On 24

"I Despise You for Making Me Do This"

By Brett Chandler Patterson

Imagine that terrorists have smuggled a nuclear bomb into an American city and that the bomb is set to explode in a few hours. Agents under your command have captured the mastermind and brought him to you for interrogation. As you walk into the room where the suspect is restrained, you are aware that the minutes are ticking by and that millions of lives are on the line. You approach the suspect, noting the grim resistance in his face. What do you do next? This compelling, yet nightmarish, scenario often arises in university ethics courses, where a safe distance gives time to reflect, but it also appears repeatedly on the television show 24, where viewers encounter these issues more viscerally. Most often it is Jack Bauer in these interrogation sequences, deciding that he must use torture to get the necessary information out of the person in question. Torture is just one among several violent tactics Jack Bauer has used to combat the chaos that terrorism threatens to unleash on our society. However, 24 emphasizes that Jack Bauer does not approach the use of violence eagerly or casually; he feels that he must do whatever is necessary to stop these large-scale threats, that his opponents have forced his hand and that he does not have any choice but to respond in kind. What toll does Jack pay, though, for taking such actions? Jack sacrifices much in his engagements with terrorists. There have been significant points, however, at which he has doubted  …

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