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Voting is the Act of an American

Erick Erickson this evening published a series of messages summarizing his stance on why voting for Donald Trump as the lesser of two evil is by no means compulsory for Christians. I must admit that in the past my previous conception of Erickson was more or less as a partisan hack. However in this election cycle he has been an unwavering pillar in the Never Trump movement. This has gained my attention. The below excerpt has earned my respect.

When I was working out my thoughts on non-voting in 2008, the idea seemed beyond the pale to many of my acquaintances. In 2016, given the preposterous choice set before the American public, non-voting is becoming more and more attractive to the general public. In particular it appeals to those conservative Christians who once felt comfortably at home in the GOP but now are alienated by the strongman who won that party's nomination.

Erickson is right in that pocket. In another message he cites his seminary education in the recent years has forced him to rank politics and religion, and we can see from the above which one came out on top.

Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton is a crisis for our republic, but a useful one. There have been many times throughout history when the faithful have worried about a friendly political status quo giving way. And yet the church persists. This is of course not to say that such epochal changes are without undesirable consequences. But part of the vocation of Christianity is courage.

Tolstoy documents American pacifism

I have commenced re-reading Leo Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You. I first read it four years ago. It was a challenging read. This book of Tolstoy's is primarily concerned with offering a defense of the Christian principle of non-resistance to evil (Matthew 5:39). Tolstoy's interpretation calls for absolute non-violence for Christians.

(He makes this theme so central to his Christianity, he ends up being a redaction critic, attributing almost anything "mystical" in the balance of the New Testament as being added to distract from the earl church's desire to distract from Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.)

In the first section of The Kingdom of God Is Within You, Tolstoy reacts to critics and supporters of his previous work (What I Believe). In doing so, he lists authors and movements pre-dating himself which held essentially the same viewpoints about non-resistance. What interests me is that the list is dominated by American institutions - the Quakers, the Mennonites, etc. Apparently in the late 19th century, the US was known for having a bunch of Christian denominations which were dedicated to peace.

This is not the case now. Many of those historical institutions have declined in relative prominence, and some of the same have softened their stances on non-violence. On the world's stage, American Christians are now probably best known for sanctioning state aggression. But I am proud to recount that we used to have something of a reputation for refusing the call to arms.

I will probably have several posts inspired by Tolstoy's work as I read through.

SBL new open access policy

Recently the Society of Biblical Literature informed its membership of a new "Green Open Access" policy for works published in SBL publications (including JBL):

This policy allows the author to post or archive a PDF file of the postprint manuscript in specified types of open-access locations—the author’s institutional repository (IR) and the author’s personal or institutional website—following an eighteen-month embargo from publication date. The complete article citation must be provided as specified by SBL.

So eventually the article can be made available if the author takes action. This is generally a move in the right direction. I think this would work better if the works were openly available from SBL itself, since that would provide a centralized, indexed, and searchable repository. As it stands, the articles would be fairly disparate.

In the full text of the policy [PDF] there is a great synopsis of the enduring importance of centralized academic publishers:

Academic, peer-reviewed publishing uniquely serves higher education by setting standards, vetting content and methodology, and disseminating research. Such publishing is also a means of professional development through credentialing for tenure and promotion. Consequently, academic publishers are an essential component of the higher education ecology.

In spite of the power of internet technologies for self-publishing, JBL and similar journals still serve an important purpose. But following is where I disagree with the SBL:

In order to foster biblical scholarship and scholarly communication, the Society of Biblical Literature allows specific and reasonable dissemination of the results of scholarly research published within its books and journals.

Contrary to the terms of this new "open access policy," the reasonable dissemination of scholarship would involve providing immediate open access to the works, preferably under a permissive license. After all, how better could SBL serve the biblical studies ecosystem than by releasing the results of research to everyone? It could only improve the scholarly dialogue.

I suspect the only reason for closed access is so that SBL can monetize the articles by using restrictive copyright licenses. The selection of candidate articles, peer-review process, editing, and type-setting cost money, after all. However I think it would be best to cover those expenses up-front. I would like to imagine that my SBL dues and JBL subscription fee would be enough to cover these expenses. If they are not, I would be willing to pay more, if it meant that the articles published in JBL had unqualified open access.

This is definitely a positive development, so I hesitate to criticize this fresh policy change. But I think SBL needs to keep moving in the direction of freely-accessible content, for the good of all.

More momentum for freely-licensed Bible texts

Just a couple of quick notes:

As I have found processing the text of Bible versions, versification is no simple task. What happens when you have verses labeled "3/4" or "5c" or simply null, as a inter-verse portion of a chapter (all these examples from Rahfl's Septuagint). BibleOrgSysis Rob Hunt's "attempt to develop a system that is multilingual, multinational, and multicultural from the beginning—to pull all of these various Bible organisational systems into one place." The project was first announced in 2011, but it is still actively being worked on now. From the looks of the code, he's adding extensions for Drupal and other systems. Great news.

In another corner of the web, Stephan Kreutzer of Freie Bibel explains the importance of free software and free culture licensing for Bible texts. Stephan is working on contributing to the ecosystem of free software tools which can be used to proofread and edit digitized texts.

Very encouraging!

Dorner as the paragon of our violent culture

A cop who feels he was wrongly fired to cover up brutality in the LAPD goes on a murderous rampage, targeting cops and their loved ones in an act of revenge and to bring light to the corruption of the force. Sounds like a Hollywood plot, right? It is of course the true story of Christopher Dorner, which played out dramatically in the media earlier this month.

But in a way it is a Hollywood plot. A one-man army going outside the law to seek justice is a common trope in action flicks, and Dorner's saga generated comparisons with Rambo and Falling Down, among others, in the media. He was the so-called "chaotic good" agent, doing what was necessary to confront the corrupt powers-that-be. So it was a tragedy that was almost bound to happen due to how our culture celebrates violence.

Clearly the LAPD and big-city police forces in general have an image problem. When the public was exposed to Dorner's claim that he was fired in retaliation for reporting policy brutality, it was widely accepted as probable. People were commenting that for once, the madman's manifesto actually made some sense.

In the course of the manhunt police lived up to the caricature, twice shooting at innocent people who happened to be driving pickup trucks, and deploying their increasingly-militarized arsenal against Dorner, including aerial drones. In the inevitable final shoot-out, Dorner took his own life rather than suffer the flames ignited by the police's incendiary grenades.

With Dorner appealing to cultural hero narratives and the police fulfilling a cartoonish expectation of brutality, it was no surprise that we started seeing the following headline: "Dorner has supporters in social media." That is, many people had come to root for Dorner and were expressing those sentiments in public on the internet. Now some people I think were just expressing sympathy for Dorner's firing, saying that they find his totally-believable story to be credible. But still others seemed to support the rampage itself.

Dorner was the worst sort of criminal - a cold-blooded killer. His attacks targeted not only police officers, but their family members as well. So there should be no respect for his actions, whatsoever. To me it is insane to think that a shooting rampage is a just protest against policy brutality. I know many, if not most people in the US would agree with that.

Yet in our culture, violence is portrayed as the ultimate embodiment of justice. In Hollywood works, and law enforcement, and politics, and foreign policy, it is the redemptive force which brings about good in the end. In so many cases it is the climactic gunshot or fist fight or cruise missile which wraps the story and gives closure to the plot.

So when the socially legitimate violence of the police is undermined, I am not surprised that some people would view Dorner's violence as justified. After all, violence is necessary to achieve good, and if the police are abusing it, somebody should set things right with a gun, right?

Of course not. Escalating police violence is a real problem in this country. We need to decrease the militarized nature of the police, lower overall violence, and increase consequences for the improper use of force. But those need to be achieved through peaceful and lawful means, not through a psychotic rampage. If Dorner has any legacy, it should be to show that our culture is too sympathetic to violence, and that this needs to be corrected.

Hungry for violence

Today my wife and I viewed the film version of The Hunger Games, first in a popular trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins. The premise is quite disturbing - outlying territories of a future North American empire are forced to offer up 12-through-18-year-old children as "tributes" to fight to the death in an arena. This is continuing punishment for the territories' past rebellion. And the entire twisted affair is broadcast for the delight of the imperial society. It is the Roman gladiatorial games meets reality television, or perhaps a sick twist on The Truman Show.

My desire for the characters to survive without being corrupted by their situation drives my appreciation of this story. I recommend it, in spite of it being tough to read and watch. What makes the story most wrenching for me is that this hopeless, senseless bloodbath is perpetrated by children against children. Both in reading the book and watching the film, I felt a sense of dread as the prospect of such violence neared. I think most adults (especially parents!) feel similarly.

However "young adult" children are the target audience both of the books and the movie. I fear that the maturity of some may be lacking to understand the significance of the story. Case in point: I heard a few laughs burst from high-school-aged boys in the theater during some of the brutal killings depicted in the film.

Now do not get the impression that I am wholly opposed to the depiction of violence in the arts. I think at times it is necessary to tell a certain story, or convey a poignant message to the audience. Yet the default purpose of violence in media is entertainment, or worse: glorification.

We as a society are sensitive to violence in the media, though it can be somewhat confused. This past week I saw dueling headlines, some questioning whether The Hunger Games was too violent for its target audience, others alleging that fans may be upset because toned-down violence in the film lacks fidelity with the book.

I find no wonder that our society has these confused views on violence. After all, the same nation which celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day also celebrates numerous military holidays. Shocked by the concept of sending eighteen-year-olds to kill sixteen-year-olds? The same could be a characterization of our battles against the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Polite company may hem and haw at children playing violent video games or seeing depictions of war in film, but they constantly inform them of the necessity of such violence.

A fitting distillation of this contradiction is embodied in a hallway in the Portland VA Medical Center which hails the service of noteworthy underage military personnel. "Sorry son, you're too young to enlist, so just go play America's Army for now. But if you do manage to sneak in, we're going to make a star out of you." See? Confusion.

The Trayvon Martin scandal provides another opportunity to consider our nation's attitudes towards violence. I will focus here not on the case itself, but on the so-called "stand your ground" laws which came to my attention as a result. To quote the relevant portion of the pertinent Florida law:

a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony;

I am of course no legal expert, but these laws (which are on the books in twenty of these United States) seem to legalize dueling. I am only half joking about that. Deadly violence becomes the legally-justified first resort for those in conflict, and they need only claim their lives felt threatened to avoid judicial scrutiny.

I'll offer an alternative vision of "stand your ground:"

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well. And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, give him your coat also. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you.

At a crucial point in The Hunger Games, the heroine perpetrates a crucial act of non-resistance with a fellow tribute. In so doing she defies and enrages the powers that be, which is the catalyst for the next phase of the story. We as Christians must strive to "stand our ground" and eschew violence. In this we challenge the prominence of violence in our present society and hopefully prevent the downfall into the depraved society depicted in the film.

Christianity and Trademark

Well this has probably happened before, but it is going to be amplified when it is a high-profile church like Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill (TM):

We’re not the only church called Mars Hill, and occasionally there arises confusion between us and other churches that share the “Mars Hill” name, particularly as we now have our churches in four states. This was the case recently when one of our members called us to find out if we had planted Mars Hill churches in the Sacramento, California area. We had not, but when we went to these churches’ websites, it was obvious to us how people could be confused. Each of these three connected churches in the Sacramento region—planted in 2006, 2007, and 2010—bore the “Mars Hill” name and their logo was substantially similar to the logo we’ve used since 1996.

When cases like this arise in the business world, it’s customary for a law office to send a notice asking the other organization to adjust their branding to differentiate it. This is commonly referred to as a cease and desist letter. On September 27, 2011, our legal counsel sent such a letter to these three Mars Hill churches requesting that they change their logo and name. In hindsight, we realize now that the way we went about raising our concerns, while acceptable in the business world, is not the way we should deal with fellow Christians. On Friday we spoke with the pastor of Mars Hill in Sacramento to apologize for the way we went about this.

There is more to the post at the above link. Traditional denominations have hundreds of namespace collisions, since most churches are named for saints, or have other predictable names (e.g. "First Baptist Church", or "Holy Trinity"). As a commenter on another blog points out, this seems to be the result of the "multi-site" era, where the same name is supposed to represent the same institution in all locations. I wonder if the Vineyard or Calvary Chapel movements ever ran into this problem.

Oddly enough, there is already another high-profile "Mars Hill" church in Michigan (run by Rob Bell). May the church with the best lawyers win!

German Bible Society hosts free* online works

I am not sure when this started, but the German Bible Society now hosts online versions of several of its texts. This includes:

  • Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
  • Novum Testamentum Graece (ed. Nestle-Aland), 27th Edition
  • Septuagint (ed. Rahlfs/Hanhart)
  • Vulgate
  • The Luther Bible, 1984 edition
  • The NET Bible

Those last two are not published by GBS but are included anyway. None of the texts appear to include the related text-critical apparatus. They do not appear to have published an API for accessing these texts from other applications.

Finally BHS and NA27 have official online homes. That is good. However the German Bible Society continues to assert copyright over the ancient texts of the Church:

Terms of Use

The online use of all Bibles on this website is free of charge. By using the clipboard you may copy individual texts and paste them into other applications.

However, the complete download of the text is not allowed, nor is it legally licensed. Without the proper written permissions of the rightful owners every other publication of the text, as well as its integration into other materials, is completely forbidden.

As I have stated before, I am of the (legally ignorant) opinion that ancient texts should not be copyrightable. This goes for eclectic editions as well. The only aspect of these texts which could perhaps be copyrightable are the textual apparatuses, but these are fast becoming irrelevant in the computer age.

It is farcical for the German Bible Society to claim to be the "rightful owners" of the Greek New Testament, the Hebrew Bible, the Seputagint, or the Vulgate. Thank you GBS for your continuing work in editing and publishing these editions, but that does not make you the "owners."

The "rightful owners" of these texts are of course their authors and the church. I attempted to contact the biblical authors, the Septuagint translators, Jerome, and Martin Luther for express written permission to redistribute their work, but they are sadly unreachable.

(If you would like to use the NET Bible, I'd recommend the official web app, which has a better user interface than what GBS provides.  You can also download the full text for non-commercial purposes.)

Reasonable doubts about capital punishment

If you have not seen it already, see this exchange from a recent 2012 Republican presidential candidate debate:

(Texas Governor Rick Perry is questioned about the 234 executions which have occurred under his watch and the crowd applauds).

We cannot be very surprised by the audience's support for Perry on this issue, though I think it took an odd form as applause. Capital punishment has fairly significant popular support in the United States. Some states allow it, and some don't. Of those who allow it, some do not really actively execute death-row inmates. But Texas is the king of the death penalty.

The US finds itself in league with some strange partners in the use of capital punishment. We find ourselves in the company of North Korea, Libya, Zimbabwe, China, Iraq, and Iran. None of our traditional allies in Europe or Canada practice it, and many of the countries we regard as the most despicable do.

I know that the Declaration of Independence is not a binding legal document for the US. Still, it is the statement of the spirit of our republic, and many politicians invoke it. So I wonder how it could be true that "Life" is an "unalienable Right" where capital punishment is practiced. Let me be clear: I am not trying to portray the death penalty as a departure from our idealistic roots. The founders supported capital punishment in various forms. So there is some form of ideological hypocrisy there. Mostly I just want Americans to consider how the God-given, unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness relate to our current criminal justice system.

I found Perry's phrasing here interesting: "the ultimate justice." The word I was expected was "punishment," not "justice." I think it is useful to maintain a distinction between justice and punishment in our rhetoric. If the death penalty is carried out in error, it is the ultimate injustice. Rick Perry does not express doubts about 234 convictions, but I find it hard to believe that every single one of those condemned was truly guilty. That's a level of accuracy that is hard for humans to achieve in even the simplest matters.

Christianity has a mixed witness on capital punishment. I do not feel I can make an authoritative appeal to scripture or tradition one way or the other. So when I address the death penalty, I typically do so from the standpoint of reasonable doubt. I believe that the burden of proof for capital punishment should be higher than what can be delivered by our legal system. In other words, I never trust a judge and jury to get it right when the stakes are so high. We cannot afford to get it wrong.

I am surprised that more people do not distrust the government to make a life and death decision. So many people who are otherwise skeptical of government competence are supportive of an irreversible punishment. I think that is because most people never have to consider the possibility of a wrongful execution for themselves or their loved ones. But then cases like Troy Davis come along, and the media attention raised by them may help people to at least think about the issue.

Making a living from Christian scholarship

On one of my Christianity and Copyright posts I received the following comment:

I’d love to hear you talk about the ways in which someone who uses a CC license and makes it their occupation to produce scholarly work can make a living.

Allow me to begin with some caveats. First, I am by no means an expert at earning money through Creative Commons publishing. Second, I am not an occupational scholar and I do not really know how a living can be made by producing scholarly works.

My go-to answer would be to use a Creative Commons license with a non-commercial clause. This way you the copyright holder can grant an exclusive license for commercial sale to a publisher and thereby earn a share of the profits. O'Reilly Media is an example of a real-world company using this model: many of the books they publish are available as free downloads from the authors. The only thing being sold is the physical copy of the book. There are probably other examples as well. I must re-iterate that I do not really know anything of the economics of this, so I am not sure if it can earn a family wage.

Another model for funding scholars would be the patronage model. Here a scholar would make the case to the Christian community for the benefit of the scholarly work he or she will produce (whether Bible translation, lexicon, etc.). If the case is convincing, people may pay up-front to fund the scholar's work. If Christians had to raise funds for scholarship which would become freely-licensed for the benefit of all, we might find that a lot fewer scholarly works get produced. However this would be a good approach in my opinion, since it aligns the work of Christian scholarship with the needs of the church (and not the capitalistic logic of the market).

I wonder about the person who makes it their occupation to produce scholarly works and thereby makes a living. Does such a scholar exist? Virtually all of the publishing scholars I am aware of hold faculty positions at colleges and universities, and presumably that is how they earn their living. Any scholarship they produce is in the course of or in addition to their didactic duties. Perhaps a few of the most outstanding scholars earn a living merely by publishing, but I do not think that is the norm.

So maybe it is not possible for someone who uses a CC license to earn a living as a Christian scholar because it is very difficult to do so in any case.

SBL Greek Language and Linguistics opening up

Via Mike Aubrey, some very good news from Randall Tan and Cynthia Westfall, co-chairs of the SBL Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics section:

Starting with 2011, we are strongly encouraging all presenters to make available on our website any content from their presentations at [SBL Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics] sessions that they are willing to make public for distribution. This information can be submitted both before & after presentation at SBL. This content can be extended abstracts/summaries (beyond what has previously been submitted to the SBL program book), handouts, PowerPoint presentations, links to online content from presenters’ own websites/blogs, etc., up to & including full papers.

Sharing data, papers, and presentations about biblical studies is a good thing. There is little doubt that this website will become an important resource in short order. I am glad to see SBL embracing the importance of centralizing and sharing this information. There is nothing about licensee standardization so it seems they will take anything. Hopefully we'll see a lot of Creative Commons licensed work posted.

Christianity and Copyright (4): The future is bright

There are practical and ethical problems with using copyright law to restrict the copying and distribution of the Bible and other Christian texts, study materials, and music. This mode of financing is still predominant among Bible publishers. However, I am much more optimistic now than I was when I first started writing about this issue in 2008. There have been a lot of positive developments, and I believe that the momentum in Bible punishment is behind permissively-licensed texts. This is good for everyone.

Our story begins with the venerable NET Bible, which has actually been around for quite a while. The NET's licensing terms are somewhat restrictive and confusing, but were nonetheless a far sight more permissive than anything else available at the time of its release. The NET Bible was a bold and deliberate step in the right direction, and it is no accident that it coincided with the rise of the world wide web. From the preface:

We don’t like the copyright notice on the second page of the NET Bible, but we don’t yet know the best way to fix it. The reason for this dilemma is that we stand at the beginning of a new era made possible by the Internet. New approaches to ministry, publishing, distribution, and collaboration are made possible by the Internet. When the first Bibles and books began to be printed rather than copied by hand, new issues emerged (plagiarism, author’s rights, freedom of the press versus censorship, copyright laws, etc.). It is now time to recognize that the copyright and permissions conventions carried over from printed books must now be upgraded for the Internet age.

I believe it is fair to say that since the time that preface was written, the new era of online copyright licenses pined for has come about. There is a lot more infrastructure to support freely-licensed works in the internet age.

While the NET Bible got the ball rolling, other Bible resources have been building momentum of late. Logos Bible Software has published the Lexham English Bible and the Society of Biblical Literature Greek New Testament (SBLGNT) under fairly permissive licenses. I do have some minor gripes about these licenses, but I find the SBLGNT development particularly encouraging given the frustrating history of copyright issues surrounding modern eclectic editions of the Greek New Testament.

Even in cases where texts have a more traditional licenses (and by traditional I mean "similar to the NIV") there have been positive developments. Many publishers are permitting or creating their own excellent web interfaces to their texts, so that anyone with an internet connection can read them on demand. Furthermore some have created public APIs, making it so their texts can be integrated into third-party applications. The ESV is a pioneer in this regard.

Yes, now is an exciting time for Christianity and Copyright, but there is still more progress to be made. On the whole, I'd like to see these efforts toward more permissive licensing and accessibility become more unified and standardized. To that end I have previously suggested that content publishers ought to use the already-established Creative Commons suite of licenses. There is no point in recreating the wheel, and I am skeptical that the terms of all these custom licenses are truly necessary. Using a standard group of easily-understood licenses makes it easier for people to understand how they can make use of the work.

In the realm of online applications and interoperability, I'd like to see more moves toward a standard data interchange format as well as a common API for accessing Bible data on the web. This will make newly-liberated texts easier to make use of in modern technologies. Work is already being done on this front, and I believe it will come to fruition.

Additionally I would like to see this spirit of openness spread to other works of Christian scholarship and culture. Worship music, academic texts, journal articles, devotionals, and the like should be freely licensed just like the Bible. It it is not a big stretch to apply the same arguments I put forth concerning the scriptures to other matters of Christian culture.

I am quite optimistic about Christianity and Copyright. The current legacy of restrictive copyrights results mostly from publisher-financed translation and fear of change. Christians intrinsically agree that the Bible should be freely-licensed. The only reason restriction has been tolerated is to raise funds, but that is no longer necessary. We are at a temporary impasse, and I think the age of limited quotation to 250 verses will be only a brief memory in the history of the church.

There is yet a lot of work to do. Anyone can help out, by petitioning copyright holders to change their licenses, by licensing their own work permissively, and by participating in projects which make sharing of the scriptures easier. By creating new works and pressuring the rights holders of existing works to change their stance, it will not be long until there is a very fertile ecosystem of freely-licensed Bibles and other Christian works. That is a time to which I am looking forward.

Christians must end torture

Jesus of Nazareth was tortured and executed by the state. We as Christians call this to mind each Good Friday. As American Christians, our government is the world's leading purveyor of violence, and it has enshrined torture in law. We must therefore look state violence and torture in the mirror.

When reading John's gospel, there is a striking similarity between Jesus' treatment at the hands of the Roman garrison and the treatment of US prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Jesus would not provide satisfactory answer Pilate's questions, so the governor turned him over to physical abuse, torment, and humiliation. Our government and military have done the same for "unlawful combatants" and terrorism suspects. Not all of them are innocent, but some (like Jesus) are. None of them deserve unilateral punitive treatment. Either they are prisoners of war (and the subjects of the Geneva conventions) or they are accused criminals, and innocent until justly proven guilty. However Pilate and our own leaders opt for the cruel path, because it is easier to achieve their goals with lower standards.

Pilate's decision to castigate and execute Jesus was based on the same political exigencies which guide our government's decisions to do the same: security. Pilate feared a violent riot (or even insurrection) and slander against his loyalty to the emperor; America fears appearing weak against terrorism and is quashing an insurrection in occupied countries. I do not think that we can claim that America has an agenda morally superior to Rome when it comes to torture.

What as American Christians do we have to say about the actions of our government? Can we endorse the prerogatives of state which brought about the execution of our savior? Do we mete out the same punishments as were carried out on Jesus? No. We must protest. We must work to end torture on our behalf.