I've always been a fan of the Sword of Truth series, but looking back on the series, I came to a realization that (while almost certainly unintentional on Goodkind's part), adds a new dimension that the bashers might find interesting. As has been bandied about (and without getting into an argument about it), Richard's broad rationale for doing things like killing noncombatants is because they are either evil and deserve it, or are supporting evil by doing nothing to stop it. Then, we get Pillars Of Creation, and a good look at what makes Jagang tick, and it turns out... he has the exact same rationale. He's acting on very, very similar justification to Richard, except Jagang believes he answers to God rather than "moral clarity." While this won't erase the real Wall Banger moments, it makes Jagang and Richard Not So Different, and I think it puts a good spin on the whole thing. - Mr Death
The problem is, the bashersknow this; it's discussed on every chatroom where the Hate Dom gathers. That's one of the reasons we hate it: the author doesn't realize what he's written. Goodkind is perfectly fine with torture and random acts of killing and mind control, but only when Objectivists do it. Well, it's all for the (real) greater good, I guess.
I don't recall there was ever a time when the protagonists mind control anyone. But the torture I can glean as the aftermath of the death of one of my favorite characters, how would you feel if the person you loved was brutally murdered? Would you want justice served? I certainly would. I might not go as far as to torture someone, but it is war at that point in time in the books, and in wars, people die in horrible ways. It demoralizes the enemy. Psychological warfare is just as effective as physical warfare.
One of the protagonists is a Confessor, and bends people to her will by making them irreversibly fall in love with her ALL THE TIME. Not exactly mind control, but pretty much close enough to be considered splitting hairs.
And if you actually read the books, you'll notice that she's a complete pariah and hates doing it. How does that spell, "It's perfectly fine"?
That view has been mentioned in the first book when Richard was named Seeker. The problem with the sword is that it will only kill when the wielder thinks that person is a threat. It is also stated that "no army will go into the battlefield thinking that the Creator is on the enemy's side." So everyone thinks that they are right when going into battle, even if they are willing to do what they think is wrong for the purpose of their greater good.
Regarding the mind control, all Confessors have traditionally had complete freedom to mind control any men they want into being their sex slaves, even if those men are complete innocents who are already married. The Confessors are even permitted to install similar permanent mind control on anyone who gets in the way, such as a loved one who doesn't want the innocent man being mind controlled and raped. Yet the Confessors are still considered heroic, good, and wonderful by just about every sympathetic character, with Richard going on about how they ruled with a "benevolent" hand in the third book. That's just about as much of a portrayal of "perfectly fine" as it can get, short of having Kahlan actually do that in the story.
They could do it, that doesn't mean they did it all the time, or even frequently. And the Confessors are considered heroic, good, and wonderful largely by the main characters who have only ever met Kahlan, who's the last of them, and who is generally good and heroic. Everyone else considered them pariahs, and Kahlan herself mentions in several books that she's still surprised that anyone at all is ever happy to see her, since she grew up being shunned and hated. And from the evidence, they did rule with a benevolent hand, considering the Midlands was fairly stable until D'Hara and the Imperial Order came in. "Rule with a benevolent hand" doesn't, and can't, mean that you never do anything that anyone would ever object to, it means you keep the land prosperous and peaceful as much as you can, which will inevitably mean doing something that someone considers reprehensible as a necessity.
Except there is no necessity to confessing innocent men, aside from the Confessor wanting a hotter mate. They could all just take mates from among condemned criminals or enemies who were confessed in battle, and it's mentioned that some of them do that, but that doesn't change the fact that they are legally permitted to physically and mentally rape whoever they want when they choose a mate. An actually benevolent ruling body would prohibit this. As for Kahlan, while I agree that she definitely seems better than the average Confessor, remember that she was the very person who stated that Confessors have the right to take any man she wants and confess anyone who gets in the way, and Richard knows this, as he was the one she said that to. And Kahlan does some pretty morally questionable stuff herself.
The reason why Kahlan was Mother Confessor was because she was the most powerful one of them all. The reason why that is is because her mother specifically chose someone that was physically and mentally strong. This is also why Kahlan is such a capable fighter (and you'll note that Confessors were in permanent danger, even when D'Hara wasn't sending Quads after them). In other words, there is a necessity towards choosing the strongest partner: Ensuring that there would, in fact, be Confessors.
It's never stated that a physically or mentally stronger partner leads to a daughter who is a stronger confessor. Kahlan even states that the whole hierarchy-by-power is because, "the ones with the strongest power will bear daughters who have the best chance of having that stronger power," implying that a Confessor's power is solely tied to the mother (the Confessor) and not the father (the confessed). (Wizard's First Rule, Chapter 34.) In regards to being a capable fighter, training and exercise are much more important than having slightly better genes.
Kahlan does point out that her father was chosen not for his physical skill, but for his knowledge, which he taught to her.
There's no reason why the Confessor's father has to be knowledgeable, since knowledge isn't carried in the blood. They could have just ordered a general in the army or some other capable warrior to teach those kinds of things to Kahlan, no matter who her father was.
The first book makes a big deal out of how Richard believes he's on the right side, but so does Darken Rahl. Richard takes a long time to accept this. However, once he does, like Kahlan his approach to dealing with the enemy who stands on the opposite side of 'the line' is... messy.