Comment(s) Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Actress Busy Philipps”

As always happens when the topic of abortion raises its ugly head, the commentator responded with passionate and entertaining arguments. Outstanding in the fray were the posts of jmv0405and Benjamin on opposite sides of the question of when life begins and human rights attach to it.

I’m combining two of Benjamin’s comments here, both addressing jmv0405‘s contention that the unborn doesn’t necessarily qualify as human. In his second comment, directly attempts to rebut specific assertions.

Here is Benjamin’s two-part Comment of Day on the post, “Ethics Dunce: Actress Busy Philipps”...

You’ve moved the question “what does it mean to be human?” into the fore. I think you’ve taken it lightly though. We’ve all seen the science fictional stories of men who turn into animals. If you turn into a horse in this sense, your physical form becomes that of a horse, but you somehow remain you. There’s another sense of this that intrigues old philosophers. What if the physical form remains the same, and you (the you that lies under and in all that meat, the you that’s looking at this screen through your eyes) become a horse in some essential sort of way? How would that appear to us from the outside? You can forget things and even experience amnesia and still remain you, so memories and knowledge aren’t you rightly so called. This horse imposter may very well behave exactly as you did before you were displaced. This could be happening every day. It may have happened to you, you horse, you! There’s no evidence to tell us otherwise. I suppose this does not happen. You suppose something like this does happen at some vague stage of human development.

I argue that my supposition, a continuous chain of being, is no more false than yours. William of Ockham would agree, his razor being rightly understood, because we have no reason to think otherwise. Continue reading

Icky And Unethical: The Dead Cadet’s Child

A New York judge  ruled that the parents of  West Point cadet Peter Zhu, 21, who was declared brain-dead after a skiing accident, can take sperm harvested from his body with “no restriction.” The parents say they want  to fulfill  their son’s lifelong desire to have children and continue the family name.

Lauren Sydney Flicker, a bioethicist and expert in post-mortem sperm retrieval at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx [there is such a thing as being an expert in post-mortem sperm retrieval?]  told the New York Times,

“Here is the ethical debate, and it will be different for different people: Is it a greater ethical burden to prevent someone from having the opportunity to be a father by passing along their genetic material? Or is it a greater ethical burden to have a man father a child, without his consent, that he wouldn’t be around to raise?”

Huh? I’d say the burden of not living pretty much wipes out the burden of not being a father, and renders it moot. Absent explicit instructions that the young man wanted his sperm used to spawn a child after he died,  the cadet’s desires regarding a family while he was planning on being alive are rendered moot by his death. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Ann Althouse

“I do think that the argument can be made that the case law establishes that there is one and only one reason that must be the reason for there to be a constitutional right to an abortion (other than to protect her own life or health): The woman must actually believe that what she is destroying is not a person.”

—-Blogger/retired law professor Ann Althouse, commenting on today’s SCOTUS decision in Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.

The Supreme Court  rendered a split decision on Indiana’s contested abortion law. The Justices upheld  part of Indiana’s 2016 law placing  restrictions on the disposal of fetal remains after an abortion, but left the  part of the law overturned that would have prohibited women from choosing the procedure after of a diagnosis or “potential diagnosis” of Down syndrome,  “any other disability,” or because of the fetus’s gender or race.

Justice Thomas wrote a dissent taking issue with the latter, writing in part, Continue reading

The Left Is Going Nuts Over The Alabama, Georgia And Ohio Abortion Bills. It’s Hard To Like Them (Or Respect Them) When They Are Going Nuts

Last week, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who was once a respectable, perceptive commentator  but who has apparently been driven over the edge by Donald Trump,  claimed that the Alabama Human Life Protection Act will end Roe v. Wade. As I have written here, the law is 100% unconstitutional based on existing law. I doubt that it will even reach the Supreme Court. It will be struck down in lower Courts, and SCOTUS will decide that there is no legal controversy. Toobin, however, decided to use his perch to fearmonger, and shamelessly:

Roe v. Wade is gone and every woman in Alabama who gets pregnant is gonna be forced to give birth soon. And that’s gonna be true in Alabama, it’s gonna be true in Missouri, it’s gonna be true, probably, in Georgia. And that’s what the law is because that’s what the Presidential election was about, in part, last time.”

Let’s see: false, highly unlikely, false, false, and false. Nor can anyone seriously argue that the 2016 election was “about” abortion. The Pew Research Center polled voters about their top concerns, and here were the results:

I count abortion as 11th on the list. Toobin’s statement is fake history and fake news. It is simply false. He blathered on…

“This is what this fight has been about, for years. I think the legislators were very smart, they waited until they got five votes on the Supreme Court and now they’re gonna push this thing through. And Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch are gonna be joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and this is a victory that Rick (Santorum) and others have been fighting for decades and they’ve won and they should celebrate.”

I don’t know why Toobin just didn’t scream, “ARRRRRGH! WE’RE DOOMED! DOOMED!” and leave it at that. He has no idea how the justices will vote, and since he has proven himself of late to have become an hysterical, partisan hack, there is no reason to take his analysis seriously.

More seriously, however, than model Emily Ratajkowski, whose protest of the Alabama law involved  posting a nude photo of herself on social media, which she has done before when there wasn’t an abortion bill to protest. I think she just likes posting nude and near-nude photos of herself, not that I can blame her. This isn’t quite nude, but you get the idea…

Boy, THAT will punish those men who don’t respect female autonomy!

Emily wrote this to accompany her “punishment”:

“This week, 25 old white men voted to ban abortion in Alabama even in cases of incest and rape. These men in power are imposing their wills onto the bodies of women in order to uphold the patriarchy and perpetuate the industrial prison complex by preventing women of low economic opportunity the right to choose to not reproduce. The states trying to ban abortion are the states that have the highest proportions of black women living there. This is about class and race and is a direct attack on the fundamental human rights women in the US deserve and are protected by under Roe vs. Wade.”

Our bodies, our choice.

Well, you just have to do better than that, and if you can’t, then  shut up. (And remember, I do not advocate overturning Roe at this point.)

  • Attacking legislators for their age and gender marks the model as a hypocrite and a bigot, though a common variety within the current American Left.
  • I’ve discussed the “incest and rape” fallacy here many times. If the issue is human life and when it begins, incest and rape are irrelevant to the discussion. A life is a life, and how or why it begins doesn’t change the value of the life. When someone signals that they don’t comprehend this, that tells me, and should tell everyone, that they haven’t thought very hard about what they are protesting, or that they aren’t very bright. Either way, if an advocate on either side of the debate goes in that dumb direction, I’m disregarding them. It’s static and ethics pollution.
  • “Uphold the patriarchy” is another bit of nonsense cant, about as serious or persuasive as the lyrics of “Imagine.” It is a buzz phrase for anti-male bigotry, nothing more, nothing less.
  • These men are asserting the government’s duty to protect the lives of citizens. Their position is that when women use their bodily autonomy to kill an unborn child, that should be considered a crime, just as when they use their autonomy to shoot someone. The only way someone like Ratajkowski can claim that the objective of such laws is to oppress women is to completely ignore the other life involved in this ethical conflict. Doing so  is intellectually dishonest or stunningly ignorant.
  • If these laws are rooted in racism, why would they seek  to protect the disproportional number of black fetuses aborted in those states?
  • Women can choose not to reproduce, completely effectively, right now. Nobody is telling any woman she has to reproduce. See, Emily, “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is fiction, just like “The Walking Dead.” The idea is that if you have created a living human being, you can’t then kill it or delegate killing it to someone else, no matter how much hardship avoiding the murder option might mean. Starting that prohibition from conception is unworkable, but later? That’s a utilitarian necessity.
  • The fundamental human right that must take precedence over all others is the right to live.

 

Is The Democratic Party the Party of Anti-Semitism, Infanticide, And Socialism?

Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, told NBC’s “Meet The Press” last week that Democrats have become the party of “Anti-Semitism,, infanticide, socialism.” This wasn’t quite as inflammatory as when Samuel Burchard, speaking at a GOP pro-James G. Blaine campaign event during the 1884 race against Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland, denounced the Democrats as the party of “rum, Romanism, and rebellion,” but you wouldn’t know it from the howls coming from progressives, because, as we all know, the truth hurts. Well, that’s not quite fair: Cheney was engaging in hyperbole and being intentionally inflammatory, but she wasn’t entirely wrong.

Let’s look at the “infanticide” accusation. Obviously Democrats don’t favor killing babies as a general proposition, but Virginia’s  Democratic governor and renowned Michael Jackson impressionist described exactly how he would make an abortion-survivor “comfortable” before making the newborn dead. (Many states have laws that allowed condemned men to go free if they survived an attempted execution. Seems fair…)

Democrats in the Senate—all but a handfull—blocked a GOP bill requiring doctors to use all means available to save the life of a child born alive after an attempted abortion. They must, it said, “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child” as they would for “any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

Senator Ben Sasse, the Nebraska Republican who authored the bill, had called it an “infanticide ban.” Rationalizing like mad, Democrats said that the bill was aimed at discouraging doctors from performing legal abortions—in other words, they were pandering to the pro-abortion extremists—and that it was unnecessary because a similar law already exists, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002.—you know, because the Democrats have always opposed redundant legislation. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Is This Fair?

Just kidding!

Of course it’s not fair.

In fact, it’s ridiculous. So the real question is, why does anyone, activist or otherwise, argue with a straight face that it is fair?

That photo is from Oct. 13, 2018, when  transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon of Canada won the  UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Carson, California. The other cyclist is Carolien Van Herrikhuyzen of the Netherlands. The other competitors were similar in stature and build to Carolien. She was born female, and unlike McKinnon, grew up female.

It makes a difference.

In fact, as Martina Navratilova wrote in a February 17 op-ed for The Sunday Times of London, “It’s insane and it’s cheating.” Well, it’s not cheating if a sport says it isn’t. It is, however, insanely unfair, and unarguably unfair. Advocates, like McKinnon herself, an educated trans woman, actually try to deny these conclusions that are as plain as that photograph. In her debate with the legendary tennis star, she argued,

 “She imagines a nonexistent cisgender man who will pretend to be a trans woman, convince a psychologist and a physician to prescribe hormone therapy, undertake the process for legal changer recognition, then wait the minimum 12 months of testosterone suppression required by the current IOC rules, compete, and then change his mind and ‘go back to making babies’? No such thing will ever happen. This is an irrational fear of trans women.”

But, significantly, she does not argue against Navratilova’s central assertion (which she garbled badly by making the lame slippery slope argument), which is that it’s unfair to allow women who have matured as men to compete against women who haven’t. Obviously. Look at the picture.

I’ve discussed the ethics of allowing trans athletes to compete against non-trans competitors, and frankly, the only interesting part of the topic is that fear of trans activists and being accused of bigotry has succeeded in so many locales in bullying officials into allowing it. It is unfair. It is obviously unfair. It destroys the integrity of the competition; it makes women’s sports a joke. Why do they allow it? Well, this is a small but revealing example of how ideology can strangle common sense and reality when those committed to the ideology find facts and ethics hostile to the world as they would like it to be. The result is that people, with nothing but good intentions, convince themselves that wrong is right and that what doesn’t work, does. Continue reading

Groundhog Day Ethics Warm-Up: 2/2/2019

Happy Groundhog Day!

1. Gov. Northam ethics Updates  a)There are reports that Virginia’s beleaguered governor will resign tomorrow. b) Then again, maybe not. The Times has this amazing story:

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, facing intense pressure to resign from fellow Democrats after admitting that he posed for a photo in a racist costume as a medical student more than 30 years ago, was calling state Democrats on Saturday to say he did not think it was him in the picture and that he would not resign… in phone calls on Saturday morning he said he had no recollection of the yearbook image of two men, one in blackface and the other in Ku Klux Klan robes….

In addition to calling state Democratic officials, Mr. Northam has been calling former classmates at Eastern Virginia Medical School in an effort to determine more information about the picture — and to survive a crisis that is threatening his year-old governorship, according to a Democrat familiar with Mr. Northam’s calls.

This Democrat said the governor was determined to prove it was not him in the photograph and was even considering using facial recognition software. The governor, the Democrat said, had wanted to take responsibility on Friday night, which was why he apologized for appearing in the picture without acknowledging which person he was in the image.

Now he has to resign because he has proven that he’s an idiot. He began by admitting that he was definitely one of the two men in the photo and apologizing. If he wasn’t, does that mean that there’s another photo of Northam in a Klan get-up or in blackface? Why would he admit to dressing up in blackface or as a Klansman if he never did so? Was this so routine for him that he wouldn’t remember if he did it or not that particular time? Was he lying when he admitted that he was in the photo–and why would he do that?—-or lying now in a desperate attempt to save his career? Ugh. Show some dignity, man.

c) Conservative bloggers and pundits are enjoying this revolting spectacle way too much. Allahpundit: “Killing babies on the table is one thing, but an old blackface photo is where America draws the line.” Charlie Kirk:

David Bernstein: “The standards on past indiscretions confuse me. If we had had a picture of Ted Kennedy driving a car off a bridge and leaving his passenger to die while he planned a cover up, would he have had to resign?”  And when Planned Parenthood demanded that Northam resign, we got this…

d) Ann Althouse, as I assumed she would, is dubious about the fairness of condemning Northam for an unexplained use of blackface 35 years ago. “Here‘s the Wikipedia list of celebrities who’ve done blackface, ” she writes. ” Would those who want to exile Gov. Northam agree that all of these people should be shunned retrospectively (even the dead ones)? Fred Armisen, Fred Astaire, Dan Aykroyd, Jack Benny, Fanny Brice, George Burns, Johnny Carson, Joan Crawford, Billy Crystal, Robert Downey Jr., Judy Garland, Alec Guinness, Rex Harrison, Jimmy Kimmel, Dean Martin, The Marx Brothers, The Lone Ranger, Carroll O’Connor, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Grace Slick, The Three Stooges, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley Temple, John Wayne, Gene Wilder.

Of course, as Ann must recognize, all of those individuals, unlike Northam, were or are performers whose use of dark make-up was related to a particular role, skit or musical number. Continue reading