Brave New World

Dec 102009

I’m not sure how there can be a “bio” ethics that’s different from ethics, period, just as I’m not sure how there can be a sexual morality that’s different from morality, period.

For some time I’ve assumed that the real purpose of bioethicists is to have someone to call on for cover when you need to do something really shoddy to other people.

Maybe it’s worse than that, though. Wesley J. Smith writes the following in The Weekly Standard, in an article titled, “The Long Awakening : A Belgian case revives the Schiavo decision.”

…[B]ack in the 1980s there was no question about whether a patient like Houben would receive life-sustaining care. Depriving catastrophically injured patients of food and water was not even considered–except among bioethicists, who were already quietly preparing the ground for the practice of withdrawing sustenance from such patients.

During the years that Houben was thought unconscious, society changed. Bioethicists nudged medicine away from the Hippocratic model and toward “quality of life” judgmentalism. Today, when a patient is diagnosed as persistently unconscious or minimally aware, doctors, social workers, and bioethicists often recommend that life-sustaining treatment–including sustenance delivered through a tube–be withdrawn, sometimes days or weeks after the injury.

Mar 122009

Remember when pro-abortion people used to say that reproductive choice should be a matter between a woman and her physician? What they didn’t tell us was that a woman is now to be denied the choice of making this decision with physicians who are personally opposed to performing abortions themselves. (WSJ Health Blog: Obama will move to rescind ‘conscience’ rule on abortion, birth control)

Remember the bumper stickers that said, “If you don’t like abortions–DON’T HAVE ONE”? I used to think it was a valid point, if not a deciding one. But now we’re told that if don’t like abortions, we have to participate in having one, anyway. We’re throwing out the uneasy compromise by which people are allowed to exercise their own abortion-choice while others are allowed not to take part, and are replacing it with an anti-choice system in which we all will be required to take part in abortion whether or not we find it to be right.

Remember those people who say we need to ban smoking in all restaurants in order to protect the workers? Sure, people should be allowed to choose whether or not to patronize an establishment that allowed smoking, but what about the workers? We can’t tell them that if they don’t like it they should find a different employer (they would tell us). But now it turns that we can very well tell doctors and nurses that if they don’t like participating in certain activities detrimental to the health of a fetus, that they should find, not just a different employer, but an entirely different line of work.

Apr 102008

So, the same people who oppose warrantless wiretaps want Big Brother to set up surveillance cameras to monitor airport screeners to make sure there is no profiling.

With nearly 50,000 screeners nationwide, the civil rights and minority groups say “it is unrealistic to believe that a policy created in Washington is being implemented flawlessly on the ground.”

The groups also said, “Broad individual discretion allotted to screeners also allows them to bring individual biases to the screening process.”

“This places our communities and all Americans at risk because individual [screener] biases may distract from actual security threats at the airport,” the groups said.

But I guess it’s OK to profile airport screeners and subject them to additional screening to make sure they’re all working like mindless robots, even though it’s unrealistic to expect them to do so.

HT to American Thinker for the “Irony Alert.” The article is from the Washington Times.

(I reserve the right to be opposed to warantless wiretaps myself, even if it associates me with these unsavory characters.)

Mar 242008

A “walking supply” was what you might use to escape a Siberian Gulag, according to Anne Applebaum’s book. Escapes were difficult because the camps were a long way from anywhere. So you and your buddy might talk a third person into doing an escape with you. You’d want to pick someone who was well fed, like the camp cook. He would be the “meat”. If you ran out of food, you’d kill him and eat him. The nice thing about it was that you didn’t even have to carry him until the food was needed.

Not everyone could pull this off, though. It would help if you were already a hardened criminal.

That was in the Soviet Union. Here in the west, you don’t need to embark on a life of crime to make yourself into the kind of person who could do that. It may be only step 2 in a five-step program, but in the U.K., the prime minister is pushing for legislation that would allow the creation of “savior siblings,” according to the Daily Mail. If your kid has a rare disease, you could generate others who could be tissue or organ donors, and use genetic screening to abort any who wouldn’t fit the need. The idea is catching on in the U.S., too, according to this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.

It’s not quite the same as a walking supply, but it’s a step closer than we were before.

And a lot of the rationalizations could come in handy when get to Step 5. Look at some of the comments at the end of that Daily Mail article:

… should church leaders in the House of Lords, who have not been elected, be allowed to influence the laws of the people?

Many such arguments have merit on both sides and tipping the scales towards the greater good is all that conscience demands.

Morality aside, there’s an interesting twist to one of the “walking supply” stories in Applebaum’s book.

The two men did as planned–they killed and ate the cook–but they had not bargained on the length of the journey. They began to get hungry again:

Both knew in their hearts that the first to fall asleep would be killed by the other. So both pretended they weren’t tired and spent the night telling stories, each watching the other closely. Their old friendship made it impossible for either to make an open attack on the other, or to confess their mutual suspicions.

Finally, one fell asleep. The other slit his throat. He was caught, Buca claims, two days later, with pieces of raw flesh still in his sack.

Feb 012008

Since at least as far back as 1999 I’ve been referring to abortion as the Holy Sacrament of the Left. (I got this idea from watching the Senate Judiciary Committee, among other things.) For the Clintons, as for the rest of their party, keeping abortion legal supersedes all else: The Bill of Rights, our national security, all considerations of honor and truth, the safety of our children — everything. Everything else is subordinated to the great and bloody sacrament of the left: killing fetuses.

I even predicated that there would soon be a religious test for office — or at least for any office that required confirmation by a Senate committee. Anyone who expected to gain high appointive office would have to appear before the committee wearing a bandolier full of abortion drugs, a scalpel between his teeth, ready to perform the sacrament in full view of the committee to prove his loyalty to the cause.

Some people thought I was overstating things.

Perhaps so, but I see from the latest issue of The Weekly Standard that I wasn’t as far off as some people claimed. In a short piece titled The Blessing of Abortion (for which you need to be a subscriber to read the whole thing) we have this:

The Albany Times Union reports on a unique ceremony marking the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The Planned Parenthood chapter in Schenectady invited several local members of the clergy to bless its new 18,000 square-foot “clinic.” According to the Times Union, the blessings included one from “Rev. Larry Phillips of Schenectady’s Emmanuel-Friedens Church [who] declared the ground ‘sacred and holy . . . where women’s voices and stories are welcomed, valued and affirmed; sacred ground where women are treated with dignity, supported in their role as moral decision-makers . . . sacred ground where the violent voices of hatred and oppression are quelled.’?”

No, we’re not making this up.

Nov 112007

What exactly was the point of going to all the trouble of winning World War II if Britain was just going to adopt the moral values of Nazi Germany, anyway? (And what’s the purpose of having a debate if it’s a foregone conclusion that it will become law?)

News item:

PARENTS of sick children in Britain will be allowed to use IVF to create “spare-part babies” under controversial laws published yesterday.

The legislation will dramatically relax rules on IVF clinics creating “saviour siblings” who can help cure their older brothers and sisters of medical conditions such as leukemia.

Experts said that one day they could create a “designer baby” with kidneys perfectly compatible with a sibling suffering renal failure.

More immediately, saviour siblings could give umbilical cord blood or bone marrow to family members in the hope of treating conditions such as sickle cell anaemia.

The Government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will be debated in British Parliament and is expected to become law in 2009.

What lessons are children going to learn from this? How about these:

  • Saving our own skins is worth more than anything in the world.
  • No sacrifice is too great for someone else to make for my sake.
  • My parents value me for my health more than for anything that might give meaning to my life.
Oct 232007 tells us that not everyone has yet succumbed to the mania for health and safety. There are still a few “live free or die” types that have not yet been made to submit.

When Daniel Craig was unveiled as the new James Bond actor in October 2005, he was forced to wear a life jacket as he sped through London on a boat up the River Thames

It was somewhat out of keeping for the daredevil fictional British spy, in a press call stunt widely acknowledged as having backfired.

“It’s not his fault. He’s doing what he’s told,” McGregor groaned.

“Today, health and safety are out of control. In Africa, garage attendants smoked as they filled the bikes. I took great pleasure in that.”

Oct 182007

From the Guardian:

The DNA pioneer James Watson today apologised “unreservedly” for his apparent claim that black people are less intelligent than whites.

And this isn’t the first time.

Prof Watson has regularly courted controversy, reportedly saying that a woman should have the right to abort her child if tests were able to determine that it would be homosexual.

He has also suggested a link between skin colour and sex drive, proposing that black people have higher libidos, and claimed beauty could be genetically manufactured.

Sure, he’s probably a bigot, but shouldn’t we make allowances?   After all, he’s a Nobel laureate,  and we know how those Nobel laureates are.

And shouldn’t there also be headlines about how his Nobel prize puts pressure on him to run for President?

Sep 282007

Here at Suicide of the West you can find photos of evildoers getting in a little R&R:

What is most monstrous about these photographs is that they depict no monsters. No spaced-out, khat-chewing raiders ripping around in technical trucks. No rampaging, machete-wielding mobs caught up in the vortex of spontaneous violence. One is struck here by the sheer ordinariness of the happy people smiling back at the camera, people who at those very moments were willing, even enthusiastic accessories to the most horrific crime in human history. They were functionaries, bureaucrats, administering the machinery of genocide with professional detachment and absolute moral disinterest.  Clock in and kill the Jews. Clock out and catch a movie with the wife. And, unlike the rest of the German nation, the people in these photographs lacked even the false excuse, “We never really knew.” To the contrary, these were the accountants who worked the numbers, the stockmen who inventoried the gold teeth and shoes, the musclemen who slammed and locked shut the doors to the showers and the crematoria. These people knew full well, and still they drank wine and poked at volleyballs, kissed their kids goodnight and made love to their wives.

It’s scary to see this, but it’s important that we do.   These aren’t ranting maniacs (though there were a few of those in Nazi Germany.)  These are people not that different from us.    Evil is not something out there in an alternate universe.

It’s something I think about when working on my Black Hawk Slept Here history at and  I can identify with the Euro-American settlers.   I can take pride with them in their accomplishments and in the communities they built.   Yet they were also participants in evil done to the Native Americans whose land they took.   And the evil is not marked with spooky music, dark hats, bad hair and bad complexions like in the movies.   It’s very ordinary.

Sep 212007

The Daily Eudemon talks about the slippery slope:

New hero: A 72-year-old man with a wine purchase refuses to produce proof that he’s 21 years old. I understand the policy: “If we don’t card everyone, we end up on a slippery slope. Do we not card the 40-year-old? The 30-year-old? Eventually, we’ll end up making judgment calls and offending people. We might even discriminate!”

Well, deal with it in a rational manner. What the slippery slope chanters don’t realize is, everything is a slippery slope: Anything not reigned in with moderation can go too far. What the haters of discrimination don’t realize is, everyday life is full of discrimination: judgment calls, nuanced calls, irrational calls, emotional calls, reflex calls. People make simple decisions that are so complex in their formulation that we couldn’t flowchart them on movie screen, and 99% of people make these decisions just fine. The other 1% are the mentally addled, and they can’t hold down a job. If a person is mentally normal enough to hold down a job, he ought to be given the discretion to decide that a 72-year-old man is over age 20.

This reminds me of how school boards get all bureaucratic about behavior control. They come up with bureaucratic rules to apply district wide about “1st offense we do this, 2nd offense we do that,” or they come up with a zero tolerance policy about inappropriate touching and end up sending seventh graders off to jail for butt-swapping.

It seems that’s what we get when our schools too large and centralized. We can no longer trust teachers and principals to use their good judgment because they are beyond the social controls of the local communities. So we have no choice but to get all bureaucratic and formulaistic in the way we run the places.

As for the situation in the U.K., I blame it on the welfare-police state, for similar reasons. And I agree with the Daily Eudemon — the resistor is a hero.