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The Ovens of our Era: More than One Way to Host a Holocaust

Today’s headline on the Drudge Report did not surprise me in the slightest:

ABORTED BABIES INCINERATED TO HEAT HOSPITALS

The article linked to is this one in the Telegraph:

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals:
The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as ‘clinical waste’ by hospitals in Britain with some used in ‘waste to energy’ plants

I had a variety of thoughts hit me simultaneously and in quick succession.  I have read stories about abortionists tossing out sacks of aborted babies.  I am aware of the use of fetal materials derived from aborted children to create vaccines.  I know that there are companies using fetal remains to do experiments to perfect the taste of foods.  (This link gives a good overview of both of those examples).  Those are things already happening.  Then, there are ‘bio-ethicists’ such as Jacob Appel proposing that women purposefully sell the parts of their aborted children on the open market;  his article doesn’t speak to the ethics of, perhaps, a woman conceiving for the express purpose of financing her way through school by selling off the body parts of of her offspring.

And then, of course, there are the people eating aborted babies.   It would be better, of course, if we just brought the fetus to term, used it as a sex toy, and then turned it into a health food, but I digress.  [Link]

Honestly, with these and many other examples in mind, it is hard to be surprised when perfectly respectable and upstanding medical institutions decide to ‘go green’ by incinerating aborted children.  What is surprising is that anyone objects to it at all, if you’ve already come to support abortion on demand.

One of the thoughts that assailed me as I read this article was the irony of a country going to war not too long ago to stop another country from shoving people into ovens, now doing the same.

There are some differences, of course.  The English are at least making sure that they are dead, first.  But of course, that is not a point in their favor, exactly, because if you have already decided that abortion is ok…. you’ve already decided that the unborn child is not a child at all, or, if a child, not worthy of protection, or not even concerned about sparing them pain and suffering (further irony loaded into that!) and allowing them (where ‘them’, on their view, means only a ‘lump of cells’) to be scalded by saline, or–my personal favorite–allowing the baby’s head to exit the birth canal, but nothing else, to allow the abortionist to jab scissors into the skull, suck the brains out of it, and then afterwards vacuum the rest of it out (this way, it is not yet a baby;  it is still a fetus.  A magical transformation happens–one of the few bits of magic that liberals, atheists, and pro-choicers believe in–when a baby fully descends down and out of the birth canal; this moment, a fetus.  The next moment, a baby.  Halfway in?  Still a fetus;  kill it at will.)  …

Yes, if you have already decided all that, and are happily giving out abortions to whomever can pay for them, then it is hardly to your credit that you are not shoving them into ovens alive, because a ‘lump of cells’ can’t really be alive, can it?  If you were concerned about that, you wouldn’t have killed it at all.  But you can’t kill what isn’t alive… oh, never mind.

But there is of course, another difference, and that is that the foolish Germans, despite their huge emphasis on efficiency that they had during the period, never thought that perhaps they could use the energy created by incinerating Jews to power their factories.  Leave it to English ingenuity to cover that angle!

There is a very important similarity, and it is this:  the Germans had decided that the Jews were not persons and therefore did not warrant the respect and consideration that we accord to persons (in their mind, the Jews were vermin, like rats), whilst the English have similarly decided that the unborn also are not persons… parasites, rather… and likewise have decided not to accord these little lumps of cells the respect and consideration that we accord to persons.  It is fitting, therefore, that in both cases, the refuse is tossed into an oven.

I assume, of course, that the English ovens are specially designed to ensure that in generating energy they do not pollute the atmosphere.  After all, while it is only appropriate that we do everything in our power to recycle in order to save the earth, we shouldn’t do so carelessly, putting out baby-ash into the atmosphere, undoing what we just achieved by recycling the biological waste products.

I think there are stages of inhuman violence, both privately and publicly.  The first stage, in either case, is a depersonalization of the persons you wish to do violence upon.  Before society comes to accept the same de-personalization, it may be necessary to commit the violence in secret, in the dark of night, say, beneath white hoods lit by burning crosses.  Or, say, in small acts of cruelty, such as breaking the windows of the vermin in your neighborhood.  Or, in the sterile white room, outside the view of onlookers, where children are pulled limb by limb from their mother’s wombs.  It is hard to imagine how, when once someone has decided a person is not a person, and this view has come to permeate a whole society, that violence could not eventually spill out into public in grand,  horrific fashion.

That the ashes of the unborn rose of the civilized and respectable English men and women in public, grand, horrific fashion–yet, unnoticed by them–does not surprise me in the slightest.  (I know, I know.  There were no ashes, because the incineration process was environmentally friendly.  It’s a rhetorical point, savvy?)

The difference between the ‘civilized’ today and the German Nazis of just a few decades ago seems, to me, to amount to nothing more or less than we moderns carrying out our Holocaust in a more civilized fashion.  Obviously, a civilization hosting its Holocaust in privacy is bound to pile up loads more dead than the ones who did it brazenly, but it isn’t just the sheer number that concerns me, but my belief that such depersonalization and violence cannot stay private for long, once a society and culture had collectively decided it is morally justifiable.  We may all wonder who the next to be classified as ‘vermin’ or ‘parasites’ are, but I think we can state with confidence that whoever it is, they will be dispatched in pristine white rooms as part of a ‘procedure.’  But we may be decades from this.  I don’t know.

While assailed by these thoughts, I could not help but note with a wry smile the Dr. Dan Poulter, the health minister seemingly in charge of this matter, declaring that all of these NHS trusts (27 of them, apparently) had engaged in “totally unacceptable” activities.  These same NHS trusts, I wager, are in charge of administering the Liverpool Care Pathway, and we can rest assured that in that at least they have shown much better judgement, and were certainly not guilty of hastening the deaths of the terminally ill and the old in the name of ‘efficiency’ (for which they received awards and rewards!).  Certainly not.

But that is another digression, because I feel pretty confident (without actually looking into it) that Dr. Poulter is a firm supporter of a woman’s reproductive rights, up to and including abortion on demand.  Why should he view incinerating fetal remains as “totally unacceptable” if he has no objections to having them killed in the first place?  Surely it just makes good sense not to let the remains go to waste and instead use them efficiently in the cause of saving the planet.

As in many other cases when private and personal depersonalized violence accidentally (and inevitably) spills out into public to the embarrassment of many ‘civilized’ people, we see people bemoaning something that is far less significant than the underlying violent act that they actually support.   Ie, though it is a sign of the times, and perhaps of all times, it is bizarre that it could be deemed “totally unacceptable” to incinerate the ashes of fetuses but the execution of the fetuses in the first place is, of course, seen as perfectly fine.  After all, a woman has the right to her own body, and all we are really talking about is an unwanted batch of cells that has parasitically taken up residence inside her.  If that’s all it is, then logic ought to suggest that there can be no objection to disposing of those cells unceremoniously, and, if anything, using those cells for the good of the planet or a ‘social good’ should be commended and applauded as “totally acceptable.”

For you see, as abhorrent as I find Jacob Appel’s arguments to be (pretty much all of them, anywhere he has made them, on any topic), he is basically right on the logic:

Of course, those who believe that life begins at conception will never find such a market desirable. But for those of us, myself included, who sincerely believe that human life begins far later in the growth process, I believe that we have a moral duty to women to give due consideration to the legalization of such a fetal-organ trade.

If “human life begins far later in the growth process” as Appel says then it really doesn’t matter what you do with the fetal remains, does it?  May as well put it to a good social or environmental purpose, no?  And if personhood doesn’t kick in until up to the age of 2, like Singer, Giubilini, and Minerva (to name a few) have maintained, then there is no reason why we should be drawing lines even at the birth canal.

Once you’ve gone down this road, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why we should be drawing any lines at all.  They all seem to me to be arbitrary sentimental gobbly-gook.  Some day, when we set that sentiment behind us, we won’t have any silly health ministers decrying the incinerating of remains as ‘unacceptable’ while supporting the procedures that made those remains remains in the first place.  We’ll just man up to the implications of our collective worldview, and act appropriately.  I suppose, if we are all being consistent, there could be a time and place when it will be alright to toss a toddler in the oven, while we’re at it–provided it is to save the planet and does not further pollute it in the process.  And why stop at toddlers?  No one else in history has, once they’ve wandered down the de-personalization process.

—————————-

I went after the English pretty hard in this essay, but don’t we already know that it is entirely likely that precisely the same thing is happening in the good ol’ U S of A?  What’s in the air you’re breathing?

Nothing like the smell of burning baby in the morning!

I know, I know.  Its a fetus, not a baby. And these are efficient ovens.

All the better to conceal the Holocaust that transpired in order to fuel them.

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108 Responses to The Ovens of our Era: More than One Way to Host a Holocaust

  1. I too, am not surprised. Neither by the act itself, nor the contradicting outrage of people who otherwise fully support the fundamental principles that make it perfectly logical (if not demanded).

    One sees it all the time in abortion debates. No matter how often you draw comparisons to the beliefs and ideologies that lead to the Holocaust, the pro-choice crowed will reject such comparisons and sincerely believe they are fundamentally different. And they can maintain this belief not because the fundamental principles are indeed different, but because the method of application is different.

    That’s why they can be genuinely shocked at such perfectly logical acts. Because when even the methods start looking to be the same, the similarities become just too obvious for them to maintain their bubble of self-delusion.

  2. Dear dear Tony,

    I have read this essay several times, and apart from the rampant anti-Englishism (I am now seriously considering starting up a campaign over here to have American Football – that’s “Football” to you – renamed “Freedom Football”. How does that feel? Does it burn?), what I mainly noticed was how many assumptions got treated as facts in the service of making your point. More about that later.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is a horrible thing, and I’m quite willing (as you requested) to tell you why it’s a horrible thing from my point of view.

    It’s a horrible thing because of the reported lack of consent (in some cases) to the manner of disposal of the corpses of aborted or miscarried foetuses by their parents. It’s a horrible thing because of the lack of respect shown to the bodies of potential and actual humans. It’s a horrible thing because of the coarse utilisation of human material as fuel. All those things are horrible enough, and I don’t personally feel that any supernatural additions are required, although I’m quite prepared to believe that further reality-based reasons for the horribleness in question do exist that I may not have thought of yet.

    On to those assumptions:

    Some assumptions you are quite within your rights to make, although you shouldn’t expect them to be universally accepted. For example, if you adhere to the idea that there is no qualitative difference between a 10-day fertilised embryo and an adult human being then the prevalence of abortion in the western world represents a human calamity more worthy of the term “Holocaust” than, well, the Holocaust. But that’s a big “if”, and you can’t necessarily count upon your readers subscribing to its (some would say) most obviously dubious premise.

    Some other assumptions that you made above seem much less internally valid and much more unsupportably partisan:

    “…it is hard to be surprised when perfectly respectable and upstanding medical institutions decide to ‘go green’ by incinerating aborted children.”

    There were quite a few variations on this theme in the course of the essay. Here you are pretending certainty about the decision-making processes and desired outcomes of those involved in order to cast them in the worst possible light and support the point that you want to make. If the whole sorry affair was the result of poor communication and incompetence then that wouldn’t be as conducive to the case that you want to make now would it. Hence the pervasive hyperbolic nazi comparisons, which I understand are “just rhetorical points, savvy”, but which also cut into your credibility if they are subsequently found to be fact-free. Since you own up several times to not having checked out the facts first it comes to pretty much the same thing either way.

    Also, the “white hoods lit by burning crosses” reference was a singularly poorly chosen example of the alleged creeping tide of secular/progressive societal violence. I think your rhetorical error here can best be illustrated by the following joke:

    Did you hear about the agnostic who joined the KKK? He got thrown out for burning question marks on people’s front lawns.

    That also works if you substitute “Unitarian” for agnostic, by the way. You are welcome.

    Oh and by the way, nice equivocation on the “abortions don’t take place in public” thing. Clearly the level of privacy in which those procedures are usually carried out necessarily indicates that they are a self-conscious example of “hidden societal violence”. I guess colonoscopies must also be part of the insidious socialist death squad agenda, since they also tend not to be televised.

    “I feel pretty confident (without actually looking into it) that Dr. Poulter is a firm supporter of a woman’s reproductive rights, up to and including abortion on demand.”

    As it happens this guy is a member of our Conservative party, so the odds are only about 50:50 that he is pro-choice. I can’t actually find any voting or speech-giving record of his online to help me determine what his position actually is on this issue. Does that impact at all on the purely rhetorical point you are making?

    Anyway, I was interested to see that you agreed with my suggestion (on Facebook) that this was a “classic free market solution”. Is this perhaps one area where you could be persuaded to support the idea of government being bigger rather than smaller?

    All interesting questions to be sure. I know that you’re very busy at the moment – perhaps you can delegate the task of answering some of those questions to EB, since as usual he agrees with you in every possible respect.

    On a lighter note, I was out with some friends last night at a 1950s-themed American pub/club/diner (I question the strength of their commitment to historical realism however, since they didn’t segregate the clientele) and I had a Brandy Old Fashioned, just for you. Not bad!

    Dan

  3. “It’s a horrible thing because of the reported lack of consent (in some cases) to the manner of disposal of the corpses of aborted or miscarried foetuses by their parents.”

    Under your belief system, “horrible” would be too strong a word. After all if you find the unborn to be parasites that are worthy of being removed at a person’s whims, than the situation is a kin to an exterminator removing an infestation that’s gotten into one’s house. How much say does one really have in how the exterminator then disposes of the remains? I suppose one could find the idea that a dead rat is lighting one’s light bulb to be a bit morbid, but it’s not something to generate outrage over.

    “It’s a horrible thing because of the lack of respect shown to the bodies of potential and actual humans.”

    This is hypocrisy at it’s finest. No respect was given to allow the unborn to live. To claim that respect should be applied afterwards is far far, too late in the game.

    “It’s a horrible thing because of the coarse utilisation of human material as fuel.”

    It’s just using a clump of cells to help improve other people’s lives, like an organ transplant. Though it’s even better as this method can potentially affect more than just one person. It’s going towards saving the world! Don’t you care about the world, DB? 😉

    “All those things are horrible enough, and I don’t personally feel that any supernatural additions are required, although I’m quite prepared to believe that further reality-based reasons for the horribleness in question do exist that I may not have thought of yet.”

    They’re horrible under the pro-life paradigm. Under the pro-choice’s, it’s at best a bit morbid, but nothing to get bent out of shape over. It’s just as SJ said, all you can appeal to is “sentimental gobbly-gook,” rather than an objective reason to draw any lines.

    “If the whole sorry affair was the result of poor communication and incompetence then that wouldn’t be as conducive to the case that you want to make now would it.”

    The act of putting a child’s body in a furnace 15,000 times can’t be written off as a mistake in communication, DB.

  4. EB,

    You’ve proven on a number of occasions that it is pointless to correct any of your misrepresentations of my position.  Your firm and abiding conviction that you are the only reliable arbiter of what other people believe, think and feel (and what those mental states ultimately mean) is almost endearing in its unshakeable pig-headed arrogance.  Suffice it to say (mainly for anyone else who might be reading) that the above response is so far from addressing my actual position that responding to it would be like a tennis player trying to return the serve of someone playing on an entirely different court (who, naturally, thinks he’s winning in straight sets).  Best to leave him to it, in other words.

    Only one point seems worth clarifying:

    “The act of putting a child’s body in a furnace 15,000 times can’t be written off as a mistake in communication, DB.”

    Are you under the impression that healthcare workers are just picking up aborted and miscarried foetuses and dropping them into a chute marked “Incinerator”?  Perhaps there might be one such chute in every room in the hospital for convenience?

    No.

    Clinical waste is where all contaminated hospital products go – bloody bandages, soiled linen, amputated body parts; things which need to be separated from regular waste because they have the potential to carry and spread infections.  Disposing of different kinds of waste in different bins is just second nature in a hospital setting, but not all hospital staff are aware that clinical waste is incinerated.  Those bags are collected from all the wards on a daily basis and taken to a central waste processing area – hundreds of such bags each day in a large hospital – and the guys collecting them and doing the incinerating are certainly not aware of what is in them.  They are not likely to open the bags up and sift the contents to make sure that they’re not incinerating anything they shouldn’t either; partly because they make minimum wage which doesn’t exactly reward initiative, and partly because they would be expressly forbidden from doing so for infection control reasons.  So, poor communication and improper oversight can certainly be an explanatory factor in the incineration part of the story, and I think it shows up the ideological agenda of the essay to not even consider that possibility.

    This is not to gloss over the fact that aborted or miscarried foetuses are being placed in clinical waste.  That should most definitely not be happening, for the reasons I mentioned above and which you dismissed on the basis of your (self-proclaimed) superior understanding of what my beliefs really are.

    If you’d like to engage with me properly on this subject then feel free to have another try.  But if not, wow great serve EB!  Yet another Ace – shame you’re on a different court from your opponent as usual.

  5. “You’ve proven on a number of occasions that it is pointless to correct any of your misrepresentations of my position.”

    If you’re saying you personally don’t consider the unborn to be “parasites” or such, and thus is the reason why you can personally reject when people are consistent in treating them as such, well… that doesn’t really help you. Because it IS your position that the unborn aren’t persons worthy of the same protections you enjoy and thus an ‘actual’ person is free to terminate them.

    That is indeed the premise you accept. And it is indeed the premise which logically allows/necessitates for such acts to occur. When you believe the unborn are not worthy of the basic respect to life, how can you turn around and demand they be treated with any other form of respect at any other point?

    “So, poor communication and improper oversight can certainly be an explanatory factor in the incineration part of the story, and I think it shows up the ideological agenda of the essay to not even consider that possibility.”

    It also can be a poorly veiled excuse. Made all the more unlikely by the fact that the mother’s were reportedly told the remains were ‘cremated.’ Technically they weren’t lying.

    Someone had to put the remains in a certain place. And that person couldn’t know where to take it unless they were instructed, which means someone made the conscious decision of where the refuse was going, and thus it becomes doubtful to the point of absurdity that after 15,000 times no one had any clue where the final destination was.

    “That should most definitely not be happening, for the reasons I mentioned above and which you dismissed on the basis of your (self-proclaimed) superior understanding of what my beliefs really are.”

    The fact you’ve always responded with automatic and reflexive dismissal such as we see now, rather than actually address the points raised, gives me no real reason to change my understanding – that otherwise decent people who support abortion simply have their heads in the sand.

  6. EB,

    “It IS your position that the unborn aren’t persons worthy of the same protections you enjoy and thus an ‘actual’ person is free to terminate them.”

    That is not my position. We have talked about this before, and I’m pretty sure that I told you what my position on this subject is. Would you like a reminder or do you want to keep beating up that strawman?

    “Someone had to put the remains in a certain place. And that person couldn’t know where to take it unless they were instructed, which means someone made the conscious decision of where the refuse was going, and thus it becomes doubtful to the point of absurdity that after 15,000 times no one had any clue where the final destination was.”

    I’m still not getting the impression that you really understand the systems involved. That’s ok, if you haven’t worked in a hospital before there’s no reason why you should. You just ought to be aware that things are less simple than you are making them out to be. Come to think of it, that’s nearly always true – you should probably write that down somewhere.

    Still, like I said, the fact that this happened (so many times) is a clear failure of the healthcare system. What would your preferred solution be?

  7. “That is not my position. We have talked about this before, and I’m pretty sure that I told you what my position on this subject is. Would you like a reminder or do you want to keep beating up that strawman?”

    That IS your position. You usually try to obfuscate it with arguments and labels like “potential persons” and your personal criteria of ‘needing a fully developed brain’ to qualify (though I’ve never known you to be that bent out of shape over abortion in the later stages of growth).

    But the fact is you indeed hold the position that ‘personhood’ is a trait that is not shared by all humans from the moment of inception. And thus it’s perfectly acceptable to terminate them. And that is indeed the exact same premise employed to justify every act of mass slaughter.

    You hold the same basic belief as those like Appel, Singer, and the rest, DB. You just personally draw the line at a different place than other abortionists. But as pointed out numerous times, that is a matter of your subjective opinion, rather than an objective criteria. Which is why you are entirely wrong to say such acts as performed by the UK hospitals are illogical or even “horrible” under your paradigm. All you can say is ‘I personally don’t agree.’

    “You just ought to be aware that things are less simple than you are making them out to be. Come to think of it, that’s nearly always true – you should probably write that down somewhere.”

    I’ll more than agree, as long as you write down that one of the key cornerstones of why atrocities frequently occur is rationalizations and self-delusion. 😉

    “Still, like I said, the fact that this happened (so many times) is a clear failure of the healthcare system. What would your preferred solution be?”

    No, it’s really just the predictable outcome of what happens when you accept the depersonalization of others based upon some arbitrary criteria that isn’t universally shared that someone just made up. Only way to stop it is to end it at the very first step, and accept all humans are persons from the moment of inception.

    No abortions, no bodies to put in the ovens. I know it may seem too ‘simple’ for your tastes, but the alternative really is just to sit back and wait for more stories of how the left over material is being used for one goal or another. That, and wait for the criteria to change again.

    Because we know it will happen.

  8. “That IS your position.”

    Sticking to the strawman eh? Very wise. Just remember, if you never pull over to ask for directions then you don’t have to admit to ever having been lost.

    “I’ve never known you to be that bent out of shape over abortion in the later stages of growth”

    Hmm, that is pretty definitive. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen you speak out against sodomising penguins. I can only assume you are in favour, yes?

    “But the fact is you indeed hold the position that ‘personhood’ is a trait that is not shared by all humans from the moment of inception. And thus it’s perfectly acceptable to terminate them. And that is indeed the exact same premise employed to justify every act of mass slaughter.”

    How is that different from YOUR position (which, naturally, I can speak with complete authority about) that even though all human beings are persons, it is sometimes ok to kill them? If de-personalisation is not even necessary for killing to be approved of then why is being reluctant to grant personhood to a tiny clump of cells especially relevant? The slippery slope works in both directions.

    “No, it’s really just the predictable outcome of what happens when you accept the depersonalization of others based upon some arbitrary criteria that isn’t universally shared that someone just made up. Only way to stop it is to end it at the very first step, and accept all humans are persons from the moment of inception.”

    1) No criteria is universally shared.
    2) You don’t think someone made up your criteria? That’s adorable!
    3) Argument from utility rather than from evident truth = believe this because it is useful!
    4) The absence of a brain capable of sustaining a human personality is not an arbitrary distinction. As we have previously established, it is precisely the criteria which you are suddenly and mysteriously willing to accept when it comes to judging when someone at the end of their life is no longer a person. Be consistent or go home.

    And, as previously alluded to, 5) you support the death penalty. Given the racial demographics of capital punishment and the historical theological justifications for slavery and segregation, not to mention the original conquest and genocide of the native population of the Americas fuelled by messianic religious fervour, I guess you must accept that the predictable outcome of your beliefs is the mass killing of non-white Americans by the millions.

    Because we know it will happen!

    Convincing eh? 🙂

  9. “Hmm, that is pretty definitive. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen you speak out against sodomising penguins. I can only assume you are in favour, yes?”

    I’ve not been in a debate over the subject in this forum. You really can’t say the same.

    “How is that different from YOUR position (which, naturally, I can speak with complete authority about) that even though all human beings are persons, it is sometimes ok to kill them?”

    Mostly because the criteria I adhere, has nothing to do with arbitrary physical traits, or self-serving economic and life-style concerns (whether they be the individual’s or society’s). But the main difference, and I can’t stress how key this is, is because your criteria is an invention of human beings, while mine is from a much more authoritative and objective source.

    “If de-personalisation is not even necessary for killing to be approved of then why is being reluctant to grant personhood to a tiny clump of cells especially relevant? The slippery slope works in both directions.”

    Not even close. One is a matter of specific actions consciously taken and circumstances. The other simple existence. The two aren’t even remotely comparable.

    “1) No criteria is universally shared.”

    We’re all human beings with full personhood from the moment of conception, regardless of physical traits. I don’t see much room for exclusion under that criteria, do you?

    “2) You don’t think someone made up your criteria? That’s adorable!”

    Good, you are admitting that the reasons for killing the unborn are indeed made up. That’s progress, I suppose.

    “3) Argument from utility rather than from evident truth = believe this because it is useful!”

    Isn’t that one of the implications of evolutionary theory? We don’t evolve to believe objective truths, but only what’s best for our survival?

    4) The absence of a brain capable of sustaining a human personality is not an arbitrary distinction. As we have previously established, it is precisely the criteria which you are suddenly and mysteriously willing to accept when it comes to judging when someone at the end of their life is no longer a person. Be consistent or go home.”

    Now who’s guilty of a strawman here? I’ve only ever accepted the criteria of ‘death’ as an acceptable point of judging when that physical material left behind is not a person, and simply acknowledge the brain is a vital component to sustaining life [I]after it grows[/I]. The first few stages of human life simply doesn’t need a brain to live, but it’s still a living human being, and thus is a fully unique person by the simple fact that personhood is a matter of being rather than a physical trait.

    And we have indeed established the brain is just another arbitrary physical trait. As you’ve always continuously shirked from the implications of ‘personhood’ being lost when one is unconscious, or level of IQ implicating that ‘personhood’ comes in varying degrees, etc. etc.

    But as already established, it’s just a made up criteria. Why should anyone care for it over those others have made up?

    “And, as previously alluded to, 5) you support the death penalty. Given the racial demographics of capital punishment…

    See above. Though the racial imbalance doesn’t necessitate that capital punishment was unjust when applied. It just means it needs to be applied more.

    “…and the historical theological justifications for slavery and segregation, not to mention the original conquest and genocide of the native population of the Americas fuelled by messianic religious fervour, I guess you must accept that the predictable outcome of your beliefs is the mass killing of non-white Americans by the millions.”

    And as SJ pointed out, it all seems to start with de-personalization no matter what reasons are given to justify it. Which means abortionists like you are just doing the same thing as those you denounce and think because you’re doing it to a different group for different reasons it’s not the same. But it is.

    Same song, different cover album. Which probably implies your beliefs are not so fundamentally different than religious ones, no?

    “Because we know it will happen!

    Convincing eh? :-)”

    Millions of innocents dying to this new religion of ‘law’ to the god ‘Society’ secularists worship. Yeah, I’d say it is pretty convincing when it’s so clear how history is just repeating itself.

  10. Just to sum up your position: “All human beings are persons and all persons have an unequivocal right to life [some exceptions may apply]”. Putting aside your grandiose delusions that your particular version of this idea was handed down by God, that seems remarkably similar to my position. But of course you assert that the exceptions you make are totally rational and have no slippery slope implications, whereas MY exceptions are totally arbitrary (note, EB considers the possession of a brain to be an arbitrary trait) and will necessarily lead to a brand new holocaust. Yet at the same time as advocating in favour of capital punishment you tell me that any exceptions to the above principle have very dangerous implications. Truly your logic is not like our Earth logic.

    “But the main difference, and I can’t stress how key this is, is because your criteria is an invention of human beings, while mine is from a much more authoritative and objective source.”

    Translation – “I am right, because God”. As if that kind of reasoning hadn’t ever led to genocidal consequences, or been proved to have been flat out wrong on so very many occasions.

    “The two aren’t even remotely comparable.”

    From the point of view of the individual being killed its a relatively moot point whether the person killing them is doing so because they think that they “lack personhood” or because “God says its ok”. That’s why I consider it an important and non-arbitrary principle not to support the killing of anyone capable of having a point of view.

    “We’re all human beings with full personhood from the moment of conception, regardless of physical traits. I don’t see much room for exclusion under that criteria, do you?”

    It looked like you meant that belief in the principle was universally shared.

    “I’ve only ever accepted the criteria of ‘death’ as an acceptable point of judging when that physical material left behind is not a person, and simply acknowledge the brain is a vital component to sustaining life [I]after it grows[/I]. The first few stages of human life simply doesn’t need a brain to live, but it’s still a living human being, and thus is a fully unique person by the simple fact that personhood is a matter of being rather than a physical trait.”

    Totally circular. Why is a brain dead human being no longer a person? Their brain isn’t a vital component for sustaining life because if they are hooked up to life support then their body can continue to live for years and years. If you take them off it they will die, but that is exactly the same criteria as viability outside the womb, so you’re going to want to stay well away from that one. Either stop insisting that the brain is an arbitrary physical trait or start supporting the full personhood and right to life of brain dead individuals.

    Or continue to make excuses for your blatant inconsistency, I suppose that’s a solid third option.

    “Though the racial imbalance doesn’t necessitate that capital punishment was unjust when applied. It just means it needs to be applied more.”

    Wow, you’re actively embodying the slippery slope now. Evidence of massive racial inequalities in the application of the death penalty. Solution – we need to execute more white people so that it’s fair!

    “Millions of innocents dying to this new religion of ‘law’ to the god ‘Society’ secularists worship. Yeah, I’d say it is pretty convincing when it’s so clear how history is just repeating itself.”

    History doesn’t repeat itself. That’s the laziest form of prophecy. Try being original for once.

    Still, the real test of whether or not you are talking out of your *ahem* hat, would be to make some testable predictions – stuff that you think/know will happen in the next five to ten years, for example. I’ll make a note of it and get back to you when the time comes around. THAT would be much more impressive, and more demonstrative of the solid grounding for your critique of secular society, than all this being wise after the event (“I too am not surprised – this is totally what I knew would happen”). Care to step up?

  11. “Just to sum up your position: “All human beings are persons and all persons have an unequivocal right to life [some exceptions may apply]“. Putting aside your grandiose delusions that your particular version of this idea was handed down by God, that seems remarkably similar to my position.”

    Given how your summation is rather imprecise, I suppose it would be. But appearances can be deceiving, as the more accurate summation is: “All human beings are persons and have the unequivocal right to life, unless they consciously forfeit said right.”

    That seems to underline an important distinction between your position and mine far more clearly, does it not?

    “(note, EB considers the possession of a brain to be an arbitrary trait)”

    Well, it’s more like personhood itself is an arbitrary trait. It’s all just ‘a clump of cells’ under your worldview, is it not DB? What makes the ‘clump of cells’ of the brain any more meaningful than the ‘clump of cells’ of the skin under your paradigm, DB?

    “Yet at the same time as advocating in favour of capital punishment you tell me that any exceptions to the above principle have very dangerous implications. Truly your logic is not like our Earth logic.”

    Given the “exceptions” under my paradigm are in deeds which one can refrain, while yours are in traits one is born with (or as you assert is grown later) and has no control over, perhaps it’s not ‘my logic’ that’s the problem here.

    “Translation – “I am right, because God”. As if that kind of reasoning hadn’t ever led to genocidal consequences, or been proved to have been flat out wrong on so very many occasions.”

    Mmmm, not exactly. Given most of the purview of when killing is justified is in self-defense when one’s life is threatened, it can indeed work under the evolutionary paradigm of ‘kill or be killed’ and thus God’s existence is not strictly necessary.

    But that’s only for direct threats to an individual or familial unit. When you get into notions of ‘justice’ or when the threat is only in a more indirect way, or doesn’t immediately apply, is when people should start to be less concerned about such matters without the existence of an objective moral Law (which requires a Lawmaker) to which we all fall under.

    “From the point of view of the individual being killed its a relatively moot point whether the person killing them is doing so because they think that they “lack personhood” or because “God says its ok”. That’s why I consider it an important and non-arbitrary principle not to support the killing of anyone capable of having a point of view.”

    Funny, that seems to easily be an argument to support killing someone WITH a point of view, given it becomes a moot point whether they have one or not under such logic. It just becomes a matter of ‘I can’t kill someone who can fight back,’ thus naturally all it entails is taking away a person’s power to fight back, and then you’re all set.

    And of course I can’t help but notice you brush aside important factors of whether the individual may indeed deserve such a consequence or not, or that the differing motives and beliefs of the one committing the deed does determine whether this is an act in isolation, or one that demands to be repeated without end.

    Your argument here is simply ‘might makes right.’

    “Totally circular. Why is a brain dead human being no longer a person? Their brain isn’t a vital component for sustaining life because if they are hooked up to life support then their body can continue to live for years and years.”

    As stated many times before the human being is no longer a person by virtue of being dead. Life support methods in such a case is just keeping parts active, but that’s no more ideologically significant than taking out a heart or lungs and watching them move in a glass box by artificial means.

    “If you take them off it they will die, but that is exactly the same criteria as viability outside the womb, so you’re going to want to stay well away from that one.”

    No, they are already dead. Taking them off it is just letting the meat shell decay naturally.

    “Wow, you’re actively embodying the slippery slope now. Evidence of massive racial inequalities in the application of the death penalty. Solution – we need to execute more white people so that it’s fair!’

    *snort* No, I’m embodying letting the punishment fit the crime, and let it be applied fairly. Though for all your claims of ‘slippery slopes’ you seem to miss the very simple fact that it would not be applied if the person did not do the deed.

    You know, maybe the problem isn’t that things are more complicated than they seem as you’ve frequently claimed. Maybe you just can’t seem to grasp things that are indeed simple and THINK they are too complicated as a result.

    “History doesn’t repeat itself. That’s the laziest form of prophecy. Try being original for once.”

    History always repeats itself. Mostly due to ignorance and the fact human nature hasn’t changed an iota since recorded history.

    “Care to step up?”

    Personally I’ve always found your constant proposals of treating the real world like it’s a class room science lab to be rather naïve, DB.

    But yeah, at the rate things are going, I can be confident in my prediction that you’ll be hearing more proposals and acts of using the left over remains of fetal material to ‘better’ society.

    The latest ‘scandal’ may make other hospitals refrain from using them as a fuel source (maybe), but we’ll be seeing them being used in some project for the goal of ‘saving the world’. Perhaps, you’ll even be hearing stories of someone getting pregnant and having an abortion for the specific purpose of aiding such projects. Expect some ethicist to publish an article proposing ways to ‘encourage’ women to participate, or propose that the doctors should indeed have more say of where the refuse should go.

    And keep an ear open for when abortions of ‘unhealthy’ fetuses become less a matter of choice and more mandatory in the UK/US. Perhaps that one won’t be in 10 years, but I will be surprised if it doesn’t occur in the next 50.

  12. Oh, I forgot to add another prediction:

    You’ll be surprised when such reports occur, rationalizing and dismissing them as isolated incidents, and denying that they logically followed from the basic premises you support.

    That one will definitely be happening. 😉

  13. (this way, it is not yet a baby; it is still a fetus. A magical transformation happens–one of the few bits of magic that liberals, atheists, and pro-choicers believe in–when a baby fully descends down and out of the birth canal; this moment, a fetus. The next moment, a baby. Halfway in? Still a fetus; kill it at will.)

    With respect, that is one of the more ridiculous things I have read on this website. And I’ve read most of EB’s comments.

  14. I quite agree, Tim. You pro-choicers really do believe some ridiculous things.

    That you think this is ridiculous suggests that you perhaps are not aware of so-called “partial birth abortions” that happen on a regular basis all around the world.

    http://www.abortionfacts.com/literature/partial-birth-abortion

    Question A. Do you oppose partial birth abortions, Tim? If so, on what grounds?

    Question B. Do you oppose killing a newborn baby? If so, on what grounds?

    Question C. Do you oppose abortion in general? If so, on what grounds?

    Now, if you answer A and B in the affirmative but C in the negative, depending on the grounds you provide, guess what, you believe in magic. If you answer A in the negative and B in the affirmative, guess what, you believe in magic. (and on this one it doesn’t matter what ‘grounds’ you give).

    The ‘grounds’ matters somewhat; I’ve read numerous pro-choice individuals state that even if the ‘fetus’ is considered a human, and even a human person, the woman is still perfectly justified in killing it, right up to the very last second. That’s when the moment of ‘magic’ occurs, one second, fetus–kill at will, next second–neonate, protected by law. But then there are those like Peter Singer and others who believe that even the neonate can be killed, based on the exact same arguments used to justify abortion. This, they are calling “after-birth abortion.”

    This is secularist-voodoo of the highest sort.

    Truth hurts, I know.

  15. I only skimmed the PZ Myers thing. Looks like he took a shot at DB, there. PZ is to be commended at least for being consistent, in the sense that he saw the unborn as merely trash and had no qualms with treating it that way. As opposed to DB’s position, which is that they are trash that for some reason ought to be treated with dignity. But he will object to me saying he thinks it is trash, but then, we broach the hypocrisy of getting bent out of shape about the undignified disposal of something that he didn’t really have any objections to being disposed of in the first place.

    —–
    DB,

    Yes, EB is doing a knock up job. 🙂

    “Hence the pervasive hyperbolic nazi comparisons, which I understand are “just rhetorical points, savvy”, but which also cut into your credibility if they are subsequently found to be fact-free.”

    No, that’s satire on my point. I’m ‘joking’ about how the analogy between the Nazi ovens and the English ovens fails, because the English ones are efficient. Savvy?

    “As it happens this guy is a member of our Conservative party,”

    I am not as in tune with Brit politics as you are with American ones. My sense of British ‘Conservatives’ is that, in America, they would be Democrats, at least as far as social issues go. Or, RINOs. Anyway, I think I am safe to say that on social issues, the fraction of Brits who share my values on social issues is vanishingly small, regardless of party politics.

    “Does that impact at all on the purely rhetorical point you are making?”

    Not really. But I doubt very much that any pro-lifer would rise that high in the public health field. How many of your peers would you consider pro-life? Is it your sense that a pro-life public health specialist has as good of a chance advancing as a pro-choice one? Anyway, I think this is a red herring.

    “Is this perhaps one area where you could be persuaded to support the idea of government being bigger rather than smaller?”

    This sort of smacks of the simplistic strawman of the values of “Tea party conservatives” that grates me a bit. We do not advocate for anarchy, and you know it. It doesn’t take a very large dose of good faith investigation to realize that in matters of life and death, ie, outlawing murder, there are no objections from our side. There is no need for any extra laws here beyond the ones we already have protecting innocent human life from the violence of others. There sadly appears to be need to clarify what is meant by ‘human life.’ The ‘innocent’ part of that also usually conveniently is unfactored when libs say, “Oh yea, what about capital punishment?!?!?!?!” Uh, see above: “innocent.”

    “perhaps you can delegate the task of answering some of those questions to EB, since as usual he agrees with you in every possible respect.”

    Indeed, I did. Too bad you guys don’t get along better.

    “On a lighter note, I was out with some friends last night at a 1950s-themed American pub/club/diner (I question the strength of their commitment to historical realism however, since they didn’t segregate the clientele)”

    Maybe it was a Christian conservative 1950s-themed American pub/club/diner. If you wanted the historical realism, you should of scooted over to the liberal-democrat-senator Byrd diner. 🙂

    “had a Brandy Old Fashioned, just for you. Not bad!”

    Next time ask for the Brandy Old Fashioned SWEET. Whole new dimension of enjoyment.

  16. EB,

    On the issue of capital punishment you wish to justify your support by saying that the people in question “deserve” to be killed because they have consciously undertaken an action that explicitly forfeited their right to life. Let’s leave aside the glaring issue of miscarriages of justice for the moment and make the extremely large assumption that all the people on death row genuinely did commit the crimes they were sentenced to death for. What you are proposing still amounts to killing human beings because of things which they had no control over, given what we now know about the traumatic pre-birth and childhood experiences of the majority of death row inmates, most of whom were suffering from severe psychiatric illness before they committed the crimes for which they were later sentenced to die. The fact that you are so religiously wedded to the same retributive pre-scientific paradigm of crime and punishment that informs America’s continued application of the death penalty means that I can be pretty confident you will mock this idea, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Maybe do a little reading first to avoid embarrassment?

    So, you being all in favour of killing the mentally ill for having done things that no reasonable system of criminal justice would hold them legally accountable for severely limits your credibility in criticizing me for diluting the absolute human right to life. Why not kill all the mentally ill on that basis? As I said before, slippery slopes…

    “It’s all just ‘a clump of cells’ under your worldview, is it not DB? What makes the ‘clump of cells’ of the brain any more meaningful than the ‘clump of cells’ of the skin under your paradigm, DB?”

    Yikes, that’s a genuine face-palm moment! Could it be something to do with the easily demonstrable qualities of a brain which skin cells do not have relating to personhood? This is a serious problem for your worldview, not for mine – the mind-brain correlation is so well established that you are really struggling against a mountain of evidence in claiming that the possession of a functioning brain is unimportant to who you are as a person. It’s a clearly ideologically-driven stance (why, after all, should an immaterial soul be contingent on a particular organ?). Ironically, you admit the brain’s importance when it comes to the end of life – happily agreeing that brain-dead people are dead in every meaningful sense of the word whereas “kidney-dead” or “foot-dead” people are not. It’s just that when this massively well-supported principle is applied to the beginnings of life it has implications which you do not like at all, so you continue to obfuscate, deny and deflect all attempts to point this out to you.

    If brain-death is the agreed-upon end of a person’s life, even when all other organs and systems are functioning perfectly, then logically the beginning of a person’s life cannot precede the acquisition of a functional brain, which is something that certainly doesn’t happen in the first trimester. This is a non-arbitrary standard, and you have already conceded to the implications of its major premise.

    However, admitting to something obvious that you nevertheless find ideologically objectionable takes a degree of intellectual integrity, so although I am always prepared to be pleasantly surprised, my hopes in this matter are not high. As an example of why that is the case, you responded above to my statement that I wouldn’t support the killing of anyone “capable of having a point of view” (in line with my position that personhood is contingent upon the brain) by saying this:

    “Funny, that seems to easily be an argument to support killing someone WITH a point of view, given it becomes a moot point whether they have one or not under such logic.”

    Are we playing opposites here? I explain my strong support for concept X and you brilliantly hit back with “That could easily be an argument against X given that it’s a moot point whether or not X is even important to you under such logic”. Your habit of responding to the cartoon “evilutionist” in your head rather than to what I actually just said does not always produce very coherent results.

    “Your argument here is simply ‘might makes right.’?”

    That bears no resemblance to what I was saying or to what I think. It looks like you have wandered onto the wrong tennis court again.

    “History always repeats itself.”

    Well conversations with you certainly can give that impression, but no, not really. We just find it easier to interpret current events through the lens of historical ones which we have already analysed the causes and outcomes of. Sometimes that can even be helpful, but when your view of history is so ideologically warped, and honest engagement with your opponents is so biased by your pre-existing beliefs, and your whole outlook is so simplistic and primitively Manichean, well, you may tend to think that history always repeats itself because that’s about as much complexity as the limitations of your analysis allow.

    As for your predictions for the future, you feel confident in saying that in the next ten to fifty years:

    1) There will be proposals to use fetal material to improve society or “save the world” in some way, and some people may act upon those proposals. ?
    2) Ethicists may publish suggestions of ways to encourage women to get pregnant in order to have abortions in order to participate in this “social good”, and some women may do so. And finally,
    3) The abortion of “unhealthy” fetuses will increasingly become mandatory in the Western world.

    I suspect that you’d already consider the first one to be fulfilled by stem cell research, so that’s barely a prediction, is it. If you mean in a more environmentalist way, then I guess you’d also cite the article we have been discussing as a case in point, although I think that is a stupid idea for reasons which have already been mentioned. So again you’re not really predicting anything if you only talk about things that you think are already happening. This may be a fatal weakness of your “history always repeats itself” clitique (that’s my new word for a clichéd critique), and obviously explains the nazi obsession.

    As for the third prediction, which is really the only substantial one, I think that it is very unlikely. The feminist movement, which as I mentioned to Tony recently used to be vehemently anti-abortion, approaches this issue as a simple matter of having a choice about what happens to your own body, and would therefore react just as badly to the idea of being forced to have an abortion as they do to the idea of being banned from doing so. Also the disabled rights movement is getting more and more of a voice in these discussions, presenting a valuable and important perspective on active and happy lives which previously other people might have considered to be “not worth living”. Those are two good reasons why I think you’re wrong about that, but time will tell. And if it turns out that you’re wrong I have it on record that you’ll…. be surprised. Gee whiz, don’t over-commit yourself there Nostradamus!

  17. Hi Tony,

    Are you coming out against people who believe in magic all of a sudden? 🙂

  18. You know, it occurs to me DB that for all your claims of SJ and myself beating on a strawman, and your stance of not holding the unborn as ‘just a collection of cells’ after a certain point, you don’t really seem to acknowledge that your personal views are NOT the order of the day when it comes to general abortion policies. That for all your rejections that such acts logically follow, they ARE going forward regardless, and that more is being suggested for consideration and not just by ‘fringe groups’ either.

    “What you are proposing still amounts to killing human beings because of things which they had no control over, given what we now know about the traumatic pre-birth and childhood experiences of the majority of death row inmates, most of whom were suffering from severe psychiatric illness before they committed the crimes for which they were later sentenced to die.”

    Well, this is indeed consistent with the atheistic/evolutionary view that we are all just ‘meat machines’ that are operating on our genetic and environmental programing, but this just seems an excuse to deny the existence of personal responsibility. Which would be the case for any and all acts if applied consistently.

    Everyone’s got a story DB, but as someone who acknowledges free will is a fundamental aspect of human beings, excuses alone aren’t enough to escape responsibility. If one person killed another in a situation where circumstances did not justify the deceases’ death, they must be punished accordingly. Mitigating factors, such as mental illness, may go into consideration, but that’s something to be applied on a case by case basis. Not as a guiding principle.

    “Maybe do a little reading first to avoid embarrassment?

    ….

    Why not kill all the mentally ill on that basis? As I said before, slippery slopes…”

    Waiting to let me actually state my view on the subject, would help you to avoid yours.

    “Your habit of responding to the cartoon “evilutionist” in your head rather than to what I actually just said does not always produce very coherent results.”

    Your argument there is ‘we should only take the view of the one’s being killed into consideration when deciding who lives and who doesn’t.’ As such, the only factor that has any worth under such considerations is whether they can act upon their view or not. Thus if they can’t, then they’re views are indeed moot. Thus ‘might makes right’ is indeed the only logical outcome.

    “We just find it easier to interpret current events through the lens of historical ones which we have already analysed the causes and outcomes of.”

    And the main reason it’s so easy is because it is indeed repeating itself. Sometimes it doesn’t even take a century for the dog to return to it’s vomit. Though in the dog’s case it probably at least acknowledges that it IS vomit. For people it’s relabeling it and maybe adding seasoning, and telling themselves it’s something totally new and different this time.

    “I suspect that you’d already consider the first one to be fulfilled by stem cell research, so that’s barely a prediction, is it. If you mean in a more environmentalist way, then I guess you’d also cite the article we have been discussing as a case in point, although I think that is a stupid idea for reasons which have already been mentioned.”

    My first one is more like ‘the trend is already in full swing, so don’t be surprised with more and more ways to exploit the remains are pursued, and in ways you may personally find “horrifying” but are indeed consistent for the same reasons as every other project (and will be defended as such).’

    “As for the third prediction, which is really the only substantial one, I think that it is very unlikely.”

    Then you have no excuse for being shocked when it happens, do you? Set that watch for 50 years, right….now!

  19. [continued]

    “EB is doing a knock up job”

    Surely you either mean a “bang up” job or a “knock down” job. Either way, you’re insane. 🙂

    “My sense of British ‘Conservatives’ is that, in America, they would be Democrats, at least as far as social issues go. Or, RINOs. Anyway, I think I am safe to say that on social issues, the fraction of Brits who share my values on social issues is vanishingly small, regardless of party politics.”

    That’s a pretty good summary. The left wing Labour party openly embraces the label “socialist” and most of the more right wing Conservative party would align roughly with the Democrats in the US (although they’re currently in a coalition of necessity with the third party – the Liberal Democrats, who are somewhere in the middle politically, which does muddy things a bit). There are some old die hard isolationist poverty-is-a-choice-bring-back-hanging social conservatives on the Tory backbenches, but in general you’re quite right. Given this tragic dearth of sensible right wing views in our political arena, not to mention now being into our third generation of socialised medicine, it’s amazing that we haven’t had more of the genocides that you suggest may directly result from adopting such policies. The UK was also miles ahead of the US when it came to desegregation, which is very odd, since I know from talking to you how conservative-led an endeavour that has always been.

    Lulz.

    “I doubt very much that any pro-lifer would rise that high in the public health field. How many of your peers would you consider pro-life? Is it your sense that a pro-life public health specialist has as good of a chance advancing as a pro-choice one?”

    Interesting question. Since I’m not fully “in” that professional field yet (I start in August) I can’t take an opinion survey for you, but I strongly suspect that the chance a pro-life PH specialist would have of success would largely depend on their approach to the problem. I haven’t read or heard anyone in the field expressing a wish that there be more abortions – everyone I am aware of agrees that there should be far far less. So perhaps we have some common goals, but unfortunately (as I have said to you before) being “pro-life” in the sense that you mean it often seems to come freighted with being anti-contraception and anti-sex education too, and that’s not a particularly practical or successful strategy.

    So, I think that it would be entirely possible to be pro-life in the sense of wanting to reduce the number of abortions that take place down to a tiny fraction of the number that currently occur. Come to think of it, that would make ME pro-life, so there’s an answer of a sort for you. However, if by analogy I were to think about how well someone would do in public health if they were extremely anti-smoking but also totally against regulation and public awareness campaigns (and refused to take part in them on the grounds that people should just stop smoking), then I guess they wouldn’t get very far.

    “This sort of smacks of the simplistic strawman of the values of “Tea party conservatives” that grates me a bit. We do not advocate for anarchy, and you know it. It doesn’t take a very large dose of good faith investigation to realize that in matters of life and death, ie, outlawing murder, there are no objections from our side.”

    Right, well that’s nice and clear. Could I possibly ask you to review for me your position on divorce laws?

    “Too bad you guys don’t get along better.”

    Yes, very bad luck. He seems to get on so well with other people who he disagrees with. I guess it must be my fault.

    “Maybe it was a Christian conservative 1950s-themed American pub/club/diner. If you wanted the historical realism, you should of scooted over to the liberal-democrat-senator Byrd diner.”

    Oh man, the lulz are flying in all directions tonight! Interesting how your grasp of how viewpoints from a different sphere translate into the current US political system, so well expressed above, only seems to work geographically, but not historically. I wonder what the noble Senator Byrd’s views on Big Government interference and States’ Rights were. Quick, to the internets!

    Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet eh? I’ll give that a try next time I go.

    Cheers,
    Dan

  20. “it’s amazing that we haven’t had more of the genocides that you suggest may directly result from adopting such policies.”

    Ah, well, you folks on your side can never remember that we consider the deaths of the millions of unborn over the last 50 years to be the deaths of real people. So, actually, I would say that there is a continuing genocide; obviously, the ethno-racial aspect is not the same, but as far as scale goes, it is off the charts of every other genocide in human history.

    All genocides have in common the view that that which is being killed is less of a person, or not even a person, compared to the ones doing the genocide.

    Please take this the right way: To me, this debate is very much like me sitting across from a staunch Nazi, and having him say “Oh well, where are all the deaths you said would come?!!?” and me saying, “Uh, what about the Jews, gypsies, handicapped, etc?” He would reply, “Ah, those weren’t really persons.”

    If now we were sitting together confronting this Nazi, you would no doubt take my side in the debate; but it would be a weak alliance indeed, because while you were willing to stand up against one extermination of a group, in regards to another group, you have little to object.

    You must understand that from my perspective and countless other pro-lifers, the genocide is ongoing, and it does not surprise us in the slightest how often it spills out into other areas where even people such as yourself are taken aback (your continued dismissal of examples I give as only “idiots” a case in point).

    They really are the same arguments. Only the target and mechanism has changed.

    “So, I think that it would be entirely possible to be pro-life in the sense of wanting to reduce the number of abortions that take place down to a tiny fraction of the number that currently occur.”

    A very weak ally, indeed. Pro-life in the sense of reducing the number of Jews that are killed, hopefully to a tiny fraction. Small comfort. 🙂

    It sounds to me from your characterization of public health folks, my assumption that this gent is pro-choice, or ‘pro-life’ in a very narrow sense, is pretty solid. 🙂

    “Right, well that’s nice and clear. Could I possibly ask you to review for me your position on divorce laws?”

    ?

    “I wonder what the noble Senator Byrd’s views on Big Government interference and States’ Rights were. Quick, to the internets!”

    See again my point about laws protecting life and liberty being completely appropriate roles for the government (in principle, at least). The Constitution says that all people have inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. People like Byrd try to evade this by rendering some people as less than people. I do not at all think I am being inconsistent in wanting to consider all people, people. It takes MORE laws in order to relegate someone’s personhood down, because you have to constantly offer clarifications and caveats.

    But at any rate, your whole small government spiel here is a red herring. A high quality one, no doubt, but a red herring. 🙂

  21. Ah, well, you folks on your side can never remember that we consider the deaths of the millions of unborn over the last 50 years to be the deaths of real people.

    That is a delusion of the highest order. ‘Your side’ couldn’t possibly believe that abortion is equivalent to genocide, because if you did, your beliefs would compel you to do a lot more than write a blog or speak at Concordia University. Now, I don’t know, but I suspect that you have, in fact, done a lot more than that. But whatever you’ve done, it’s not enough. Because you’re still here commenting on this blog rather than being somewhere else, actively preventing something you call genocide.

    If you don’t believe me, imagine for a moment that mothers in their millions starting killing their children as soon as they turned 15. What do you think would happen? To what lengths would Christian America go to put a stop to it? Would the sum total of the Christian response be Bill O’Reilly throwing a hissy fit? Or would cities burn?

    To “your side”, the situation above would be just as morally repugnant as abortion. And yet Christians in America, and in the western world generally, have exerted far more effort in preventing same-sex couples getting married, than they have preventing your so-called genocide.

    For anyone who calls it genocide, or equates a blastocyst with a fully grown adult, there are two options here. Either you don’t really believe it’s genocide, and you act accordingly. Or you really do think it’s genocide, and you essentially allow the slaughter of millions of innocent people. The former makes you a little dramatic. The latter makes you a monster, and by your own beliefs guarantees you an eternity of unimaginable suffering.

    Form the little I know of you, I’m inclined to believe it’s the former.

  22. Hmmm, I don’t think the word ‘delusion’ is what you are looking for, here. That would suggest that we are wrong in our belief in what is going on. Your criticisms, however, suggest something different, such as cowardice. Those are two different things.

    You can be forgiven for having the reaction that you do, although I’m a little surprised that it has now, just finally, seemed to dawn on you what “my side” believes is at stake. All your pedantic appeals to terminology and stages of development–blastocyst, fetus, neonate–do not change the fact that we are talking about a human.

    And before I go further, I think commenting on this blog is an important step in preventing this genocide. Any war must be fought on the field in which it is engaged, and experience in the pro-life movement on this score has made it clear that it is not the field of armed combat. It is one of “hearts and minds.”

    Yours and Danny’s “hearts” are alright (taking allowances for original sin 😉 ) but your minds are warped clean around upon themselves on this issue. I can understand why–if you are wrong, you are condoning the execution of millions and millions of people for usually quite petty reasons, but sometimes worse.

    I can understand why you would resist this conclusion. This likewise would not be a delusion, but cowardice. But there are reasons behind the cowardice that help us understand why there is also some sense to it. Similarly, what you paint as cowardice has underlying reasoning behind it, too.

    The pro-life movement in America had a period where violence, (a tiny handful of) assassinations, and physical altercations at the highest level, and it failed to achieve any meaningful gains. There were a variety of reasons for this, some that reflect poorly on the pro-lifers, but others that reflect poorly on America itself. And some that just are.

    Your idea that the Christian church would go to any lengths even to stop the killing of children when they turned 15 is deeply flawed–I note that you don’t indicate whether or not Secular America would likewise go to any lengths to do the same. There is good reason already to know that Secular America, and secularists in general will not do so. Shall we begin charting the various genocides of the last 2-3 decades and ask ourselves, “Where were the secularists?” Top on the list is Rwanda. After that perhaps Hussein’s extermination of the Kurds. There is ongoing human trafficking etc. Just what are YOU doing about these things?

    I mean, in these cases, we’re not talking about ‘blastocysts’ right? We’re talking about the brutal elimination of “fully grown adults.” And yet you do nothing. Delusional? Cowardly? Are you perhaps a monster? There is nothing a “little dramatic” about all manner of bloodshed taking place around the world right now–to adults.

    This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know why you are such a delusional, cowardly, monster. (I say ‘monster’ because you appear to believe these millions of people really are people, and yet you do not lift a finger to save them.)

    And I think when you begin to answer that question, if you do it honestly, you come to see my situation in light of my views a little differently.

    Take slavery; for decade upon decade upon decade, ‘civilized people’ enslaved other people. What should the abolitionists do? Go door to door and put a bullet in the heads of the pro-slavery folk? Is that what you suggest? Is it me, or would such an approach sort of fly in the face of the principles that lead you to be against slavery in the first place?

    But in America at least, there did come a time, finally, when there was a no-holds barred throw down, and half a million Americans were killed. But you don’t get to that point overnight. But, I would say that you do get to that point, the longer the wanton destruction of innocent life goes on.

    Similarly, in Germany, would you have proposed that Christians in the early 1930s get out their long knives and murder the Nazis while they sleep? How feasible of a tactic is this? Unless it is a concerted, coordinated campaign, all it means is that very quickly, the Nazis would have no adversaries–after all, the Nazis were very well organized. It would take many years for the resistance to get similarly organized; that is tricky business when you are up against such brutes and many of your fellow citizens actually support the Nazi regime.

    But eventually, violence did come.

    It has only been about 50-60 years since the technology for effortless abortion on demand has been existence and only 40 years since it has been legal here in the US. We are still centuries away from the same time scale as what was required to end slavery. These things take time, even when we are talking about “fully grown adults.” After all, it sometimes takes some convincing that blacks are actually people as evolved as the rest of us, and that Jews are not vermin. You don’t get there over night. But I think history shows us that we we do get there.

    I believe it very likely that the patience of people, Christians and secular alike, will grow very thin. Technology has swept away many of the silly pro-choice arguments. I note you are talking about a blastocyst and not a second-trimester ‘fetus.’ That’s because you’ve been driven back by science and the real world to know that your argument is pitifully and pathetically weak when applied to that stage. You retreat back to the next stage where you think you can stand your ground, sort of an ethical ‘abortion of the gaps’ argument.

    But some day, science will not allow you even that place (indeed, if you knew the science, you would not occupy it even now). Because there is a human from the beginning, and this is undeniable; everything after that is merely a stage of development, and there are very few barriers preventing the execution of humans at one stage of development if you allow it at another.

    But remember, as someone who is ‘pro-life’, just like the abolitionists, I do not have carte blanche in my available options. The same principles that I espouse as ‘pro-life’ mean that I cannot disregard the other human lifes around me.

    But some day, this will all spill over. The signs of it are already there in regards to how we treat old people and the terminally ill. (I just saw one of those ‘meme’ boxes that people post to Facebook saying that we should force people with terminal illnesses to die so that we can save resources for the healthy. A secular humanist of the highest order, no doubt.)

  23. Tony,

    “…you folks on your side can never remember that we consider the deaths of the millions of unborn over the last 50 years to be the deaths of real people.”

    No, I’m quite aware of that.  There may also be some hardcore vegetarians who would feel the same way about the millions of animals that are slaughtered every year to feed the Western world’s meat obsession, and who would consider you and I to be much more than collaborators for consuming the flesh of beings which they hold to be of equal intrinsic moral worth as any human being.  It just can’t be helped – some people believe extreme and irrational things.  I don’t feel myself obligated to incorporate their assumptions in my thinking.

    You acknowledge the distinction between genocide and “genocide” in your own arguments when you suggest that we might be heading for another big one because of the secular humanist “culture of death” (including abortion) and whatnot.  Future tense, see?  So I feel pretty confident that you know what I meant.

    “All genocides have in common the view that that which is being killed is less of a person, or not even a person, compared to the ones doing the genocide.”

    That is true.  I’m prepared for you to draw some unwarranted conclusions from it (just as that vegetarian might do), but I agree with the premise.

    “Please take this the right way: To me, this debate is very much like me sitting across from a staunch Nazi”

    Yeah, I get that.  Well, in the sense of understanding the analogy and not taking offence, I get it.  Like Tim I am not sure that I completely buy your portrayal of yourself in that role because I don’t think your actions match up with your words.  You make a coherent case for why people who believe what you believe are not engaging in a violent uprising – it would indeed be counterproductive.  I accept your logic, but why aren’t you in prison though?  You must understand, I say this as someone who would be extremely distressed at the thought of you going to prison.  However, it seems to me that the very same considerations which you have so clearly articulated in your response to Tim also applied to the civil rights movement – so relentlessly and ahistorically appropriated by conservatives  – and the answer was a mass campaign of peaceful civil disobedience.  How many times were Martin Luther King and thousands of other Black and White Americans of the civil rights movement arrested and imprisoned for protesting against an injustice far less severe than the one you claim to believe is taking place in your own country at this moment?

    The “Just what are YOU doing about human trafficking (or whatever)?!” question is always a good one to ask, but it is a misleading one in this context, because the reason that we generally don’t do anything about these things is because in our daily lives we do not identify the issue as being a salient and important one to us.  This is not the case for the people who are most motivated and preoccupied by the issue in question – the champions of the cause.  The sort of people that you and EB represent yourselves as being for the issue of abortion in other words, and yet people so preoccupied by great injustices tend to convert words to actions, and ultimately they get arrested a lot if their views bring them into conflict with authority, which yours obviously do.  You are rendering unto Caesar a bit more easily and willingly than I find credible under the circumstances.

    So yeah, sorry, I don’t really buy it either. 

    “A very weak ally, indeed. Pro-life in the sense of reducing the number of Jews that are killed, hopefully to a tiny fraction. Small comfort.”

    Well, I can only offer compromise and cooperation within certain limits.  You are free not to accept it if the limits of your moral framework do not permit you to do so, but I think there is a major risk of you achieving nothing at all, except of course a continually nurtured and politically useful sense of outrage, as a result of taking that course.  It would have been too bad if Oskar Schindler had said, “Since I cannot prevent all Jews from being killed there is no point in my trying to save any of them” wouldn’t it?

    See what I did there – I made YOU Oskar Schindler in that analogy.  And what did you make me in yours?  A not-completely-evil nazi!  Sheesh!

    “It takes MORE laws in order to relegate someone’s personhood down, because you have to constantly offer clarifications and caveats.”

    That’s funny, I haven’t particularly noticed social conservatives being too antagonistic to MORE laws under the right conditions – in fact, as a group, they seem all in favour of brand new laws which give business owners the right to turn away gay people, for example, and amending state constitutions to “clarify” that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.  How does that fit into your libertarian theorising?

    “…there are very few barriers preventing the execution of humans at one stage of development if you allow it at another.”

    And yet, returning to the point I made earlier, “genocide” continues NOT to produce actual genocide.  And apparently we can’t even expect it to happen anytime soon – the most emphatic prediction that EB can commit himself to making is that maybe in fifty years time abortion of unhealthy/disabled foetuses might perhaps be compulsory.  This “they came for the foetuses, and I said nothing because I was not a foetus” trope looks more and more like a useful rhetorical device, not something that is seriously believed.

  24. EB,

    “…you don’t really seem to acknowledge that your personal views are NOT the order of the day when it comes to general abortion policies.”

    They’re not too far off.  Most Western countries have laws which recognise a very early period of pregnancy when it is not coherent to talk about the interests or rights of the unborn child and also a later stage of development where abortion is not available unless the life of the mother is threatened by the pregnancy.   That explicitly acknowledges an emergent philosophy of personhood.  But, why would I mind being in a minority anyway?

    “That for all your rejections that such acts logically follow, they ARE going forward regardless, and that more is being suggested for consideration and not just by ‘fringe groups’ either.”

    As I just wrote to SJ, a lot of this looks like empty rhetoric to me.  The philosophers who are suggesting extending the right to abort a child past the point of it being born are so fringe that you actually can name all of them.  What else have you got?

    “Well, this is indeed consistent with the atheistic/evolutionary view that we are all just ‘meat machines’ that are operating on our genetic and environmental programing, but this just seems an excuse to deny the existence of personal responsibility.”

    Consistency is a good thing.  I guess that your position is also consistent with the American Dream, which like Free Will is something that people tend to believe in without very much in the way of supporting evidence and because it feels good.

    “Mitigating factors, such as mental illness, may go into consideration, but that’s something to be applied on a case by case basis. Not as a guiding principle.”

    And what if they are virtually all mentally ill?  All the people on death row and all those who have been executed.  Is the death penalty still ok with you?

    “Your argument there is ‘we should only take the view of the one’s being killed into consideration when deciding who lives and who doesn’t.’ ”

    No, my argument was that consciousness (or, the ability to have a point of view) is central to personhood, which is why I do not sanction the killing of anybody who has one, unless – possibly – their point of view is “I want to die”.

    “As such, the only factor that has any worth under such considerations is whether they can act upon their view or not. Thus if they can’t, then they’re views are indeed moot. Thus ‘might makes right’ is indeed the only logical outcome.”

    Nope and nope.  An entirely helpless individual is no less deserving of life than a strong one, in my worldview.  You obviously misunderstood my statement about points of view.

    I deleted all the stuff about dogs going back to their vomit because a) gross – this is why I am more of a cat person – and b) irrelevant assertion.

    “Set that watch for 50 years, right….now!”

    The secretive Illuminati New World Order are also apparently always working behind the scenes to bring about tyranny and mass murder.  Believers in that particular conspiracy theory are usually a bit more confident that the power grab is imminent and that dissidents will start being led away in chains before the year is out.  Say what you like about those nutcases, at least they have the courage of their conspiratorial convictions.  The best you can give me is “By the time both of us are nearly dead the hypothetical genocide I keep parading as an inevitable consequence of secularism still probably won’t have happened”.

  25. “That explicitly acknowledges an emergent philosophy of personhood.”

    As I recall such laws were (and are) challenged by the pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, at least here in the US. The Supreme Court’s decision with the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act was split down the middle, and it’s just a matter of time till the issue is challenged again, with the outcome to be determined by the then reigning Court demographic. And as I understand it the UK does indeed still legally allow abortions up to the later stages. If it’s discouraged at all, it’s on the grounds of technical medical problems that makes it harder on the expected mother rather than on any ethical qualms.

    So no, it’s not really a sign of an emergent philosophy of personhood. It’s just a stopgap that shows progressives will need more time to chip away at it.

    “But, why would I mind being in a minority anyway?”

    Why would you mind that for all your denials of genocide, there may be mass deaths occurring to those whom even your own personal paradigm has to label as “people”?

    “The philosophers who are suggesting extending the right to abort a child past the point of it being born are so fringe that you actually can name all of them.”

    And yet your idea of ‘fringes’ seem to get their ideas published in leading medical and bioethicist journals quite a bit, don’t they?

    “Consistency is a good thing. I guess that your position is also consistent with the American Dream, which like Free Will is something that people tend to believe in without very much in the way of supporting evidence and because it feels good.”

    I’m sorry, are you claiming you don’t believe in free will here? That would indeed be consistent with your atheistic/evolutionary views, but I was under the impression from your condemnation of such acts like rape that you were a proponent of it’s existence even if you never really supported why.

    If not, I’d have to question on what grounds you can condemn, well… anything, given that everything from the Holocaust to feeding the poor then comes down to simple programming that we have no control over under such a worldview.

    “And what if they are virtually all mentally ill? All the people on death row and all those who have been executed. Is the death penalty still ok with you?”

    This seems to just be a classic No True Scotsman. ‘No “mentally healthy” person would commit murder, so all murderer’s are not “mentally healthy”.’ For someone who condemns simplicity this seems a rather simplistic outlook.

    “No, my argument was that consciousness (or, the ability to have a point of view) is central to personhood, which is why I do not sanction the killing of anybody who has one, unless – possibly – their point of view is “I want to die”.”

    And why is it important? Under your evolutionary/atheistic paradigm what makes it worthy of consideration? The only nominal difference you can point to between the ‘conscious person’ and the fetal ‘clump of cells’ is that the ‘conscious person’ can assert themselves and fight back. Take that away from them, by rendering them unconscious for example, and they’re is no discernible difference between the two. Do with them as thou will.

    You also seem to miss the underlining point of my criticism of balancing your entire criteria on a singular factor (that itself can be easily argued as irrelevant), and brushing aside all other considerations.

    “Nope and nope. An entirely helpless individual is no less deserving of life than a strong one, in my worldview. You obviously misunderstood my statement about points of view.”

    It’s more your subjective opinion. Your worldview demands something totally different, but it makes you uncomfortable. Sadly, those like Meyers, Singer, Appel, Holdren (Remember him? The science advisor in the Obama Admin, who put forth that compulsory abortion and population control can be legal in the US? Just another ‘fringe’ is he?), etc. do not have the same hesitancy in following them through.

    “The best you can give me is “By the time both of us are nearly dead the hypothetical genocide I keep parading as an inevitable consequence of secularism still probably won’t have happened”.”

    I said I’d be surprised if it WASN’T happening by then, because societal shifts aren’t a constant measurable rate, and incidents like the one just reported or the outrage generated by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva’s proposal (even among pro-choicers) do give indication that those pushing for such policies have some ways to go before they can be directly embraced.

    And while I find your reflexive dismissals of me putting forth predictions you explicitly asked for to be unsurprising, it just reaffirms SJ’s frequent assertion how progressives like you who don’t see where your views and attitudes are leading, are just going to turn around and act shock and confused of how this could happen (even after repeated warnings) when the results such as the one in this article are going to be staring you in the face.

  26. EB,

    “And as I understand it the UK does indeed still legally allow abortions up to the later stages.”

    Past 24weeks the only criteria I am aware of are risk to the life of the mother or the identification of major developmental problems which make it unlikely that the child will survive if carried to term.  I believe that disabled rights groups have campaigned against allowing late abortions on the grounds of the detection of chromosomal abnormalities such as Downs Syndrome, and it’s good that they have, because theirs is an extremely relevant perspective on that issue. 

    “If it’s discouraged at all, it’s on the grounds of technical medical problems that makes it harder on the expected mother rather than on any ethical qualms.”

    Opinion stated as if it were fact.  Also by implication suggesting that you don’t consider the pregnant women in question to qualify as the subject of “ethical qualms”.  Perhaps you’d like to clarify that?

    “It’s just a stopgap that shows progressives will need more time to chip away at it.”

    50-100yrs of chipping. Those evil progressives sure are playing a long game!

    “… for all your denials of genocide, there may be mass deaths occurring to those whom even your own personal paradigm has to label as “people” ”

    Not mass deaths, I don’t think.  It would be more accurate to say that there are a tiny minority of abortions occurring after the very earliest point at which I think it is even coherent to discuss personhood – the point of viability.  Some of those abortions are to protect the life of the mother, and they are a tragic necessity.  Some of them are because developmental conditions incompatible with survival have been detected, and they are a heartbreaking decision which i think the parents have every right to make.  The remainder, for non-fatal abnormalities and other personal reasons might fit your definition, and I support efforts to eliminate those procedures (without in any way infringing on the rights of parents in either of the first two cases).  What sort of numbers are we left with there?  Here’s a 2004 histogram of abortion by stage of pregnancy in the UK, just to help you out:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/UK_abortion_by_gestational_age_2004_histogram.svg

    “And yet your idea of ‘fringes’ seem to get their ideas published in leading medical and bioethicist journals quite a bit, don’t they?”

    And the fringes on your side have their own cable and talk radio shows with millions of devoted followers.  Plus they also control the richest and most powerful religious organisation in the world.  What was your point again?

    “I’m sorry, are you claiming you don’t believe in free will here? …I was under the impression from your condemnation of such acts like rape that you were a proponent of it’s existence…”

    That seems like an odd non sequiteur to me.  Why do I need to believe that human beings are fully in control of their actions in order to condemn those actions which cause pain and suffering to others?

    I guess you must think of the criminal justice system as solely administering punishment, and the ethos of punishment does make the implicit presumption of free will.  I am not a believer in the “punishment” aspect of criminal justice for that very reason, but I am a great believer in the separation-from-society of those who have proven to be a danger to others and in the rehabilitation of people who have the potential to do better.  Neither of those aspects depend on the idea of free will.

    “If not, I’d have to question on what grounds you can condemn, well… anything, given that everything from the Holocaust to feeding the poor then comes down to simple programming that we have no control over under such a worldview.”

    I don’t say that we have no control over our actions – we do.  However, that conscious control is but a single element of a multitude of influences on our behaviour, most of which are completely beyond our ability to change.  You didn’t choose your genetics, your culture or your early childhood experiences, all of which demonstrably affect your adult personality and decision-making processes.  So, you didn’t create yourself, you just inhabit yourself, and a great deal of the time our decisions are automatic and driven by instinct.  That too is easily demonstrable, as is the fact that we sometimes make snap decisions without knowing why and then invent explanations for them post hoc – explanations which we really believe.  We ride the elephant of our consciousness, sometimes being able to influence the direction of travel, but often just shouting down to passers-by that we “totally meant to come this way!”.

    I can understand the wish to believe that we are the “master of our fate” and the “captain of our soul”, but it just isn’t supportable.

    “This seems to just be a classic No True Scotsman. ‘No “mentally healthy” person would commit murder, so all murderer’s are not “mentally healthy”.’ For someone who condemns simplicity this seems a rather simplistic outlook.”

    It would be, but that’s not what I said.  If you look at the literature on the subject the majority of people on death row suffer from psychiatric illnesses, which even further diminish the personal responsibility they can reasonably be said to hold for any actions they may have committed.  The fantasy of complete control over ones actions, coupled with an iron age attitude towards retribution, is the shaky foundation for the death penalty.  That’s why the US is so isolated in the Western World by practicing it, thereby gaining membership to the enlightened group of countries that do including Iran, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia – all countries well known for their high moral and human rights standards.

    “The only nominal difference you can point to between the ‘conscious person’ and the fetal ‘clump of cells’ is that the ‘conscious person’ can assert themselves and fight back. Take that away from them, by rendering them unconscious for example, and they’re is no discernible difference between the two. Do with them as thou will.”

    Once again, SO glad you’re not an atheist.  Being able to “fight back” has only a small overlap with being a conscious person (for example, a dog can fight back without being “conscious”, in the sense that we mean, whereas many fully conscious individuals cannot fight back).  So no, it’s a strawman.

    “Your worldview demands something totally different, but it makes you uncomfortable.”

    You are supremely unqualified to give expert testimony about my worldview.  It’d be like if the court called a cartoonist to discourse on the subject of anatomy.

    “The science advisor in the Obama Admin, who put forth that compulsory abortion and population control can be legal in the US? Just another ‘fringe’ is he?”

    Jeez, what was John Ashcroft?  At least this guy has thought better of his previous beliefs – Bush had a crack-pot fundy millennialist who used to have himself anointed with oil on a regular basis as his attorney general.  Fringe individuals in positions of power only bother you now?

    But of course, the conspiracy theory dictates that his renunciation of forcible population control cannot really be sincere.  He MUST be lying, BECAUSE of the great progressive conspiracy, which we KNOW is real, BECAUSE of people in positions of power holding views like his, which we KNOW he still holds, BECAUSE of the great progressive conspiracy,…. and round and round we go!

    “I find your reflexive dismissals of me putting forth predictions you explicitly asked for to be unsurprising”

    No, I actually appreciate the attempt on your part.  I just think that the feebleness of your predictions – mostly things that you would say are already happening predicted to occur within the next few generations – makes the point about the hyperbole that people on your side of the fence employ in this debate.  Dire warnings about the terrifying nazi-akin dictatorship that is always just around the corner are commonplace, and yet when pushed for a concrete prediction you cannot commit yourself to anything but the weakest of weak sauce.

    Similarly, as Tim and I have been pointing out to Tony, some stronger action than you are currently taking (think “civil rights movement”) would seem to be indicated if you really believe what you claim to believe about abortion.  This suggests to me that, with the exception of the occasional committed individual (who usually turn out to be violent thugs), the bark of the pro-life movement is far worse than its bite.

  27. Agree with every word you wrote, DB.

  28. http://freethoughtblogs.com/entequilaesverdad/2014/04/06/an-obvious-alternative/

    I don’t agree with this idea, but this is exactly the sort of thing pro-life groups should support, if their actions and beliefs were consistent.

  29. too cute by half; so cute, it’s actually asinine.

    To the degree it’s not merely childish, simplistic, immature, and altogether without merit, all that shows is that there are two fundamentally different ways of looking at the world, here, and they can’t both be right.

    It sucks that the result of a woman’s decision to have sex is often a brand new human person and it happens to reside in her for a bit, and not the man, but that’s just the way it is.

    Cue red herring about the tiny fraction of instances of rape and ‘health of the mother.’

  30. I think it’s a silly idea too. But I’m not the one that seems to value the means of reproduction much more than the destruction of millions and millions of “people”.

    Would you mind humouring me and explaining why you think it’s without merit? Or at least, why it’s not a valid response for someone who equates abortion with genocide?

  31. It really isn’t complicated. Look at what you said. It’s as if you are totally unaware of there being a difference between the “means of reproduction” and the result of those means; in this case, something entirely human.

    This has nothing to do with a woman’s right to choose, or sexual autonomy. You don’t get to do whatever you want sexually and pretend that there are not consequences that naturally follow, and moreover, everyone KNOWS those consequences follow. “Dear me, I had sex, and now I’m having a BABY? I’m so confused! How could this have happened. I ONLY HAD SEX.”

    The old saying is that your freedom stops where it impinges another’s liberty. But this is a strange case where one person uses their freedom to CREATE ANOTHER PERSON and then feels like they have the right to destroy that person; no problem, just *say* it’s not a person, and all will be well. This is ultimately a struggle against reality. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I don’t really think I need to dignify it with any further remarks, because it is a total red herring. That said, I will stoop anyway. 🙂 At least briefly, because it probably is important–as is typical with pretty much all liberal secular humanistic approaches to things, in order to cover up the abuse (and in this case, murder) of humanity, they proceed to abuse humanity even further. Whether you chalk it up to God, as I would, or chalk it up to evolution, as you ought, part of being human is the process of procreation. As I understand the gent’s argument, the whole idea is, “We want to have sex with everybody and everything AND we want to escape this messy abortion business. So, we’ll just implement A Brave New World. Problem solved.”

    Secular humanism is fundamentally anti-human and pro-I-want-to-do-whatever-the-hell-I-please,-especially-sexually. With some caveats here and there of course.

    Now, the gent did specifically single out a particular group that he thinks ought to consider his proposal: “clear-eyed skeptics willing to question tradition and religion.”

    So, I guess I am willing to change my tune a bit–let’s have all the skeptics and atheists sterilize themselves. I see nothing but upside. 🙂 On the other hand, if ya’ll try to implement your bold idea that is “obvious” on the rest of us, you’ll understand if we see that as unacceptable, and proceed accordingly.

    Or, to put it another way, all the technology and legal basis you need to implement this is already available. If you like the idea so much, you start. 🙂

  32. You’ll have to excuse my stupidity, but I don’t quite understand this response.

    As I said, I do not agree with the idea. At all.

    But I’m interested in why this would not be a valid course of action for someone who thinks abortion is genocide. If it’s simply because “part of being human is the process of procreation”, you still need to explain why the process is more important than the murder of millions and millions of people. And also why you consider people who have not been able to procreate naturally, such as my wife, as slightly less human than the people who can.

    Also, you said “h e l l”. Shame on you. 🙂

  33. I’m sorry for not giving enough weight to your statement about not agreeing. You did say that. I guess I got hooked onto the idea that this is the ‘obvious’ and logical conclusion, for ‘skeptics and free-thinkers.’ The article was confusing on that score, seeming to take a jab at pro-life religionists, while addressing skeptics. Maybe his audience was atheistic pro-lifers? 🙂

    It is not my suggestion that using reproductive technologies renders someone less human, but surely you must agree that while sex is how humans have reproduced for millennia, there is more to the ‘process’ than mere reproduction; and there is more to the ‘process’ than simple enjoyment, too. The whole thing embodies a whole interrelated human dynamics, which, is most people (once they’ve become mature) a satisfying “just right” way to bring new life into the world. I assume that your first approach had been to “procreate naturally” and all things being equal (judging from your “I do not agree with the idea” comments), that was your general feeling, too.

    I’m sure you didn’t say, “Well, we want a baby. *Sigh* I guess were’ just going to have to have sex.”

    Surely you can’t deny the “Brave New World” comparison of a world in which the pleasurable side of sexuality is completely divorced from the reproductive side? I think Huxley is even on record saying that his book was sort of a reflection of what it means to be human and have ‘human’ experiences. So, maybe instead you should ask Huxley why he thought people were slightly less human if they could not procreate naturally. 🙂

    Well, he’s dead. But you know what I mean.

    All this talk about sex reminds me of short story I wrote a while back. I had been tempted at the time to dedicate it to you and Danny, but I decided that was a bit too narrow of scope. Here it is: “Better Than Sex” http://bardandbook.com/better-than-sex-by-anthony-horvath/1551.html

    I’ve also got another short story that hasn’t been published yet that speaks directly to this issue about ‘test tube’ babies. One of my favorites. When its up, I’ll let you know.

    BTW, that story can be read for free, you just have to register and login and then you’re golden. Or you can buy it on Kindle. Whatever.

  34. hahahaha I was just reading it again. Here’s an excerpt. Looks like I had already come to the “obvious” conclusion, from a skeptic’s viewpoint, on my own. 🙂

    “Alright. Alright. Alright,” he began. “Let’s sum it up. Here we are having made a discovery with two equally earth shattering effects; either will make us fabulously rich and famous. It all started as an accident, while looking for something else. Now, the one discovery is of a substance that re-defines the whole notion of ‘ecstasy.’ People can do it alone or they can do it with others, enjoying extreme pleasures, without any fear that anyone will be punished by a baby. No being laid up for nine months, having one’s career ruined. No salacious affairs. No unwanted children, so no social upheaval related to what to do about those unwanted children. Our stuff is so good, in fact, that people will stop having sex at all unless they actually want children.”

  35. Well now you have to explain two things… (a) why it is the obvious course of action for skeptics / free-thinkers / humanists / atheists; and (b) why it is not the obvious course of action for someone who considers abortion to be genocide. As far as I can tell, you are yet to explain either. But apologies if I have missed something.

    I get that you think the process is important. It’s important to me, and probably Danny, too. The question is why it’s apparently more important than the murder of a billion innocent babies.

    there is more to the ‘process’ than mere reproduction

    Yes, there often is. But there doesn’t have to be.

  36. Come now, Tim, it’s not that difficult. Start with the easy one, b-

    “b – why it is not the obvious course of action for someone who considers abortion to be genocide.”

    Because someone who considers abortion to be genocide isn’t going to get one. This person does not need to be sterilized, because they are not going to kill the offspring, right?

    “(a) why it is the obvious course of action for skeptics / free-thinkers / humanists / atheists;”

    I don’t know why it is obvious from the perspective of the skeptics/free-thinkers/humanists/atheistic perspective, unless they also believe abortion to be genocide; how often do we see that? Not very. I think you’ll need to ask that person why they think it is obvious.

    I do think you are missing something. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll take a stab at it. I think what you’re trying to say is that I, as a Christian, should advocate for the compulsory sterilization of every pro-choice man on the globe. If I were an atheist, and I was pro-life, I guess you are suggesting that it would be “obvious” that this would be my view.

    Several things.

    1., I am not an atheist, am I? I don’t meet the conditions of the conditional phrase.
    2., I can totally see atheists thinking that compulsory sterilization is “obvious” especially if they are of the Progressive sort. That is in fact the story of compulsory sterilization in the US. These, they called eugenicists, and Christians, in the main were totally against such things, and eventually everyone became disgusted, including the Progressives (as evidenced by the fact that 99 out of a 100 today have no idea that their fellow ideologues were involved in such things) who were the primary advocates.

    And we ought to remain disgusted, and for the same reasons.

    Unlike liberals, I as a Christian do not believe it is appropriate to act inhumanely “for the common good.” It would be unwise, and wrong, to compel secularists to be sterilized, despite it being the case that this would sharply reduce abortions and sharply reduce secularists. I shan’t stop them from doing so voluntarily, though. 🙂

    Tyranny may be an option for progressives, but it cannot be an option for Christians, no matter the cause. But you say, “But it would save billions of lives!” But that’s not exactly how tyrannies go, is it? It usually does not stop at simple oppression and compulsion, does it?

    The sane and moral answer is to urge rather that people keep their sexual activities where it properly belongs–the marital framework. A society filled to the brim with such relationships would also sharply reduce abortions (and secularists, probably, too) and has the pleasant side effect of not amounting to tyranny.

    But I know you find that idea more repulsive than compulsory sterilization. But there is a significant difference and it boils down to something I already said: it comports with the way the world really is and the way humans really are. And that’s the case whether your are a Christian or an evolutionist.

    “”there is more to the ‘process’ than mere reproduction””
    “Yes, there often is. But there doesn’t have to be.”

    Since when did you decide to take the Roman Catholic’s side? 😉

  37. Tony,

    “Tyranny may be an option for progressives, but it cannot be an option for Christians, no matter the cause.”

    Only by employing a No True Scotsman large enough to be seen from space can you possibly maintain the position that Christians have not historically appeared to be just fine and dandy with the option of tyranny. I would go so far as to say that the zealous and enthusiastic employment of tyranny by Christians of times gone by is one of the primary reasons that there are so very many of you in the world today.

    “A society filled to the brim with such relationships would also sharply reduce abortions (and secularists, probably, too) and has the pleasant side effect of not amounting to tyranny.”

    But now I am so puzzled as to why you opposed the evidence-based methods of reducing abortions that I suggested – mainly comprehensive sex ed and universal availability of contraception. You critiqued it on the basis that it would be like a nazi promising to merely “reduce” the number of Jews being killed in the Holocaust, and yet you are surely aware that a significant minority of abortions take place within the context of a marriage. Why are your partial solutions any better than mine?

    Especially since I really don’t see how you propose to create a society where all sexual contact occurs within the context of marriage without enforcing what could only be reasonably described as tyranny. Saudi-style virtue police roaming the streets looking for immoral behaviour! And all I want to do is make sure people are properly informed and have the opportunity to make safe choices – but somehow I’m the one who is always allegedly teetering on the verge of declaring martial law in order to appease the capricious deity of the Common Good!

    “But there is a significant difference and it boils down to something I already said: it comports with the way the world really is and the way humans really are.”

    Actually I would say that pretending that human beings are NOT sporadically-rational creatures biologically driven to seek out sexual experiences and relatively unsuited to monogamy is a clear indicator of having signally failed to accurately assess the way that the world really is. There is a serious conflict between your theological view of what miserable undeserving worms we all are and the impossibly high standards of puritan behaviour that you simultaneously expect from human beings in general. You go too far in both directions, taking distant parabolic cometary paths around reality while lecturing Tim and me about how poorly our worldview “comports with the way the world really is and the way humans really are”. It’s a classic case of the marijuana calling the timpani African-American.

    Boom! Your move 🙂

  38. “Only by employing a No True Scotsman large enough”

    Maybe; the question is to what degree the people who did this were actually acting in accordance with the scriptures. That is a bone of contention between us. I maintain, and the author of “Better Angels” agrees, that most of the people you are thinking of were illiterate, both literally and in regards to the content of the Christian faith. He credits the rise of literacy as one of the causes of a decrease in violence. This has been essentially my argument, as well. These are distinctions you have dismissed in the past, and I was pleased to find support from one of your own prized sources. 🙂

    “You critiqued it on the basis that it would be like a nazi promising to merely “reduce” the number of Jews being killed in the Holocaust,”

    That’s not exactly the way I put it. I’ve always been puzzled about why you care at all about the fate of the unborn, given your views that that they are not human persons, or, depending on your mood, persons we should accept as having an intrinsic right to life. Churchill said that he would find a way to say a kind word about Satan if it meant enlisting him against Hitler. Not that you are like Satan or the Nazis, of course, but I’m sure that Churchill would have agreed that such an alliance would come at a high cost, and similarly, I observe that some of what you regard as ‘contraception’ is still an abortion. Indeed, while this isn’t the case with you, I have encountered pro-choicers who believe that abortion is a contraceptive method.

    I am suggesting that a reduction in raw numbers of abortions can come at a high cost that manifest in other heinous ways.

    For example, what about this proposal: let’s say we kill every human on the planet? Upon which, there will not be any abortions. Problem solved!

    A blunt analogy to illustrate the principle. But I am aware that Peter Singer has proposed something very similar, calling on every human to get sterilized so that we could end the human race and spare future generations of suffering. Very similar to this argument in some sense, and just as tyrannical–admitting, of course, that Peter hopes all 6 billion of us will voluntarily sterilize ourselves.

    “Why are your partial solutions any better than mine?”

    They do not come with accompanying unpleasantries. I know that 3 billion monogamous, hetereosexual marriages on the planet smells very much like a tyranny to you. 🙂

    “Especially since I really don’t see how you propose to create a society”

    Well, we had that society more or less in the 1700s and 1800, before the liberals systematically destroyed it, didn’t we?

    While there was the force of law in many respects, it was a cultural thing. Yes, there may have been 5 or 6 abortions here and there (fine, we’ll say even, 5,000 or 6,000) but that is a far cry from the couple of million a year we see in the ‘civilized’ West right now.

    “the capricious deity of the Common Good!”

    This is the title of my next book. Very good, DB. So apt.

    “Actually I would say that pretending that human beings are NOT sporadically-rational creatures biologically driven”

    I think I already said that the participants in this conversation have fundamentally different outlooks?

    “There is a serious conflict between your theological view of what miserable undeserving worms we all are and the impossibly high standards of puritan behaviour that you simultaneously expect from human beings in general.”

    I believe I have evolution on my side with this one, actually. No need to invoke theology. Last I checked, it takes two to tango, and only two, and only two of the opposite gender. Only one reported case of parthenogenesis in all of human history, and this is fiercely disputed–by you. 😉

    “You go too far in both directions,”

    No, you forget that I am a ‘Constitutional Libertarian.’ In start contrast to your portrayal, I am thoroughly prepared to let society largely ‘sift’ out on its own accord. Utopias are not possible. People will be people, and that means they will make bad decisions. There will be riots, rape, and mayhem. You can’t stamp it all out, and if you tried, it would require draconian measures beyond what most today are willing to consider. (A century ago, not so much; I’ve been gathering a nice little stack of quotes by progressives seriously weighing the option of ‘lethal chambers’ for the ‘problem’ of the ‘feeble-minded.’)

    Jesus told a parable about a field planted with good seed that an an enemy came and corrupted with weeds. The workers said, “Should we take the weeds out?” and the landowner said “No, because you may pull up the good along with the bad.” So, good must grow up alongside the bad, and I believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that we Christians should be prepared to accept that. In a sense, this parable is particularly apt in trying to explain what I am trying to say.

    There are ways you could greatly reduce abortions that would leave the ‘good’ plants alone and other ways that would ruin the crop–all in the name of good intentions. The latter I reject, while the former I’m willing to consider. Not just in principle, but for practical reasons: I doubt very much that the manner in which you think we could reduce abortions will lead to a very good ending, because your inexplicable interest in this is not grounded on the right reasons. After all, you know how it is with deities–even the Divine Common Good–they all demand sacrifices. 🙂

  39. Because someone who considers abortion to be genocide isn’t going to get one. This person does not need to be sterilized, because they are not going to kill the offspring, right?

    This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the idea in my original link.

    I think what you’re trying to say is that I, as a Christian, should advocate for the compulsory sterilization of every pro-choice man on the globe. If I were an atheist, and I was pro-life, I guess you are suggesting that it would be “obvious” that this would be my view.

    The first sentence is closer to the mark, but the second is completely wrong. I have no idea what view would be obvious to you if you were an atheist and pro-life. I’m just (still) trying to ascertain why the process of procreation is more important than the lives of the millions of babies you say are killed by abortion.

    Yes, yes, “tyranny” bad, sexual reproduction good. But why do you prefer the latter over the former? Is there a point where the number of murdered babies becomes so large that you would change your mind?

    Jesus told a parable about a field planted with good seed that an an enemy came and corrupted with weeds. The workers said, “Should we take the weeds out?” and the landowner said “No, because you may pull up the good along with the bad.”

    Of course, this parable doesn’t apply to god himself, does it. 🙂

  40. “This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the idea in my original link.”

    It is kind of hard to follow a childish argument; I am not above admitting that the ‘obvious’ logic is hard to follow.

    “I have no idea what view would be obvious to you if you were an atheist and pro-life.”

    Like I said, I was just trying to take a stab at what you’re missing. I also don’t know what would be obvious to an atheist pro-lifer, but the man’s post only seems comprehensible if it is addressed to an atheist pro-lifer.

    “Yes, yes, “tyranny” bad, sexual reproduction good. But why do you prefer the latter over the former?”

    Why do you keep assuming that fewer would die under a tyranny than presently die under the current arrangement? Maybe we have different ideas of what constitutes tyranny.

    “Is there a point where the number of murdered babies becomes so large that you would change your mind?”

    I believe that the logic that undergirds the sanctioning of the murder of babies rationally allows for extension to the murdering of anyone, at any scale. That’s why I am not at all put at ease by Dannyboy’s assurances that the comments by “idiots” (a word he used to describe them on Facebook) are mere outliers. Nor does this mean, as DB often likes to say, that I am invoking a conspiracy. Would that I were! No, because it is logical progression, all that is necessary is for people to adopt the premises and then work out the logic on their own. When they do, they arrive at similar conclusions.

    Do I really want the people who believe that certain persons are not persons to be in charge of dictating to other persons how they are going to conceive? Right. There won’t be any people dying, there. 🙂

    Even trying to conceive of the kind of apparatus that would be necessary for implementing such a scheme makes me break out into a cold sweat; that the people who would be doing this would be the sort holding the aforementioned premises almost makes me lose consciou

    Sorry, I sort of blacked out there for a minute. I inadvertently began considering what that scheme would look like when conducted by people who believe that people are people only when these people say they are people and

    Sorry, I blacked out again.

    “Of course, this parable doesn’t apply to god himself, does it.”

    Kill them all and let God sort them out, right? Well, God is going to sort them out. As the creator of all things, I figure it is his prerogative on how he wants to do it, and apparently he wants to wait until the harvest. That’s his call. But it is clear that in the meantime, it certainly doesn’t apply to ME. Right?

  41. “Past 24weeks the only criteria…”

    So basically, it’s within the scope of the law to kill what, even by your own subjective standards, would constitute a human person, and an active attempt to push for the killing of more developed unborn where the difference between them and undisputed babies is simply a matter of being in or out of the womb.

    And you still deny any genocide is occurring, and dismiss concerns of how easy a step it would be to terminate even the newly birthed for the same reasons?

    “Opinion stated as if it were fact. Also by implication suggesting that you don’t consider the pregnant women in question to qualify as the subject of “ethical qualms”. Perhaps you’d like to clarify that?”

    Conclusion stated from what research I’ve done (admittedly by no means as in depth as SJ has likely done, but this is indeed the conclusion from what I have gathered). And the implication is that it’s the unborn are not considered the subject of “ethical qualms” but that if technical problems can be overcome it will follow there will be even less resistance to late term abortions than there is now.

    “50-100yrs of chipping. Those evil progressives sure are playing a long game!”

    They have to. They had a major set back nearly 85 years ago when they tried to be more direct.

    “It would be more accurate to say that there are a tiny minority of abortions occurring after the very earliest point at which I think it is even coherent to discuss personhood – the point of viability.”

    Now this is certainly opinion stated as fact. If you personally want to draw the line at when the fetus has a brain to decide personhood, then it would have more weight if you actually stick to it. That puts a ‘person becoming a person’ by 5 weeks tops under your paradigm. But by your own provided data we certainly see plenty of abortion occurring after this point in development. Hardly a “tiny minority.”

    “Some of them are because developmental conditions incompatible with survival have been detected,”

    Now you see, it’s statements like this where we see you being okay with moving/changing the standard to where ‘personhood’ isn’t even an issue for killing the unborn, that makes those like me and SJ concerned. This, despite you constantly dismissing our arguments on how easily it can be to move/change the criteria.

    “And the fringes on your side have their own cable and talk radio shows with millions of devoted followers. Plus they also control the richest and most powerful religious organisation in the world. What was your point again?”

    I suppose this is a case where your definition of ‘fringes’ and mine are radically different. But anyway, it’s just drawing attention to the fact that those you dismiss as ‘idiots’ and so forth, have a great deal more influence in the arena of ideas and policies than you seem to be willing to admit.

    “That seems like an odd non sequiteur to me. Why do I need to believe that human beings are fully in control of their actions in order to condemn those actions which cause pain and suffering to others?”

    ….

    Your joking, right? If you don’t believe human beings are in full control of their actions, then logically there is nothing to ‘condemn.’ They can’t help but to steal, rape, and kill. I certainly don’t see anyone condemning the wolf for killing a rabbit or trying to lock it up in order to separate it from all rabbit kind. It’s just following it’s nature. Thus to ‘condemn’ humans (which by atheistic/evolutionary standards are nominally no different) is utterly hypocritical.

    This just seems to be a typical case of you (and liberals in general) wanting to have your cake and eat it too. You reject the existence of free will and the notion of personal responsibility that it creates. But you want to make moral judgments and enforce consequences that can only logically be allowed as if it indeed existed.

    “I don’t say that we have no control over our actions – we do.”

    Congratulations, DB. That’s what we call ‘Free Will.’ You want to argue influences exist, fine. I never said they didn’t. But if we have control over our actions, then it follows “influences” only go so far in accounting for our behavior. At the end of the line, it comes down to our choices, which are indeed under our conscious control.

    If we have control over our actions we have responsibility over them. Thus in relation to the issue of the death penalty for those who consciously kill other human beings unjustly (I’d use the term ‘murder’ for brevity’s sake but given it’s meaning is a point of contention, I though a more detailed description would be helpful ;)), if they are indeed in control of their actions then they are personally responsible for it’s consequences. And the only equal consequence for knowingly taking life is to forfeit one’s life in turn.

    So make up your mind, DB. Either you believe we have control of our actions (Free Will) and thus personal responsibility for them in which judgments can be made, or we aren’t in control of our actions (No Free Will), and thus can not be held responsible in which case no judgments can be made. Either/or. Decide.

    “The fantasy of complete control over ones actions, coupled with an iron age attitude towards retribution, is the shaky foundation for the death penalty.”

    A desire to do whatever one wants and deny any form of personal responsibility is the foundation for it’s opposition. Seriously, responsibility to liberals is like crosses to vampires. Or demons. Or atheists, apparently.

    “Once again, SO glad you’re not an atheist. Being able to “fight back” has only a small overlap with being a conscious person (for example, a dog can fight back without being “conscious”, in the sense that we mean, whereas many fully conscious individuals cannot fight back). So no, it’s a strawman.”

    Actually it’s not. You’re just equivocating. Otherwise I’d have to ask what the nominal difference is in the “point of view” for the unborn between when they are ‘just a collection of cells’ and when they indeed do have a brain according to you? It’s not like the unborn have developed opinions. Any passive actions they take are no different from one point to the other. They certainly can’t interact with the world in any real way.

    So tell me DB, what nominal difference is there between the ‘collection of cells,’ the ‘brain developed unborn,’ and an unconscious person (that hasn’t become conscious)? If all you have to say is ‘physical traits,’ well, you know that distinction has been done before, right?

    “You are supremely unqualified to give expert testimony about my worldview.”

    Like SJ, I’ve talked to you long enough to know how screwed up you are ideologically. Heck, the casual reader can see the above where you deny free will exists yet turn around and admit we have any control over ourselves, can safely come to that conclusion.

    “But of course, the conspiracy theory dictates that his renunciation of forcible population control cannot really be sincere.”

    I’d bet even money that 50 years ago, you’d have blown off any concerns raised about an ideology that would see ‘gay marriage’ being legitimized as a “conspiracy theory” too. Probably would have dismissed the idea of a hospital knowingly treating unborn corpses like coal as ‘hyperbole’ if called out a year or 2 ago as well.

    “Dire warnings about the terrifying nazi-akin dictatorship that is always just around the corner are commonplace, and yet when pushed for a concrete prediction you cannot commit yourself to anything but the weakest of weak sauce.”

    Only when in the relatively short time frame you’re looking as something you can personally observe, yes. I can easily see such acts like the direct legalization of killing even the newly born and the elderly when deemed ‘unviable’ (with that particular term expanding as well) within our life time. 10 years? Maybe not. 30-40? much more likely.

    But this just seems that your complaint is that you’re impatient because neither me nor SJ give specific dates (Why should we? We’re not prophets.). We don’t know exactly when things are going to happen. We just know where current trends are leading, and will be eventually if they continue.

  42. You’re muddying the waters by throwing some tyranny into the argument.

    It’s disingenuous, because even if I could convince you that the tyranny wouldn’t eventuate, or if I created the perfect hypothetical, where your one, single objection was the absence of sexual reproduction, you’d still oppose the idea because sexual reproduction is more important than the lives of billions of babies. Or maybe not. I don’t know, because you won’t say.

  43. Oh but EB, just because something was a certain way in the past, it doesn’t mean it will always be like that. You know, like the speed of light.

    And your thoughts on free will are way off. You can’t help it, obviously. But you’re still wrong.

  44. “You’re muddying the waters by throwing some tyranny into the argument.”

    Not at all. It is a childish, immature argument, that cannot help but reduce to a Lord of the Flies scenario, writ globally.

    “It’s disingenuous, because even if I could convince you that the tyranny wouldn’t eventuate, or if I created the perfect hypothetical,”

    This is just plain silliness. What would the perfect hypothetical be, exactly? 6 billion people all voluntarily agree to cease reproducing the way Nature designed it? This is your position, that my position ought to be that everyone should get sterilized and bank their sperm and eggs? This should be my next crusade? Really? That’s your position?

    “where your one, single objection was the absence of sexual reproduction, you’d still oppose the idea because sexual reproduction is more important than the lives of billions of babies.”

    I don’t really know where you get off with this whole line of thought. I made one or two comments about this being nothing more than a rip-off of “A Brave New World” and somehow I’m now some kind of sex-for-the-sake-of-sex fiend?

    “Or maybe not. I don’t know, because you won’t say.”

    I think I did say. There’s no friggin way you’re going to convince 6 billion people to forgo Natural reproduction, so if you really wanted to implement this, in order to save billions of babies, you’d have to murder billions of people. I really do believe it would require open, wanton destruction of people that even you would agree are people. But assuming there was some way to stop short (and why would you? billions of babies lives are stake, no?) the kind of coercion that would be a repeat of the compulsory sterilization observed in the ‘civilized’ West in the last century, eg, Buck vs. Bell, etc, where you quite literally had to hold people down or threaten to remove their benefits or their other children, etc, etc.

    I really can’t believe I’ve invested even this much time on the idea. “Hey sntjohnny, let’s kick around some ideas on how we can persuade 6 billion people to sterilize themselves voluntarily. This is totally possible, man! We won’t have to use coercion, or nuthin!”

    “What? You don’t think we can do it without coercion?!!?!? Man, I thought you wanted to save the lives of billions of BABIES! I guess you just like sex more than babies. Yea, I know that’s what you pro-lifers are always saying, but through some really strange contorted logic, I’m thinking its actually YOU you BABY KILL3R!”

  45. Haha, ok, apologies… We appear to be misunderstanding each other, so maybe we just leave it there.

    If you’d like, we could go back to the original article that prompted your post, and discuss how ‘using babies to heat hospitals’ is so far off the mark it’s not even funny.

  46. “Oh but EB, just because something was a certain way in the past, it doesn’t mean it will always be like that. You know, like the speed of light.

    And your thoughts on free will are way off. You can’t help it, obviously. But you’re still wrong.”

    Thank you Timmy. Your bald face assertions and denials that fly in the face of recorded history, observed behavior, and sound logic are always so very persuasive.

  47. The word “science” is conspicuously absent from your list. Interesting.

    Also, you have shown that any attempt to engage with you properly ends with you chickening out at the first sign of painting yourself into a corner.

  48. SJ,

    “…the question is to what degree the people who did this were actually acting in accordance with the scriptures.”

    Yes, I am aware that this is your preferred tool for redefining “Christians” in such a way that any self-identified Christians who have committed acts which would count as evidence against your position actually turn out not to have been TRUE Christians after all.  It’s circular and self-fulfilling and ultimately pretty subjective, because the scriptures say a lot of different things, some of which appear to support the imposition of tyranny and some of which appear to argue against it.  Your 21st Century analysis of the most salient themes of the Bible is not necessarily an objective yardstick with which to make that call, so your initial statement about Christians’ attitude towards tyranny may be internally consistent – just – but is only held together by a scaffolding of shaky assumptions and fallacies.

    On a side note, a holy book that has generated centuries of sometimes violent disagreement over the interpretation of its precise meaning cannot really be thought of as having been a successful example of divine communication, can it.

    “He credits the rise of literacy as one of the causes of a decrease in violence. This has been essentially my argument, as well.”

    I’m reminded of that line about someone using statistics the way that a drunk man uses lampposts – for support rather than for illumination.  It seems like fairly superficial cherry-picking to me to suggest that Pinker crediting greater literacy with being one historical factor in reducing violence supports your assertion that medieval Christians were barbaric because they couldn’t properly read the bible.  Still, you are then left with the hardly satisfactory conclusion that they were led astray by the only people who COULD read it, and then when the subject of barbarity by highly literate Christians is mentioned (for example, in Nazi Germany) you invoke the higher criticism and liberal attitudes, so honestly, just exactly when was this golden age when people behaved in accordance with the scriptures?  It must have been extremely short.

    “I observe that some of what you regard as ‘contraception’ is still an abortion.”

    In the sense that it interrupts the process after fertilisation but before implantation, yes.  That’s a definitional issue, over which you shouldn’t assume to have sole authority to adjudicate. For example, at least one of your prominent co-religionists, in so far as I can interpret his argument, may regard barrier contraception AND anything that prevents procreative sex to be an abortion, because he thinks that life begins “before conception, in the mind and heart of God”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnqrB7YpDk0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    “I know that 3 billion monogamous, hetereosexual marriages on the planet smells very much like a tyranny to you.”

    I certainly don’t see how it could occur without one.

    “Well, we had that society more or less in the 1700s and 1800, before the liberals systematically destroyed it, didn’t we?”

    Lol, yeah those were the days!  It’s so weird how most women and people of colour tend to overlook what a great society we had back then, before liberals ruined it! 🙂

    “This is the title of my next book. Very good, DB. So apt.”

    What can I expect in the way of royalties?

    “I believe I have evolution on my side with this one, actually.”

    You’re leaning on those secular lampposts again there, my friend.

    “Only one reported case of parthenogenesis in all of human history, and this is fiercely disputed–by you.”

    I would certainly dispute that event’s inclusion within “history”.  It belongs firmly in the category of mythic literary convenience, and there’s plenty of other examples of virgin births in that particular box.

    “People will be people, and that means they will make bad decisions. There will be riots, rape, and mayhem.”

    You seem to be rather against trying to stop any of those things, or protecting people from the consequences of the bad decisions that they will inevitably make.

    Dan

  49. EB,

    “So basically, it’s within the scope of the law to kill what, even by your own subjective standards, would constitute a human person, and an active attempt to push for the killing of more developed unborn where the difference between them and undisputed babies is simply a matter of being in or out of the womb.”

    Just to be entirely clear, I think it’s ultimately unknowable at what point personhood manifests itself.  I think 24weeks is pretty much still within the realms of potential, rather than actual, personhood, but I am sympathetic to the potentialist argument, and prefer to err on the side of caution.  After 24weeks inhabiting the body of a woman is no longer necessary for survival, so it seems reasonable to me to call that the point at which termination is no longer permitted when safe delivery is an alternate option.

    “And you still deny any genocide is occurring, and dismiss concerns of how easy a step it would be to terminate even the newly birthed for the same reasons?”

    How could it be genocide – just by definition?  It doesn’t simply mean “killing a big lot of people”, you know.  What racial, ethnic, religious or national group is being targeted by abortion?  Try to make your hyperbole at least internally consistent.

    And please explain how, in the stated terms of my perspective on the matter, it could ever be ok to kill newborns.

    “Conclusion stated from what research I’ve done…”

    Research not referenced = opinion stated as fact, until proven otherwise.

    “[Progressives] had a major set back nearly 85 years ago when they tried to be more direct.”

    Yes, because we all remember learning about the pro-gay, feminist & equal rights policies of the Third Reich.  You complete and utter nitwit.

    “If you personally want to draw the line at when the fetus has a brain to decide personhood, then it would have more weight if you actually stick to it. That puts a ‘person becoming a person’ by 5 weeks tops under your paradigm.”

    Right, and acorns are oak trees – there is no functional difference between them!  Your large intestine has more of a brain than a 5 week foetus – that’s not sarcasm, that is literally true.

    A brain is only important because of its emergent properties, which require a certain level of development to emerge.

    “I suppose this is a case where your definition of ‘fringes’ and mine are radically different.”

    Sure.  The location of the fringes depends entirely on where you decide the sensible middle ground is.

    “If you don’t believe human beings are in full control of their actions, then logically there is nothing to ‘condemn.’ They can’t help but to steal, rape, and kill. I certainly don’t see anyone condemning the wolf for killing a rabbit or trying to lock it up in order to separate it from all rabbit kind.”

    If you had any concern for the welfare of rabbits then that is exactly what you’d do (lock the wolf up, I mean).  Are you against the enforced separation of bears and humans in some parts of the US, including sometimes capturing or killing man-eaters, simply because you don’t credit bears with having free will?  It’s an absurd and ridiculous idea.

    The situation is more complicated in humans because we do have the capacity to empathise with the experiences of others and to exercise SOME conscious control over our actions.  However, a naive belief in complete rational autonomy regardless of circumstance is not required to endorse the protection of the vulnerable from harm.

    “You reject the existence of free will and the notion of personal responsibility that it creates. But you want to make moral judgments and enforce consequences that can only logically be allowed as if it indeed existed.”

    Consequences can be legitimately enforced for the protection of society just as much as they can for the punishment of individuals.  Adherence to a black-and-white conception of free will is not required.

    ““I don’t say that we have no control over our actions – we do.”

    Congratulations, DB. That’s what we call ‘Free Will.’ You want to argue influences exist, fine. I never said they didn’t. But if we have control over our actions, then it follows “influences” only go so far in accounting for our behavior. At the end of the line, it comes down to our choices, which are indeed under our conscious control.”

    Perhaps I should have capitalised the word “No” in that sentence just to make my meaning clearer.  Take the analogy of health and health behaviour – we are born with genetic predispositions to certain conditions, for example heart disease.  We have no control over that.  We are brought up as children with certain risk factors, for example the dietary and other lifestyle choices of our parents.  We have no control over that either.  In young adulthood, depending on what other influences we have been subjected to, we are very likely to continue the pattern we have been raised in – smoking and eating unhealthy food if we have been socialised to think that those things are ok – because habit is a powerful thing.  We may also be exposed to certain other risk factors as adults, for example environmental or vocational stress, which we have only limited control over as well.  Given all of the above, how much can we blame someone with an accumulation of such risk factors for having a heart attack?  About as much as we can blame them for committing a murder if they are raised in a broken home, suffer physical and sexual abuse, get minimal and poor quality education and go on to join a gang because it is the closest thing they can get to a nurturing and supportive environment, in my view.

    People on your side of the fence have a tendency of admitting to the importance of these influences in a backhanded sort of way.  Tony is quite keen on the topic of the terrible human cost of the quickie divorce culture created by the permissive sixties mentality of free love and women’s emancipation (I am paraphrasing here).  In a completely free-willed American Dream reality this wouldn’t matter in the least, because everyone could just consciously and rationally choose their own destiny and go on to live happy and successful lives which benefitted themselves and the rest of society.  Why wouldn’t they, if Free Will is a real thing?  Seems to me that you can see through your own rhetoric when it suits your purposes.

    “If we have control over our actions we have responsibility over them.” 

    And if our control is diluted by outside influences, influences which even affect what decisions we are likely to consciously make, is our responsibility not diluted along with it?

    “So make up your mind, DB. Either you believe we have control of our actions (Free Will) and thus personal responsibility for them in which judgments can be made, or we aren’t in control of our actions (No Free Will), and thus can not be held responsible in which case no judgments can be made. Either/or. Decide.”

    I would say that you are the master of the false dichotomy, but I realise even as I type that this is a redundancy – all dichotomies are false, because life is never ever that simple.  Except perhaps in the minds of simple people. 🙂

    That’s probably unfair.  Your mind is entirely capable of dealing with nuance and complexity, it has just been infested with a truckload of Manichaean nonsense which makes it easier to just ignore all that stuff.  And, true to your belief in the complete freedom to choose our own destiny, I am sure that you were in no way influenced by fundamentalist Christianity as a child, right?  You freely chose this worldview which now dictates your behaviour.

    “So tell me DB, what nominal difference is there between the ‘collection of cells,’ the ‘brain developed unborn,’ and an unconscious person (that hasn’t become conscious)? If all you have to say is ‘physical traits,’ well, you know that distinction has been done before, right?”

    I don’t think you really mean “nominal”.  I’m going to ignore that word.

    When you say “an unconscious person (that hasn’t become conscious)” do you mean someone who has never been conscious?  Or do you mean someone who is currently asleep, because that is quite a significant distinction.

    If it’s the former, then I see very little distinction unless there is the realistic possibility of them becoming conscious.  If it is the latter then there’s a massive difference, one that I suspect you would acknowledge if you could honestly engage in the following thought experiment:

    You are holding a newborn baby cradled in one arm, and a petri dish containing a fertilised embryo in the other hand.  Suddenly you stumble, and must put out a hand to save yourself, and the things you carry, from falling off the bridge you are standing on and into the fast-flowing river below.  If what you say about the moral indistinguishability of human life, whether it is a day or a year after conception, is true then you should have no preference about what to drop, but I think in reality we all know what our instinctive action would be.

    “Heck, the casual reader can see the above where you deny free will exists yet turn around and admit we have any control over ourselves”

    Well sure, that’s what would mark them out as casual readers in my eyes.  Serious readers would probably not ignore the complexities of my position for the sake of buffering their own strawman view of it.  I think you have correctly identified your target demographic there.

    “I’d bet even money that 50 years ago, you’d have blown off any concerns raised about an ideology that would see ‘gay marriage’ being legitimized as a “conspiracy theory” too. Probably would have dismissed the idea of a hospital knowingly treating unborn corpses like coal as ‘hyperbole’ if called out a year or 2 ago as well.”

    Well in your hypothetical scenario I would have been right about that last point – it is hyperbole, at least as you express it there.

    Trying to be wise after the event is not a functional substitute for successfully predicting the future, you know.

    Perhaps I am being unfair by requesting prophecy from you while giving none of my own.  Actually, I don’t think it’s all that unfair since you are so often guilty of issuing dire-yet-nonspecific warnings in order to get your point across.  Nevertheless, I will give you a prediction – in about twenty years time, when gay marriage is as uncontroversial as interracial marriage is today (that is, only the extreme right still have a problem with it), mainstream conservatives will be claiming that they are really the moral inheritors of the successful struggle which they previously opposed, just like they currently do with the civil rights movement.

    Feel free to make a note of that one and take me up on it in twenty years.

  50. Sorry, half wrote this the other day, but got side-tracked.
    _____

    Tony,

    There are quite a few misrepresentations and tangential fallacies in your reply, so this could take a while.

    1
    ‘Delusion’ was exactly the word I was looking for, as my final comment should have made clear.

    2
    Nothing has ‘just dawned’ on me. My issue is what you say you believe is at stake, compared to what you really believe is at stake based on your actions, or lack thereof. And the appeals to terminology are the opposite of pedantic – they are crucial. When the pro-life movement refuses to acknowledge that there is a difference between a blastocyst, foetus, baby, toddler, child, adolescent or adult, what should be a nuanced discussion about competing rights turns into an all-or-nothing defence of something smaller than the full stop at the end of this sentence. How are we to have a frank, compassionate discussion on the abortion rights of a rape victim when the pro-life movement thinks a five-celled organism (yes, a blastocyst) is deserving of all the rights of a fully-grown human woman? It is most certainly not pedantic to call something what it is. But calling something what it is not is simply dishonest. And whichever way you cut it, a blastocyst isn’t a “person”.

    3
    “Your idea that the Christian church would go to any lengths even to stop the killing of children when they turned 15 is deeply flawed.”

    I’m interested in what you mean by this. Are you suggesting Christians would not go to any lengths to stop it?

    4
    Can we dispense with the conflation of “secularist” and “non-religious”? Christians can, and should, be secularists, too.

    5
    I’m not sure, but it appears that your response to my main point amounts to “Yeah but you do it, too”. That would put you in a rather awkward position. If you can’t see why then I am happy to expand.

    6
    “But in America at least, there did come a time, finally, when there was a no-holds barred throw down, and half a million Americans were killed. But you don’t get to that point overnight. But, I would say that you do get to that point, the longer the wanton destruction of innocent life goes on.”

    It’s interesting that you think this is a point in your favour. It isn’t. I think you would have to admit that the enslavement of a few million people, however abhorrent, was on a lesser scale of evil than the 6 million Jews killed during the real Holocaust, and therefore on an even lesser scale of evil than the billion babies killed in your invented one. And yet, as you point out, America went to war to stop it, and (as both you and EB enjoy mentioning, with dubious accuracy), it was Christians that led the charge.

    Hmmm.

    Yeah OK, it took a few decades for the penny the drop. Diplomacy failed. The rednecks went ahead and seceded. So the good guys resorted to the last option available.

    Well, I cannot for the life of me see how Christian America is already well past the point where “last resorts” are required. You and EB love pointing out that America is becoming more secular, and more non-religious. According to your prescient observations, in the not too distant future, you won’t be allowed to even write a blog against abortion, let alone do anything to actually stop it.

    The only explanation I can see is that you are deluded in your beliefs. And for that I am thankful.

    7
    “Similarly, in Germany, would you have proposed that Christians in the early 1930s get out their long knives and murder the Nazis while they sleep?”

    I’m not sure. Suicide is a very personal choice.

    8
    “I note you are talking about a blastocyst and not a second-trimester fetus.”

    And I note you are talking about partial birth abortions, and casually dismiss rape-generated abortions as a red herring.

    9
    “That’s because you’ve been driven back by science and the real world to know that your argument is pitifully and pathetically weak when applied to that stage.”

    Actually, no. A purely scientific view of things could be used to advocate abortion to several years after birth. But I don’t take a purely scientific view of things.

    10
    “there are very few barriers preventing the execution of humans at one stage of development if you allow it at another.”

    And lo, St Johnny began campaigning for an end to capital punishment.

  51. “1. ‘Delusion’ was exactly the word I was looking for, as my final comment should have made clear.”

    Very well, your comment was incoherent, and remains so. Why am I still talking about it, then? I don’t know. Good public relations, maybe. It’s a mystery.

    “When the pro-life movement refuses to acknowledge that there is a difference between a blastocyst, foetus, baby, toddler, child, adolescent or adult,”

    If this means what I think you mean, it is even more outright silliness. Obviously, there are biological differences. Your problem is that you are loading up these biological differences with huge amounts of philosophical and ethical baggage, and you aren’t even aware that you are doing it.

    “what should be a nuanced discussion about competing rights”

    How can there be a competing right between a ‘blastocyst’ and an adult? What possible rights can a ‘blastocyst’ have?

    “calling something what it is not is simply dishonest”

    Hey, Tim, do you know what the difference is between an unborn baby and a fetus? The baby is wanted. How we decide on the meaning of words is not done by authoritarian fiat. If I don’t accept your premises, I don’t have to accept your terminology. And I don’t.

    Personal question: Did you tell all your friends that you and your wife were had a fetus or that you had a baby?

    “And whichever way you cut it, a blastocyst isn’t a “person”.”

    And so long as you keep it at the level of mere assertion, you can say it all day long. As soon as you want to try to put meat onto it, eg, describing what a ‘person’ is and when a person is a person, you suddenly include them in a list of the stages of human development with ‘competing rights.’ That’s because even you can’t totally extract yourself from the world of logic–it isn’t just a simple organism, it is a human organism. Your arguments, if they have any weight whatsoever, must apply consistently; that’s why EB and I do not limit our concern to the ‘blastocyst.’ Any of your arguments for ‘aborting’ that apply to all the other stages of human development–I see you conceded this, and I will highlight that shortly.

    “3 I’m interested in what you mean by this. Are you suggesting Christians would not go to any lengths to stop it?”

    I believe I’ve already answered this.

    “Can we dispense with the conflation of “secularist” and “non-religious”? Christians can, and should, be secularists, too.”

    In fact, originally ‘secular’ pertained to Christian clergy involved in government work. Today it basically just means acting as though you are an atheist. I certainly will not be, and will urge all Christians, not to act as though they are atheists. I can see of course why you like that. God forbid, though, that it becomes the norm.

    “It’s interesting that you think this is a point in your favour. It isn’t.”

    I didn’t offer it as a point in anyone’s favor. I merely made the observation.

    “I think you would have to admit that the enslavement of a few million people, however abhorrent, was on a lesser scale of evil than the 6 million Jews killed during the real Holocaust,”

    Did you suddenly forget about the half a million Americans killed in the civil war? That is a cost that should also be included, and when I make my calculations, I do.

    “Well, I cannot for the life of me see how Christian America is already well past the point where “last resorts” are required.”

    I don’t understand your phrasing. Are you saying that America is past the point of last resorts, or not?

    “I’m not sure. Suicide is a very personal choice.”

    Right. It would have been suicide. After you’d have killed your one or two Nazis, you would have been killed yourself. All the people you had hoped to save would still die, and probably even more, because there would have been retaliation and retribution. Throwing themselves to their deaths in ineffectual measures may convince atheists named Tim that they really sincerely believed what they said they believed, but for my part, I believe intelligence should be balanced against sincerity, all the more when the stakes are high. Just because there is a calamity of epic proportions under way doesn’t mean you should do stupid things, especially when all that’s going to happen is 1., you are going to get killed or locked up and 2., all the things you hoped to prevent still happen anyway.

    I find it interesting that you can’t figure this out.

    “And I note you are talking about partial birth abortions, and casually dismiss rape-generated abortions as a red herring.”

    It’s all about proportion, my man. There are far fewer “rape-generated abortions” than there are “partial birth abortions.”

    Actually, no. A purely scientific view of things could be used to advocate abortion to several years after birth.

    And there you have it.

    Also on a purely scientific view of things, ‘abortion’ could be applied 120 years after birth, because, as I have said and have been saying (and DB has been pooh-poohing), the logic, if it is logical, follows through right to the end. There is no logical argument to prevent the ‘aborting’ of anyone of any age. Sure, in many of those cases, the adults need to be unconscious before the similarities emerge, but not always–depends on the particular argument the pro-choicer lodges. Personally, I think that behind this statement:

    “But I don’t take a purely scientific view of things.”

    rests nothing more than sheer pragmatism. After all, suicide is a very personal choice. If you started going around “aborting” people who are old enough and strong enough to fight back, you’re going to get put down, hard.

    It is no coincidence that it has always been the weak and the powerless that are the target of the culture of death. For example, there are plenty of folks out there advocating for population control, and they are eager to push abortion as often as they can and they are quick to talk about ‘efficiently’ clearing out the beds of the old and infirm, but you don’t usually hear them propose going after the 20-45 year olds. This is not for reasons of principle, in my opinion. Pure self-interest in self-preservation is my guess. The population control campaign in the 70s in India under the Ghandi dynasty comes to mind.

    But yea, the science holds. Just because you are too cowardly to stick to science doesn’t mean others won’t be. 😉

    “And lo, St Johnny began campaigning for an end to capital punishment.”

    It is amazing to me how difficult it is for people on your side to comprehend this (little?) non-arbitrary ‘little’ nuance: capital punishment is inflicted on the guilty, abortion is inflicted on the innocent.

    However, I have changed my mind on capital punishment. I’m still for it in principle, but the elites are the ones administering it, and my trust in them, their worldviews, their aims, objectives, etc, is at a historic low.

  52. quick thought on this:

    “It’s all about proportion, my man. There are far fewer “rape-generated abortions” than there are “partial birth abortions.”

    Probably more interesting is how many “rape-concealing-abortions” there are. Abortion on demand has proved to be a veritable windfall for men who enjoy raping their daughters, etc. 10 times the rape and exponentially less complications! The consequences are easily covered up by your local Planned Parenthood that is eager for the business, however it can get it. We call that a win-win-lose. The man wins, Planned Parenthood wins, and the girl loses. Go team pro-choice! Hurrah!

  53. “Very well, your comment was incoherent, and remains so.”

    An extremely odd conclusion for you to reach. But, whatever.

    “Your problem is that you are loading up these biological differences with huge amounts of philosophical and ethical baggage, and you aren’t even aware that you are doing it.”

    People like Danny and I are extremely aware we are doing it. That’s why we don’t idiotically oppose all abortions.

    “What possible rights can a ‘blastocyst’ have?”

    Theeeeeeeeere you go. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

    “Hey, Tim, do you know what the difference is between an unborn baby and a fetus? The baby is wanted.”

    Ummm… I feel silly having to point this out, but that’s not the difference at all.

    “If I don’t accept your premises, I don’t have to accept your terminology. And I don’t.”

    OK fine. You use one definition of blastocyst, and I’ll use another. I’m sure the conversation will prove extremely fruitful.

    “And so long as you keep it at the level of mere assertion, you can say it all day long.”

    And your side can assert the opposite all day long. But calling a newly fertilised egg a person will still be fucking ridiculous.

    “Today [secular] basically just means acting as though you are an atheist.”

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    “That is a cost that should also be included, and when I make my calculations, I do.”

    So the Civil War was on a larger scale of evil than the Holocaust…? Eh?

    “I don’t understand your phrasing. Are you saying that America is past the point of last resorts, or not?”

    I said “is” instead of “isn’t”. The subsequent sentences should have made my meaning abundantly clear.

    “Right. It would have been suicide.”

    It was a joke, about the fact that the vast majority of Nazis were Christian. Quite a clever joke, actually… at least deserving of a smiley.

    “It is amazing to me how difficult it is for people on your side to comprehend this (little?) non-arbitrary ‘little’ nuance: capital punishment is inflicted on the guilty, abortion is inflicted on the innocent.”

    Well, sure. I mean, it’s not like you guys ever execute innocent people.

    Besides which, you’re missing the point. You’re making all these hyperbolic statements about the subjective nature of personhood, and how if abortion is OK then it’s OK to kill anyone. But you apparently fail to recognise that “guilty” and “innocent” can also be subjective. So if it’s OK to kill a murderer, it’s OK to kill a jaywalker, right? Yeah, that sounds right. Abortion must be wrong then.

  54. “People like Danny and I are extremely aware we are doing it. That’s why we don’t idiotically oppose all abortions.”

    If you are so aware, then why don’t you skip mere assertions and try to explain yourself? Danny has done better, but all you’ve done is act as though it were a simple matter of common sense.

    “Theeeeeeeeere you go. That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

    And in a flash you illustrate your hypocrisy and complete irrationality.

    Here was the sentence in question:

    When the pro-life movement refuses to acknowledge that there is a difference between a blastocyst, foetus, baby, toddler, child, adolescent or adult, what should be a nuanced discussion about competing rights turns into an all-or-nothing defence of something smaller than the full stop at the end of this sentence.

    Now, you tell me how we are going to have a discussion about competing rights of a blastocyst versus an adult? From your comment, it is clear that it is a no-brainer–the blastocyst has no competing rights (even though you just listed it in a series of developmental stages having competing rights), so the blastocyst has got to go. At what stage in human development does something have a ‘right’ that can compete against the ‘rights’ of other stages in development?

    It can’t be at the level of the fetus, because you just said, “A purely scientific view of things could be used to advocate abortion to several years after birth.”

    I think even you would have to accept the simple logic that the human several years after birth is well beyond being a ‘fetus’ so if this (dare I call it?) child, on purely scientific grounds doesn’t have rights, surely the fetus doesn’t, either. God only knows what any self-respecting atheist is doing deviating from the conclusions of ‘pure science,’ but that is (perhaps) a digression.

    So, we’ve now moved in your list of humans with ‘competing rights’ through the blastocyst, the fetus, the baby, and perhaps even the toddler, and learned from you that these do not actually have any rights at all. Would you care to explain to me when, purely scientifically a human has rights?

    You say that on this your views are not purely scientific, but for our purposes right now I don’t really care what your arbitrary and capricious opinions are. Let’s stick to the ‘science.’ Scientifically, when should we stop ‘aborting’ people?

    “Ummm… I feel silly having to point this out, but that’s not the difference at all.”

    Oh, well, you haven’t really explained how it is different. You’ve just been asserting this and asserting that without any supporting argumentation whatsoever since this conversation started. You’ll forgive me for trying to fill in some blanks. I assume, for example, that since scientifically a toddler can be ‘aborted’ the only remaining distinction of any significance is whether or not the parents want it. I merely applied this inference backwards to previous stages of development.

    “OK fine. You use one definition of blastocyst, and I’ll use another. I’m sure the conversation will prove extremely fruitful.”

    I have no objection to the biological definition. It is your assumption that I should share your ethical and philosophical view that because this particular human only has 5 cells instead of 5 billion, it is not a person and has no rights. I do not share your moral viewpoint that rights are proportioned to the number of cells the human has.

    “And your side can assert the opposite all day long. But calling a newly fertilised egg a person will still be fucking ridiculous.”

    There is no assertion on my side. It is a fact that what we are talking about is human, from beginning to end. You’ve never seen a human woman give birth to a monkey, eagle, or toad, have you? Biologically speaking, we’re just talking about a HUMAN in an early stage of development. You assume and assert that HUMANS in these early stages of development are not persons. Based on what evidence? Who are you to decide when a person is a person and not a a person? Hey, you’ve said you know when it happens scientifically so obviously it must be measurable, no?

    “Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.”

    Oh, so let’s say I’m an elected official. If I work to pass legislation restricting abortions for reasons you deem are religious, you’ll have no objection, on principle? I mean, you won’t say, “Keep your religion out of the public sphere!” and you will say “This is just a policy matter we disagree on and you have a right to act on it and try to win votes like any other person.”

    Do I have that right?

    “So the Civil War was on a larger scale of evil than the Holocaust…? Eh?”

    I didn’t say anything about the scale of it. I just said that I count those deaths. And if you’re going to be that way, why limit your thoughts to the Holocaust. Yea, 6 million Jews were killed, and an assorted million or so Gypsies, disabled, blacks, communists, etc, but there were a good 60 million people killed worldwide for one reason or another. There is the cost of the actual travesty itself and then there is the cost of undoing that travesty. They both need to be taken into account. All I’m saying is that whenever one group of people decide that another group of people are not persons, travesties will follow, and undoing those travesties will come at a cost.

    So far, it seems like in most places this cycle has not been avoided. An exception seems to be Britain’s bloodless ending of slavery. The usual case is that people who like to play God with the lives of others can’t restrict themselves to a narrow group, and eventually there is ‘overflow’ which prompts other people to fight back, which they will do via peaceful means for as long as it remains practical to do so.

    In the case of abortion on demand, the same arguments that justify abortion on demand justify (by your own admission, “scientifically”) infanticide. They also justify whacking old people, disabled people, and so on. Eventually, the people who think like this will go to far, as they invariably do, and people will get upset–just like they did in England when they found out that it was their parents being “efficiently” killed off via the Liverpool Care Pathway. They made a stink, and changes were made, but the people who were to blame didn’t change their philosophies, so the subject will come up again (in large part, because they are still in charge).

    “I said “is” instead of “isn’t”. The subsequent sentences should have made my meaning abundantly clear.”

    So now you are annoyed that I sought to make sure I correctly understood you? You really are hard to please.

    “It was a joke, about the fact that the vast majority of Nazis were Christian.”

    We clearly live in different universes.

    “You’re making all these hyperbolic statements about the subjective nature of personhood,”

    Not me; you’re the one who says it is subjective.

    “and how if abortion is OK then it’s OK to kill anyone.”

    Pending you actually explaining yourself.

    “But you apparently fail to recognise that “guilty” and “innocent” can also be subjective.”

    No. A person either murdered another person, or they did not. There is nothing subjective about that. To the degree that there are subjective elements, it is not typically in the declaration of ‘innocent’ versus ‘guilty’ it is built into the charge that is leveled. There is ‘homicide’ for the really intentional and deliberate stuff and then ‘manslaughter’ for something that is accidental. If a person puts a gun to another person’s head and blows it off, that is not subjective. If a person drives drunk and smashes head on into another car, killing the occupants, that is not subjective.

    Now, our ability to ascertain intent and the objective facts is certainly not as concrete as all this.

    But, I would tend to think that if there was anything we could agree on as being as close to objective as we can get, no person has ever been intentionally and deliberately killed, with malice, by a ‘fetus.’

    Feel free to provide me with a single exception, and I will speak to your argument. Until then, I consider it utterly without merit and totally out of touch with reality.

  55. “Just to be entirely clear, I think it’s ultimately unknowable at what point personhood manifests itself.”

    Of course, DB. You’ve always been rather capricious about what exactly ‘personhood’ is in your worldview. Admittedly you’ve done better than Timmy to actually make an argument at a definition, usually it being synonymous with ‘consciousness,’ but you’ve always been shown to abandon it when it’s pointed out how even fully grown adults can not fit your standards at all times.

    It comes as no surprise then, that in your desire to maintain your stance that mass murder is not occurring under policies and actions you defend, that when it can be seen to be occurring by even the standards you’ve often argued for and have frequently asserted as being non-arbitrary, you’re willing to abandon your stance again just so that you can support abortion with a clean conscious.

    “After 24weeks inhabiting the body of a woman is no longer necessary for survival,”

    So now that the numbers don’t favor you, ‘personhood’ is changed to ‘unassisted living’? I see little in this inherently stopping that proposal of infanticide that certain ‘bioethicists’ have asserted. If it’s acceptable to kill them before 24 weeks by this reasoning, it then becomes acceptable to kill them beyond this point as well, given even human infants can’t live without assistance of some kind in or out of the womb for many years. And then there’s all the old and infirmed who also need aid and resources dedicated to their continued living.

    It baffles me how you have continued to brush off notions of ‘slippery-slope’ in your standards and arguments with a straight face, while admitting you don’t know when ‘personhood’ manifests (one wonders if you even qualify if it’s so unknowable) and continue this juggling act of standards.

    “How could it be genocide – just by definition? It doesn’t simply mean “killing a big lot of people”, you know. What racial, ethnic, religious or national group is being targeted by abortion? Try to make your hyperbole at least internally consistent.”

    Really? Your defense now is semantics? ‘No we aren’t performing genocide! Yeah, we’re killing millions of people (who are indeed people by my own standards) on a yearly basis, but we aren’t picky in who we kill, so it’s alright?’ You honestly think that’s a meaningful distinction?

    Incidentally ‘the unborn’ can be classified as it’s own distinct group seeing how the discrimination has merely changed to stages of development.

    “And please explain how, in the stated terms of my perspective on the matter, it could ever be ok to kill newborns.”

    As shown above, even factoring in your NEW perspective, the newborn can be killed by the same reasoning as the unborn. They have no demonstrable ‘point of view’ any more than the unborn, and they need aid to live as much as the unborn as well. The only differences between the two groups seems to simply be location and method of aid. Thus it’s ok to eliminate one group for the reasons you’ve given, it certainly makes it ok to eliminate the other.

    Of course, this is under your CURRENT perspective, given you now believe ‘personhood’ to be ultimately unknowable (yet still find it ok to kill the unborn anyway), and won’t just change your perspective again when your current version becomes inconvenient.

    “Yes, because we all remember learning about the pro-gay, feminist & equal rights policies of the Third Reich. You complete and utter nitwit.”

    Heh. I’d dispute that last one is really in the current progressive interest. But you’re adorably naïve to think a few differences in application makes a difference in fundamental ideology. Or maybe not so adorable really, since as stated in my OP it’s what let’s you get away with self-denial.

    “A brain is only important because of its emergent properties, which require a certain level of development to emerge.”

    A level of development you believe is “ultimately unknowable,” correct? Yet you seem certain enough that the unborn don’t qualify, and there is no demonstrable property that the unborn don’t have in five-weeks that the newborn don’t have as well. Tell me again what separates the unborn from the newly born, if ultimately you can’t know the newborn don’t fall short of whatever magical level of development ‘personhood’ emerges as well?

    “If you had any concern for the welfare of rabbits then that is exactly what you’d do (lock the wolf up, I mean).”

    Well that seems to be the lynchpin – concern. You demand people be concerned like it’s a moral imperative, but which worldview does it make more sense under? Under evolutionary terms ‘concern’ just boils down to interest in one’s own self. I don’t see any other animal on the planet being overly concerned beyond it’s own individual needs. This may extend to immediate family groups, but it certainly doesn’t extend outside to other species or even to rivaling groups within it’s own species as a whole. So why then should I be concerned about rabbit-kind, and subsequently why should I be concerned about the death of those I’m competing with for resources under evolutionary terms?

    “Consequences can be legitimately enforced for the protection of society just as much as they can for the punishment of individuals. Adherence to a black-and-white conception of free will is not required.”

    Not really. ‘Protecting society’ is often just a poor man’s excuse for progressives to adopt religious moralities while denying their existence. If ‘protecting society’ is the main concern then you have to look at whether the acts do indeed benefit or hurt society as a whole, even if it’s at the expense of individuals. Murder can indeed be beneficial to society under evolutionary terms, so long as it’s not beyond a certain limit. Or in the opposite case people can be punished for not even committing any acts beyond just being a drain on resources. Look at post-WW1 Germany and how it became a power under the Third Reich. THAT is what a consistent application of ‘protecting society’ regardless of free will looks like.

    “Perhaps I should have capitalised the word “No” in that sentence just to make my meaning clearer.”

    I know what your meaning is – you want to argue we are just meat machines programmed by genetics and society, while simultaneously denying this is ultimately the conclusion of your worldview. You want to have it both ways, where the application seeming to depend on personal whim.

    You keep brining up ‘influences’ of genetics and lifestyle as if I’ve ever denied they existed. The problem you seem to be having is that such influences are not as all-encompassing as you argue. Are people born with illnesses that affect their behavior and ways of life? Sure. People who also have the same conditions have a myriad ways of dealing with them, up to totaling ignoring their conditions. Do people who drink and smoke early on do so out of habit? Sure. There are also people kicking the habit just as there are people who continue with it. Does the person with the heart attack have as much personal responsibility as the murder for the end result? Uh, yeah. If he knowingly chose to exacerbate his condition, and did nothing to rectify it or even try, then he’s indeed personally culpable for his own death, just as the murderer is for anothers.

    Influences may exist DB, but obviously the multitude of how people respond to the same conditions shows ‘influences’ is not the determining factor you seem to want it to be.

    “In a completely free-willed American Dream reality this wouldn’t matter in the least, because everyone could just consciously and rationally choose their own destiny and go on to live happy and successful lives which benefitted themselves and the rest of society.”

    A naïve assessment. You seem to think “free will” just means ‘bucking the realities of circumstances that are not in our control’ which would ultimately not be ‘free will’ as it would necessitate a fixed outcome. That’s not what “free will” is. “Free will” is the ability to choose how we act under circumstances. Obviously free will necessitates people are free to allow themselves to be destroyed by their circumstances, just as they are free to defy them, or even change them if given the means. “Free will” necessitates there is no universally consistent outcome to human actions and behavior.

    “And if our control is diluted by outside influences, influences which even affect what decisions we are likely to consciously make, is our responsibility not diluted along with it?”

    No. Aside from illness that may indeed affect the ability to make choices in itself, then we’re just as responsible for giving in to those influences, as the choice to not be dictated by them is indeed always present.

    “I would say that you are the master of the false dichotomy,”

    Yes, I had a feeling that would be your response to so obvious a contradiction in ideology.

    “And, true to your belief in the complete freedom to choose our own destiny, I am sure that you were in no way influenced by fundamentalist Christianity as a child, right? You freely chose this worldview which now dictates your behaviour.”

    Indeed I did, given I’ve been exposed to alternative and competing views, including atheism and have given due consideration to their merits. I chose my views that best fits the reality I’ve live, not merely reality as I wish it to be.

    And it is indeed reality, as I have been exposed to the affects of murder. An associate at work I was acquainted with was shot in front of a bus stop by her ex leaving 3 children behind. So you’ll understand if I’m not particularly impressed with all the Freudian excuses that are thrown about by liberals and don’t even apply to the situation. I just take such thinking as the result of people who have lived very quaint lives.

    “Or do you mean someone who is currently asleep, because that is quite a significant distinction.”

    The only one you seem to indicate in your experiment is ‘how much someone else cares,’ which is not an inherent distinction. Heck, if that’s the standard (at this second, since your so apt to switch it around), even being ‘conscious’ is not enough to keep people from being killed off.

    “Well sure, that’s what would mark them out as casual readers in my eyes. Serious readers would probably not ignore the complexities of my position for the sake of buffering their own strawman view of it. I think you have correctly identified your target demographic there.”

    Mmmmm, no given how many times you throw out ‘it’s complicated, it’s complicated, it’s complicated’ in your arguments of issues I think the dedicated reader would come to the same unflattering conclusion as the casual one.

    “Trying to be wise after the event is not a functional substitute for successfully predicting the future, you know.”

    It’s not predicting the future, DB. It’s drawing attention to the fact policies and changes to society today can be traced back to ideologies that were advocated mere decades ago, and thus labeling predictions of another ideological movement as ‘conspiracy theory’ seems to be selective denial.

    “Nevertheless, I will give you a prediction – in about twenty years time, when gay marriage is as uncontroversial as interracial marriage is today (that is, only the extreme right still have a problem with it), mainstream conservatives will be claiming that they are really the moral inheritors of the successful struggle which they previously opposed, just like they currently do with the civil rights movement.”

    A fair prediction.

    In Britain, with it’s standard of ‘mainstream conservative.’ 😉

  56. Not me; you’re the one who says it is subjective.

    Well, OK… I’m all ears. What’s your allegedly objective definition of ‘person’? EB – want to throw your definition in as well?

    For all your jibes about “assertions”, I haven’t seen either of you defining it. (but apologies if you have, and I missed it)

    Choose your words carefully.

  57. Tell me SJ and EB… what would you call someone born without a brain?

  58. Wait, is this a trick question?

    Is the right answer Stathei? Or should I broaden my horizons to all new atheists? 😉

    To your question above that, I have a very simple answer, but I don’t see why I should be the one coughing up anything. You are the one that said that it is SCIENTIFICALLY the case that some’one’ isn’t a person yet, even several years after birth. Why don’t you inform the class when, scientifically, a human is a person? Then you can explain to us why you refuse to limit your perspective to the findings of science.

  59. No, it’s not a trick question at all.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anencephaly

    With regards to your other question… Actually, what I said was:

    A purely scientific view of things could be used to advocate abortion to several years after birth.

    How you have taken what I said and turned it into “You are the one that said that it is SCIENTIFICALLY the case that someone isn’t a person yet, even several years after birth” is beyond me. Where have I said that?

    If you’d read what I said, I very intentionally used the word “could”. Some people (like Singer) make that argument, based on our current understanding of neuroscience, and some assumptions around the link between cognition and personhood. I did not say that I held that view. This is the second time in this conversation you have twisted my words into something that I don’t agree with, despite explicitly saying I don’t agree with it. Please stop. It’s annoying.

    My support of abortion in certain circumstances isn’t purely scientific, because I am human. And humans are equipped with empathy and emotion (well, liberals are, anyway :-)).

    And that makes all the difference in the world.

    Now… feel free to provide your “simple” objective definition of “person”.

  60. Sure, I know what Anencephaly is. You can be sure that Danny has mentioned it in the past. Go ahead, Tim. Put a coin in the machine so we can watch the whole predictable sequence of argumentation play out. Ie, what’s YOUR point?

    Ok, I am willing to concede that I overstated your comment about “scientific” but I am not convinced yet that I am twisting anything. Even in this last post you have clearly contrasted a “Scientific” view with another view, which you classify as having to do with “empathy and emotion.” I notice you do not include the word, “reason.” This would now be the THIRD TIME you have indicated a difference between (a/the) SCIENTIFIC view and your own view, which you contrast (ironically) as being “human.”

    You are wrong to say that I have twisted your words into something you don’t agree with. I clearly acknowledged that you had a different view that diverged from “a purely scientific view.” I don’t think I’m out of line asking you where you get off parting company with the REASONABLE people, the SCIENTISTS. You know, since that’s usually your ‘go-to’ authority on reality.

    I have been documenting a/the “purely scientific view” for some time on this blog. It is good to have an atheist concede what Dannyboy has frequently dismissed and derided as an extreme point of view that is nothing more than an outlier perspective entertained by “idiots.” (His word.)

    I think its funny that you have stated the reason for your divergence as being because you are human, because it was not too long ago in this very conversation where you knocked me for describing the natural procreative method as ‘human.’ I guess it just isn’t true that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, eh Tim? 😉

    My objective definition: if its human, its a person. If the human is dead, its a deceased person.

    Done.

  61. “Well, OK… I’m all ears. What’s your allegedly objective definition of ‘person’? EB – want to throw your definition in as well?”

    SJ nailed it on the head – a ‘person’ is a ‘human being.’ Simple, straightforward, and qualifies from conception to time of death.

    “Tell me SJ and EB… what would you call someone born without a brain?”

    A liberal. 😉

    For a more serious answer I’d call them just a person without a brain assuming their still alive under their own power. The only thing a ‘brain’ has any significance to the issue is in determining whether the ‘human being/person’ is alive or not.

  62. I’ll get to your other misconceptions / misrepresentations later, but first…

    If its human, its a person [sic]

    My rectum will be very happy to know it’s just been classified as a person. I just hope he or she decides not to go on strike.

    I thought I told you to choose your words carefully. 🙂

    Care to expand your definition a little? I have noticed a few times that you have said an embryo is “human” rather than “a human”. I was going to pull you up on it eventually, but since you used it in your definition, now is as good a time as any.

    Still, at least it’s not completely circular, like EB’s.

    EB – where do our souls reside? (I mean apart from in your imagination)

  63. What was your rationalization for 15,000 unborn corpses being burned in Britain that didn’t elicit Holocaust comparisons, DB? Clerical error? Is that your same excuse in this case too?

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/canadian-aborted-babies-incinerated-in-oregon-waste-to-energy-facility-to-p.html

    Is all reported examples going to be ‘possibly clerical error,’ or are you prepared to admit that this is just the logical outcome when societies accept the premise that certain human beings are just ‘stuff’ and not ‘persons’ worthy of rights or considerations.

    Timmy:

    “EB – where do our souls reside? (I mean apart from in your imagination)”

    Interesting you made the connection from ‘person’ to ‘soul,’ since ‘personhood’ has always seemed to be a thinly veiled atheistic term for the ‘soul’ while denying it’s existence.

    As far as your question goes – Where does anything immaterial physically “reside”? It’s like asking the location for ‘knowledge’ or ‘logic.’ It’s completely nonsensical, and just illustrates a fundamental assumption that you have accepted, but those like me and SJ reject – that ‘personhood’ is a thing.

    But ‘personhood’ isn’t a thing. A brain is a thing. A car is a thing. A house is a thing. A ‘person’ is just a kind of being. And all humans are ‘persons’ by virtue of simply being from the day they exist till the day they die. And it’s because pro-choicers like you and DB continually confuse one for the other that you’ll always find contorted, contradicting, and often disagreeing definitions for what ‘person’ even means, while the pro-life side is pretty clear-cut and consistent on the issue.

  64. Put a coin in the machine so we can watch the whole predictable sequence of argumentation play out. Ie, what’s YOUR point?

    The point, as you appear to know, was obvious. What is it that makes us “persons”? I contend that something can be human, as either an adjective or a noun, and not necessarily be a “person”. Obviously I am trying to get you to obliviously admit that a human with no brain is one such example. But that’s probably a stretch, given your thoughts on single-celled humans.

    You are wrong to say that I have twisted your words into something you don’t agree with

    No, I am not. “Some people make this argument, but I don’t” is fairly unambiguous.

    It is good to have an atheist concede what Dannyboy has frequently dismissed and derided as an extreme point of view.

    I haven’t conceded that at all (misrepresentation #3). I have simply conceded the existence of one particular view of things. I have no idea of its prevalence in the scientific community, but I very much doubt Joe and Jane average would be OK with infantile abortion (or at least, not for some of the “lifestyle” reasons that generate abortions at earlier stages of development).

    …because it was not too long ago in this very conversation where you knocked me for describing the natural procreative method as ‘human.’

    No, I sought clarification from you, because you appeared to suggest that people who have to use assisted reproduction are somehow less human. (misrepresentation #4)

  65. Actually, if you’re going to be that way 🙂 the formula is easily fixed:

    “If its [a] human, its a person”

    “I have noticed a few times that you have said an embryo is “human” rather than “a human”.”

    Interestingly, in classical and Koine Greek, there is no indefinite article. The word ‘toad’ can be translated just as equally as ‘a toad.’ Occasionally, this can make translation tricky, because the indefinite article (in English) seems to make a big difference in the meaning. Translators have to rely on context because they cannot seek clarification from the original authors.

    Not so in this case; I am using ‘human’ and ‘a human’ as largely interchangeably, but if you must have one and not the other I think in most of my comments ‘a human’ would be appropriate. An ’embryo’ is human, that is [a] human [being]. Sexual reproduction is human, not [a] human, in that it is a very well established and recognized facet of [] human experience; but sex, like your rectum, is not the sort of thing that is going to go on strike. 🙂

    I don’t know if that helps you at all.

    Maybe I need to put that word ‘being’ in there, as well.

    “EB – where do our souls reside? (I mean apart from in your imagination)”

    I hate to interject, but I thought we were going to have a secular conversation? 😉

  66. “What is it that makes us “persons”? I contend that something can be human, as either an adjective or a noun, and not necessarily be a “person”.”

    I contend that merely entering into the “what makes us ‘persons'” issue makes us tyrants. The only reason we ask this question is because we want to justify the killing or enslavement of other [non-]persons. There is only a very slim region of discourse on the subject when it is conceivably not just a cover for such justifications, and that would be in end-of-life areas; I note, however, that even here, we are usually interested in when we can justifiably kill the person, passively or actively.

    “But that’s probably a stretch, given your thoughts on single-celled humans.”

    And you’re right. Thanks for admitting that they are [a] human. 🙂

    “No, I am not. “Some people make this argument, but I don’t” is fairly unambiguous.”

    Yes, you are. I did NOT say this is your argument. If I had, then you would have a case. What I want to know is WHY it is NOT your argument. Who are you to stand in the way of SCIENCE? Why do you keep dodging this question? Are you afraid that your ‘human’ ’emotion and empathy’ sounds too much like a ‘religious’ argument? 😉

    “I haven’t conceded that at all (misrepresentation #3).”

    Yes, you did. (mis-misrepresentation #unknown)

    “I have simply conceded the existence of one particular view of things.”

    So, on your view, there is also a SCIENTIFIC argument against infanticide? Is there also a SCIENTIFIC argument against abortion? When are we going to learn the details of the SCIENTIFIC method of measuring the existence of personhood?

    “No, I sought clarification from you, because you appeared to suggest that people who have to use assisted reproduction are somehow less human. (misrepresentation #4)”

    Mis-misrepresentation #unknown+1. I suggested no such thing. You were being pedantic, at best. I was well within common usage of the term ‘human’, as evidenced by your own use of the term in the course of making a similar kind of statement. Or, should I now seek clarification from you, wondering if you think that emotion is like your rectum, since they are both human (YOUR descriptor)?

  67. Where does anything immaterial physically “reside”?

    I love it when people answer my questions my asking it back to me.

    As with our discussion on homosexuality / evolution, you’re being evasive, because you know you’re being backed into a corner. You know the soul exists somewhere in “our plane”, unless you’re proposing that it controls your single neuron with a PS4 controller in a fourth supernatural realm (as in, not heaven, hell or purgatory). You know that a soul is created at the moment of conception, and becomes ensconced in us at that point. And yet you still can’t bring yourself to concede that it resides somewhere in the body.

    You could have just said that it resided in your rectum. It would have got you out of the anencephaly issue, and also explained why you’re such a…. nice person. (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  68. Tim is busily constructing his reply to me… but I just gotta say, I don’t think there is any major strand of Christian thought that thinks of the soul in those terms.

  69. “As with our discussion on homosexuality / evolution, you’re being evasive, because you know you’re being backed into a corner.”

    Seeing your discussion with SJ and your responses (or lack there of) regarding a SCIENTIFIC argument, this is utterly hilarious.

    “You know….You know…”

    If you supposedly have such a great grasp of what “I know,” why do you even bother with arguing on a forum? You can simply have a conversation with a mirror, and at least then you’ll finally have someone who can follow your disjointed trains of thought.

    “And yet you still can’t bring yourself to concede that it resides somewhere in the body.”

    Probably because there is absolutely no Biblical description of the soul that even remotely indicates it’s a ‘thing’ with a physical location.

  70. If you must have one and not the other I think in most of my comments ‘a human’ would be appropriate

    So what’s a human then?

    I did NOT say this is your argument. If I had, then you would have a case. What I want to know is WHY it is NOT your argument.

    vs

    You are the one that said that it is SCIENTIFICALLY the case that someone isn’t a person yet, even several years after birth.

    Hmmm.

    Mis-misrepresentation #unknown+1. I suggested no such thing.

    Which is why I sought clarification.

    I don’t think there is any major strand of Christian thought that thinks of the soul in those terms.

    Well, except the Catholics. But they’re hardly a major strand, are they. 🙂

  71. Seeing your discussion with SJ and your responses (or lack there of) regarding a SCIENTIFIC argument, this is utterly hilarious.

    The difference, EB, is that I have answers. I am currently just too busy correcting the multitude of misrepresentations directed my way. You, on the other hand… well… yeah. You got nothin. Apparently.

    Probably because there is absolutely no Biblical description of the soul that even remotely indicates it’s a ‘thing’ with a physical location.

    OK, EB… but it does exist, doesn’t it? So it must exist somewhere, right? Where? If Jesus and Mary can exist in bodily form in the supernatural realm (and so will all of us, right?), surely a soul can exist in the natural realm?

  72. The soul may be defined as the ultimate internal principle by which we think, feel, and will, and by which our bodies are animated. [Human experience] invincibly suggest the existence of something besides the visible organism, internal to it, but to a large extent independent of it, and leading a life of its own.

    – Catholic Encyclopedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14153a.htm)

    And we all know that supernatural beings can reside in human bodies, don’t we. There’s that Jesus guy. And the demons he forced into some pigs. Oh and exorcisms are real, right? You have to get one to prevent projectile vomiting. I’ve seen the movie.

  73. “The difference, EB, is that I have answers. I am currently just too busy correcting the multitude of misrepresentations directed my way. You, on the other hand… well… yeah. You got nothin. Apparently.”

    That’s what’s called being evasive, Timmy.

    And as is often the case with your kind of questions, I’ve given you an answer. And like nearly every answer you’ve gotten, it’s just not the one you’re wanting.

    “OK, EB… but it does exist, doesn’t it? So it must exist somewhere, right?”

    ‘Reason’ exists, right? Tell me it’s exact location, and maybe you’ll begin to see why the problem isn’t my answers but your questions themselves.

  74. ‘Reason’ exists, right? Tell me it’s exact location, and maybe you’ll begin to see why the problem isn’t my answers but your questions themselves.

    That’s just idiotic.

    Can ‘reason’ go to heaven, or hell, or be cast out of a human and into a pig?

    What a ridiculous comparison.

  75. “That’s just idiotic.”

    And now you know why you’re not getting any other kind of answer. What you are asking about is by it’s fundamental nature ‘immaterial’ and thus to ask a ‘material’ location is indeed as you put it – idiotic.

    That’s not going to change no matter how many more times you ask it.

  76. Way to ignore this:

    “And we all know that supernatural beings can reside in human bodies, don’t we. There’s that Jesus guy. And the demons he forced into some pigs. Oh and exorcisms are real, right? You have to get one to prevent projectile vomiting. I’ve seen the movie.”

    God’s immaterial, and he seems to have found quite a few opportunities to have a physical location.

    Aaaaaand way to ignore this:

    “OK, EB… but it does exist, doesn’t it? So it must exist somewhere, right?”

    You say god exists. You say heaven exists. And god exists in heaven. So there’s at least one supernatural entity that exists in a place. Where does your supernatural entity exist?

    If you don’t know, just say you don’t know. Don’t evade the issue with a completely irrelevant analogy, and just admit that your world already admits that immaterial entities can exist in material locations.

  77. “”I did NOT say this is your argument. If I had, then you would have a case. What I want to know is WHY it is NOT your argument.””
    vs
    “”You are the one that said that it is SCIENTIFICALLY the case that someone isn’t a person yet, even several years after birth.””
    “Hmmm.”

    Come on man, this is not difficult.

    A. You stated that it can be argued, scientifically, that you could abort a born child even an undefined number of years after it was born.
    B. You stated that you did not accept this scientific argument, because you are [a] human.

    The content in A and B are different, but they are both true statements. You DID say A. and you DID say B. I am not, and have not, said that you DID accept A. (ie, ~B) Indeed, the whole thrust of my follow up remarks is a deep curiosity as to why you do not accept a/the SCIENTIFIC argument. I can’t make myself believe that you were confused by my other follow up line of inquiry, which concerns the details of that SCIENTIFIC argument. It seems self-evident to me that before you can explain to me why you reject a/the scientific argument, you have to explain to me the basis of that SCIENTIFIC argument.

    If the above paragraph confuses you, I cannot help you any further. I direct you to the nearest English teacher for further assistance.

    “Well, except the Catholics. But they’re hardly a major strand, are they. :-)”

    Catholics believe, as I believe that we were known before the creation of the world. Catholics believe, as I believe, that Jesus died on the cross to atone for my sins; me personally. That is, I was before I was enfleshed. This ‘me’ encompasses my soul, and it pre-existed my body. I don’t know how, I just know that who I am was contingent on the power of God. The Scriptures are very clear about this. I won’t fault you for not understanding this. The Scriptures are clear on it, but you actually have to read them.

  78. Tony… you are taking the piss. You have to be.

    “You are the one that said that it is SCIENTIFICALLY the case that someone isn’t a person yet, even several years after birth.”

    There is no other way to interpret this, other than “You believe that science tells us that someone isn’t a person until several years after birth.”

    That is not what I said. Not in the slightest. I said some people say the science says that. Your counter-argument is completely nonsensical, if the word “science” is to mean anything at all. If I said “Science says gravity exists”, and knowing what you know I think of science, that necessarily implies that I hold the view that gravity exists. Likewise, if you mis-render my view as “Science says we’re not persons until we’re 5”, that necessarily implies that I hold that view.

    I’m not the one that needs an English teacher.

    Catholics believe, as I believe that we were known before the creation of the world.

    Fine, fine. You got me on the whole creation-of-soul thing. Where does it reside though? Is has to reside somewhere.

  79. “God’s immaterial, and he seems to have found quite a few opportunities to have a physical location.”

    Technically, God being described as omnipresent, He’s “everywhere.”

    Your examples rather miss the fact that dualism – the belief that there exists two realms, one being material the other immaterial, exist simultaneously – is a fundamental aspect of the Biblical worldview. Both exist, and both are linked together.

    Thus it’s completely erroneous to start treating one side as if it was the other, as your line of questioning does. There is no “soul organ.” Nor is there any “reason organ” or “rights organ,” yet presumably you think people possess these things despite neither having a physical residents either. The only reason you won’t extend the same logic to the ‘soul’ or (let’s not kid ourselves) ‘personhood,’ is because you’re looking for a way to justify killing and using other humans as you please.

  80. Yes exactly, EB, both exist together. And your soul somehow manipulates your neruon and causes your body to carry out its wishes. How it does this is a complete mystery, since your soul doesn’t actually exist anywhere. I mean it exists, but not somewhere. Because even though your soul existed before you were born, and even though it will go to heaven after you die (on account of your dazzling argumentative skills, which are a blessing for all mankind), it doesn’t exist anywhere now. It’s on some kind of cosmic no man’s land lay away until you die. Or something.

    Brilliant.

  81. And no, EB, the only reason I don’t extend the “logic” to souls, is that souls are beings (allegedly), and reason is not. Gimme a call when god sends ‘reason’ to hell.

    You’re just dodging the question because it makes your uncomfortable.

    How many times do I have to say it. Jesus existed on earth but was fully divine. (allegedly) So it is perfectly possible for a supernatural being to exist in the material plane. (allegedly) So clue us in. WHERE DOES THE SOUL EXIST?! In the supernatural world…? In the material world? At Burger King? WHERE?

  82. “And no, EB, the only reason I don’t extend the “logic” to souls, is that souls are beings (allegedly), and reason is not.”

    The immaterial is still the immaterial.

    And your Jesus Christ example is meaningless in that every human being is described as an immaterial being with the body being a material meat puppet. Christ was just God taking up a meat puppet for Himself, or technically an Aspect of Himself.

  83. “every human being is described as an immaterial being with the body being a material meat puppet.”

    EXACTLY. SO WHERE DOES THE PUPPET MASTER RESIDE?!

    Can you give a straight answer for once in your life?

  84. There are far fewer “rape-generated abortions” than there are “partial birth abortions.”

    Citation needed.

    The statistics I managed to find suggest that the former outweighs the latter by a factor of eight.

    A study by MM Holmes found that there are around 32,000 rape-generated pregnancies in the US each year. Of those, 50% end in human-initiated abortion, while 12% are aborted by god himself, possibly because everyone needs a hobby.

    On the other hand, the incidence of partial-birth abortions seems to be around 2,000 per year. We appear, therefore, to have very different understandings of the phrase “far fewer”. But I’m just an actuary. What would I know about numbers?

    No doubt you’ll be able to produce your own statistics which show otherwise. Statistics which for some reason aren’t referenced by Wikipedia, possibly because of something to do with Big Government or OsamaCare.

    Now, you tell me how we are going to have a discussion about competing rights of a blastocyst versus an adult?

    Well it appears to be impossible, as long as you doggedly insist that a newly fertilised egg has just as many rights as the mother in which it resides. How can we discuss the middle ground if you can’t even accept that there is a middle ground?

    From your comment, it is clear that it is a no-brainer–the blastocyst has no competing rights (even though you just listed it in a series of developmental stages having competing rights), so the blastocyst has got to go.

    This is just bizarre. Your “even though” comment is baffling. What do you mean, even though? How is a discussion on the rights of various stages of development incompatible with the notion that the first stage has none? And what do you mean it “has to go”? It doesn’t “have” to go anywhere. Where it does go, however, is up to the mother. And god, of course. He has that hobby of his.

    No. A person either murdered another person, or they did not. There is nothing subjective about that.

    Ummm… this misses the point. By a long way. It’s the laws that are subjective, SJ, not the state of compliance with those laws. If I make sneezing punishable by death, I’ve just legitimised the killing of pretty much everyone on the planet. The same arguments that justify capital punishment can be used to justify death for sneezing.

    But hang on… that all sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it. You would never use such ridiculous reasoning against Danny and me, would you…?

    Oh yes, you would:

    In the case of abortion on demand, the same arguments that justify abortion on demand justify infanticide. They also justify whacking old people, disabled people, and so on.

    The only asinine, absolutely, 100% idiotic position in the abortion debate is the one that says that abortion is never ever ever ever ever morally acceptable. Ever. Anyone who says that there has never, in the history of mankind, been a morally acceptable abortion isn’t equipped for the debate. If that is not your position, please feel free to let me know.

    Otherwise, there are 32,000 rape victims who would probably disagree with you.

  85. SJ – you didn’t answer my question.

    If a person is a human, what’s a human?

  86. And tell me, guys… when exactly does the soul get assigned to its meat puppet? If we’re all sitting around in the waiting room somewhere, waiting for our meat puppet to be born, at what point does god say, “EB, SJ, you get to control those two puppets there”? Is it random? And when do you start controlling your puppet? At the moment of conception? Is your soul directing cell division? Or does it only start controlling your puppet when you get your first (and in some cases, only) neuron? Or is it only once you gain consciousness, or thought, or reasoning skills? Why do the souls of puppets subjected to violence as children direct their puppets to also be violent? And what about all those puppets who spontaneously abort before implantation, which is the vast majority of “humans” that have ever existed? Is that their one and only chance at existence? Do they wait around in the waiting room for all that time for nothing? Do they get another chance at controlling a puppet? Do they go to heaven? I mean, limbo doesn’t exist anymore, so they have to go somewhere. Maybe it depends on how the soul acts in the waiting room…? But are all souls the same, or do they have different capacities for intellect, reason, empathy, and compassion?

    These are actually all serious questions. I would love someone to have a crack at answering them.

  87. Here’s a question for you Timmy – Can you refrain from post and question spamming to make it look like you’re not just frothing at the mouth from frustration?

  88. It’s all in response to things further up thread, you Muppet.

    Don’t suppose you’ll ever get around to answering one of mu questions though eh…

  89. A study by MM Holmes found that there are around 32,000 rape-generated pregnancies in the US each year. Of those, 50% end in human-initiated abortion, while 12% are aborted by god himself, possibly because everyone needs a hobby.

    On the other hand, the incidence of partial-birth abortions seems to be around 2,000 per year.

    Did you manage to find some statistics to back your claim that “there are far fewer ‘rape-generated abortions’ than there are ‘partial birth abortions'”?

  90. yea, I stopped reading a long time ago, when it became clear that A., what I was saying wasn’t being read, and B., other people were not even comprehending their own words.

    With that in mind, all I have in front of me is this very latest comment, and no, I’m not going to scroll up.

    I merely note that you cite a dude who estimates a certain amount of rape-generated pregnancies in the US each year, but you do not cite a reference on the number of partial-birth abortions. I’m sure that if I scroll up, I will see that you provided this reference?

    I did take a minute to look up your MM Holmes bit (not that you linked to it, so if this isn’t the one you had in mind, feel free to provide it): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8765248

    The 32,000 is plainly stated as an estimate derived from a sample of 4008 women, from which only 34 women had a rape-generated pregnancy. The study explicitly states that it is a “probability” study. The abstract says that 11.8% miscarried (presumably, your 12% ‘aborted by God’) which works out to just 4 women.

    You know, I just don’t put much stock in studies that extrapolate from 4 women, or even 34 women, or even 4,008 women, to the entire country.

    Anyway, if I were going to take this study seriously and believe it represents realities at the national level, it would not be a specious comparison between the ‘probability’ estimate and ACTUAL REPORTED STATISTICS regarding partial birth abortion, I would instead call attention to the fact that A., “the majority occurred among adolescents” and B. “resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator.”

    In other words, most of the women we are talking about were raped by their father, brother, uncle, etc, who knew that, thanks to the well-meaning and sincere efforts of liberals like yourself, they could cover up their sexual sins by compelling the women to get an abortion.

    Taking these numbers at their face (ignoring what I think about doing that), that would be at least 16,001 (a majority) that were the result of these family members, and at least 16,000 (50%, the number that ‘underwent abortion’). One wonders if there is a connection?

    Interestingly, 16,000+ rape-generated pregnancies, the majority of which, no doubt, make up the 50% number, rivals the number of gun homicides each year. I just pulled up the figure for the year 2010 and there were just 11,062 homicide/gun deaths. (This, of course, is not an estimate, but actual raw data)

    Ironically, you liberals want to outlaw guns, which in one year at least, killed less people than had to cope with a rape-generated pregnancy, and probably less than the number of abortions that amounted to the criminal cover-up of that rape-generated pregnancy. Guns you want less of, but abortions you want more of.

    I wonder how this ‘statistic’ would change if the bad men couldn’t cover up their crimes through legal abortion.

    Incidentally, Planned Parenthood has been busted over and over again by participating in these cover ups. The law requires them to report to the authorities cases where sexually assaulted girls come in for abortions, and of course PP, who cares SO much for women, and NOT money, never does.

    By the by, in the same year, 2010, there were 33,608 vehicle deaths, three times more than there were gun homicides. Of course, liberals haven’t any thought of banning cars.

    While I do have to say that I am glad (really, I am) that you took the time to do some research on this, I have to say that I wasn’t very impressed with what you found.

    In the meantime, I tried to find the source of your 2,000 per year figure on my own, and this was about the best that I could find:

    http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/pba.html

    Where I find this interesting statement:

    “from this projected an estimate of 650 per year in 1996 [17]–an estimate clearly incorrect, given the report cited above of 1,500 PBAs performed in 1996 in one clinic alone.”

    I would be willing to amend my assertion with some caveats. Partial-Birth Abortion was banned in the early 2000s, and after fierce legal wrangling, finally upheld in the late 2000s. Theoretically, in the last five years or so, the number of such abortions may very well have come down, and theoretically, dropped beneath the rape-generated abortions (if indeed that number could ever be actually ascertained). My comment did not take into account this fact, but I’m not willing to drop it entirely, because my research into Planned Parenthood highlights their pervasive habit to LIE THROUGH THEIR TEETH.

    However many partial birth abortions they say there are? Multiply it by some unknown, but much larger figure, and you will probably be closer.

  91. sorry for the wall of text.

    by the by, when I was tracking down the homicide/motor vehicle stats again, I came across this CDC page:
    http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/nvdrs.html

    where it says, “Violent death data are currently provided for 16 NVDRS states and, therefore, are not nationally representative”

    I found it interesting that the CDC is not willing to extrapolate from the data available from 16 US states, with millions of people in them, while in this study you cite, the person was willing to extrapolate to the entire nation based on a mere 4,000/34/4 women.

  92. A., what I was saying wasn’t being read, and B., other people were not even comprehending their own words.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    You said this:

    You are the one that said that it is SCIENTIFICALLY the case that someone isn’t a person yet, even several years after birth.

    There is no other way to interpret that, other than “You believe that science tells us that someone isn’t a person until several years after birth.”

    That is not what I said. Not in the slightest. I said some people say the science says that. Your counter-argument is completely nonsensical, if the word “science” is to mean anything at all. If I said “Science says gravity exists”, and knowing what you know I think of science, that necessarily implies that I hold the view that gravity exists. Likewise, if you mis-render my view as “Science says we’re not persons until we’re 5?, that necessarily implies that I hold that view.

    Which I don’t. As I pointed out several times.

    This is all very EB of you.

    Re: rape generated vs partial birth abortions…

    1
    Feel free to provide some stats of your own.

    2
    I sourced the studies that provided my statistics from Wikipedia (as in, the Wikipedia entries cite the studies). The partial birth abortion entry says that “…the procedure has had a low rate of use, representing 0.17% (2,232 of 1,313,000) of all abortions in the United States in the year 2000, according to voluntary responses to an Alan Guttmacher Institute survey”.

    3
    Yes, the 32% was extrapolated. If you were out by a factor of 1.5 or 2, that might actually mean something. But you’re out by a factor of 8. Even then, if you somehow managed to argue that the factor of 8 can be explained away, that would just bring them back to having an equal level of incidence. You’d need to divide by 4 or 8 again to come up with “far fewer”. So, really, you’re out by a factor somewhere between 32 and 64.

    Again, feel free to provide some stats of your own. Also feel free to admit that you wouldn’t be citing that study yourself if it supported your original view.

    4
    “a known, often related perpetrator” does not mean “most of the women we are talking about were raped by their father, brother, uncle, etc”. It means a not-insignificant minority were.

    5
    Are you seriously suggesting that one of the reasons abortion should be banned is that it enables familial rape to be covered up by the perpetrator? If you only answer one of my points, please make it this one.

    6
    I believe that very few liberals want to outlaw guns. I think most want to ban ridiculously powerful assault weapons, and have stricter licensing and controls around the rest.

    7
    Can we dispense with the silly-and-already-debunked “cars kill more people than guns” argument?

    8
    I doubt you will concede the point on rape-generated vs partial-birth abortions. But what I want to know is, if you were forced to concede the point, would it actually affect any of your views on abortion?

  93. “That is not what I said. Not in the slightest.”

    Yea, I already spoke to that, and said, and I quote, “I am willing to concede that I overstated your comment about “scientific””

    For you to return to it as though that’s where the matter stands, and not picking up from my attempt to clarify, or EVEN UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE, is why I bowed out. My time is much too important to me to be wasting it repeating myself to people who don’t give it weight the first, second, x, time.

    “1
    Feel free to provide some stats of your own.”

    I believe I did. Did you not see the link?

    2
    Thanks. But, Link?

    Also, just so that you are aware, Guttmacher is closely associated with Planned Parenthood. I believe they even started out as a child organization within PP. I don’t know how distinct they are even to this day. I’d have to research it. Like their mother, they are prone to lying.

    3
    “Yes, the 32% was extrapolated.”

    Right. And I don’t buy it as representative, so all of your ‘factors of 8, 32, and 64’ I’m totally indifferent to. As in, I couldn’t care less. I don’t give much weight to extrapolations from that size sample. I would be much more impressed with actual statewide or national numbers.

    “Also feel free to admit that you wouldn’t be citing that study yourself if it supported your original view.”

    I have no idea what you are talking about. The Holmes study? You’re the one that cited it.

    4
    “a known, often related perpetrator” does not mean “most of the women we are talking about were raped by their father, brother, uncle, etc”. It means a not-insignificant minority were.

    See, now, this is just basic literacy, Tim. The whole quote was:

    “the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator.”

    Do you know what the word ‘majority’ means?

    5
    “Are you seriously suggesting that one of the reasons abortion should be banned is that it enables familial rape to be covered up by the perpetrator? If you only answer one of my points, please make it this one.”

    No, I think abortions should be banned for much more substantive reasons, but thanks for conceding that it is used that way. Thanks.

    6
    “I believe that very few liberals want to outlaw guns. I think most want to ban ridiculously powerful assault weapons, and have stricter licensing and controls around the rest.”

    I guess I know more liberals than you. Maybe its an America thing.

    7
    “Can we dispense with the silly-and-already-debunked “cars kill more people than guns” argument?”

    You wish. It’s not debunked. My side thinks it reveals your side to be pathetically out of touch with proportion and reality, and in the main, convinces us that there is no reasoning with people on your side.

    8
    “I doubt you will concede the point on rape-generated vs partial-birth abortions. But what I want to know is, if you were forced to concede the point, would it actually affect any of your views on abortion?”

    I’d have to refresh my memory on why I raised the point in the first place–but I’m not going to. The point that I think I would have been making when I stated that was that the number of abortions resulting from such ‘righteous’ causes is an astonishingly low percentage of the overall abortions–but you would insist on all of them being legal.

    So, using your own Holmes study, that would be 32,000 girls a year, only about half of which select abortion. 16,000. But there are a 1,000,000+ abortions each year.

    I think the shoe is on the other foot: does finding out using your own study that the number of cases (32,000) of rape-generated pregnancy is a very small proportion of the overall number of abortions sought affect any of YOUR views on abortion?

    Eg, would you be willing to consider outlawing abortion except in cases of rape and incest?

  94. Tony,

    Re: this abortion to cover-up rape thing. You have apparently travelled the distance in a single (admittedly quite long) discussion from just thinking of this possible connection to now repeatedly assuming its truth as part of your overall argument and (irritatingly) misconstruing other peoples words to suggest that they agree with your wild and highly motivated speculation. The threads of the conspiracy theory tighten further when you make it clear that you think “people on our side” can neither be reasoned with nor trusted to tell the truth.

    There is nowhere else to go in a discussion with parameters like that.

    Later,
    Dan

  95. Now you are doing it too. I already said that I overstated Tim’s comments and emphasized the distinction. So, yea, when people do that, there is nowhere else to go in a discussion, which is why I stopped discussing it. That, and Tim’s comments in another thread where he flatly contradicted himself and maintained both halves of the contradiction, denying the contradiction which was plain as the nose on his face.

    As for ‘your side’ the liars are specifically Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher. If you align yourself with them, yes, that includes you among the blatant deceivers. Every bit of research I’ve done into them (PP in particular) reveals them to be lying sacks of scum. I wouldn’t want them on ‘my side’ even if I supported their cause, but hey, that’s just me.

  96. I was referring to the bit in your previous reply when Tim asked you if you were seriously suggesting that abortion should be banned because it enables the cover-up of familial rape (your assertion), to which you replied:

    “No, I think abortions should be banned for much more substantive reasons, but thanks for conceding that it is used that way. Thanks.”

    That seemed uncharacteristically snarky and cheap. Might you be on the verge of conceding that you’ve pushed that particular hypothesis a little further than it can realistically go?

    As for PP, as you know neither Tim nor I live in the US, so our experience of and alliegence to them is extremely limited. Would you like all my responses to you to be informed by the actions of the whackjob Pentacostal charismatic prophetic miracle-healing charlatans just down the road from me in multicultural London?

  97. You perhaps might have wanted to clarify which comment you had in mind. I didn’t think I was being snarky when I said it, but on the other hand, Tim has kept me miffed on an ongoing basis of late; the latest incident being his quotation of my own quoting of something where he eliminated the word ‘majority’ and then said that my characterization of ‘most’ was not appropriate. So, I can see how perhaps my annoyance is overflowing into other remarks. I don’t like having my time wasted.

    Anyway, that particular comment wasn’t intentionally meant to be snarky. I actually think his comment, as phrased, did concede that particular point. I think that’s part of the problem here. I think we’re all speaking in English, and then I find out that what people say isn’t what they really meant. Again, I don’t like having my time wasted.

    Regarding your last comment about PP and you guys not living in the US, it pains me to say it, but once again, you are WASTING MY TIME. You said:

    “you make it clear that you think “people on our side” can neither be reasoned with nor trusted to tell the truth.”

    I said:

    “As for ‘your side’ the liars are specifically Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher.”

    I specifically and explicitly clarified exactly who I was talking about, and it was not you or Tim (unless you choose to include yourself in the category). For you to then go on a diatribe as though I included you two in that list makes me about as angry as I allow discussions on blog entries to make me.

    The fact that I had to even write this paragraph angers me, because I was crystal clear. Another five minutes of my life, down the tube.

  98. I have hesitated over whether or not to reply to the above, in case I am accused of wasting your time yet further by doing so. However, reasoning that your participation here is entirely voluntary I think it would be grandiose of me to take credit for that, and will have to trust in your own good sense to not engage with a discussion if you feel that it is not worth the temporal investment.

    You can’t really complain about something that I wrote not taking account of the thing that you wrote in response to it, can you? I mean to say, can you??? When I wrote the thing that seems to have so aggrieved you, you hadn’t yet written the thing that “specifically and explicitly clarified” who it was you were talking about. I feel that I am either being flatteringly credited with telepathic powers or unfairly torn into for what was, at the time, a fairly reasonable inference.

    Almost everything that I know about PP comes from you. I hope you don’t take offence if I say that I therefore consider myself not to have a fully balanced perspective on them at present, and refrain from any comment on their activities, ideology or politics as a result. 🙂

    However, the main point of my interjection, which you seem to have rather skated past, is the curiosity that both Tim and I have with how solid you honestly think this whole “familial rapists covering up their own misdeeds accounts for a large percentage of the abortions-resulting-from-rape demographic” hypothesis really is. Do you think there is any actual evidence for it?

    I eagerly await your future clarification of this point on the dual conditions that a) you find it a suitable use of your time, and b) that my lack of foreknowledge of your impending clarification will not be held against me at some later date.

    Adios amigo

  99. You can’t really complain about something that I wrote not taking account of the thing that you wrote in response to it, can you? I mean to say, can you??? When I wrote the thing that seems to have so aggrieved you, you hadn’t yet written the thing that “specifically and explicitly clarified” who it was you were talking about.

    Yes, I did.

    On [May 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm] you wrote:

    The threads of the conspiracy theory tighten further when you make it clear that you think “people on our side” can neither be reasoned with nor trusted to tell the truth.

    In the VERY NEXT POST I clarified, writing on [May 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm]:

    As for ‘your side’ the liars are specifically Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher.

    Then, on [May 9, 2014 at 3:59 pm] you wrote:

    As for PP, as you know neither Tim nor I live in the US, so our experience of and alliegence to them is extremely limited. [etc]

    This is the quote that “so aggrieved you”, as plainly and explicitly and specifically and directly and narrowly clearly indicated by my statement, immediately following your comment 3:59 p.m., that says, on [May 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm]

    Regarding your last comment about PP and you guys not living in the US, it pains me to say it, but once again, you are WASTING MY TIME.

    Did you have some other comment about you guys not being PP and living in the US?

    Now, unless we live in some strange multiverse where time operates differently, you will note that in the sequence of events, FIRST you made a comment about “your side” THEN I clarified who exactly I meant by liars and THEN you lumped yourself AGAIN into that category, despite I VERY explicitly excluded you (unless you chose to include yourself) and THEN I said that annoyed me because I had already addressed it and NOW you say you wrote it BEFORE I did.

    Which is patently not the case.

    In this universe, anyway.

    Why shouldn’t I be annoyed? Why shouldn’t I consider this a colossal waste of time?

  100. Yikes!

    Dude.

    Seriously.

    The only person wasting your time here is you. Actually in several senses, because I can’t imagine that this level of disproportionate annoyance is lengthening your probable lifespan. I think we’re talking slightly at cross-purposes here, and that may well be partly my fault for not always quoting you to indicate exactly which statement of yours I am referring to at any given time. Hands in the air – that’s quite possibly my bad. However, again, you have only to not pursue this conversation any further in order to spare yourself the apparently dreadful burden of whole minutes slipping through your fingers to no great effect. Actually I think if you could be a teeny bit less aggrieved about this whole thing we might find it easier to get ourselves onto something approaching the same page, and then the time spent doing so might be at least minimally profitable. So, in short, it is YOU – firstly by your active participation, and then by your irrational and unhelpful annoyance – who is responsible for wasting your time here, not me. No apologies for self-inflicted injury.

    You have now missed numerous opportunities to answer my question about your perception of the evidence in favour of the abortion-as-a-tool-of-familial-rapists theory. Shall I throw my toys out the pram about this and type/shout about how you are WASTING MY TIME?

    Not on this occasion.

    But if you feel like getting back to me about that at some stage that’d be just super. 🙂

  101. Ah, well in my defense, I let several weeks go by before making any kind of comment go by, did I not?

    Your advice, while generously offered, was already put in practice.

    I came back because Tim actually produced a comment that he actually seemed to have put effort into, and why wouldn’t I want to respond to that? I paid for this by being subjected to a major revision of the English language, in which ‘majority’ was rendered ‘insignificant minority.’ While not the hugest deal in the realm of things, it was exactly the sort of thing that put me on hiatus.

    And then you posted. Not quite the most substantive contribution ever, but lodged an accusation that was perhaps the result of my own miscommunication somewhere, in which you thought that it was you and Tim I was lumping as liars. Note that in clarifying myself on that point, I did not exhibit any angst whatsoever. My angst only emerged when you committed the very same violation that Tim did, with the added irony of trying to defend Tim of that very specific charge.

    It’s all very Stathei of the two of you, and you know, up until this conversation, that was one of your most endearing characteristics. 😉

    The reason I don’t talk with him/her anymore is very simple: there is no evidence he/she actually reads/comprehends/gives due weight to what I write; not the first time, not the second time, not the third time. How can one possibly get on the ‘same page’ with such a person?

    Incidentally, it looks like my ‘quote’ tag didn’t work. I’ll edit my quoting with a different tag and see if that sorts it out.

  102. FFS. This discussion was already ridiculous, but you’ve somehow contrived to turn it into the most ridiculous conversation the internet has ever seen.

    1
    You said this:

    the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator

    You then turned this into “most of the women we are talking about were raped by their father, brother, uncle, etc”, and “at least 16,001 (a majority) that were the result of these family members”.

    That is simply false. A complete and utter misunderstanding of basic English.

    The phrase “a majority occurred among adolescents and by a known, often related, perpetrator” means that the majority occurred among adolescents by a known person, and often that known person was related. This categorically does not mean that the majority of perpetrators were related. It means that a minority were related, and that minority was not insignificant. Hence the phrase “a not-insignificant minority”. If the majority were related, you can assume the author would have just said “the majority were committed by a relative”. There would be no need for the words “known” or “often”.

    There is no other way to say this, but you are wrong. Perhaps an actual Englishman can adjudicate. Danny? 🙂

    Please read this several times before responding.

    2

    I paid for this by being subjected to a major revision of the English language, in which ‘majority’ was rendered ‘insignificant minority.’

    This is just stupid. And not just because you left out the rather important word “not”.

    I hope you now understand why.

    3

    I actually think his comment, as phrased, did concede that particular point.

    It didn’t.

  103. No, this is on you, Tim.

    Nice emergency parsing of your comment, btw. That’s real yeoman’s work there.

    Your original comment attacking my characterization:

    “a known, often related perpetrator” does not mean “most of the women we are talking about were raped by their father, brother, uncle, etc”. It means a not-insignificant minority were.

    Has now become:

    The phrase “a majority occurred among adolescents and by a known, often related, perpetrator” means that the majority occurred among adolescents by a known person, and often that known person was related. This categorically does not mean that the majority of perpetrators were related.

    Now, there are two options here.

    Option A. We can believe that what you really did have in mind my list of persons which were all relatives, and for some bizarre reason, the inclusion of the word ‘etc’ to you in your mind excluded the ‘known’ people who were not relatives–a completely unjustified and uncharitable interpretation–which, for some bizarre reason was really, really, really important to you, and was enough to obliterate the whole point I was making.

    Option B. You totally stepped in it, and you know you stepped in it, but you are too stubborn to admit that you overstated your characterization of my comment, and so you strained your imagination, and abandoned common decency, and decided that my use of “etc” simply must be construed as excluding non-relatives; why this should matter AT ALL is irrelevant, the position only exists in order to salvage Tim’s ego. Nonetheless, we may expect that in another comment or two, Tim will do even more yeoman’s work to find a reason why it really was important that ‘etc’ was not explicitly exploded as to include non-relatives who are otherwise known to the poor girl.

    Personally, my money is on Option B.

    I note that either option, or any Option C which Tim would like to invoke, it is all contingent on the assumption that I deliberately was excluding non-relatives from my restatement of that sentence and this is a REALLY BIG DEAL.

    The truest thing you have said so far was:

    This is just stupid.

    I am in total agreement.

    Suck it up, Tim. Admit it. At best, you overstated the import of my sentence, and at worst, you totally botched it and all the rest is now an attempt to salvage your dignity. I’ve already admitted (twice in this conversation, I think. But at least once for sure) that I overstated something you said. Man up and admit that you did the same with my comment.

    Maybe the conversation will become worthwhile again.

    What? A man can dream, can’t he? 😉

  104. Ah, I realized that I’m going to have to really box you in if I want to keep you from wriggling out of your own words. Returning to your original quote characterizing my comment:

    “a known, often related perpetrator” does not mean “most of the women we are talking about were raped by their father, brother, uncle, etc”. It means a not-insignificant minority were.

    If you had said, “It means a non-insignificant minority were raped by a relative, not a majority” then we could have really considered that Option A had merit.

    If you had said that, I still wouldn’t have thought much of the comment. I would have said, “Uh, where did I say that I was limiting myself to relatives? And by the by, that’s your point, really? That makes a difference to you? But of course, I didn’t say that. The ‘etc’ was meant to cover all the categories that the author of the study intended.” But anyway, let’s pretend that I would have still said what I did say, if you had yourself specifically called explicit attention to the focusing on the fact that my list contained relatives. Then, Option A becomes believable.

    But alas, you did not say that. You simply said that my comment “most of the women we are talking about were raped by their father, brother, uncle, etc” is not equivalent to “a known, often related perpetrator” leaving it as a pretty reasonable interpretation indeed that “majority” was transformed into “insignificant minority.”

    Which is why my money is on Option B.

  105. You then turned this into “most of the women we are talking about were raped by their father, brother, uncle, etc”, and “at least 16,001 (a majority) that were the result of these family members”.

    Case closed.

    And yes, if you meant to include non-relatives, you should have said “father, brother, next-door-neighbour etc”. Again, this is basic English. Using the Latin phrase for “and so on” saves you the effort of continuing your list. So you tell me, what I am meant to assume if you stick it at the end of a list of types of relative?

    And no, in isolation, the issue is not important. I have only pursued it since (a) you have repeatedly misinterpreted my words lately, (b) comprehension is rather critical to meaningful debate, and (c) you were apparently using the prevalence of incestual abortions as an argument against abortion itself.

    I am sorry that you have found this frustrating. I am not doing this deliberately, or disingenuously, or with willful dishonesty. And I don’t believe you are doing that either.

    I have absolutely no problem admitting I am wrong. I’ve done it many times before, and I’m sure I will have to do it again.

    Not this time, though.

  106. Can you please explain how these two statements are different?

    “a known, often related perpetrator” does not mean “most of the women we are talking about were raped by their father, brother, uncle, etc”. It means a not-insignificant minority were.

    vs

    It means a non-insignificant minority were raped by a relative, not a majority.

    ___

    That makes a difference to you?

    Only when you are using it as an argument against abortion itself.

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