episode is saturated with violence only further augments the moral arguments against it.

Like the Bush administration, it is my hope that everything Jack Bauer stands for will one day be generally recognized as destructive, amoral, and antithetical to liberty.

42 Responses to “Why I Stopped Watching 24”

  1. Mark N
    November 23, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    Somehow, I never got sucked into the whole “24” thing — I may have seen one whole episode over the entire life of the series, and coming into the middle of a story isn’t exactly conducive to getting hooked when you don’t know what’s going on — but I’ve noticed this same thing on other shows on TV, even old reruns of things like “The Man From UNCLE”, or “Mission: Impossible”. The foundation of these shows is the idea that the United States is the policeman of the world, and anything that furthers American interests is good and right, and whatever it takes to accomplish it is just fine and dandy.

    It definitely takes the fun out of watching the show when you start asking yourself if the protagonists of the show really have any legitimate business doing what they’re doing.

  2. brandon
    November 23, 2008 at 9:53 pm #

    Saddly, I have to agree about fans of the show. My own brother spent many converstations trying to justify the use of torture to me. Coincidentally, he is a huge 24 fan.

  3. clint
    November 23, 2008 at 10:18 pm #

    Great post , Would like to see a lot of people read it.Most do not understand how little things (like a TV show) can over time erode there morale principles, and values!

  4. Carborendum
    November 23, 2008 at 10:27 pm #

    Perhaps that picture of “It’s not facism if WE do it” would be appropriate here.

    Yes, I’m a fan of the show. But I watch it much like college types watch professional wrestling. I watch it for the effects, the choreographed fight scenes, the adrenaline rush, etc.

    I agree with Connor’s assessments above. But I believe it is incomplete and thus doesn’t quite do justice to the writers and producers.

    While in true Hollywood style we have to show the protagonist shining in the end, this show also shows that he does pay for his actions. I believe he was killed at least once if not twice (revived via defibrilator et al). He was held under torture himself for 20 months because of his actions. His wife was killed, his daughter abandoned him. All his closest friends end up dead or catatonic.

    This season (like Nuremburg) he is being held under trial. And with the way the show is written, I’m not altogether sure he will get off.

    Throughout each season, the questions are always brought up about his methods and the folly of the patriot act and other violations of civil rights. Often, it shows that the government was wrong in its actions.

    Another overlooked theme in each season is the fact that the terrorists are only able to succeed because one or a few individuals either

    1) Didn’t stand up for what was right by caving into terrorist demands.
    2) They did what they considered a “little evil”.

    Isn’t that a truth? Isn’t this how evil USUALLY accomplishes it’s goals? Isn’t that how the towers fell?

    While I’m cognizant of the theory that I may be effected (perhaps imperceptibly) to be more inclined to accept Jack’s methods, I believe it was too late for me by about 20 years. I was already tainted by other factors prior to Jack Bauer. But that’s just me.

    In addition, I watch TV and Movies differently than most. I hear the rumor that you use less brain power watching TV than when you sleep. I have difficulty believing that when I’m constantly asking questions about every action/word/performance that I see. For instance on Star Trek, I suspected twice that a Vulcan was actually a Romulan spy before it was revealed in the show. Some things they did didn’t quite seem Vulcan enough. Although I must admit, I also entertained the idea that they were just bad actors.

    I found out shortly after I was married that such a characteristic is fairly rare . . . The questioning thing, not the Vulcan/Romulan thing . . . Well not JUST that.

  5. Lars Rasmussen
    November 23, 2008 at 10:38 pm #

    The rule of law is to be respected, but this is a question of principles as well. Do laws and freedoms come from God, or from man?

    If freedoms come from man, a relativistic stance follows that freedoms can also be taken away by man(government).

    A Bauer mentality is deplored and tolerated at the same time because of the desire for change fed by a belief in a greater ideal.

    Some groups choose fear as a governing principle, and a Bauer “end justifies the means” approach gets results with those groups short term.

    The “Can’t we all just get along?” approach assumes that the participants want to get along in the first place.

    Take a look at a country like Colombia – the government there has specific means for handling kidnapping. The tactics involve a sniper and a SWAT team on standby.

    Vilification of the Bush administration foreign policy seems a convenient oversimplification for what sounds like a simple conclusion – you’ve realized that 24 is a dark and violent show, and the show no longer holds the same appeal to you it once did.

    You can bet that abuse of the Constitution and relativism will continue under the next administration as well. Don’t look for warrantless surveillance and an unchecked Executive Branch to stop anytime soon.

  6. willswords
    November 23, 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    You would probably find this New Yorker article about the philosophy and people behind 24 interesting:

    I think it confirms some of your insights.

  7. Connor
    November 23, 2008 at 10:42 pm #

    Vilification of the Bush administration foreign policy seems a convenient oversimplification…. You can bet that abuse of the Constitution and relativism will continue under the next administration as well. Don’t look for warrantless surveillance and an unchecked Executive Branch to stop anytime soon.

    You must be new to my blog, Lars. I vilify past, present, and future administrations that support similar policies. Bush is just the current target.

  8. Clumpy
    November 24, 2008 at 12:10 am #

    I’m with you, Connor. Justification of torture and demonization of non-Americans is one of the main reason I can’t watch 24 or just about every action movie ever made.

  9. Mark N
    November 24, 2008 at 2:03 am #

    Toture is a possible option when your world-view — or your plan-of-salvation-view — doesn’t include a life after this one. This one shot at life, under those terms, are all we get, so anything we do to prolong it (provided we see it as something worth prolonging, and I guess even the torturers believe that) is fair game.

    But if your take on The Grand Scheme of Things includes an afterlife reward that very much depends on one’s actions here, suddenly the “ticking time bomb” scenario has a very different answer than the one the world assumes is the only correct answer:

    “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
    “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
    “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”

  10. rmwarnick
    November 24, 2008 at 7:33 am #

    I stopped watching early in Season 2, when they started torturing somebody in every episode (in terms of “24” that’s one torture session PER HOUR). I called it the “Fox Festival of Torture.”

    Later, it turned out that some of the torture methods portrayed on “24” were employed for real in Iraq by novice torturers in the U.S. military who had seen the show.

  11. David
    November 24, 2008 at 11:23 am #

    I never watched 24 (I quit watching TV back in 2000) but I knew it was popular. After reading this description I see that I have not been missing anything. Apparently life mimics art (or is it the other way around).

    We do need to be more aware of the implications of the entertainment we accept. I’ve noticed that as I do so I have more time because of all the movies, television, computer games, and books that I no longer watch/play/read. It allows me to focus on more valuable forms of entertainment and to pursue more productive goals with that time.

  12. Reach Upward
    November 24, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    Carborendum, I think the Vulcan-Romulan thing is probably pretty rare. At least, I’ve never encountered anyone with ears naturally that pointy on any of the planets I’ve visited.

    I’ve never seen 24, so my comments may miss the mark. I am led to believe that the philosophy involved has much in common with the most recent Batman movie, which I have also not seen.

    Mark N’s comment is quite thoughtful. By applying Matt. 25:25-27 it places the ticking time bomb issue in a different light. However, that does not mean that the pacifist path is always the correct one. Consider, for example, 1 Nephi 4:6-19. One man was slain in order to benefit many.

  13. Mrs. B. Roth
    November 24, 2008 at 1:21 pm #

    *clap clap clap* Great post – very much agree. The US has an obligation to set the example for the world. Too often, I think we jump to the “but they [the bad guys from where ever] do it; we should, too,” but we just can not be that way. We have to hold ourselves to the highest standards of humanity and decency.

  14. Mark N.
    November 24, 2008 at 2:11 pm #

    Mark N’s comment is quite thoughtful. By applying Matt. 25:25-27 it places the ticking time bomb issue in a different light. However, that does not mean that the pacifist path is always the correct one. Consider, for example, 1 Nephi 4:6-19. One man was slain in order to benefit many.

    Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to turn the whole “Lehi’s family leaves Jerusalem” into a season of “24” episodes? Nephi tortures Laban for the location of the brass plates, and when he refuses to fork ’em over, it’s off with his head!

    I mean, we’ve already got Laban and Lemuel torturing Nephi in a couple of places, we just have to flesh out the story a bit to gain a new audience for the whole thing.

  15. Mark N.
    November 24, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    Speaking of the “ticking time bomb”, trying to edit one’s prior comment with the “time left to edit” clock ticking away can be a bit of a challenge in and of itself…

  16. Jeff T.
    November 24, 2008 at 3:11 pm #

    Reach Upward,

    (warning, spoilers)

    Interestingly, I saw the recent Batman movie as presenting the message that the ends don’t justify the means. The villain’s goal is to get the heros to betray their own principles in order to stop him, and in the movie one hero gives in and becomes a villain, and the other does not (but he does toy the line a few times). At one point, Batman decides to turn himself in, partly because he sees the things he’d have to do in order to stop the villain, and doing those things would turn him into a villain, and he doesn’t want that. He wants to fight villains, not be a villain. Part of the movie is a cautionary against abuse of power in the name of safety and protection.

  17. Clumpy
    November 24, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    Yeah, it seems kind of strange to use methods and procedures that go against liberty in order to fight terrorists who supposedly hate our freedom. Hmm. . .

  18. JHP
    November 24, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    I agree with your general argument, Connor, but after watching one or two episodes of 24 many years ago, I stopped watching for a much different reason. All the violence made me feel sick and I could feel the Spirit being sucked out of me instantly, and it took some time to get it back. Whether we realize it or not, I think this happens to most people who watch 24. So even without your reasoning, I find the show to be despicable.

  19. Carborendum
    November 24, 2008 at 6:54 pm #

    So if Batman and Jack Bauer got in a fight, who would win?

  20. Yin
    November 24, 2008 at 7:27 pm #

    Jason Bourne would take both of them. At the same time.

  21. Jack
    November 25, 2008 at 6:58 pm #

    Mark N.’s comment regarding torture in the Book of Mormon is an interesting twist. Chronicling torturous actions doesn’t put Nephi in the same category as film makers in my book. He’s trying to teach us to rise above the actions of his brothers and the society so wicked it will soon be destroyed.

    Connor, I agree with your analysis. I too quit watching the show when I realized the impact it had upon my own thoughts and justifications. The vigilante attitude of “I’m above the law” never leads to good.

  22. Daniel
    November 25, 2008 at 10:36 pm #

    Mark N., as someone who doesn’t believe there’s a life after this one, I’m going to have to disagree with your view.

    My view is: you only get one life, so live it well. And be good to other people, because they only get one life too. Ergo, do not torture them.

    I might suppose a religious person would think, “Why not torture someone if you can get forgiven, and you know they’ll get resurrected someday and still exist somewhere? After all, this life isn’t all that important; just prologue to eternity.” That would, however, be a distortion of your views, just as your comment is a distortion of mine.

    Try and remember that non-believers aren’t a bunch of amoral hedonists, k?

  23. Jeff T.
    November 26, 2008 at 2:29 pm #


    Here’s an honest question: I’m sure you believe that killing someone else is morally right, even commendable, when it is the defense of your life. I’m sure you think that stealing is morally right, even commendable, when it is defense of human life (i.e. confiscating firearms from someone who has threatened to go on a shooting spree). Both killing and stealing are wrong otherwise, but the moment someone has made an attempt to take my or someone else’s life, stealing and killing (which are otherwise morally wrong) are appropriate as forms of deterrent and prevention.

    What about afflicting pain in defense of human life? How is inflicting pain in the defense of human life qualitatively different from killing or stealing in defense of human life? A person forfeits their right to life and property as soon as they attempt to unlawfully kill another person; would they not also forfeit their right to comfort?

    I am against torture… just wondering how you respond to the question.

  24. Carborendum
    November 26, 2008 at 4:37 pm #


    I’m pleased to read that in spite of a lack of a religious center, you still have a moral center.

    Keeping that in mind, I’m dissappointed that you failed to weigh in on the recent attacks on the Church and Pres. Monson (both verbal and physical).

    In case you’ve been gone lately, I invite you to weigh in on the behavior of people who seem to share your position on the whole Prop 8 thing, but who (by your standard stated above) are acting deplorably.

    It would probably be more appropriate to post on that article rather than this one.

  25. Clumpy
    November 26, 2008 at 4:53 pm #

    Jeff, in the case of justified theft and killing, the danger is generally inarguable. If they have a gun and they’re waving it around threatening people, you can positively pin the threat on them. But a prisoner doesn’t have the same ability to threaten others and his “connection” to any attack or action is more tenuous.

    At any rate, if official charges haven’t been levied against them it’s especially inexcusable.

  26. Josh Williams
    November 27, 2008 at 12:14 am #

    Yeah, it was kind of a silly show to begin with. (Allow me to speculate wildly about Rupert Murdock and his cozy relationship with the Bush administration and the FCC……)

    Personally, I’m glad I don’t have a TV anymore, myself. (I prefer another kind of “screen sucking”)

    Didn’t you mention something a while back about throwing out the ‘tube’ once you have kids?

  27. Daniel
    November 27, 2008 at 7:02 am #

    @ Carb: What’s to say? The LDS church managed to pull off divorce-by-fiat, and is now going through PR hell. People were angry that a religion could tip the balance on a political issue, and they showed it. Not always well.

    As a law-abiding citizen, I uphold the law of the land, including Prop 8. (Or I would, if I lived in that land. You know.) I also uphold peaceful efforts to change the law, including peaceful protest.

    I’m pleased to read that in spite of a lack of a religious center, you still have a moral center.

    I think the religious center is overrated, frankly. The thing that makes atheists and believers do good things is that they’re good people who want good things to happen to people. Someone doesn’t have it, and you get a scary person, religious or not. Like Bush, for example. Nominally Christian, authorises torture.

  28. Connor
    November 27, 2008 at 9:29 am #

    I am against torture… just wondering how you respond to the question.

    The actions you suggest (killing or stealing from someone) are, as you noted, justified during the imminent threat of a serious physical threat. In training for a concealed weapons permit, students learn the proper escalation of force under all sorts of circumstances. The last thing you want to do is draw your gun (and use it), so you are taught how to appropriately respond to threats that are not so imminent, and when it is ultimately permissible to repel a threat.

    I believe that torture does not fall under the category of necessary escalation. For my personal self-defense, I can’t imagine a situation in which I would need to torture and individual to save my life. If there is a major threat I need to put down, then I’m going to do so fully and completely and not settle on some nebulous middle ground. I simply can’t fathom a setting in which torturing an individual will save my own life.

    And thus we’re left with the only feasible hypothetical: that torturing somebody will allegedly save other peoples’ lives (this is the crux of the Jack Bauer scenario). I believe that it’s a stretch to argue that torturing somebody will save lives; torture is used primarily for obtaining information, which falls outside the category of repelling an immediate and evident threat. One might argue that the information obtained will stop an attack from happening, and therefore justifies the torture used, but I don’t believe that this distant threat (or, rather, not immediate) is enough to merit any force. At this point the threat may or may not happen, and so the escalation of force is, in my opinion and training, unwarranted.

    So, to answer your question more directly, I don’t believe that torture is ever justified (unlike killing or stealing).

  29. Carborendum
    November 29, 2008 at 5:54 pm #


    While I don’t agree with your assessment of the situation, I’m not going to argue with you on the points you raise — It would be a religious argument — pardon the expression.

    However —

    I find any condemnation of the violent acts on part of those “a little more than disappointed” by the passage of Prop 8 conspicuously missing from your comment. I’m confident that if a “Christian” were to burn a cross on the lawn of a minority, you would be up in arms in protest.

    But I find it difficult to interpret from your comments that you find these parallel acts on the part of homosexuals and others who support gay marriage as unacceptable.

    Is it acceptable in this society to verbalize resentment over things not going your way? I believe so. Is it also acceptable to belittle with highly disdainful language those that helped further a cause you absolutely disagree with? Probably — to a point. Is it acceptable to threaten with violence under the same conditions? NO!!!

    Yet, all you can say is that the Church is going through PR hell?

    No condemnation of those THREATENING violence, ATTEMPTING violence, vandalizing private property, harassing private citizens, just because they don’t agree with those around them?

    Honestly, I’ve come to respect your arguments and fairness in the past. I’ve hardly ever agreed with you, but I’ve respected you. But I’m having trouble giving you the benefit of the doubt on this one.

    Believe me, I perfectly understand your arguments against the Church and its intervention on this issue. I get the logic. I don’t agree with it. But I get it.

    But your focus placing the blame for the violence on the victim(s) in this case is impossible to understand.

    If you at least said,”Yes, they’re acting horrifically. And I do not condone their actions. But the Church has to accept some portion of the responsibility . . . ” yadda yadda . . . then I would at least believe you when you said

    My view is: you only get one life, so live it well. And be good to other people, because they only get one life too. Ergo, do not torture them.

    But your silence so far is deafening.

  30. Daniel
    November 29, 2008 at 6:56 pm #

    As I have said, I support non-violent protest.

    If you’re going to have conniptions because I’m not condemning something vociferously enough for you, you’re going to have to go ahead and have the conniptions. And if someone’s not saying something you’d like to hear, maybe you should try saying it yourself. That’s how it works.

  31. Carborendum
    November 29, 2008 at 8:11 pm #

    Why are you acting so out of character? I’m actually trying to be your friend. But you’re treating my like I’ve insulted you. Read my first post to you again. I said,”I INVITE you to weigh in”.

    Like I said, I respected you and I delighted in reading your posts. You provided rational and reasonable arguments to positions that opposed mine. It gave me food for thought.

    I don’t see anything in my previous posts that would warrant the label “conniption”. Your use of the term indicates that you are trying to deflect the issue from yourself. Again avoiding the issue.

    You speak of supporting non-violent protest. But instead of condemning some for participating in violent protest, you condemn those who are peacably defending themselves from the same.

    As far as my position on their behavior, I thought I was pretty clear when I said they were acting deplorably. That is the first time I’ve heard you selectively reading any posts. Unusual to say the least.

    I also DID say it for you in my last post. But you didn’t even confirm that much. And you’re still talking AROUND the issue. Is there something that keeps you from saying it? You say what you are for. But you can’t say you are against their actions.

    Certainly I can put 2 and 2 together. But I’ve found that when someone doesn’t actually come out and say certain things, that usually means they are hiding something. I’m just wondering if you are.

    If not, I guess I was off base. But I’m still puzzled what keeps a linguist tongue-tied.

    If you are referring to the current thread — Jack Bauer’s Behavior — for one thing, it’s a TV show; for another. . .

    Well, I’ll weigh in on that if you actually give me a complete answer. If not, it looks like we’ll both forget about it. I was just wondering.

  32. loquaciousmomma
    November 29, 2008 at 10:00 pm #

    Bravo Connor!!!

    I have seen various episodes over the years as my husband is an avid fan. I haven’t watched it in a year or two because I couldn’t stand the violence. As I have learned more about propaganda and how the media is used to shape public opinion, I have been trying to convince my husband to stop watching.

    I made the torturing/24 connection last year. I feel that this show has been used to numb people to the horrible things our government has done in our name. I have periodically watched parts of cop shows and see the subtle and sometimes blatant messages being sent. For example, many of the villains in these shows have been religious lately, subtly prejudicing people against religion. And even in these shows the ends justify the means. Violent interrogations, lying to and raging at prisoners to get them to “crack” and foul language are just a small part of the methods portrayed as good and necessary on these shows.

    I remember reading a line in an Ezra Taft Benson talk (I haven’t been able to find it again, though) that said something to the effect of “if you haven’t been mesmerized by the television”, after providing some advice for action. He understood the evil it can perpetrate in a persons life.

    The television can be used for good, to play uplifting programs and to send satellite broadcasts, but it has been used to manipulate viewers since the beginning. Why else would advertisers pay so much for air time? It works, and commercials aren’t magical or any more influential than the actual programs. In fact, the programs may be more so because we pay closer attention to them and most people laugh at the idea that there are any hidden motives behind them, so they are not guarding themselves.

    24 is propaganda, plain and simple. It seems so many people are afraid to be seen as crazy for making such assertions, but truth is truth, no matter what the reaction to it may be.

  33. Daniel
    December 2, 2008 at 6:47 am #

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back on this, but I did want to take up Carb’s invitation.

    A couple of things have kept me from getting into this issue: a stack of exams, and a lack of enthusiasm for seeing people on my side of things acting less than noble. Which is less than noble of me, I suppose. So, okay, I hit the news to see what had been going on. There are probably some things I’ve missed though.

    I read about the white powder mailings to temples, which is just nuts. However, as far as I know, we don’t know which nutcase was behind it, so I’m not going to lay it at the door of Prop 8 opponents, since we all know that teh gays won’t have anthrax technology for another 5 years.

    I watched the Phyliss Burgess video. It was uncomfortable viewing, but not as bad as I’d expected. Lots of yelling, very unpleasant. I don’t think I would have acted as those men did. But I was waiting for a punch or something really awful, and it never happened. Getting yelled at isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

    No, what upset me the most was the reports that African-Americans were copping flack for (supposedly) voting disproportionately for 8. It fit so perfectly into the narrative (victims becomes persecutors), and everyone knows blacks have a problem with gays, so it must have been true. Except it wasn’t. It was based on an inadequate sample size. The reports of racial epithets and the like made me feel the most ashamed. And it would have, even if all that had been true.

    Oh, and I wanted to say that I liked this post because many people talk about avoiding immoral entertainment, but they usually focus on a rather narrow definition of ‘morality’: sex and nudity. The program 24 seems to be profoundly immoral entertainment. So props to Connor for a more balanced view of morality.

  34. Carborendum
    December 3, 2008 at 9:29 pm #

    Thank you, Daniel. I just wanted to get your opinion.

    In a way, both this post on 24 and the post on the “bad publicity” that the Church has been getting are related.

    Both are involving parties that feel threatened. They are threatened with death (Jack Bauer & 24) or they are threatened with intolerance or having rights taken away (prop 8).

    Yes, I know what has been said many times about Prop 8 not “taking rights away”. But the feeling is there. Apparently the argument will always be there as to whether that is ACTUALLY being done.

    So, at what point is someone allowed to behave like those that have litterally run over people holding a sign in support of Prop 8? Or in the extreme, to torture those threatening terrorism like in 24?

    It is fine to talk about non-violent protest (Daniel) and about the Golden Rule (Connor). We can even debate the virtues, or lack thereof, of the “ends justifies the means” philosophy.
    But wasn’t this the attitude of the founding fathers?

    Yes, they made every effort to find peaceful means of relief from their injuries. But in the end, they waged war to get their way. What was the difference?

    1) Life, Liberty, & Property were at stake.
    2) They were so injured that they were willing to sign their names to a public statement pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to rebel against the forces in power.
    3) They were perfectly willing to accept ANY consequences of their actions.
    4) They were victims of a long train of abuses evincing a design of absolute despotism.

    From this list, I believe that Jack Bauer is acting more nobly than the people attacking the Church. Certainly, those injured by Prop 8 could make an argument that they had liberty taken away. And they have been victims of a long train of abuses through intolerance. This is why I partially opposed Prop 8. Was it absolute despotism?

    But are these people willing to accept the consequences of their actions? Are they willing to risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on the matter? Are they doing it to get something for themselves? Or for others?

    The recent HBO series “John Adams” really opened my eyes to some realities of the founders–highly recommended. One statement he says (in regard to giving a people the chance to choose their own system of government) applies here–“What on this side of Jerusalem can be of greater importance to mankind?”

    Is gay marriage so important? I don’t think so. Are the lives of millions being threatened by terrorist action so important? I do think so. (not greater than Christ, just great enough to go to war over).

    Jack Bauer in each episode risks everything for his country. Everything he does that is deplorable, he does to protect his country and others. This in no way means that I support someone who would resort to the measures that Jack Bauer uses on a regular basis. I just found the comparison interesting.

    In a TV show it is really easy to breathe life into a hypothetical situation where the usually brain dead audience can say,”Duhhh, Yaahhh. Dat sounds like he’s justified.” But in real life how often is someone actually justified? Some say never. I say there are some extreme situations where it is. But it is very rare.

    When talking this way about Jack, I’d like to ask where are we as Americans? Look at recent protests — not just the Church over Prop 8, but everywhere. Look at youtube. Look at reality shows.

    I’m sure that the likes of Connor and Daniel are much more peace loving than I am (and I DO mean that as a compliment). But I wonder how many injuries we’ve been taking from enemies of the Constitution both foreign and domestic. I wonder how many more before we do wake up and say,”Hey, THIS is what is really bothering us. It’s not the petty stuff that we see on the news. It is the gradual deterioration of our Constitution.”

    But instead of blaming the government for failure to address these injuries, we blame each other for petty issues that don’t really matter.

  35. Stew
    December 6, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    One point that is sorely missed here is the unreal expectations this show creates. Every time Jack Bauer tortures a suspect, the suspect cracks within minutes and spills the beans. The information he gets is always accurate.

    In real life, I seriously doubt that information obtained from torture is obtained so quickly and that its quality is beyond reproach. The information obtained from torture is so suspect that its value is near useless. Yet the show continues show Jack Bauer instantly getting accurate information from torture.

    That being said, the show is still entertaining. But the public has to remind itself that it is just fantasy.

  36. Carborendum
    December 7, 2008 at 9:13 am #

    Stew, you have an excellent point there. Can we EVER justify using such inhumane resources to produce outcomes that are so unreliable?

    Excellent point.

  37. Sharon Cohen
    January 11, 2009 at 7:17 pm #

    Thanks for validating my decision to never watch 24.

    With rare exception I find much of network television to be little better that watching an “R” rated movie.

  38. Connor
    January 11, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    Well, duh:

    In short USA Today “dossiers” on fresh characters in the new season of Fox’s 24 set to debut tonight (Sunday), two of the four profiled actors/actresses used the space to espouse their personal disgust with the U.S. government for using “torture,” which has been employed by lead character “Jack Bauer.” Left-wing activist/actress Janeane Garofalo, who plays “FBI analyst Janis Gold,” called the use of torture “reprehensible” and rued: “That our own administration borrowed ideas from 24 is such a tragedy.” USA Today explained: “A former Army interrogator has said that soldiers mimic interrogation tactics seen on the show.”

  39. Sarah
    January 12, 2009 at 12:09 am #

    Wow. Great insight, Connor.

  40. Jeremy
    January 15, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    Just speaking in broad terms…how many of our foreign policy difficulties from the past few years are driven by this concept that the U.S. is the greatest country in the world? I remember this being rammed into my head over and over and over again as a kid. It seems so many people in this country believe this to be the absolute truth, no questions asked, as if there’s some sort of objective measure for “best country on earth.” And I can only conclude that a president who thinks he’s in charge of the best country in the world, or the “leader of the free world,” doesn’t have too much trouble thinking he is permitted to wage preemptive war, police the world, etc. Why can’t people just say, “I like it here and I don’t want to leave” and leave it at that. Why must we be THE BEST?

  41. Frank Staheli
    January 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm #


    It used to be the greatest country in the world, precisely because of what Reagan referred to as our “shining city on a hill” image. Notice that Reagan never went abroad in search of terrorists to destroy, yet many of those (neo-conpoops from both major political parties) who claim to act in his name do that very thing today, using a plethora of ill-conceived lies that sucker most Americans. I think Ronald Reagan looks down from above in sorrow at what the hijackers of his legacy have become.

    Jack Bauer and his “24” tripe are a travesty to American way of thinking, but I saw it coming when Tom Clancy novels started to get popular 20 or more years ago.

  42. Ana Belen Lau
    May 14, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    Very timely. Watching Taken 2 this weekend with my husband I couldn’t stop thinking, no wonder most Americans have this ‘foreigner-phobia. Also, no wonder everyone is ok with killing and torturing as long as we’re protecting one American live. In this particular movie the illustration goes like this: foreigners will attack us as soon as we put your guard down, BUT we will strike back and we will destroy and kill anyone that gets in the way even if it is innocent people because an American life is more important than 20 (or thousands) of other lives. As usual, your wording is a lot better than mine =) Good article!

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