Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 3:45 PM
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) never runs out of ideas to promote it’s a rat, is a pig, is a dog, is a boy, agenda. Now, it wants the publishers of a new translation of the Bible to personalize animals. From the story:
Animal activists say the Bible needs to be more considerate of God’s furry friends. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has asked the Committee on Bible Translation to update the New International Version Bible to include more animal-friendly language, according to CNN. In a letter to translators, the group called the Bible’s current text “speciesist” and requested that pronouns like “he” and “she” be used instead of “it” when referring to animals…“Language matters,” Friedrich told CNN. “Calling an animal ‘it’ denies them something. They are beloved by God. They glorify God.”
The letter requests that animals be referred to as “who,” instead of “which,” just as people are. But of course, this seeks to promote PETA’s goal of eradicating the moral boundaries between the moral worth of people and that of animals.
PETA doesn’t care that the Bible is about the relationship between humans and God, not between God and animals. Indeed, in the Bible, humans are given dominion over the animals, God established animal sacrifice, abandoned by Christians (and eventually by Jews after the destruction of the Temple). Moreover Jesus explicitly states that humans have greater value than animals–denied by PETA’s animal rights ideology. He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on a colt–an action deemed abuse by PETA. As an observant Jew, Jesus’s Last Supper was lamb.
PETA will never accept human exceptionalist parts of scripture as having any sway. The committee should similarly ignore PETA’s suggested rewrite to remake the faith in PETA’s misanthropic image.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 2:10 PM
I have a piece up at The Corner that I think is worth pondering. Last Sunday, the NYT published an op/ed by a condemned prisoner named Christian Longo, who viciously murdered his entire family, claiming he was so filled with remorse over his crimes that he wanted to be executed and donate his organs as a form of redemption. I argued at Secondhand Smoke that such a policy would be a bad idea. I mean, do we really want society to have a utilitarian stake in executing prisoners?
But that’s not why I post here at First Thoughts. I noticed that in his “grief” he had failed to even mention the names of his dead wife and children. So I decided to do so on my blog. A quick Web search unexpectedly disclosed a bizarre post-murder history that I think readers of the NYT were entitled to know in judging Longo’s credibility and motives. Here’s the link for anyone interested in learning more.
Thursday, March 3, 2011, 1:47 PM
Over at Secondhand Smoke, I posted a small comment about a controversy in the UK involving a restaurant that is going to serve ice cream made from human milk. I worried that this was a telling incident about the hedonistic and vulgar times in which we live, writing:
Hedonism is not just sensuality, but the notion that we should be able to scratch every itch, indulge every impulse, feed every appetite, and break most behavior boundaries–in short, decadence.
That has led to a robust discussion about whether we can even define propriety in culture. If you are so inclined, come on over and participate.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 7:36 PM
About ten years ago, Peter Singer praised a pornographic book about bestiality, and he was widely condemned. Now, a new novel is out that contains graphic depictions of sexual intercourse between a woman and a chimpanzee, and it is receiving positive reviews in mainstream newspapers. This is a disturbing sign of the continuing slip-sliding away of our culture, and a subversive assault on human exceptionalism.
Details and analysis–but no graphic quotes–over at Secondhand Smoke.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 1:28 PM
Over at Secondhand Smoke, I take some time to summarize and analyze yesterday’s big ruling in Florida voiding Obamacare as unconstitutional. But I think something more needs to be written here, as well as at SHS. The Administration is apparently stating that since Judge Vinson did not issue a formal injunction, they can continue to implement the law. Not true. From my conclusion:
Read the following carefully. You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that the administration is prevented by the court’s ruling from further implementing the law. This comes at page 75 (my emphasis):
The last issue to be resolved is the plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief enjoining implementation of the Act, which can be disposed of very quickly. Injunctive relief is an “extraordinary” [Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305, 312, 102 S. Ct. 1798, 72 L. Ed. 2d 91 (1982)], and “drastic” remedy… It is even more so when the party to be enjoined is the federal government, for there is a long-standing presumption “that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction.” See Comm. on Judiciary of U.S. House of Representatives v. Miers, 542 F.3d 909, 911 (D.C. Cir. 2008); accord Sanchez-Espinoza v. Reagan, 770 F.2d 202, 208 n.8 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (“declaratory judgment is, in a context such as this where federal officers are defendants, the practical equivalent of specific relief such as an injunction . . . since it must be presumed that federal officers will adhere to the law as declared by the court”)…There is no reason to conclude that this presumption should not apply here.
That means that under the ruling, the law is void and cannot be implemented from this point forward. The Administration’s legal remedy is to seek a stay of the ruling pending appeal. It cannot just defy a federal court ruling. If it tries, the plaintiffs should go to court for the injunction and/or seek an order of contempt against the administration. Pretending that the ruling doesn’t change anything when it unequivocally does, would be both a petulant and extra legal approach to governance.
Update: This story notes that the law would be unenforceable–absent a stay–only within the geographical boundaries of Judge Vinson’s jurisdiction–and that the law could be enforced in other areas, for example, where the law was upheld. That could be right. It’s complicated. The entire appeals process should be fast-tracked to the Supremes.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 12:49 PM
I have been fighting against euthanasia since 1992. All that time, I have been waiting for patient killing to be coupled with organ harvesting. Now it has–in Belgium. Doctors have even taken to the road to promote the idea.
From the story:
A group of Belgian doctors are harvesting “high quality” organs from patients who have been euthanased. This is not a secret project, but one which they described openly at a conference organised by the Belgian Royal Medical Academy in December. In a PowerPoint presentation, Dirk Ysebaert, Dirk Van Raemdonck, Michel Meurisse, of the University Hospitals Of Antwerp, Leuven And Liège, showed that about 20% of the 705 people who died through euthanasia (officially) in 2008 were suffering from neuromuscular disorders whose organs are relatively high quality for transplanting to other patients. This represents a useful pool of organs which could help to remedy a shortage of organs in Belgium (as everywhere else).
I can think of few more dangerous activities then to convince people with disabilities–and society–that their deaths have greater value than their lives.
Friday, January 21, 2011, 1:23 PM
The nation was shocked at the arrest of a Philadelphia doctor and staff members for the murder of babies who were allegedly born via induced premature delivery, and then killed. The clinic also did late term abortions, including after viability.
Over at Secondhand Smoke, I ask an important question: How is what happened in Philadelphia morally different than what Peter Singer’s values would allow? (Peter Singer is the (in)famous Princeton bioethics professor who argues that a newborn infant is not a person, and thus can be killed in some circumstances.)
I extensively quote Singer on the issues of infanticide and late term abortion. Here is my answer:
Recapping: Singer supports late term abortion if the the reason to kill is “good,” which, considering his example cited [gender balancing a family], is a very low standard indeed. He strongly implies that a full term fetus has greater moral worth than a prematurely born baby. Besides, we are repeatedly told we have no right to judge a woman’s reasons. So, to answer my own question, other than technical issues of clinical procedures and sanitary methods, I can’t think of a single reason Singer’s values would not permit a “professionally” operated abortion/infanticide abattoir. And that should tell us all we need to know about Peter Singer’s values.
If you want details, hit the above link.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 1:17 PM
Jack Kevorkian, who assisted the suicide of at least 130 people–mostly depressed people with disabilities, is having a splendid post prison career. He receives $50,000 a speech, he was portrayed by Al Pacino in a puff biopic that won an Emmy. And he is now a public speaker who demands up to $50,000 a speech.
On the 15th, he will be speaking at UCLA–I am sure for a hefty fee. And this is how the murderer is described. From the press release for “An Evening With Jack Kevorkian:”
Los Angeles, CA – Dr. Jack Kevorkian, one of America’s most prominent physicians, and widely considered a leading expert on Euthanasia, will be the guest of honor at a lecture at University of California, Los Angeles’s Royce Hall on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM…
He is also called “a world renowned pathologist.” He was no such thing during his medical career. He blazed no trails. He developed no new techniques. Until he began making headlines, he had made few ripples.
What is amazing–and truly appalling–is that the facts about K don’t matter a whit any more. But I feel obliged to keep important facts about Kevorkian in the public sphere in case anybody wishes to restore sanity about whom we laud in public life. Anyone interested in learning about the “real” Jack Kevorkian, please attend at Secondhand Smoke.
Friday, January 7, 2011, 12:27 PM
Pro-choicers say they want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. But we will see whether major pro choice organizations react to the awful statistic that 39 percent of pregnancies in NYC result in induced abortion. From the story:
In 2009, there were 225,667 pregnancies in the City with 126,774 resulting in live births and 87,273 resulting in abortions.
Abortion is not a morally neutral act, it stops a beating heart, as the old pro life advocacy slogan has it. And such a hedonistic indifference to the reality of destroying a gestating human being impacts the morality of society overall by subverting the perceived importance of human life and the duty to properly control one’s behavior and its consequences. In other words, I think it is our business.
More analysis over at Secondhand Smoke.
Monday, December 27, 2010, 11:46 AM
Reproduction, we are now told, is a fundamental right. That sounds good. We don’t want government preventing people from having children.
But under this theory, the right to reproduce has become more than just the right to have children. Women who don’t want their babies can abort–multiple times if they want, as many do. Couples–even if fertile–use IVF not just to have a baby, but the baby they want using techniques such on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Research is ongoing to permit more than two people to be biologically related to the child. Women who don’t want to carry their own babies can hire a surrogate uterus. In this regard, biological colonialism uses destitute women in countries like India and Pakistan as so many brood mares. Some say that reproductive cloning should be a right once it is “safe.” All of this moves having babies from (ideally) an act of selflessness and unconditional love to one focused almost wholly on the desires of parents and what they want from a baby.
And now, we learn that some women are planning premature birth–not because of health reasons, but convenience. From the story:
Monday, December 13, 2010, 2:30 PM
I have read Judge Henry E. Hudson’s 42-page ruling invalidating the individual purchase mandate of Obamacare. In a nutshell, Judge Hudson ruled:
- That the individual purchase mandate (“Minimum Essential Coverage Provision”) is an unprecedented stretch of government power, in his words, it “extends the Commerce Clause powers beyond its current high water mark.”
- Further, that the justification must come from Congress’s enumerated Commerce Clause power to regulate economic activities.
- But the law exceeds the enumerated powers of the Commerce Clause.
- The Congress’s efforts to bootstrap authority with findings and conclusions do not, in effect, amend the constitution (my words) to increase governmental power in this sphere.
- The fines for not purchasing insurance are a penalty and not a tax, and the general power of the government to tax is not applicable to the IPM.
- The individual purchase mandate is therefore, unconstitutional.
- The unconstitutional part of the law will be severed from the rest, so that Obamacare remains in effect.
- No injunction was issued because the unconstitutional part of the law does not take effect until 2014.
More analysis with quotes from the ruling over at Secondhand Smoke.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 1:16 PM
Peter Singer claimed at a Princeton symposium about abortion that public policy might not be able to reflect it, but in his view, children don’t achieve full moral status until after two years, which is how long it takes to develop into full personhood. From my transcription of Panel II on 10/15/10 (press “Event Videos,” 20101015-panel two, to link to access streamed session) :
Q (beginning at 1:25:22): When discussing at which point after birth we would give full moral status, you gave…a legal or public policy point about practicality… Forgetting the practical or public policy questions, if a person is a self aware individual and self awareness isn’t conferred by birth, and we use mirror tests to determine self awarness…at what point do you think an infant would pass the mirror test and therefore be self aware and be considered a person.
Singer (beginning at 1:27:18): … My understanding is that it is not until after the first birthday, so somewhere between the first and second, I think, that they typically recognize the image in the mirror as themselves…Really, I think this is a gradual matter. If you are not talking about public policy or the law, but you are talking about when you really have the same moral status, I think that does develop gradually. There are various things that you could say that are sufficient to give some moral status after a few months, maybe six months or something like that, and you get perhaps to full moral status, really, only after two years. But I don’t think that should be the public policy criteria.
But our policies follow our values. If Singer’s views ever prevail, it will lead to human inequality and a loss of human rights for the young (and other so-called human “non persons”). More details, Singer quotes, and analysis over at Secondhand Smoke.
Saturday, November 6, 2010, 12:31 PM
The Secondhand Smoke secret cameras recorded a recent conversation between a bioethicist and a doctor about how “thinking bioethically” means it is okay to kill babies. Check it out here.
Saturday, October 23, 2010, 7:34 PM
A disturbing study was published about how long it takes for a baby to die when deprived of medically provided food and water. From the study (may need to register, my links to the conditions mentioned):
Neonatal survival after withdrawal of artificial hydration and nutrition can last up to 26 days, according to a case series presented here at the 18th International Congress on Palliative Care. Although physical distress is not apparent in the infants, the psychological distress of parents and clinicians builds with the length of survival, said Hal Siden, MD, from Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“These babies live much, much longer than anybody expects. I think that neonatologists and nurses and palliative care clinicians need to be alerted to this,” he said. “The time between withdrawal of feeding and end of life is something that is not predictable, and you need to be cautioned very strongly about that if you are going to do this work.” He presented a series of 5 cases that clinicians at his hospice had overseen over a 5-year period. Two infants had severe neurologic impairment, 2 had severe hypoxic ischemia, and 1 had severe bowel atresia.
Removing tube supplied food and water is legal–and deemed ethical by many bioethicists–just like stopping any other medical treatment such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, or respiratory therapy. Such dehydration–think Terri Schiavo– is carried out upon profoundly disabled and dying people of all ages in all fifty states.
More details and analysis over at Secondhand Smoke.
Thursday, October 14, 2010, 5:01 PM
I have read the 65-page decision by Judge Vinson in Florida that allowed the 20 State challenge against Obamacare to go forward. It’s very well reasoned and measured, in my view. The two biggest deals are:
1. The fine for not buying insurance is probably not a tax, but as the law states, a penalty. This means a different constitutional standard applies making it perhaps easier for the states to challenge.
2. The individual purchase mandate is “unprecedented,” and hence, a cause of action has been stated that the law exceeds the federal power under the Commerce Clause.
This just permits the case to proceed. It does not reach any final conclusions. For anyone wanting a more thorough–but not overly lengthy–summary, head on over to Secondhand Smoke.
Sunday, October 10, 2010, 10:42 PM
To promote stem cell awareness, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine held a poetry contest. One of the two top winners wrote a poem using the words of Jesus at the Last Supper to apply to embryonic stem cell research:
This is my body
which is given for you.
But I am not great.
I have neither wealth,
nor fame, nor grace.
I cannot comfort with words,
nor inspire to march.
I am small and simple,
so leave me this.
Let me heal you.
This is my body
which is given for you.
in remembrance of me.
I don’t think you could more effectively dissuade the religious from supporting the CIRM’s work, than by awarding a first prize to this poem.
After being published online at the CIRM site, the poem–along with other winners–was removed. perhaps because the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which has clashed legally with the CIRM before, issued a press release: In place of the poems, here’s the CIRM’s apology:
CIRM recently announced two winners of the second annual poetry contest, one of which contained some religious language that is identical to liturgical language used in the context of Christian and Catholic sacraments. The language introduces a religious element that we now realize was offensive to some people. We are deeply sorry for any offense caused by the poem. Neither the author nor CIRM intended for the language to insult or offend any religious group. When CIRM recognized that the language was of concern we removed all four poems from the CIRM web site and from the Stem Cell Awareness Day web site.
Okay. That raises a question: How could they not know it would offend those people mentioned?
So, what are we to make of awarding this a first prize? Was it an intentional slam on Christians, many of which oppose ESCR, which the CIRM realized in retrospect would blow up in their faces? Or did they think the poem, by using the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, would somehow appeal to Christians? Or did they just think it was clever? Whatever it was the judges were thinking–they weren’t thinking. I notice they haven’t taken back the prize, just airbrushed the website, so this could lead to a very big stink.
Thursday, September 30, 2010, 1:33 PM
Over at The Corner, Daniel Foster wonders whether a tremendous recent breakthrough in creating pluripotent stem cells from normal body cells, could end the culture war battle over biotechnology. Alas, not a chance.
As I pointed out in a longer analysis of this story over at Secondhand Smoke: Even if this advance did EVERYTHING that scientists wanted from ESCR, it won’t stop many from wanting to experiment on nascent human life. Indeed, some would look at the advance, shrug, and keep on trying to clone human embryos.
It is important to understand that stem cell advances are not the end game. As I wrote in NRO last week, embryonic stem cell research is merely the opening stanza of a much longer symphony that ultimately seeks to open the door to Brave New World technologies such as genetic engineering and human enhancement, all of which require cloning and/or experimenting on embryos to perfect.
So, will this end the war? Nope. Will it help those of us who want to convince Main Street of the need to enact responsible regulations to prevent Brave New World? You betcha.
Friday, September 3, 2010, 11:44 AM
The always compelling Christopher Hitchens has a terrific piece out in Vanity Fair (“Unanswerable Prayers”) about being an atheist with serious cancer, who is the subject of prayers. And that got me to thinking, should believers tell atheists that they are praying for them? I have a longer missive about the matter over at Secondhand Smoke, but for those who don’t wish to travel there, I suggest that prayers for atheists remain in the closet, God will still hear, and conclude:
The root meaning of compassion is to “suffer with.” I think one of our duties as human beings is to suffer with the ill by offering them emotional support at the place where they are–not from where we might be. (The same goes for the other way around, of course. Atheists with ill religious friends should not push their non belief on those undergoing a terrible struggle.) Forcing unwanted agendas on others at a time of extremis isn’t caring, but just the opposite by adding to the burden on their psyches at a time when they are most vulnerable.
What do you all think?
Saturday, August 7, 2010, 2:02 PM
The USA has abdicated good ethics by allowing IVF to go virtually unregulated. The consequences are profound and growing. Rather than being a medical treatment for otherwise infertile married couples, IVF has become a lifestyle enhancer permitting parents to shop for the child they want like a breed of dog, rent wombs, eugenically select out unwanted children, expose young women to the pronounced, if rare, dangers to life, limb, and fertility by selling or donating their eggs, and is bringing the crass values of naked consumerism into family life in which the unwanted who don’t pass muster are tossed away like so much medical waste.
And now we are developing a profoundly sexist market in gender selection IVF. From the story:
MEET the doctor who is making Scots’ dreams of designing the perfect baby come true. Dr Jeffrey Steinberg reveals five couples from Scotland have travelled to his US clinics in the past year to have a £13,000 procedure which allows them to choose the sex of their child. Sex selection in countries such as Scotland is banned unless there’s a medical reason, which provides Dr Steinberg’s clinics in New York and Los Angeles with brisk business from abroad. Now couples who suffer from gender disappointment are taking out loans and even remortgaging their homes to use in-vitro fertilisation to balance their families and get the girl or boy of their dreams.
Well, so much for unconditional love. And if the doctor makes a mistake, what’s next; “wrongful gender” lawsuits?
The doctor is “saddened” that Scotland believes in gender equality:
Despite this Dr Steinberg, who is a proud dad to two girls and a boy which, he explains, were conceived “the old fashioned way”, is baffled by the British ban on sex selection. He started training to become a doctor in Cambridge and feels saddened that Britain’s scientific trailblazers had to take a step back. He said: “They were at the forefront of in vitro technology. They’ve fallen so far behind but from the political end.” But he believes there’s no point in blocking change. What sparks fear today may seem normal tomorrow.
Those rationalizations–We’re falling behind! Don’t fear change, you’ll get used to it!–excuse anything. And once the remaining few vestiges of ethical control over IVF are swept away, the next step, I predict, will be to force IVF professionals to do whatever a customer (since a lot of this isn’t medical in the sense of treating illness or dysfunction) wants–as we have already begun to see imposed against doctors who wish to restrict their fertility treatments to the truly infertile who are married.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 1:36 PM
The answer is yes. He doesn’t use the term, but he embraces the concept.
In a 2008 debate, Dawkins called human beings “earth’s last best hope,” and acknowledged that we have moved beyond naked Darwinian “short term greed,” to the point that we have the ability to act “on behalf of life as a whole.” From Dawkins’ opening statement in the debate:
Far from being the most selfish, exploitative species, Homo sapiens is the only species that has at least the possibility of rebelling against the otherwise universally selfish Darwinian impulse…If any species in the history of life has the possibility of breaking away from short term selfishness and of long term planning for the distant future, it’s our species. We are earth’s last best hope even if we are simultaneously, the species most capable of destroying life on the planet. But when it comes to taking the long view, we are literally unique. Because the long view is not a view that has ever been taken before in whole history of life. If we don’t plan for the future, no other species will…
In other words, we are exceptional.
No doubt, Dawkins disdains the concomitant imperative that puts us on the pedestal of moral worth because that smacks of religion. Indeed, he has pined for the discovery of a chimp/human hybrid species with which we could interbreed precisely to prove we are not special. But once you admit human exceptionalism, the logical philosophical consequences that flow therefrom become unavoidable–which is why so many across a wide array ideologies from animal rights, to bioethics, to radical environmentalism, work so hard to deny that the differences being human makes are any more morally significant than the elephant’s exceptional trunk.
Bottom line: Dawkins believes human beings are no longer bound by Darwinian imperatives, the consequence of which is to impose moral duties upon us. It seems to me that once our uniquely human duties are accepted, it becomes very hard to deny that we also possess uniquely human rights.
More Dawkins’ quotes supporting human exceptionalism and analysis over at Secondhand Smoke.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 12:14 AM
The really invaluable Yuval Levin has a post over at The Corner which shows that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) allowed its position on partial birth abortion to be written by—Elena Kagan. From his post, “War on Science:”
It seems that the most important statement in the famous position paper of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—a 1996 document that was central to the case of partial-birth-abortion defenders for the subsequent decade and played a major role in a number of court cases and political battles—was drafted not by an impartial committee of physicians, as both ACOG and the pro-abortion lobby claimed for years, but by Elena Kagan, who was then the deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy.
Kagan saw ACOG’s original paper, which did not include the claim that partial-birth abortion “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman,” but, on the contrary, said that ACOG “could identify no circumstances under which this procedure . . . would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.” She wrote a memo to two White House colleagues noting that this language would be “a disaster” for the cause of partial-birth abortion, and she then set out to do something about it. In notes released by the White House it now looks as though Kagan herself—a senior Clinton White House staffer with no medical background—proposed the “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman” language, and sent it to ACOG, which then included that language in its final statement.
What’s described in these memos is easily the most serious and flagrant violation of the boundary between scientific expertise and politics I have ever encountered.
Astonishing. When medical or scientific groups are that politicized, they destroy all faith in their expert opinions. And what does it tell us about the Supreme Court Justice Select?
Thursday, June 24, 2010, 3:23 PM
Nobody should be surprised. An Oregon psychiatrist is opening a suicide clinic called “Dignity House,” at which—for a fee—people can commit assisted suicide under Oregon’s law. Services include flowers ($400), music ($400), photography (!) ($400), and for $1200, Dr. Big Heart will sit with you while you die. From his Endoflifeconsultants Website:
Normally, I will not be present for the completion of the Death with Dignity Act. If, however, you would like my therapy dog and me present at the time of death, you may purchase a 3 hour window of our time for $1,200. This is a cashier’s check or postal money order fee. Preferable hours are either 7-10 am or 6-9 pm. I am willing to cut my fee in half to $600 if you purchase the entire package of services. This would make the price of the packaged services $5,000. We work great as a team. I strongly recommend you choose this option. We will make your final journey pleasant and peaceful. Full of beauty and music–we would prefer no television, but if you must…Oh, this option allows you to pay by credit card to my Stuart Weisberg, MD, LLC account. Proprietor: Stuart Weisberg, MD, LLC
As they said in The Godfather, it’s not personal. It’s just business.
More details and analysis over at Secondhand Smoke.
Update: Weisberg’s license to practice medicine was suspended over unrelated drug prescribing irregularities. I guess those assisted suicide limited liability companies will just have to wait.
Monday, June 21, 2010, 3:01 PM
Darwinism is a theory of biological inception and change over time. Yet some advocates, bent on destroying Judeo/Christian moral philosophy that focuses on intrinsic human dignity, abuse the theory by using it as a justification to promote dangerous cultural and societal shifts. The latest example: Darwinism requires support of some suicides. From the blog post by Steve Stewart-Williams:
…Thus, the injunction against assisted suicide – like that against unassisted suicide – is commonly underwritten by the doctrine of human dignity. But the whole edifice starts to crumble once we bring Darwin into the picture. With the corrective lens of evolutionary theory, the view that human life is infinitely valuable suddenly seems like a vast and unjustified over-valuation of human life. This is because Darwin’s theory undermines the traditional reasons for thinking human life might have infinite value: the image-of-God thesis and the rationality thesis (see my last post).
But if human life is not supremely valuable after all, then there is no longer any reason to think that suicide or voluntary euthanasia is necessarily wrong under any or all circumstances. In fact, it starts to seem decidedly odd that we have elevated human life – i.e., pure biological continuation – so far above the quality of the life in question for the person living it. Why should life be considered valuable in and of itself, independently of the happiness of the individual living that life?
Note the potential for tremendous harm here. A publication involved with mental health is the forum for pushing an anti-anti suicide meme. That’s dangerous to despairing people and could very well undermine the important work of suicide prevention.
More details and analysis over at Secondhand Smoke.
Friday, June 18, 2010, 12:00 PM
I greatly admire Christopher Hitchens as a writer of superior talent and vigor, even as I shake my head in wonder at his anti-Mother Theresa obsession. I have not met Hitchens—although I have been entertained by stories told about him by mutual acquaintances. And while I have read many of his essays that involve the theism issue, I generally watch the atheism wars from the bemused sidelines, and thus plan to miss God Is Not Great.
With that caveat in mind, Ross Douthat’s latest offering in the NYT, describing Hitchens as a political romantic rather than a warrior for scientism, seems squarely hit. From “God and the Political Romantic:”
Hitchens is never more himself (for better or worse) than when he’s railing against the supposed cruelties of Benedict XVI, or comparing God to Kim Jong-Il. In this sense, he’s really less of an atheist than an anti-theist: Whereas Dawkins and co. are appalled by the belief in God, Hitchens is far more appalled by the idea that anyone would want to obey Him. Every true romantic needs a great foe, a worthy adversary, a villain to whose destruction he can consecrate himself. Never one for half measures, Hitchens just decided to go all the way to the top.
I am reminded of Woody Allen’s genius film, Manhattan. Toward the end, the Allen character confronts his friend Yale, who has left his wife to live with Diane Keaton. “You think you’re God!” Yale yells. “Well, I have to pattern myself after someone,” Allen replies. Interesting. Allen fights off the darkness of his atheism with biting comedy, Hitchens, nostril flaring, with prose thunderbolts.
Sunday, June 13, 2010, 9:49 PM
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One of the primary agenda items in animal rights advocacy is obtaining for animals the right to sue in their own names. Known as “animal standing,” allowing animals to sue would empower activists to bring animal industries to their knees, as I describe more fully in this article on NRO. Activists haven’t won yet, although a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that in theory animals could be granted the right to sue by Congress. But they keep filing cases hoping to hit the one activist judge who will give them the keys to the kingdom.
The latest example comes out of Oregon where an activist lawyer named Christopher Stone claims to represent a seal known as C657, which was ordered destroyed for eating too many salmon. Stone wants the seal to bring the case, a matter now before should an Oregon Court of Appeals. But the real point of these kind of cases is not to save a particular animal, but rather, to destroy human exceptionalism. Indeed, Stone is very clear about this goal in the conclusion to his Washington Post column explaining the case. From “Habeus Corpus for Animals? Why Not?:
C657 (currently reprieved in a Texas aquarium) wants his day in court. More than that, C657 wants to contest humankind’s self-appointed place atop the planet.
Please. C657 “wants” to do no such things. Christopher Stone and his ilk wish to “contest humankind’s self-appointed place atop the planet.” The seal is just the necessary prop to achieving that desired end.
By the way, some pretty big fish support animal standing, including Cass Sunstein, President Obama’s regulations czar, and famed Harvard law professor, Laurence Tribe.
More details and analysis over at Secondhand Smoke.
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