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    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Doc riles me again

    I'm going to point my readers to this post over at Doc MacDonald's blog. I freely admit I have personal problems with Doc's Objectivist anti-religious scribes. Sure, Ayn Rand was an atheist, but you don't have to hold any kind of religious view to know that we can, and should, and have an obligation to be able to draw a line somewhere to define when life begins.

    I appreciate that Doc and other Objectivists hold and express these opinions, however wrong I believe they may be. I appreciate the purity of thought that this reasoning displays. And, we need a debate about this in this country, because Roe cut that debate off.

    Unfortunately for Objectivist, Western Civilization and this country were not founded on Objectivist principles, they were founded and evolved largely on Judeo-Christian principles, and Western society has succeeded quite well under those principles for 100's of years. We do need thinkers like these, because we share a common belief in limited government, both in its use of our tax dollars, and in its ultimate intrusion in our lives and on our liberties, but, conservatives find a rightful place for government intervention in enforcing some of the basic tenets of human rights, as stated in the Declaration of Independence that among these are the right to life, one of those inalienable rights endowed to us by our Creator. I would like to frame this argument as a technical one over when does that life begin, and how do we balance that right with the same rights (not less, not more) held by the mother.

    Unfortunately, Roe is a horribly reasoned piece of jurisprudence that doesn't really help draw that line, instead it really draws no lines, leaving us in a position where the "right" to abortion, or, as Doc would euphemize it, the "right to self-determination," is whatever the mother declares it to be. Doc posits that somehow, Laura Ingraham and others of her ilk, from conception forward, want to confer more rights on the baby (or "clump of cells" to use their phraseology) than on the mother. This is a patently false statement. We want to confer equal rights on the mother and on that "clump of cells." This is clearly not an easy or pleasant task for anyone, but amongst reasonable people, we can agree that mothers that find themselves in this situation as a result of some act beyond their control (rape, incest, a credible threat to the mother's life) should be able to avail themselves of abortion technology. Only the most ideological would argue against that, and in a national debate, I think they'd find it very tough going selling that argument. So, while we might be disappointed that not ALL life could be protected, regardless of its genesis, again, reasonable people would likely have to accept some compromise to reach national consensus, because, yes, the mother does have rights, too.

    The problem is that abortion has come to be a favored method of birth control, of rolling back the clock, to somehow allow the mother to "regain control of her own existence." I just find this argument extremely uncompelling. Except in the unusual and rare instances above, women in today's sexed-obsessed society know that pregnancy is a risk of intercourse. In case no one's looked, they're teaching sex ed before kids reach puberty these days. In my opinion, and I think it's quite reasonable, the decision about "control of her own existence" was already made at the time of the act.

    Doc's post elevates "self-determination" to the highest level of concern, and, I guess, on re-reading, and understanding a little of Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy, I can see where Objectivists, being ideologically pure, would actually support abortion up until the moment a child is born, maybe beyond (which you can see, I am attempting to draw out of Doc in my reply to him). After all, at what point is a human actually capable of really considering their right to "self-determination?" Are we born with it? Or, do we learn it? If the latter, at what point does one become truly capable of making self-determinant decisions? I mean if a Down's Syndrome child, or a child born with some horrible birth defect or illness, or even into seemingly downtrodden and hopeless circumstances can't make their own decisions about self-determination, why shouldn't their parent, or even the state make the decision of whether they should live? Or, how about a panel of Objectivists, they seem to be doing a higher level of thinking than the rest of the proletariat?

    This "mystic" can't convince atheists of the existence of God. They can't touch Him, or feel Him, or see any objective evidence (despite it being all around them), so, therefore, He doesn't exist, and we're all derided as "mystics" who want to deprive women of their rights to correct their mistakes through a specious right to self-determination which legalizes abortion on demand and send them to back rooms where they will be butchered (trust me, if we overturned Roe tomorrow, that would not happen, and to think otherwise demonstrates a massive misunderstanding of the ruling).

    About Doc's slippery-slope argument about masturbation and gay sex and condom use - it's easy to use extreme arguments to prove a point, but the fact that extreme arguments have to be used to prove the point should tell you something about the point being made. This part of his post is just meant to be sensational. Read it though, it's interesting.

    To the kinds of people that rail at the legislation of morality, I posted on this days ago. That train long ago left the station.

    If anyone's reading, feel free to chime in.


    reddog said...

    I have worked, over the years, when I have the free time, because the pay is almost nil, at a local community clinic, that does mostly reproductive heath services. What that translates into is STD treatment and prevention, Pap smears, contraceptive distribution and abortion referrals.

    The population that utilizes the clinic is varied. Some are living their lives in a responsible manner, many have virtually no insight into or control over, their own behavior for reasons ranging from mental retardation, substance abuse or just profound apathy. They all come of their own free will, having made the decision not to procreate, at least not then. I rarely meet an individual there, who could be expected to carry to term without a profound requirement for support from some benevolent individual or agency with great patience, compassion and deep pockets, both during gestation and for years afterward.

    If there was some alternative that these women would accept and also give the children some kind of fair chance at a good life, fine, let's do it. The fact is, there is not. By not being required to procreate immediately, at least some of these women can have more time to work on their lives and life styles, which many of them need.

    We are already overburdened providing obscene levels of benefits to some, while ignoring the majority. Providing lots of contraceptives and a relatively small number of abortions is a cost effective solution to a problem that would be much worse if not addressed promptly.

    Jeebus Jumpers are always whining about the 40 million murdered babies. The cold hard fact is that most of those babies would either grow up in hellish conditions or become wards of the State. Many of them would probably not grow up at all or end up institutionalized and eventually imprisoned. We have plenty of kids like this already.

    California is never going to outlaw abortion. You guys do what you want. It's a free country.

    That Doc guy is way too Ayndy Randy for me. Most people are clueless retards, not John Galt. Hey, Who is John Galt, anyway?

    Jay said...

    David, I ask you to answer the same question I posed to Doc, where do you draw the line? If you believe this statement,

    "The cold hard fact is that most of those babies would either grow up in hellish conditions or become wards of the State. Many of them would probably not grow up at all or end up institutionalized and eventually imprisoned. We have plenty of kids like this already,"

    then, is infanticide ok with you? Up to what age?

    Moral lines have to be drawn somewhere, I'd just like to know, when you make such an argument, where are you prepared to draw it?

    Jay said...

    I'll also add that the late Bill Buckley used to like to comment that "Hard cases make for bad case law."

    Subvet said...

    Funny how so many claim that the aborted babies would have only led a marginal existence. The option of putting the tyke up for adoption is almost never mentioned.

    Before my wife (finally) got pregnant we were looking at adoption. Believe me when I say there isn't a surplus of unwanted kids out there waiting for their new parents. If you try to adopt you'll be jumping backwards through hoops. The various adoption agencies can do this because there are so many folks looking to adopt.

    So when proaborts talk of the quality of life that would be missing from the lives of both the mothers and their kids, it sounds like they really haven't done the homework on this topic.

    reddog said...

    You use other people's real life dilemma to validate your own personal world view and religion. How do you benefit from this? This is not Abraham and Isaac, where God demands all and relents in the end. This is real life. You don't get to choose for everyone else, only yourself.

    Live your own life, make your own decisions. You say there are plenty of waiting homes for unwanted children. Adopt them then. How come the State pays people to foster thousands of exactly these kinds of kids? I've been to foster homes. Some are good. Some are hell holes of abuse and despair. Some of the kids are adorable, most are not.

    Once again. You have made your decision about what is right and how to live your life. I have no doubt that your decision is right for you. I am sure you will be successful. You would not appreciate civil authorities barging in and forcing you to break with your closely held personal beliefs, convictions and way of life. Why do you insist on doing it to others?

    I have no problem with Roe being overturned. I think there are as many as eight States that might outlaw or severely curtail access to abortion and several more that would restrict late term procedures. Majority rules but I don't think the leaders on the Right are in any hurry to see that happen, if ever. I think once abortion is made illegal, most would soon regret the decision. I've known too many Catholic, Baptist and Mormon women who find a TAB the only viable solution to a life shaking moral crisis. I'm sure they didn't make the decision lightly. I'm sure they will always have regrets. They made the decision anyway. I think it is a woman's right.

    Abortion has become a political football used to galvanize support on either side of the great left/right divide. It's unfortunate but it's a good one because the contest is never likely to be decided. Play ball!

    Jay said...

    David - I don't understand this comment, "You use other people's real life dilemma to validate your own personal world view and religion. How do you benefit from this?" Can you explain it?

    I have a world view. It doesn't need validation, nor do I seek it from anyone. You are free to disagree, wrong as you may be.

    And all subvet pointed out was that adoption is a missing activity in this country these days. As someone who is the husband of an adoptee and the nephew of another(interesting, in 40 years, the later adoption required about $50,000 and travel to Russia, while the 1965 adoption required a call to a friendly lawyer). Don't tell me that abortion has NOT had an effect on the ability of willing families to adopt. That's a clear falsehood, and the subject of another post.

    By the way, David, did you miss that I asked where you would draw the line in the case of life? I'm curious.

    Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

    Thank you for the point to my blog and my "controversial" post. As to my anti-religious scribes, I prefer to think of them as pro-Liberty posts.

    I am, by my own admission, an atheist. However, that has nothing to do with my stance against the movement of religious groups to end all abortion, (some with the except blah, blah, blah clause). My objection to this position comes from the moral belief that all men have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that no man should be subordinated to the State or to any other man. Does that sound familiar - perhaps even in the tradition of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, etal?

    It is not a religious position that I take, but it is a moral position based on logic, thought and belief in the system given to use by our founding fathers as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Yes, religion is mentioned and the founders were, for the most part, pious men, but it is indisputable that the rights of man supercede all other considerations; especally those of religion, it these sacred document.

    As you will see in my response to your comments, Jay, I too am opposed to abortion as a routine instrument to avoid child bearing. However, I am more opposed to the government telling a person that it has a greater right or claim to the body of an individual than does the person in possession of the body in question.

    How would you feel if the government told you that cancer was the will of God, and that it forbids you from seeking remedy under punishment of jail for you and those who assist you? What's the difference. Each is a group of rapidly dividing cells. One was created by sperm penetrating an egg, the other by some pollutant that you allowed to access your body.

    Perhaps you got cancer from smoking, eating the "wrong foods", drinking too much whiskey, having sex with too many women (or men) and going too long before getting treatment for your multiple venereal diseases?

    Just as avoiding "safe sex" was the "fault" of the "guilty" harlot who now wants to remove her fetus, or the person who contracted AIDs not that long ago; you failed to avoid those things that "everyone knows" with "absolute certainty" causes cancer. We will pray that your suffering is mild, but deny you the access to the care you seek. Sorry. Next!

    Well, you say, cigarettes have a warning posted and "everyone knows" homosexual activity violated God's law. Well, condoms also have warnings and in some instances violated God's law (even though they didn't exist when the Bible was written), but even so, what good is the warning or use of such a preventive device if the church is telling young men and women NOT to use them. See Catholic doctrine or read some of the evangelical protests about sex education in schools.

    The only thing more repulsive than forcing one's beliefs on another is denying the other the access to education. This is one of the mechanisms used to keep African American bound to slavery and to a culture of ignorance and poverty that impact that community to this day. Stalin said something to the effect, that if you give me the minds of today's youth, I will possess the nation entirely tomorrow. Why was it that religious based schools came into being?

    The point of my post was to clearly demonstrate that relgious conservatism is not the same as conservatism for those of us who believe in limited government (preferably, so limited that it is hardly noticed).

    Limited government is a government that respects the rights of individuals as paramount; especially property rights.

    Limited government stays out of the way of free commerce and allows the laws of supply and demand to drive the economic engine of a capitalist society.

    Limited government is goverment that views capitalism as a philosophical and political system that raises the least among us to levels they could never get to under any other system of governance.

    Limited govenment is the opposite of religion which demands that one subsume one's live in sacrifice to others. Religion demands that one live for the benefit of others and not for themselves or those they choose to support.

    Limited government respects people's right to their own property and asks for only what is needed to provide for the common defense and to be able to investigate and adjudicate disputes.

    Religion is constantly looking for a tithe so that it's perfumed princes can side upon golden thrones surrounded by comfort, convenience and art beyond comprehension for the average worshiper. No matter how rich or poor; one should give to the church, even if it means a child missing a meal to serve the needs of "God" - represented by a man in the Vatican or in a mansion in Virginia. Where's the compassion for the hungry child here? Is there some philosophic requirement to redistribute misery as well as wealth going on here?

    Objectivism is a moral philosophy that deals with reality and development of the mind, body and the spirit of mankind to make maximal use of the planet. I want to make clear that I speak for me and not for objectivists as a whole. For that, go to the Ayn Rand Institute and judge for yourself. Read and learn to your hearts content. We encourage education over indoctrination.

    As for my "extreme examples", have you ever read Gulliver's Travels? Does the tone of the hyperbole sound somewhat familiar?

    reddog said...

    I do not take a position on infanticide. Sorry.

    Several years ago I was having coffee with several mature Korean women, who currently reside in So Cal. All were devoted, Pentecostal Christians. It turns out that every town and village in Korea has an illicit burial ground where mothers go at night to bury their recently born, for whatever reason unwanted, children. One woman recalled how the place near her town was called. "The Hill of Sighs", because mothers who went there at night to sit, meditate and no doubt mourn, could hear the last labored breaths of the babies, buried only a few inches beneath the ground or at least they thought they could. None of them admitted that they had done this but of course they had. Right and wrong are different things, in Korea, they said. Americans just don't understand, they all agreed.

    I worked for 4 years at a State facility for the severely developmentally disabled. The clientele in the unit I worked in were the most extremely afflicted in the facility, most with IQs between 3 and 12, although how anyone can determine such a thing is beyond me. Once you got to know them, they had distinct, unique personalities, would interact extensively and were the most rewarding population I ever worked with.

    I was making the rounds, changing everyone's diapers, at 3AM one morning with a young co-worker from Ghana.

    She said to me, "Only in America, do you have people like this, no where else."

    "What would you do with people like this in Ghana?" I asked.

    "Umm! Eat'em up." She said and smiled.

    She went to Church every Sunday, whether she worked the night before or not and sang in the Choir.

    Each of these women also could matter of factly recite stories of oppression, starvation, sacrifice and personal heroism in their past lives, during the struggle to make their way in life.

    People that think they have all the answers, based on a few trite homilies they absorbed in Bible study, have no idea how they are viewed by others.

    We all live in the here and now. The decisions we make, need to be about that. If I say I can live with infanticide, will that make you feel superior? Go Ahead. Be my guest.

    Subvet said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Subvet said...

    Reddog you said, "You would not appreciate civil authorities barging in and forcing you to break with your closely held personal beliefs, convictions and way of life. Why do you insist on doing it to others?"

    Why do you lie about what my actions and the actions of Catholics like myself are? When was the last time you heard of the Catholic Church actively engaged in forcing their beliefs on someone? I know there are some who would claim to be members of the Church while doing it but they'd be lying also. Read the Catechism of the Church, force isn't authorized. Ever.

    As for the antiabortion efforts of Catholics like myself, we seek to overturn Roe v. Wade (an action which you have said you have no problem with). Our efforts are via the voting booth which the last time I heard was how this country was governed. If you have a problem with that I doubt anyone can help you.

    Much is made of a "woman's choice." How many of the aborted female babies would have chosen to be slaughtered as they were? What about the rights of those women?

    Or is it acceptable to kill them because their voices can't be heard?

    Jay said...

    Doc - we agree about everything except your view of government's interest in what women can do with their bodies. I believe the state also has a compelling interest in the rights of the unborn. I believe that as we progress in our scientific knowledge, we will push that concept many consider central to Roe, of viability, further and further towards conception (but I think it'll stop there) and this question will be solved by reason and logic.

    There is no doubt in my mind where life begins, at conception, and you may not believe it, but I'd feel that way regardless of whether I was a Christian or atheist.

    But, I know where you're coming from, and I respect your opinion. I just think you're wrong.

    Jay said...

    David - you take no position on infanticide? Wow!

    Will I feel superior if you say you support it? Not really, but I'd like to see where your line of reasoning takes you, logically. Where does it take you, where does it end?

    I am sorry that you feel the way you do about organized religion. Most Christians that I know understand how little they understand God. But, we do understand, even if we fail to always follow, the moral rules He set down for us.

    Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

    To reddog:

    Were the Crusades a protestant military action or were they sent with the blessing of the Pope?

    Is the call for codification of penalties and criminal sanctions against those who would have or participate in an abortion not the use of force?

    Korea isn't the only country that practices this form of birth control. Look at China's policies. On the other hand you have other cultures who demand prolific procreation, not because child rearing is beloved, but because numbers matter.

    Religions are like democrats in my view. They both insist innanely that people can be brought together by emphasizing their differences.

    There is only one thing that can bring people together and that is a philosophy based upon the promise that individual rights will be honored and safeguarded above all else. Anything less will always be unacceptable in the end.

    Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

    If I'm wrong, Jay, I'd rather be wrong defending the rights of people than the enforcement of a notion; so, I'm comfortable with my choice.

    There is one other difference, though, I don't believe in compromise on principle and would never yield to pragmatism to reach a goal. My core convictions are solid. I believe in man and I believe in the law when the law demonstrates a genuine interest in preserving the rights of man at the most fundamental and immutable right of all.

    In our case, while I respect you as a writer and as a person who honorably served his country, I would not join nor want a coalition with so called "religious conservatives". We other conservative may suffer in the short run, but I believe our principles will stand over time and people will turn back from this foolish march to europeanization of America and stride, once again, proudly and productively toward liberty and justice for all.

    May you have a great evening and an even greater and remarkable life full of wonder, adventure and achievement.

    Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

    Jay wrote:

    "Most Christians that I know understand how little they understand God. But, we do understand, even if we fail to always follow, the moral rules He set down for us".

    Which rules? The 10 Commandments that he passed to Moses, or the numberous others codified over the centuries by "scribes" or apostles?

    Subvet said...

    rick "doc" mcdonald, you said, "Were the Crusades a protestant military action or were they sent with the blessing of the Pope?"

    As I recall they were a military action authorized by the Pope to counter the Muslim invasions of Christendom. Self defense IS authorized in the Cathechism of the Catholic Church, if it wasn't suicide could be condemned now could it?

    Subvet said...

    Correction to the last line in my preceding comment. It should read that "...suicide couldn't be condemned now, could it?

    Jay said...


    the only rules that God gave that I ascribe to him are those in the Bible, which I do honor as the inspired Word of God. That's what I believe.

    Look, I know where you're coming from, and I respect it. We're conservatives because we believe in reason. However, in my beliefs about morality, and how to instantiate that in law, I am informed by my religion, and, as you pointed out elsewhere, so were our Founders.

    I also happen to think that science will eventually lead us to agree pretty much universally that life begins at conception. Let's play a thought exercise and say that happens, does that change your view, or does the primacy of the mother's right to self-determination trump that, in your opinion?

    It's just a thought exercise.

    Jay said...

    Rick - let me throw another thought exercise at you.

    If Roe were overturned and we turned this thing back to the 50 states and let Federalism run its course, what do you think the ultimate outcome would be?

    Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

    I believe in States rights and would be comfortable with the scenario you posit. Nothing happens over night and I am confident that even with a set back for some, in the long run, fair interpretation of the Constitution would ultimate hold to the primacy individual rights. Again, for me, it's the principle that matters; not the process or the time taken to get there.

    Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

    As to science ultimate finding that life begins at conception, unless the Pope is the scientist of record, that will never happen; so, the argument is mute and preposterous in my view.

    Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

    Dear Subvet,
    Actually, Jerusalem had been in existence long before Christ; so the concept of Christianity was not possible and is not reflected in the book of Genesis. Instead, it was originally occupied primarily by Jews. After changing hands several times, ultimately, the Romans barred Jews from the city and by the 4th century AD, Jerusalem was a Christian city under Roman control. Both Arab and Jew were displaced and their religions subordinated by force.
    The Pope did not send his crudaders to reclaim land that was originally Christian, but rather he sent them to slaughter Moslems and Jews alike and take possession of a city central to the practice of many religions. I'm sorry but facts are facts
    Of course this was the first crusade. There were actually no less than 16 brutal and bloody Crusades authorized by the Pope and his "religion of peace".
    In the 12th century, Saladin, the Arab who drove the crusaders from Jerusalem, actually spared the lives of many Christians and allowed them to surrender and leave. It seems he acted more Christian than did the Christians did when they slaughtered men, women and children to take Jerusalem. Salidin also allowed Jews to return to the city as well.
    Today, we have Christians villifying Moslems for killing Jews and attacking Christians. We have Islamofascist trying to claim the mantle of yet another "religion of peace" justifying killing as a means to a just end.
    I would suggest you do some additional reading before going on the attack. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

    Jay said...

    I encourage all to go over to Doc Mac's web site and read his reply to my original comment to him over there. It's a fantastic defense of his position (in addition to those posts here) and, I think, does provide a conservative basis for choosing the pro-choice side of this position, should one be so inclined.

    However, for myself, I also must be guided by my moral beliefs, shaped as they are by my religious beliefs. For that, I will not apologize, and I strongly object (and this is why Doc's posts sometimes so rile me) to the characterization of an anti-abortion stance as "religious enslavement." We really could make that characterization about many of our laws that have at their core religious principles. I think a reasoned argument can also be made for moving back the point at which a fetus, clump of tissue, or child (take your pick) deserves the protections offered by the state to the born child.

    Doc, for the record, I think your discussion of the principle of self-determination is the most compelling reasoning I have encountered, and I appreciate your well-reasoned thoughts around this view.

    I'd really like to see Roe overturned, because we need to have this debate eventually on a national level, formed as it would then be by experiments in law in the 50 states.

    That is, IMO, the only way we are going to reach a national consensus and put this issue behind us for once and for all.

    Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

    Peace, my brother. Next time I decide to go controversial on you, I'll send some flowers first. :-)

    In all seriousness, the fact that we can have such disparate beliefs and still have a reasoned discourse is unique to democracies that value liberty. Thank you for your time and energy you put into this.

    Your willingness to put on discussions alien to your viewpoints speaks volumes to your intellectual honesty and courage.