Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This is Just Pathetic

Mark Shea:

Yesterday, Googling "Sarah Palin" and "retard" got you 126,000 hits.

As of this post, the same search now gets you 1,090,000 hits. [NB: When I do this search, I get 135,000 hits.]

In light of recent discussions about the connection between violence and disrespect, note that today in America, more than 90% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. May God have mercy...

29 comments:

Hugh said...

in America, more than 90% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. May God have mercy..
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Why would any of the gods be in the slightest concerned by foetal death?

Ken Brown said...

Hugh,
Why would any of the gods be in the slightest concerned by foetal death?

That question can only be answered in light of an even more pressing and relevant one: What does it say about us that we--supposedly liberal, humanistic and enlightened people--have determined that an entire class of human beings is not worthy of life and may be destroyed without qualm?

jeb said...

Why would any of the gods be in the slightest concerned by foetal death?

why wouldn't they? a God which was omniscient, or even a god which was somewhat close to being omniscient, would be able to keep tabs on human foeti without much effort.

now, of course, the last time i brought this up, you said something along the lines of "well, they're so powerful, they certainly wouldn't deign to concern themselves with things as petty as human life.' To which i would respond, "well, higher beings concern themselves with lower beings all the time--people own ant farms and sea monkeys for that reason. perhaps God/Gods/gods--if any are out there--pay attention to humans for much the same reasons.

N. Adam said...

That question can only be answered in light of an even more pressing and relevant one: What does it say about us that we--supposedly liberal, humanistic and enlightened people--have determined that an entire class of human beings is not worthy of life and may be destroyed without qualm?

Whether you agree with the outcome or not, I cannot believe that you believe that a decision like that could be made without qualm? Speaking for myself, the arguments from both sides are compelling and whatever judgment I make is case-by-case. That being said, I do not equate a live human being with a human fetus (or human embryo).

why wouldn't they? a God which was omniscient, or even a god which was somewhat close to being omniscient, would be able to keep tabs on human foeti without much effort.

The question I am interested in being answered is why an omniscient god allow for such defects to occur in the first place?

jeb said...

The question I am interested in being answered is why an omniscient god allow for such defects to occur in the first place?


perhaps God is omniscient, or nearly so, but not omnipotent---able to predict whether or not a baby will be born with a defect, but not able to do something about it.

or perhaps God is both omniscient and omnipotent, and allows a baby to be born with Down's or something similar as part of His master plan--beyond limited human comprehension, of course, but in the long run, perhaps the *very* long run, God intended it to be born that way because somewhere down the line something good might happen because of it or something.

me, i don't know, i'm a profound agnostic when it comes to this stuff. it doesn't really matter anyways, of course. you don't believe in an omniscient and/or omnipotent god in any case, so the discussion is fairly pointless. i was merely busting hugh's chops, since this is at least the second time (at least) he's asked a variation of the same question "why would some mighty god be concerned about us lowly humans? :'("

Hugh said...

Ken Brown said... have determined that an entire class of human beings is not worthy of life and may be destroyed without qualm?
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You'll have to ask women who make that decision. It's insulting to say that the decision is made 'without qualm'.

Hugh said...

God/Gods/gods--if any are out there--pay attention to humans for much the same reasons.
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To make use of humans as pets or food?

Hugh said...

jeb said... "why would some mighty god be concerned about us lowly humans?
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Why would the gods have a benevolent and personal concern? It doesn't appear that they have and why would they?

jeb said...

To make use of humans as pets or food?

well, if it/they used humans as food, perhaps that would explain more than a few 'alien' abductions. i dunno about that, though.

'pets' may not be to far off, on the other hand. perhaps some higher being finds as cute and/or funny as a species. i'd certainly like to believe we humans aren't a boring lot, right? :]

jeb said...

Why would the gods have a benevolent and personal concern?

why wouldn't they?

It doesn't appear that they have

Ken would argue that God showed him a 'personal and benevolent concern.'

and why would they?

again, why wouldn't they?

you can believe in unconcerned, impersonal, or even malevolent deities if you want, but it's not really relevant to your repeated question, "why would the gods be concerned about us?" The fact that you apparently cannot understand or accept any answer to that question tells us more about your lack of imagination than whether or not that God or any god exists or even whether or not any higher power, if it did exist, would be malevolent or benevolent, concerned or unconcerned.

Hugh said...

jeb said...
whether or not that God or any god exists or even whether or not any higher power, if it did exist, would be malevolent or benevolent, concerned or unconcerned.
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There are a great many gods. Baal,Yahweh,Huitzilopochtli to mention three, are distinctly malevolent. Selecting from the menu of gods some nice ones, if you can think of any, wouldn't justify the statement that the gods, as such, take an interest in our wellbeing. Why should they? Haven't they anything better to do? Can't they mind their own business?

Ken Brown said...

N. Adam:
I cannot believe that you believe that a decision like that could be made without qualm

Hugh:
You'll have to ask women who make that decision. It's insulting to say that the decision is made 'without qualm'.

I’m not talking about whether the women who have chosen to abort did so without qualm (though 90% speaks for itself), I’m talking about the significant portion of our culture (judging by the above Google search) that refers to anyone less than genetically “perfect” as a “retard,” whom we have the right (and perhaps even the duty) to destroy.

What gives us the right to decide that another person’s life is not worth living? What gives us the right to decide that if there is even a chance that they might not be able to live independently, they should not get to live at all? What gives us the right to decide that only certain sorts of people are good enough to be born?

N. Adam:
I do not equate a live human being with a human fetus (or human embryo).

A human fetus is both alive and a unique human being, fully distinct from its parents. What distinction do you see that justifies its destruction just because it is still in utero?

jeb said...

yet again, i shall repeat myself:

Selecting from the menu of gods some nice ones,as such, take an interest in our wellbeing. Why should they?

why shouldn't they?

Haven't they anything better to do?

perhaps not, especially if human beings really are such an interesting lot :]

Can't they mind their own business?

why should they? who's going to make them?

Hugh said...

jeb said...
yet again, i shall repeat myself:
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OK. You haven't a clue what the gods may be up to. Neither have I. That was the point. So, we can't invoke their support for any point of view about abortion.

jeb said...

OK. You haven't a clue what the gods may be up to. Neither have I. That was the point. So, we can't invoke their support for any point of view about abortion.


*i* wouldn't. you may, if you wish--if you believe baal or Huitzilopochtli or whoever would support abortion, then by all means go campaign for abortion on their behalf. on the other hand, if our gracious host believes that his God opposes abortion, then by all means let him invoke his God's support to oppose abortion. aside from the obvious fact that this is his blog, neither yours nor mine, and he can voice his support or opposition to whatever he wants without needing approval from either of us, who knows? perhaps he's right, just as perhaps the baalists or aztecs are right.

so then while our host chooses to voice his opposition to abortion 'round these parts, feel free to create a blog of your own (apparently, huitzilopochtli.blogspot.com is already taken, but you could try wordpress) and extoll to us all the virtues of abortion or whatever it is you think the God/gods would be into. your guess is as good as mine, bro!

Ken Brown said...

Hugh,
OK. You haven't a clue what the gods may be up to. Neither have I. That was the point. So, we can't invoke their support for any point of view about abortion.

Who here invoked "the gods'" support? I specifically deflected that issue as less "pressing" or "relevant" than whether we are the sort of people who claim the right to destroy an entire class of human beings (the "disabled"). (Though I would think, at the least, that any being who cared about the moral caliber of humanity would indeed be concerned about our tendency to displace or destroy any who threaten our idea of a comfortable life, whether they be foreign terrorists or our own unborn children.)

In any case, who does get to decide which class of people qualify as not good enough to be born? On what basis? What justifies the moral distinction between born and not-yet-born? And finally, as one commenter noted on the post linked above:

What happens when genetic engineering creates humans with 200+ IQs and you and I, by comparison, are special needs children?

Hugh said...

The number of children born is 2 per woman in the United States. How many children would a woman have between the age of 12 and 40. Twenty children per woman, fifteen. What's going on here?

Ken Brown said...

Hugh,
The number of children born is 2 per woman in the United States. How many children would a woman have between the age of 12 and 40. Twenty children per woman, fifteen. What's going on here?

I have no idea what you are trying to say with this.

Hugh said...

I have no idea what you are trying to say with this. Ken Brown
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If you're going to stick your nose into women's fertility, how many children are you telling them they should have?

Ken Brown said...

Who said anything about telling women "how many children" they should have? The point at issue here is whether we, as individuals or as a culture, have the moral right to destroy those (who already exist!) that we think imperfect. Or are you saying that eugenics is ok, so long as it is only chosen by the mother? I'd like to hear you defend that claim.

N. Adam said...

you don't believe in an omniscient and/or omnipotent god in any case, so the discussion is fairly pointless.

I certainly hope not, as mine was an open question and I was actually hoping Ken would chime in.

A human fetus is both alive and a unique human being, fully distinct from its parents. What distinction do you see that justifies its destruction just because it is still in utero?

You have answered your own question. One is tethered to another human being and the other is not.

Ken Brown said...

Jeb:
you don't believe in an omniscient and/or omnipotent god in any case, so the discussion is fairly pointless.

N. Adam:
I certainly hope not, as mine was an open question and I was actually hoping Ken would chime in.

It is a question worth pursuing another time, to be sure, but it is a tangent that I'd prefer not to let derail the issue at hand.

Me:
What distinction do you see that justifies its destruction just because it is still in utero?

N. Adam:
One is tethered to another human being and the other is not.

What relevance does being "tethered" have to the moral question at hand (is it ok to destroy those deemed inferior)? A healthy baby may remain "tethered" to its mother until well after it would be viable outside the womb; does the mere fact that it is still inside make its life disposable at the mother's whim? Would she be equally justified in aborting a perfectly healthy child, so long as it is "tethered" to her, even when it presents no danger to her? For that matter, even after birth, the baby remains "tethered" to its mother via the umbilical cord; is she morally justified in killing it then too, as long as the cord hasn't yet been cut? If so, why? If not, then what is the moral difference between then and before birth, if it is not the fact of being "tethered." May she kill it up until it could survive without her, but not later? For any reason at all, or only if it might turn out "retarded"? Why?

Conjoined twins are also "tethered" to one another. Imagine a case where one of the twins needs to remain attached to the other to survive. If they remain tethered, both will survive but with a distinctly reduced quality of life, whereas if they are separated, one will die. Would that fact give the one who is sustaining the other a moral right to kill their twin? Without their consent? If not, how is it any different with a mother and her unborn child?

N. Adam said...

Firstly, Ken, you are playing with words. I think that it was obvious in what sense the word "tethered" was used, namely, the way a fetus is tethered to its mother. By stretching the word from its proper context to include the bond of mother and child or the psychical attachment of conjoined twins, I do not think you've done the slightest two advance your case. Had I given a line-by-line reply, we would be knee-deep in the particulars of semantics and vacant rhetoric. Secondly, I was only underlining the distinction and not assuming a moral position. The fact of the matter is that there are differences and they are not arbitrary. It is simply my belief that a human fetus does not have all of the rights of a human being. Before you respond to that, allow me to repeat that, thirdly, I do not know why you are trying to pin me down on general grounds when I've already said that I find both sides of the argument compelling and I judge each situation on a case-by-case basis.

Hugh said...

Ken Brown said...
Who said anything about telling women "how many children" they should have?
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How many children should they have? Two, as is the case, or twenty as would be the case if Mother Nature had her way?

Ken Brown said...

N. Adam,
Firstly, Ken, you are playing with words. I think that it was obvious in what sense the word "tethered" was used, namely, the way a fetus is tethered to its mother. By stretching the word from its proper context to include the bond of mother and child or the psychical attachment of conjoined twins, I do not think you've done the slightest two advance your case.

How am I "playing with words"? A child in utero is "tethered" to its mother via the umbilical cord. You seem to be saying that this fact justifies its destruction (in all cases, or only some? If the latter, you are clearly relying on some other, unstated, distinction than being "tethered"). I was simply highlighting the absurdity of such a claim. If you have a different (more "obvious") sense of "tethered" in mind, you will have to make it explicit. The matter of conjoined twins was simply an analogy.

Secondly, I was only underlining the distinction and not assuming a moral position. The fact of the matter is that there are differences and they are not arbitrary. It is simply my belief that a human fetus does not have all of the rights of a human being.

I realize that, but you can't raise an issue and then object to my responding to the claims you make. You have explicitly claimed that the destruction of Down Syndrome fetuses can be justified on the basis of their being "tethered" to their mother. It was to that claim that I responded, and you have not demonstrated that my response is mistaken; you have simply asserted that it is so.

Before you respond to that, allow me to repeat that, thirdly, I do not know why you are trying to pin me down on general grounds when I've already said that I find both sides of the argument compelling and I judge each situation on a case-by-case basis.

I'm not trying to pin you down. I'm simply asking questions about the implications of the logical position you (and others) have adopted. The fact that you find both sides "compelling" and propose to judge on a case-by-case basis does not justify making those judgments on questionable or illogical premises.

Ken Brown said...

Hugh,
How many children should they have? Two, as is the case, or twenty as would be the case if Mother Nature had her way?

Women are and should be free to decide for themselves how many children they will have. I have never said otherwise. But this fact does not justify the destruction of those children already concieved. Surely you are not implying that the only reason most American women have 2 rather than 20 children is because they abort 18 of them!

N. Adam said...

You have explicitly claimed that the destruction of Down Syndrome fetuses can be justified on the basis of their being "tethered" to their mother.

Simply put: you are wrong. I did not mention Down Syndrome once in passing, let alone explicitly.

I realize that, but you can't raise an issue and then object to my responding to the claims you make.

I was not objecting to the fact that you are responding. I was objecting to the way you took the word "tethered" out of its context then used in another context with the dubious expectation that, since I used that particular word, it should logically follow that anything that is in-any-sense tethered is eligible for destruction. You went beyond a logical extreme and into absurdity; in good faith, I hope.

I'm simply asking questions about the implications of the logical position you (and others) have adopted.

Ken, you are obviously so passionate about this issue that you cannot see the forest from the trees. You demand complexity, yet respond with simplicity. The fact of the matter is that there are pitfalls no matter what position you take on the abortion issue. The inverse of my belief is that a human embryo should be protected as a human being. Well, that belief would prevent thousands from becoming pregnant in the first place and stifles research that might lead to serious medical advances for us "untethered" human beings.

I value the life of a human being more than a human fetus. This is not based on a strong logical foundation--neither is your position or any other. Just as my belief has implications, so too do yours (speaking of which, I would like to add to the open question I raised earlier the question of God and miscarriage). That said, I would be ready and willing to answer for them you were really asking.

Ken Brown said...

N. Adam,
Simply put: you are wrong. I did not mention Down Syndrome once in passing, let alone explicitly.

It may be that we have been talking past each other. When you responded to my question: "What distinction do you see that justifies its destruction just because it is still in utero?" With "One is tethered to another human being and the other is not." I simply assumed you were taking into account the context of my question, which was specifically focused on selective abortion against Down Syndrome (the subject of the post and the comment in question). Looking back over our exchange, I can see that you did not explicitly make this connection, so I do apologize for misunderstanding and misrepresenting you.

Ken, you are obviously so passionate about this issue that you cannot see the forest from the trees. You demand complexity, yet respond with simplicity. The fact of the matter is that there are pitfalls no matter what position you take on the abortion issue.

Here I must protest. If I have misunderstood you, you have clearly misunderstood me as well. I have not responded with "simplicity" at all; the whole point of my series of questions was to highlight that the issue is not as simple as many want to make it (of which group I, wrongly, took you to be defending). If we agree that the issue is complex (far more complex than is implied by those calling Palin's child a "retard" and claiming the right to judge its worthiness to be born), then I am content to leave the matter there.

I would like to add to the open question I raised earlier the question of God and miscarriage.

I'm still going to leave this issue aside for another day, but any such discussion will have to take account of the comments that followed this post, particularly the point that miscarriage derives from a variety of factors, some of which are within our control (and others of which are basic to our mortality and evolution).

Hugh said...

Ken Brown said...
Women are and should be free to decide for themselves how many children they will have
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OK. That's takes care of the question.