Google+

Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Stop the Cosmetic Surgery Madness!



Text  



We have doctor shortages and other pressing pressures on the medical system. Yet, how much of our limited medical resources are wasted–as in not doing anything about actual medical problems–by and on the cosmetic surgery industry?

Yet, no matter how extreme and expensive the procedures that are developed, the beauty/youth demon is never satiated. And now this. From the Daily Mail story, 

Three British women have undergone a revolutionary new operation to fit a ‘bra’ underneath the skin to combat sagging breasts. The ‘internal bras’ comprise a fine hardened silicone cup placed under the breast tissue, and fine silk straps screwed into the patient’s ribs to lift the breast.

They are invisible under the skin and will enable women to go bra-less.

Part of this will deal with reconstructive surgery after mastectomy. That’s not what I am upset about. That’s cosmetic, technically, but it is to remedy the serious physical consequences of a bona fide medical treatment.

In the real world, most of these procedures would be entirely cosmetic, marketed as a “cure” for the horrible scourge of saggy breasts:

’It has been marketed as a magical solution to address saggy breasts with very little scaring…’If a patient has had a proper breast lift and is concerned about the occurrence of sagging, this operation could prove effective.

’But it is unlikely to be effective on its own. It is important that a women has procedures to address the skin as well as the breast tissue itself.’

Talk about stoking decadence. Talk about promoting low self esteem for women who have lived real lives!

Saggy breasts are not an illness! It isn’t right to use waste precious medical resources on a ”cure” for something that isn’t a health problem. And why risk life and health over something so unimportant?

The only way to stop this is for consumers–note I don’t use the word “patients”–to shun the market. Keep spitting into the wind, Wesley. Keep spitting into the wind.

Why Doesn’t Pelosi View Sanger like Sterling?



Text  



What’s wrong with this picture? Democrat billionaire Donald Sterling has been declared persona non grata for terribly racist comments made in a private conversation. Former Speaker of the House Nancy proudly accepts Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award.

Yet Sanger was a far worse–and public–racist than Sterling has ever dreamed of being, seeing her birth control crusade as one of many tools to control the “unfit,” including people of color. She even proudly spoke to the KKK! From, “Margaret Sanger, Racist Eugenicist Extraordinaire,” by Arina Grossu:

She recounted this event in her autobiography: “I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan … I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses … I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak … In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered” (Margaret Sanger, “An Autobiography,” Page 366).

Sanger’s vile eugenicism should mark her as much an American villain as eugenicist Charles Davenport and anti-Semite Fr. Charles Coughlin.

Her pernicious views were highlighted by Edwin Black in the splendid history of eugenics, War Against the Weak. From his book:

Sanger surrounded herself with some of the eugenics movement’s most outspoken racists and white supremacists. Chief among them was Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy. Stoddard’s book, devoted to the notion of a superior Nordic race, became eugenic gospel. It warned, “‘Finally perish!’ That is the exact alternative that confronts the white race…If white civilization goes down, the white race is irretrievably ruined. It will be swamped by the triumphant colored races, who will eliminate the white man by elimination or absorption…We now know that men are not and never will be equal.”

Black tries to defend Sanger as not personally racist, even though she surrounded herself with blatant bigots. I don’t buy it in the least. From my HE post, “Margaret Sanger was Too a Racist:”

Sanger enabled racists. Sanger gave them respectability. Sanger befriended them. Sanger viewed them as valued colleagues. Her wicked social Darwinism would have had a devastating and disproportionate impact on minority communities.

Oh, and as the above embed–a reading of her autobiography–proves, she spoke to the Klu Klux Klan, and looked forward to receiving more invitations to speaking in front of similar groups. Add it all up, and Sanger was R.A.C.I.S.T.

I am not into comparative evil. Wrong is wrong. But why the opprobrium of Sterling and the historical amnesia about Sanger?

I can only think of one reason: The blood of abortion has bleached Sanger’s sordid history. In the minds of pro abortion absolutists like PP and Pelosi , that makes her cleaner than newly fallen snow.

ADVERTISEMENT

Yahoo! I Had an Abortion!



Text  



So, an abortion clinic counselor doesn’t use birth control and gets pregnant. It’s termination time! And she filmed it.

It was, like you know, such a positive experience! From, “Why I Filmed My Abortion,” in (where else?) Cosmopolitan:

I remember breathing and humming through it like I was giving birth. I know that sounds weird, but to me, this was as birth-like as it could be.

Except, the “birth” was to end life, not bring it to fruition. Otherwise, I see it. No diff.

It will always be a special memory for me. I still have my sonogram, and if my apartment were to catch fire, it would be the first thing I’d grab…

Every time I watch the video, I love it. I love how positive it is. 

Ah. good times. Becoming irresponsibly pregnant and then having a birth-like experience of destroying a fetus–complete with pictures

Her bottom line message:

I am grateful that I can share my story and inspire other women to stop the guilt.

But you know, sometimes guilt is healthy. Sometimes there’s a reason conscience knocks on our door. Sometimes it’s the first step toward gaining wisdom. And forgiveness. Because some things are just wrong.

The Green War on Africans



Text  



In my ebook, The War on Humans, I argue that the mainstream of the environmental movement has become anti-human–both in its advocacy (people are cancer, etc.) and its policy goals and outcomes.

The throttling of African development is a cruel example I commonly give–focusing on how the green anti-humans want to prevent Africa from fully electrifying until it can be done with renewable methods. But that will take decades, during which time Africans will continue to suffer from bone crunching destitution.

Indeed, when I did the liberal Thom Hartmann Show, he said we should focus primarily on using solar panels to electrify the continent. He also said he believes the earth is a sentient being. Ridiculous! That kind of irrationality hurts African people in the name of “saving the earth.”

Africans need electricity–now–not in 2050. Lives are at stake, as a liberal activist named Caleb S. Rossiter eloquently describes in the Wall Street Journal. From, “Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change:”

I oppose my allies’ well-meaning campaign for “climate justice.” More than 230 organizations, including Africa Action and Oxfam, want industrialized countries to pay “reparations” to African governments for droughts, rising sea levels and other alleged results of what Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni calls “climate aggression.”

And I oppose the campaign even more for trying to deny to Africans the reliable electricity—and thus the economic development and extended years of life—that fossil fuels can bring.

“Well-meaning” and working to deny Africans “reliable electricity” is oxymoronic.

Because Rossiter isn’t caught up in the human-sacrificing cult of green, he wants to let Africa industrialize. Completely:

As an Africanist, rather than a statistician, that I object most strongly to “climate justice.” Where is the justice for Africans when universities divest from energy companies and thus weaken their ability to explore for resources in Africa? Where is the justice when the U.S. discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a “global warming” tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?

Even if the wildest claims about the current impact of fossil fuels on the environment and the models predicting the future impact all prove true and accurate, Africa should be exempted from global restraints as it seeks to modernize.

Why? Because human lives are at stake! Because we should not sit on people’s aspirations to live better lives:

Bringing more-reliable electricity to more Africans would power the cleaning of water in villages, where much of the population still lives, and replace wood and dung fires as the source of heat and lighting in shacks and huts, removing major sources of disease and death. In the cities, reliable electricity would encourage businesses to invest and reinvest rather than send their profits abroad.But the green anti-humans would rather take the wealth of the West and give it to the destitute as “reparations.” That would make us poorer. Much would be lost in corruption. And in a terrible way it would generate an unhealthy culture of dependency in Africa, while doing little to alleviate the continent’s general misery.

Leftists protest so-called war mongers at the drop of a hat. Yet the global warming hysterics promote continued misery and suffering on the continent and much of the left applauds. 

That’s why it’s called a war on humans. Good on Rossiter for busting the hypocrisy. Put people first.

Government Should Not Induce Kidney Supplying



Text  



Psychiatrist and American Enterprise Institute senior fellow, Sally Satel, received a donated kidney from the writer Virginia Postrel, saving her life. Good for Postrel. Happy for Satel.

But Satel wants kidney providing to become a compensated endeavor–to the potential significant detriment of the poor or financially struggling.

Periodically, the New York Times gives her space to pitch organ markets. Her latest approach is to have the government or a charity provide the compensation. From, “Why People Don’t Donate Their Kidneys:”

Donors would not get a lump sum of cash; instead, a governmental entity, or a designated charity, would offer them in-kind rewards, like a contribution to the donor’s retirement fund, an income tax credit or a tuition voucher. Meanwhile, imposing a waiting period of at least six months would ensure that donors didn’t act impulsively and that they were giving fully informed consent.

Prospective compensated donors would be carefully screened for physical and emotional health, as is done for all donors now. These arrangements would screen out financially desperate individuals who might otherwise rush to donate for a large sum of instant cash and later regret it.

The donors’ kidneys would be distributed to people on the waiting list, according to the rules now in place. (People who wanted to donate a kidney to a specific person — say, a father to a son — would still be able to, outside this system.) Finally, all rewarded donors would be guaranteed follow-up medical care for any complications, which is not ensured now.

Sorry. No sale.

Here’s the thing. Kidney supplying is serious surgery. It can be dangerous. Rarely–but it happens–people die from the procedure. Later, their remaining kidney could become injured or dysfunctional, and they might then wish very much that they still had their second.

That’s why I don’t believe in kidney buying–however it is done.  People should not be induced to take such a potentially life-altering risk Indeed, I think it would especially egregious if the government induced a person struggling financially to sacrifice their health or life–even if it was for the good cause of saving another person’s life.

Keep it altruistic. Once the door was opened to kidney financial inducements, the financial schemes would only multiply. Those waiting for help are not the only lives involved.

ADVERTISEMENT

SF Chronicle Turns Against CA Stem Cell Agency



Text  



In 2004, California voters passed Proposition 71 under an avalanche of mendacious CURES! CURES! CURES! hype: Children would get out of wheelchairs! Diabetes would be conquered! Mendacity, mendacity, all was mendacity.

Ten years later and the spin has spun. Now, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine will need voters to renew its borrow-and-spend mandate. That will be a tough sell since the hype won’t work again.

Showing which way the wind may be blowing, the San Francisco Chronicle–a very enthusiastic cheer leader for Proposition 71 in its editorials and reporting–has sent a strong message in an editorial that the public spigot should be turned off. From, “Stem Cell Agency Hasn’t Lived Up to its Hype:”

As far as the public is concerned, nagging questions remain: Has the institute been effective enough? How good should California taxpayers feel about the institute’s use of their $3 billion?

The answer is a decidedly mixed one. Part of the problem is that California taxpayers had outsize expectations when they passed Prop. 71. Looking back at the advertisements for Prop. 71, we see that research advocates and celebrities promised that lives would be saved by its passage.

That’s putting it mildly. Proponents lied to voters to create that misimpression. And too much of the anti-Bush and disdaining of pro-lifers media–seen as the primary opponents of 71–went happily along.

And here’s an ironic assertion dripping of the old anti-pro-life bias and reeking of blatantly revisionist history:

The good news is that scientists since have discovered that “adult” stem cells may be tremendously powerful for cures (thereby neutralizing the antiabortion crowd). The bad news is that all of the research is taking scientists much longer than the public had hoped.

“Neutralizing the antiabortion crowd”–as if pro-lifers oppose adult stem cells? To the contrary: Pro-lifers and other opponents were the ones screaming throughout the campaign that adult stem cell research–rather than the “only hope” embryonic–showed the greatest promise! They were right.

Here’s the Chronicle’s bottom line:

Prop. 71 was an initiative passed based on the politics of the time. It’s difficult to call it a total failure, especially during a time when U.S. public investment in scientific research is so low.

But stem cell research has finally gotten off the ground all over the country, and the institute’s operations over the past decade haven’t inspired the confidence California voters would need to offer the agency more money. The agency will need to rely on private investment if it’s to continue its mission.

Folks, that mildly worded last sentence is an atom bomb. If a newspaper that in the past has been such a huge booster of CIRM believes that CIRM’s time has passed, I am hopeful that the mismanaged agency may actually be shown the door.

Turn out the lights as you leave. We’ll be paying your debts for decades to come. 

Surrogacy Industry’s War on Women



Text  



Biological colonialism is a terrible problem in which the well off exploit the body parts and functions of the destitute in much the same way colonial powers used to extract natural resources from the conquered.

Now, an important article by a Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics points out how badly destitute women are abused in the international surrogacy industry–a huge component of biological colonialism.

Author Jonathan W Knoche hits many important points, such as the public health risks. But space only permits me to highlight a few. From the article, authored by Jonathan W. Knoche:

The international market of industrialized reproduction necessitates the uterus to be viewed as a mere commodity—something distinct from the whole woman. Within this market-oriented mentality, the commodity of a womb is fungible (i.e. any one of them can be substituted for any other similar commodity, given that the quality and price are the same).

Thus, a gestational surrogate is essentially seen as a glorified incubator. Carriers become commodities. To view human persons as parts or commodities primarily for our use and exploitation is dubious. No human being—or her parts—should be treated as a commodity precisely because we are whole subjects, not fragmented organs…Thus, to view and treat a woman as a mere incubator belies her dignity and worth as an individual person and defies the core tenets of international human rights.

But what about choice?

While a general commitment to reproductive choice in high-resource countries is well established, values such as free choice, personal autonomy, and privacy may not be transferable in an international setting where different cultures, traditions, and pluralistic notions of life exist. The begetting and rearing of children and the relationships of those involved may suffer when reproduction is industrialized and commercialized. In a society with few technical limitations whose mindset is overwhelmed with making, the free choice to create children in order to satisfy a want or deep desire may predominate.

Knoche concludes:

Perhaps equally concerning is the market mentality that enables “value free” decisions that commodify carriers. This objectification similarly shapes our understanding of “having” children as if they were market goods. The international surrogacy enterprise thus denigrates our view of humanity. In the end, we must ask ourselves whether the elation childless couples experience following the birth of a genetically related child is sufficient to offset the health risks, the violation of a surrogate’s autonomy and her potential exploitation, the commodification of her person, and the resultant alteration of societal values.

The answer is no. Whatever you think about commercial surrogacy, please read the whole thing. It is well worth your time.

For the impact of commercial surrogacy domestically, see the CBC’s Breeders (for which I am a paid consultant).

Adopt. Adopt. Adopt.

War on Meat Part of War on Humans



Text  



I don’t care if people decide to go vegan or vegetarian. That’s a personal decision demonstrating our exceptionalism. What other species would forego natural and nutritious food to make a moral point?  

But the idea that most of us will give up meat to “save the planet” is, well hogwash. Yet, the “what if” articles keep coming. 

The latest is from Slate, byline B.V. Anderson, who asks: “What if Everyone in the World Became a Vegetarian?”

In 2009 researchers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency…predicted that universal veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by 17 percent, methane emissions by 24 percent, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21 percent by 2050.

What’s more, the Dutch researchers found that worldwide vegetarianism or veganism would achieve these gains at a much lower cost than a purely energy-focused intervention involving carbon taxes and renewable energy technology. The upshot: Universal eschewal of meat wouldn’t single-handedly stave off global warming, but it would go a long way toward mitigating climate change.

The world is almost saved!

At least Anderson notes that doing away with food animals would ruin economies (which is what many warming hysterics want):

If the world actually did collectively go vegetarian or vegan over the course of a decade or two, it’s reasonable to think the economy would tank. According to “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” the influential 2006 U.N. report about meat’s devastating environmental effects, livestock production accounts for 1.4 percent of the world’s total GDP.

The production and sale of animal products account for 1.3 billion people’s jobs, and 987 million of those people are poor. If demand for meat were to disappear overnight, those people’s livelihoods would disappear, and they would have to find new ways of making money.

Yea, well good luck with that.

Actually, Anderson’s article doesn’t even begin to assess the economic obliteration that doing away with meat animals would cause. Indeed, she fails to address how thoroughly animal products grease the wheels–literally–of society. Here’s a quote from the animal rights fanatic lawyer Steve Wise in my book, A Rat is a Pig, is a Dog, is a Boy:

Today, the use of nonhuman animal products is so diverse and widespread that it is impossible to live in modern society and not support the nonhuman animal industry directly. For example, the blood of a slaughtered cow is used to manufacture plywood adhesives, fertilizer, fire extinguisher foam, and dyes.

Her fat helps make plastic, tires, crayons, cosmetics, lubricants, soaps, detergents, cough syrup, contraceptive jellies and creams, ink, shaving cream, fabric softeners, synthetic rubber, jet engine lubricants, textiles, corrosion inhibitors, and metal-machining lubricants.

Her collagen is found in pie crusts, yogurts, matches, bank notes, paper, and cardboard glue; her intestines are used in strings for musical instruments and racquets; her bones in charcoal ash for refining sugar, in ceramics, and cleaning and polishing compounds. Medical and scientific uses abound. And there is much, much more.

The subtitle to my book is, The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement. That’s just one reason. Without animal industries, we would suffer an economic obliteration.

Notice how every bit of the steer is used. (Even their penises, which are made into dog treats.) That’s productive, efficient, and I think, respectful of each animal’s death. (Let the screaming begin.)

Good nutrition aside, the catastrophic economic impact of forcing people to stop eating meat–a key goal of the animal rights movement–is one of many reasons why animal rights is part of the ongoing war on humans.

Child Euthanasia in the UK?



Text  



Euthanasia is a virulent affliction of the modern era. (For one of the reasons why, see my current First Things column.)

The Netherlands allows euthanasia down to age 12 and so tolerates infanticide–technically murder under the law–that baby-killing doctors felt confident enough to publish the Groningen Protocol, a bureaucratic check list for which sick or disabled babies can be euthanized.

Belgium has now legalized child euthanasia with no age limits.

Medical authorities are investigating whether UK doctors kill sick children. From the AP story:

British doctors have secretly killed terminally sick children by giving them ‘huge’ overdoses of painkillers, it was claimed yesterday.
Health officials are investigating claims that terminally ill children have been illegally euthanised by British doctors. An official investigation has been launched by the Department of Health into the allegations, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

In February retired GP Michael Irwin claimed that medics have given sick children overdoses with painkillers. At the time Mr Hunt said he would look into the issue and now he has confirmed that the Department of Health is investigating.

Irwin is a complete madman on euthanasia, but he is not afraid to bring killing practices into the light of day. His hope, of course, is to normalize euthanasia in all its manifestations.

There may be method to his madness. The way things are going with Brits flying to Switzerland for assisted suicide, if the answer to the probe is yes, the call will not be to punish the child-killing doctors, but rather, to legalize their dark practice so it can be done in the light of day.

Embryonic Stem Cells Cheered Better Adult Ignored



Text  



This has been a pattern for more than a decade in the media. Success after success in adult stem cell research receives scant press attention. In humans

Then, an animal embryonic stem cell success in the same field happens and the media turn summersaults.

Latest example, in heart regenerative medicine. From the Business Insider story with hyperbolic headline, “Scientists May Have Found a Cure for Heart Failure:”

A cure for heart failure could be just a few years away after scientists successfully regenerated the damaged hearts of primates using human stem cells. The breakthrough, which was hailed as ‘very significant’ by British experts, will be tested on humans within four years. If successful it would mean that even people who are bed-bound with heart failure could be “up and about” again within a few weeks.

Elsewhere, the experiment was called a “triumph” in headlines.

Then, the story makes a highly misleading claim:

Currently heart muscle cannot be repaired and people with severe heart failure must wait for a heart transplant. Wrong! Adult stem cells are rebuilding heart muscle in human trials.

But look, such treatments are already succeeding in rebuilding heart muscle (and potentially avoiding transplants) with ethical adult stem cells in human trials–not even mentioned in the media’s swoon over the ESCR experiment. From a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2014;311(1):62-73.):

Although our study was not powered for mortality outcomes, infarct size reductions are of a magnitude that might have the potential of a mortality benefit. Efficacy findings were detected in several clinical outcome measures, but definitive demonstration of the value of TESI remains for future trials, including in the sickest patients for whom cell therapy might answer an urgent unmet need.

This is still early human work, and more needs to be done. But adult stem cells are far ahead of anything embryonic. Yet, where are the headlines?

Answer: Too often–still–adult stem cell successes are the wrong kind of stem cells.

(See embed at top of post to see the incredible impact an early adult stem cell experiment–accompanied with bypass surgery–appears to have had on one human heart patient subject.)

I’d Like Prime Rib of Cricket Please



Text  



The other day, I posted about an interview on Ezra Klein’s new Vox site, in which an “ethicist” worried greatly about the suffering of insects. Then, on Twitter, I received a nice note from “Little Herds,” a start up that raises insects for consumption to save the planet.

Their Tweet kindly invited me to check them out. So I did.

Little Herds gives 5 reasons why we should eat our six-legged friends. From the website:

The average American unintentionally eats over 400 insects a year, but we SHOULD be doing better than that. Eating more insects might just save the world!

Environmentally sustainable.

They use less land, less water and produce fewer emissions than traditional livestock.

Nutritious. Bugs provide excellent protein as well as heart healthy Omega-3 fats, and important vitamins and minerals.

Easy to Farm. Bugs have a short life cycle and can be raised in urban environments, freeing up the country-side for oxygen-giving forestry and wild life.

Ethical. They can be easily and humanely euthanized for ethical harvesting. Delicious & Versatile. They are tasty, easy to prepare and highly versatile.

And best of all for the save the earth set, it’s a nonprofit!

But don’t tell PETA. They will say that eating bugs is the equivalent of eating children.

Thanks to Little Herds for their interest in my blog. Here’s an idea for a good theme song for the industry:

A Technocrats’ Black Market in Greasy Tacos



Text  



A few years ago I warned that the fight against obesity was becoming the new global warming, e.g., a way for the international technocracy to grab control of our economies and lives in the name of saving the planet us from the fat.

The technocratic class has been wringing their hands about how much regulation they can get away with. Some think it will require  ”hard paternalism.” What is that, you ask? From, “Limiting Liberty to Prevent Obesity,” by Thaddeus Mason Pope: 

[Soft paternalism are] measures which alter the decision making environment, yet do not wholly eliminate unhealthy choices…[H]ard paternalistic measures ban the unhealthy choices and make them impossible.

Pope quotes another article which despairs that soft paternalism will be sufficiently efficacious to shed fat, but that the people will refuse to accept hard paternalism that could reduce obesity. Pope is more “optimistic,” which seems inverted to me. (If hard paternalism on food would work, that makes me pessimistic about the future of freedom.):

The Rolling Stones may be right that “you can’t always get what you want.” But they are also right that “if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”This will be my overarching theme: we can get the hard paternalism that we need.

Pope lays out a lot of technocratic principles and conditions about when hard paternalism would or would not be justified, including this trip to Fantasyland: 

The fourth necessary condition for justified strong hard paternalism requires that it be a “last resort,” that the only available liberty limiting principle which the regulator can use to protect the subject from significant harm

Folks, let’s get out of the deep gray matter for a moment and get real. How many of you think that bureaucrats only resort to mandates as a last resort?

Here in the real world, we know that much of regulation is ideological. It isn’t that the regulated absolutely need the constraint on liberty, but that “our betters” in the technocracy want to impose it upon us to further their worldview. Think Obamacare. Think EPA. 

Another Pope pipe dream:

The seventh necessary condition for justified hard paternalism requires that the agent interfere with the subject’s liberty no more than is required to achieve the objective.

Right. Like that would ever happen. Bureaucrats are natural hegemons. They wield bludgeons, not scalpels. 

Pope concludes on what he considers to be an upbeat note:

The public health challenges that we face are enormous. Regulators have a broad array of legal tools to address these challenges. But, increasingly, the required regulatory tools are (and must be) hard paternalistic…

I have demonstrated that there are wider opportunities for hard paternalism. My promising conclusion is that regulators can have their cake and eat it too. They must simply ensure that they enact only those hard paternalistic measures that are weak or justified strong.

Actually, continuing the hard paternalistic legal prohibition on marijuana might do more to fight fat–fewer people with munchies–than hard food paternalism. (Talk about creating a black market in greasy tacos!) But that is the subject of another day.

Antibiotics and the Futility of Immortality Quest



Text  



Transhumanists are mostly materialists. To make up for their lack of faith or hope in a post “this life” existence, they have embarked on a Utopian quest to achieve “post humanity” that will allow them to live nearly forever in the corporeal here and now.

But it’s all vanity. Real life always intrudes to forcefully remind us that no matter how advanced our truly wonderful medical breakthroughs, we are–and ever will be–mortal. No escape.

Latest example, a very scary story about how antibiotics are failing because natural selection has resulted in drug resistance super bugs. From the Reuters story:

The spread of deadly superbugs that evade even the most powerful antibiotics is no longer a prediction but is happening right now across the world, United Nations officials said on Wednesday. Antibiotic resistance has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country, the U.N.’s World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a report.

It is now a major threat to public health, of which “the implications will be devastating”. “The world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security.

Yikes!

I am not the least happy about this, of course. And I hope they find a corrective. Antibiotics are one of the prime reasons life expectancy has risen so dramatically in the last one hundred years.

But I think it illustrates the wisdom of the world’s great religions and philosophies that counsel us to keep the truth of our looming deaths ever at the forefront of our minds as a powerful means of focus. Remembering that our time is very limited is the key to living more meaningful, impactful, and righteous lives. 

Human Embryos as a Planted Corn Crop



Text  



Remember in the early days of the embryonic stem cell debate being repeatedly assured that “all” the scientists wanted were ”leftover embryos due to be destroyed anyway” (from IVF) for use research?

It was always baloney. “The scientists” just wanted to get people used to destroying embryos as if they were a mere corn crop.

Now that human cloning has succeeded, “the scientists” are ready to move on in a more energetic manner to explicitly creating embryos for use and destruction in research–and they want government funding, meaning submitting to the appearance of “meaningful” regulatory control to get past predictable opposition to taxpayers paying for harvesting the corn. 

Hence, a piece in Nature–one of the worlds’ two most important science journals–urging the regulation of what we could call planting embryo crops. From, “Regulate Embryos Made for Research,” by Insoo Hyun:

This repeated cloning of embryos and generation of stem cells, now using cells collected from adults, increases the likelihood that human embryos will be produced to generate therapy for a specific individual. The creation of more human embryos for scientific experiments is certain. Regulatory structures must be in place to oversee it.

Remember Wesley’s Law on Biotechnology. They never agree to prevent what can be done, only prohibit what can’t yet be done. Once the science advances, they change the rules to permit what can now be done, and start again. Hence:

For some, this raises two dangerous spectres: cloned human babies, and a future in which human embryos are callously created and destroyed for various kinds of research. Both scenarios can be avoided. Current policies (and probable biological barriers) are sufficient to mitigate the first. The second can be headed off by adding a provision to existing oversight structures.

“Callously created?” It’s what is done that matters morally, not whether one bows in respect to the Petri dish before doing it.

And note, the objections to “reproductive cloning”–a misnomer since the only cloning is making the embryo–and other novel methods of creating embryos involve “safety”primarily, and secondarily, worries about getting on the wrong side of the “symbolic value” the public accords human embryos.

But the very research that would be validated as “moral” via explicit legalization and regulation would be the necessary predicate to making it possible to do those supposedly objectionable procedures “safe,” at which point Wesley’s Law would kick in again.

What to do? What is always proposed: Allow research committees to rubber stamp validate the ethics of research projects:

In the absence of NIH funds (and concomitant ethical guidelines) the US National Academy of Sciences recommended that every organization performing research on embryonic stem cells establish a dedicated review committee and require scientists to submit relevant protocols for its approval before proceeding with experiments. Academic institutes and even for-profit companies voluntarily did so. These committees, which are still in place, seem well suited to assess the creation of research embryos.

But this would seem to be primarily a matter of prioritizing, rather than setting meaningful moral limits never to be violated. Thus Hyun concludes:

Barriers to obtaining eggs will limit the production of embryos for less-than-cutting-edge research. But it is important to review specifically whether the questions that a custom-made embryo could help to answer justify its creation.

Sorry. I don’t trust scientists to impose any reasonable limits on each other. Moreover, industry self-regulation is merely an “appearance” of control as a sap to the public. For example, the UK’s embryo “never say no” Embryo Authority authorized the use of animal eggs in human cloning research). 

Beyond that, the appearance of meaningful self-regulation would make it thereby easier to convince lawmakers and regulators to open the spigot to public funding.

No! Wesley’s Law needs to be repealed. That will require the legal prohibition on the creation of human embryos for destruction–as currently the law in Germany–whether by fertilization or cloning. Where that can’t be achieved due to Big Biotech’s special interest power, never permit public funding.

Bottom line: This issue is too important to just “let the scientists decide.”

Don’t Hurt the Insects!



Text  



A few years ago, some wag created a parody website called The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Insects. But here’s the thing: There is no such thing as reductio ad absurdum anymore. In these days of anti-humanism, no matter how far out you try to get, it will soon be proposed seriously.

For your consideration, the views of Brian Tomasik, consultant for Foundational Research Institute–which is putting too much time into its advocacy memes to be a parody. Foundational is obsessed with reducing suffering–a concept so all-encompassing in the group’s vision, that heeding its prescriptions would paralyze society.

Indeed, Tomasik’s aversion to suffering is so extreme that he seriously ponders the suffering of gaming characters, especially as they grow more sophisticated and move toward artificial intelligence.

But I want to focus here on his concern about the supposed suffering of insects–the very issue about which the SPCI only pretended to advocate. First, because of their sheer numbers, Tomasik proposes that insects may matter more than people because their total sentience exceeds oursFrom the interview:

There are an estimated 1019 insects on Earth, compared with around 1010 humans or around 1011 to 1012 birds. Even if you count just raw number of neurons, insects outweigh humans by a few orders of magnitude. While humans may matter a lot more for instrumental reasons related to the trajectory of the far future, in terms of pure morally relevant amount of sentience, insects may dominate on Earth at the moment.

And they suffer so!

Unfortunately, this has pessimistic implications for the net balance of happiness and suffering in the wild. Many insects live just a few weeks, and they give birth to hundreds or thousands of offspring, most of which die shortly after being born. Life even for the survivors may also involve hunger, disease, and death by predation, lack of water, or something else.

We have to begin to ponder the welfare of insects we consume:

As one example, insects are raised and cooked for food in many parts of the world, such as Mexico and Thailand. In many cases, these insects are fried or roasted alive. And entomophagy may become more popular in Western countries as well.

I think raising insects is a bad idea because they have such high infant-mortality rates that their cultivation inherently leads to lots of unavoidable suffering. But if insects are raised for food, there should at least be welfare standards for their living conditions and especially for their slaughter. Some entomophagy companies in the US claim that freezing their insects to kill them is humane, but it’s disputed whether freezing is actually painless for insects. More research and attention is needed here.

See how crazy things get once human exceptionalism is rejected? Tomasik focuses on mere “sentience” as the prime determiner of moral value. Do that, and you enter the realm of moral neurosis.

He’s not alone. So does animal rights crusader, Gary Francione. Similarly, PETA advocates for insect rights, for example, opposing commercial honey production because it supposedly involves forcing queen bees onto “factory farm rape racks”!

It would be easier to laugh this off if “nature rights” laws weren’t being enacted, requiring equal consideration be given to the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees when contemplating nature-disrupting human enterprises.

Also, Switzerland has legally recognized the intrinsic dignity of individual plants–a country to which people can fly to commit suicide but where flushing a gold fish down the toilet is crime.

The way things are going, we’ll soon see a puff profile of the Foundation in the New York Times Magazine. Meh.

 

Assisted Suicide Frees Doctors’ Inner Kevorkian



Text  



Pathologist Jack Kevorkian infamously assisted the suicides of people he had not actually treated, or even examined. He would look at medical records, speak to the victim, and bring on the carbon monoxide or suicide machine.

Similarly, a Swiss doctor assisted the suicide of a man he did not physically examine, and took umbrage that authorities brought a case against him. From The Local story:

A Neuchâtel doctor is considering an appeal after being fined 500 francs ($517) by a local court that found him guilty of helping an 89-year-old patient die without getting a proper diagnosis of the man’s condition.

The prosecution argued that Freiburghaus had “crossed the line” by failing to follow the legal regulations, which require that a doctor must properly diagnose the presence of an incurable illness and a short life expectancy before assisting suicide.

Are they kidding? In recent days, we have seen Swiss suicide clinic deaths of healthy elderly women, one upset with modern technology and the other about losing her looks.

Back to the story:

The doctor said he was reproached for not having gone far enough with his diagnosis. But Freiburghaus said he obtained a complete history of the man’s illness from the patient. From this he determined the man was suffering from rectal cancer. The doctor testified, however, that his patient did not want to be treated or examined and threatened to commit suicide by his own means.

The doctor’s appalling abdication of professionalism reminds me of Dutch nursing home euthanasia death doctor, Bert Kaiser, who wrote in Dancing with Mr. D that he euthanized a man due to lung cancer even though the diagnoses wasn’t certain.

Freiburghaus is upset that his prerogatives could be limited:

Freiburghaus remained unrepentant, expressing disbelief over the court’s decision, according to an online report from Le Matin. “Soon a doctor will no longer be able to do anything without contravening legal niceties,” he is quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Similarly, Kaiser wrote that as he was on his way to lethally inject the patient, he told colleagues, “If anyone so much as whispers ‘cortisone’ or ‘uncertain diagnosis,’ I’ll hit him.” (Page 39.)

Similarly, Kevorkian would throw tantrums at the very notion that assisted suicide could be limited in any way.

Here’s the moral of the story: Assisted suicide/euthanasia eventually brings out some “doctors’” inner Kevorkian. That is just one reason why we should reject the death agenda.

NYT “Chimp Attack” on Human Exceptionalism



Text  



The New York Times is on an anti-human exceptionalism crusade. Other than columnist Ross Douthat, when was the last time the “paper of record” allowed arguments to be made in favor of the unique dignity of human life in its pages? I can’t recall a single time in recent years. 

But take actions to subvert our belief in the unique dignity of human life and the NYT is at your service!  It has published columns arguing for “pea personhood,” that plants are the most “ethical” life form, and in last Sunday’s Magazine, a tribute to the Dark Mountain Projects’ push for “uncivilization.”

This week, the magazine publishes a puff piece in praise of the animal rights fanatic, Steven Wise, head of the NonHuman Rights Project who wants animals declared “persons” so that they can sue their owners.

Readers of this blog will recall that Wise recently filed lawsuits seeking habeas corpus for chimps in New York. That event is the launching pad of the article focusing on the alleged neglect of one Tommy the chimp, kept alone in a cage, which Wise says is legal. Who knows if that is true? (If so, change the law.) The reporter merely mentions it and moves on.

But protecting Tommy isn’t really Wise’s point. Rather, like all animal rights ideologues, his ultimate goal is an end to all animal domestication. From, “Should a Chimp be able to Sue Its Owner?”:

Wise told me he was well aware of the fact that for creatures like Tommy, a victory in court could only result in transfer to a kinder type of captivity. The larger significance of winning for Wise, however, is the clear message it sends about the wrongfulness of holding captive a chimp or a circus elephant or a SeaWorld orca in the first place.

Wise, aided and abetted by the reporter, aims at destroying our belief in unique dignity of human life (my emphasis):

In [a] debate [with Peter Singer], [Judge Richard] Posner stated that the special status we humans accord ourselves is based not on tests or statistics but on “a moral intuition deeper than any reason that could be given for it and impervious to any reason that you or anyone could give against it.” That inherent irrationality at the heart of humanity’s sense of exceptionalism is what most worries Wise.

“It’s those deeply held beliefs that I’m concerned about,” he told me. “The judge who either doesn’t recognize that he’s ruling against us on those grounds, or who does, and decides that way anyway. Our challenge is to lay bare that bias against our facts. I will say: ‘Judge, you know, we’ve been here before. We’ve had people who’ve essentially said, “I’m sorry, but you’re black.” Or “I’m sorry, you’re not a male or a heterosexual.” And this has led us to some very bad places.’ ”

No, equating discrimination against blacks and other humans–all of whom are inherently equal to each other–with the way we interact with animals is irrational. 

Animals are not people. They are not our moral equivalent. What we do to an animal should not be judged in the same manner as if the same thing were done to a human. Cattle ranching is not slavery! Animal research is not Mengele in the camps.

The abundant and ubiquitous reasons to support human exceptionalism are never given sustained attention within the primary outlets for public discourse. Rather, like waves crashing on a shore eroding the beach, one-sided articles such as this subvert the fundamental basis of Western Civilization that has brought us so much liberty and prosperity. This is intentional:

Much like other civil rights movements, the Nh.R.P.’s efforts are designed to be a systematic assault; a continued and repeated airing of the evidence now at hand so that other lawyers and eventually judges and society as a whole can move past what Wise considers the increasingly arbitrary distinction of species as the determinant of who should hold a right.

And yet, when I bring this up in speeches and on the radio, I keep hearing the same eye-rolling complacency: It can’t happen here, I am told. It’s just the fringe making noise. When I urge that learned articles be written in the professional journals, I hear the crickets chirping.​

But it is happening here. Very influential outlets like the New York Times are pushing it. And it will happen–unless people at all levels of society start taking these assaults on human uniqueness seriously and join me on the ramparts defending the unique dignity and value of human life.

Ha! Euthanasia Becoming a Laugh Riot



Text  



So, now euthanasia is becoming a source for comedy. Joel David Moore is about to direct a film about a son taking his father to be killed. From the Deadline Hollywood story:

Avatar actor Joel David Moore is set to direct comedic drama Youth In Oregon, about a man who must drive his 80-year-old father-in-law cross country to be euthanized.

Belly laughs galore!

I am a big Three Stooges fan. When the recent film homage to the boys came out, I was one of the first in line. Guess what? The main story line has the stooges attempting to murder someone because they think it is a mercy killing: From my blog post:

In a mix-up of identities too complicated to go into here, the boys are convinced that the boyfriend is the husband and that he wants to be killed “by surprise” because he is terminally ill and will become a “vegetable.” If they succeed, the new widow will pay them $830,000. And they try. They really try to kill him–and almost succeed (in a very funny slapstick turn in which they throw him in front of a bus) before learning they are being played for chumps.

I don’t recall the original Stooges ever trying to kill anyone. Yet, our contemporary updated boys–pure in heart and innocent to the ways of the world–don’t even blink an eye that it might be wrong to kill somebody because they are sick and want to die. Oh, and here’s another ironic note: The orphanage for which they would be paid blood money to save is run by Catholic nuns.

At the end of the movie two stuntmen appear to tell kids that the hammers with which the characters hit each other are rubber and warn them not to poke their friends in the eyes. Yet, these same children have been sent a not subtle message that euthanasia is just fine and dandy. I don’t even think it was intentional. It is just the culture-of-death smog permeating everything.

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.,

Oh, and here’s another one! An Italian woman recently went to Switzerland and killed herself at a suicide clinic because she was lonely. From The Local story:

Oriella Cazzanello, 85, travelled to a clinic in the city of Basel, where she paid €10,000 for an assisted suicide, Articolo Tre reported.

Her family only learnt of her death after they received an urn containing her ashes and a death certificate from the clinic on Tuesday, Vicenza Today reported. The news website Leggo reported that Cazzanello had not been ill and chose to end her life because she was “lonely” and “tired of of old age”.

Please stop. My stomach hurts! But not from laughing. 

Soylent Green is Fetuses



Text  



I reported here a bit ago about how some hospitals in the UK were using the bodies of aborted and miscarried fetuses as fuel for the heating system. Now, dead fetuses are being incinerated to create electricity in Oregon and Canada. From the Lifesitenews story:

The British Columbia Health Ministry has admitted that the remains of babies destroyed by abortion in B.C. facilities are ending up in a waste-to-power facility in the United States, providing electricity for residents of Oregon.

The province’s Health Ministry said in an email to the B.C. Catholic that “biomedical waste” shipped to the U.S. to be incinerated includes “human tissue, such as surgically removed cancerous tissue, amputated limbs, and fetal tissue.”

“The ministry understands that some is transferred to Oregon. There it is incinerated in a waste-to-energy plant,” the email stated.

Well, pro abortion types do equate unwanted fetuses with tumors.

Would we ever do this to unclaimed bodies of born people? No, because the way we try to respectfully treat the remains of the dead reflects our belief in the intrinsic dignity of the living. 

If that is so, why treat the remains of the unborn so disrespectfully?

Answer: Abortion consciousness has reduced the value of the unborn in the minds of many to that of fodder or manure.

Alabama Supremes Accept Unborn Child Rights



Text  



This will not impact the abortion issue because of federal preemption. But the Alabama Supreme Court has accepted that fetuses and embryos “from the earliest stages of development,” qualify as a “child” under Alabama law.

The case involves a law that criminalizes exposing a child to harmful chemicals. Sarah Janie Hicks took cocaine while pregnant, and when her son “J. D.” was born, he had measurable amounts in his system. She pleaded guilty under the pertinent statute, preserving her right of appeal.

The case went to the Supreme Court where Hicks argued that the world “child” in the statute did not include the unborn. But a previous case had found that it applied to “viable” fetuses.

Hicks next said that the world “child” was defined as being under the age of 18, and hence could not apply to fetuses and embryos. Again, the Justices disagreed. From the court ruling:

As this Court held in Ankrom, the statutory definitions of the word “child” in other chapters of the Code do not limit “child” to only a child who has been born but simply set a maximum age at which the person is no longer regarded as a “child” under a particular statutory scheme.

Also, the references to a “human fetus” or “unborn child” in the partial-birth-abortion statute and the Woman’s Right to Know Act both deal exclusively with unborn children. Thus, it would be inappropriate to use the word “child” because that would, nonsensically in that context, include children who have already been born.

Because both born and unborn children can be exposed to controlled substances, we have no reason to doubt that the legislature intended for the chemical-endangerment statute to be using the plain meaning of the word “child” and thereby protecting all children.

How early in gestation do the “rights” of the unborn extend. All the way, apparently:

Consistent with this Court’s opinion in Ankrom, by its plain meaning, the word “child” in the chemical-endangerment statute includes an unborn child, and, therefore, the statute furthers the State’s interest in protecting the life of children from the earliest stages of their development. See § 26-22-1(a), Ala. Code 1975 (“The public policy of the State of Alabama is to protect life, born, and unborn.”)..

[T]he chemical-endangerment statute to protect the life of unborn children “is consistent with many statutes and decisions throughout our nation that recognize unborn children as persons with legally enforceable rights in many areas of the law”. 

I know there will be howling and gnashing of teeth about this ruling from certain quarters, and claims that it turns pregnant women somehow into chattel. But I don’t understand why expecting a mother to protect her born children from specified harms doesn’t interfere with her liberty, yet it does when she is gestating. During pregnancy, it isn’t ”just” her body. She has two for which to care.

A fundamental duty of any parent is to protect his or her child from harm. Thus, a father who hits his pregnant wife in the stomach would be properly punished if the unborn child was injured or is miscarried (as well as for assaulting the woman). So too, it seems to me, a pregnant woman who takes substances knows (or should know) could harm her child. 

I think one more point has to be made. The above statement potentially encompasses more than with which I am comfortable. Would a pregnant woman drinking wine with dinner potentially become criminal? What about smoking tobacco or marijuana? What about working in a factory with caustic chemicals? These are reasonable questions that need to be addressed by a law that would seem to have very broad application based on this case.

It seems to me the Alabama Legislature should narrow the applicable scope of the statute in cases of gestating mothers in order to better define it as applying only to those circumstances bringing high likelihood of significant harm.  A theoretical or minor risk should not be sufficient for a violation.

Pages

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review