W.W. comments on The Other Charlotte’s take yesterday on the Mainstream Media’s current obsession with torture (see “Tortured Logic–and Lots of Preening,” Nov. 29)):

“Ordinary soldiers captured on the battlefield possess tactically valuable information that we may use energetic interrogation to obtain. If we cannot extract information, why bother to take prisoners? I say this as someone who took prisoners a long time ago. Prisoners are a pain in the a–. You have to guard them and share food and water.”

Hmm, as Charles Krauthammer, the subject of TOC’s thoughts, writes:

“First, there is the ordinary soldier caught on the field of battle. There is no question that he is entitled to humane treatment. Indeed, we have no right to disturb a hair on his head. His detention has but a single purpose: to keep him hors de combat.”

I have no idea what you did, W.W., but there is this thing called the Geneva Convention—and there is also the code of battlefield honor. We were outraged when our own captured ordinary soldiers were tortured by the North Vietnamese back in the 1960s and 1970s. Terrorists holding information are another story, however. I dunno myself about torturing them but TOC and Krauthammer make some good points.

And here’s Katie, who disapproves of our generally negative stance on professional feministas:

“I am so sorry to read what you have to say about feminism. Your misconceptions tug at my heart because they are so grounded in hate. I will never cease to be baffled by those who have no desire to even attempt an understanding of ‘the other side’s’argument. I would also like to think that you know so little about feminism that you don’t realize that a lot of what you discuss on this website (save of course for the anti-feminist rhetoric) is indeed feminism itself.

 “I’ve often likened feminism to Christianity: There are many denominations and there are a few uniting features, but they hardly have an entirely common doctrine.You’d probably thoroughly enjoy many of the beliefs held by liberal feminists, particularly Mary Wollstonecraft.”

Actually, Katie, as you’ve pointed out, we indeed find much to admire about feminism–the classical feminism that advocates the full and equal participation of women in public life. Thus, we intensely admire Condoleezza Rice, who exemplifies the kind of feminism we admire. That sort of feminism has been hijacked by radicals who hate men, denigrate the choices of women to stay at home and raise children, and advocate special governmental protections for women to ensure that they earn as much money as men no matter what their individual lifestyle choices might be. Those women claim to be the true voices of feminism, and they brand as traitors any woman, for example, who is pro-war and anti-affirmative action or who otherwise declines to promote big government and the nanny state. Those women openly “hate” us, and we see no reason not to “hate” them back.

As for Mary Wollstonecraft, I’ve admired her courage in making her own way in a world of genuine discrimination against women, and also her insistence that women assume equal responsibilities if they wish to be treated as equals of men. Her zany advocacy of free love and anti-marriage rhetoric brought her much personal unhappiness, however, and of that I can’t approve. You can read my review for the Weekly Standard of Lyndall Gordon’s recent biography of Mary Wollstonecraft here (although you have to be a subscriber).