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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is a film critic for The New York Post and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review. Find an alphabetical listing of The New York Post's recent film reviews here.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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  • « Lincoln Was No Saint Either | Home | Sundance’s Biggest Hits »

    “Saluting Kyle Smith”

    By Kyle | January 20, 2013

    Over at Hollywood Elsewhere, lefty writer Jeffrey Wells agrees with my Lincoln piece and even calls it “wise.” (Before he read it, he Tweeted that it was a “screed.” Helps to know what you’re talking about, but apology accepted.) There’s a lively discussion in the blogs, much of it along “Kyle Smith is horrible” lines.

    Well. I don’t think any procedure that journalists would undertake on a lark, such as waterboarding, can possibly be considered torture. Some disagree. But my position is hardly an extreme one. At the height of the hysteria, in 2009 when Obama was going to clean up all messes, 50 percent of Americans said they approved of waterboarding. I suspect that number will go up after “Zero Dark Thirty” has been widely seen. (Though most Americans said they thought waterboarding to be torture, which strikes me as an untenable position — if I thought it was torture, I wouldn’t condone it.)

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    14 Responses to ““Saluting Kyle Smith””

    1. kishke Says:
      January 20th, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      You wouldn’t condone it, but others might. It’s a serious question: Should torture of terrorists be allowed where it might save many innocent lives? There’s plenty of room for argument, which means it’s not an untenable position.

    2. Jules Brouwer Says:
      January 21st, 2013 at 8:24 am

      “There’s a lively discussion in the blogs, much of it along “Kyle Smith is horrible” lines.”

      Not horrible, merely misunderstood.

    3. CHNYCREALTY Says:
      January 21st, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Haven’t read your piece yet. But journalists enduring it can control its discontinuance. Plenty of people, I am horrified to realize, are into S&M sex. But would they also be into being captured and chained to a bed with a rapist in a leather mask violently raping them when they have no choice and no hope for salvation?

      So; briefly, bad analogy. I think it’s torture but among the least painful and permanent and it would seem still most effective. I’m not sure I see anything hypocritical about doing it if we admit we do it, under what circumstances, and why. Quibbling over it’s categorization torture or some other term is then just academic. We could even say the only torture we do rarely is that because in those cases we deem it just and so should any reasonable person and our enemies are doing far worse in far more unjust circumstances. We are fighting for our survival, human beings, not saints.

      If the situation is dire enough and the likelihood of success high enough, I believe in waterboarding. Secretly, I think everyone does.

    4. Yankeefan Says:
      January 21st, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      I think the best defense and explanation came from Bigelow herself:

      http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-0116-bigelow-zero-dark-thirty-20130116,0,5937785.story

    5. kishke Says:
      January 21st, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Bigelow makes good points. If depiction were endorsement, I would expect to hear the left raising the roof about Django and a million other films, which they have not done. I suspect that what’s really upsetting the critics is that the supposed torture worked. What’s more, they’ve been crowing about how Obama did the job with regard to Bin Laden, and they don’t want to be reminded about how the job got done.

      It’s clear from what she wrote that she does consider waterboarding torture. I wonder whether she really believes that or feels obligated to say it.

    6. Jules Brouwer Says:
      January 22nd, 2013 at 5:57 am

      My post has been waiting moderation for days. Perhaps Kyle really is ‘horrible.’

    7. yankeefan Says:
      January 22nd, 2013 at 10:52 am

      Kishke, I would take the commentariat — liberal and conservative — out of the debate entirely. No one knows what they’re talking about on this issue (nor do I), and everyone is simply, and predictably, grinding their pre-determined political axe.

      Look instead to people *within* the intel community, who are having a very lively ongoing debate about the efficacy of torture, even as it relates to the killing of OBL. There’s nothing close to a consensus on this. And whether waterboarding is torture is a matter determined by law and convention, not bloggy commentary.

    8. yankeefan Says:
      January 22nd, 2013 at 10:56 am

      BTW, I think ZD30 is a superb picture, far and away one of the best in recent memory. Most of the criticism of Bigelow and Boals has come from intel experts who said they represented one side of the “enhanced interrogation” debate. I think it’s possible to love this picture and also be entirely open to that side of the discussion.

    9. Jules Brouwer Says:
      January 23rd, 2013 at 8:19 am

      And my post is still awaiting moderation…

      Wake up, Kyle!

    10. Obama bin Biden Says:
      January 24th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Kyle isn’t horrible; haughty, maybe…but not horrible.

    11. Kyle Says:
      January 24th, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Sorry, Jules….was very busy at Sundance all week. Barely had time to eat.

    12. Andrew B Says:
      January 24th, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      Kyle, remember what Christopher Hitchens said on torture?

      He adamantly held for years the position that waterboarding wasn’t torture, until someone proposed Hitchens himself get waterboarded.

      Hitch lasted 11 seconds - for the rest of his life he held the new position that waterboarding is, without a doubt, an act of torture.

      And if you torture someone for long enough they’ll tell you that the moon landing was staged - that doesn’t mean what they say is true.

    13. Kyle Says:
      January 24th, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      I’m aware of that. As for your final point, it’s a deeply silly one. You don’t waterboard someone in order to coerce a confession. You seek verifiable information that can be pursued or compared with what came from other sources (as in Zero Dark Thirty, when the Maya figure learns of the existence of the courier from a waterboardee then starts investigating).

    14. Jules Brouwer Says:
      January 25th, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Finally!

      I saw Zero Dark Thirty at a BAFTA screening several months ago. Though I enjoyed it on the whole, I found the first half an hour very boring.

      I preferred it to the Hurt Locker though, which I found to be over-rated.

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