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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

If He’d Mercy Killed Wife, Would be Applauded



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A correspondent from the UK sends me an article about a man arrested for providing a morphine patch for his demented wife newly in a care home. From the Telegraph story:

An 83-year-old man was arrested and locked up for seven hours for giving his wife painkiller patches at a care home. Walter Crompton was detained by police when he went to visit Ellen, his wife of 60 years, who suffers from dementia.

Care home staff had contacted officers four days earlier after Mr Compton gave her the morphine patches. He was arrested for administering a toxic substance and his subsequent bail conditions bar him from seeing his wife until the end of the month.

Mr Compton insisted the treatment had been prescribed by a doctor. “It’s a patch. Nobody ever killed anybody with a patch. I don’t understand why they needed to arrest me. I was just trying to help my wife and I didn’t know it was against the rules,” he said.

Now, he’s barred from seeing his wife until further court proceedings. That seems cruel to both husband and wife.

My correspondent opined that had he mercy-killed her, instead of trying to relieve her pain, he would not only have not been prosecuted by UK’s assisted-suicide compliant prosecutors, but indeed, would be applauded far and wide as a man of compassion.

I’m certainly not saying that Mr. Crompton acted appropriately. No doubt, he made a mistake and account must be taken.

But I also can’t say that my correspondent is wrong in her assessment.

Fertility Industry Dehumanizes Surrogates



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As a paid consultant for the Center for Bioethics and Culture, I have become informed about issues to which I might otherwise have paid scant attention. This is particularly true with regard to the increasingly dark side of the fertility industry, about which the CBC has been doing splendidly illuminative work. It has really opened my eyes.

There is no polite way to put it: The fertility industry dehumanizes women who supply eggs for pay or rent their uteri. For example, the term “surrogate mother” has been changed to “gestational carrier.” Why not just say brood mare?

The CBC’s Jennifer Lahl and her CBC colleague, Christopher White, have a great piece on the dark side of surrogacy in today’s NRO. In one section, they discuss the objections from the fertility industry to a Louisiana bill that would bring meaningful regulations to the field. From, “Why Gestational Surrogacy is Wrong:”

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) issued a joint statement opposing the amended bill as it came to the House floor, contending that it “contains a number of provisions that make clear the process of collaborative assisted reproduction is either misunderstood or the supporters of this bill are biased against certain family models.”

The amended bill, which added provisions that removed financial incentives for surrogacy, gave sole medical decision-making authority to the gestational mother. Protest such as that expressed by ASRM and SART is witnessed when any state seeks to regulate the practice and further demonstrates the unwillingness of the fertility industry to acknowledge the problems associated with the practice — medical, psychological, and ethical risks and a lack of protection for women and children alike.

And here comes the dehumanizing part:

In their statement against the bill, ASRM and SART opposed use of the word “mother” to refer to surrogates; their preferred term was the dehumanizing term “carrier.” The introduction of “mother” was one of the most important changes to the bill, as it is important that surrogacy laws recognize the humanity of both the woman and the child, who in pro-surrogacy-industry bills is often treated as a product in a commercial transaction.

Every time I write about this issue, I hear from angry readers telling me that I am terribly insensitive to their pain, and that they would do “anything” to have a baby.

I am not insensitive, but the willingness to do “anything” is precisely the problem. And the industry is all too happy to profit off their pain–distorting procreation and creating increasingly unstable “family models” as they go along.

Here’s my bottom line: It is high time we understand that But I want a baby! doesn’t justify “anything,” because that really means “everything.”

Adopt. Adopt. Adopt.

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Belgian Docs Give Selves OK to Kill ICU Patients



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The Journal of Critical Care Medicine has published a statement by the Belgian Society of Critical Care Medicine giving ICU docs the right to kill patients–even though euthanasia in the country is supposed to only be consensual.

Under the document, futile care impositions of withdrawing or withholding care are up to the medical team–whatever a patient or family may want. Moreover, in such cases, doctors are allowed to kill! From the statement (my emphasis) :

This statement paper, developed by members of the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine Council, is not about giving analgesics or sedative agents to combat pain or agitation, nor about the so-called double effect, wherein analgesics given to alleviate pain may have the adverse effect of shortening the dying process. The discussion here is about the administration of sedative agents with the direct intention of shortening the process of terminal palliative care in patients with no prospect of a meaningful recovery…

Moreover, we explain our belief in the concept that shortening the dying process by administering sedatives beyond what is needed for patient comfort can be not only acceptable but in many cases desirable.

In other words, kill the patient by intentionally overdosing with palliative drugs beyond what is needed for comfort–whether the patient wants it or not!

And note, the patient need not be actually suffering!

Shortening the dying process with use of medication, such as analgesics/sedatives, may sometimes be appropriate, even in the absence of discomfort, and can actually improve the quality of dying; this approach can also help relatives accompany their loved one through the dying process—such a decision should be made with due consideration for the wishes of family members.

The killing license also applies to children:

The present document applies to children as well as to adults

It’s only logical: Once killing is accepted as an answer to human suffering, what constitutes “suffering” expands like an elastic band to include that of society and the hospital having to care for lives defined as meaningless. And it can even include termination when patient suffering isn’t present.

As for choice: What’s that got to do with anything? Efficiency!

#itwillhappenheretoounlesswestopitnow!

Quebec Safe from Euthanasia--For Now



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Quebec’s Parliament came close to legalizing a very radical euthanasia bill, but then the fat was pulled out of the proverbial fire at the last minute, and new elections were called.

Boom! The political party pushing so hard for doctor-administered homicide lost the election big-time, perhaps putting euthanasia on hold in Canada’s French province. From the Catholic Register story:

A surprisingly strong victory by the Liberals in Quebec’s April 7 election means euthanasia is off the table for now while signaling a greater acceptance of religious Quebeckers, informed observers said. The Liberals led by Philippe Couillard trounced the Parti Quebecois (PQ), winning a majority 70 seats to the PQ’s 30…

McGill University historian John Zucchi said the Charter of Quebec Values, euthanasia and separatism were all “intimately connected” in this election.

All three issues showed the PQ either didn’t understand the needs of the electorate or responded with “facile solutions,” he said. “On the question of identity, they responded with a silly charter that would take care of problems by pinpointing ethno-religious groups,” he said. As to the “fears people have concerning the health system as they grow older, they responded with euthanasia.”

I sure hope this isn’t wishful thinking.

No, Dogs Are Not “Like Children”



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There is no question that we Americans intensely love our pets. And we anthropomorphize them like crazy, giving them internal lives of our own creation. That’s half the fun.

But that doesn’t mean that our cats and dogs are akin to “children.” Nor does it mean that any animal should have rights.

Alas, the pressure to elevate animals to our status–which would be to actually reduce us to theirs–continues to grow in intensity.

For your pondering pleasure, take an interview with David Grimm, author of Citizen Canine, in Wired–for some reason, a reliable fount of anti-human exceptionalism. From, “Dogs and Cats Are Blurring the Line Between Pets and People:”

WIRED: Do you think we’ll develop new social and legal customs for dealing with animals?

GRIMM:..The question is whether there’s some happy medium where we can acknowledge that these animals are not toasters, but not grant them as something as extreme as full human rights.

Maybe we create a new class of nonnhuman rights. David Favre at Michigan State University has proposed an intermediate category of “living property“: dogs and cats could have some rights, even some responsibilities, but legally be like children. We’d have a responsibility to not mistreat them, to provide a basic level of medical care, but not constitutional or inalienable rights.

No! Half way is all the way.

Besides,we already have the moral and legal responsibility to not mistreat or neglect them. That is known as animal welfare, the compliance with which is a distinctly human duty predicated simply and solely on our being human.

In contrast, dogs and cats are not moral beings. They are incapable of assuming “responsibilities.” A guard dog is trained to so be–and we intelligently design them for that instrumental use–but they have done nothing “wrong” if they fail in their assigned task.

A vicious dog is not “executed.” It isn’t a punishment for a moral failure. The dangerous dog will be put down as a matter of public or animal safety, not because he is immoral or has committed a crime by biting a child or killing a neighbor’s dog. We would–and should–never do that to a dangerous child.

The Wired correspondent has interests beyond our pets:

WIRED: So far we’ve talked about animals in our immediate domain. What about extending these ideas to animals on the landscape?

GRIMM: That again gets to the slippery slope that a lot of lawyers are worried about. If we create this intermediate category, why can’t elephants in the wild be living property? If we let cats and dogs in, and open that door, does it open the floodgates? This is already happening. Late last year, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a lawsuit on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York, arguing that they deserve to be legally recognized as people.

You’re seeing a lot of discussions about this. What are animals to us? Whether in the wild, in our homes, or on farms, what’s the appropriate relationship to them? There are very heated passions on both sides. What I find most interesting is that this forces us to confront what it means to be a person.

Aaaannd, here comes the cliché false equivalency between the historical abuse of humans and the way we treat animals:

This is a discussion we had to have 150 years ago as slavery was ending and blacks were considered property. There was a backlash: emancipation was going to put plantation owners out of business. But as a society, we decided that didn’t matter. Acknowledging that slaves were people was the right thing to do.

We’re not yet at that point yet with cats and dogs. But what does it mean to be a person? Who gets to be a person? What kind of rights should you have compared to all the other people who are already considered people?

That sound you hear is my head exploding! It was “right” because the slaves were equally human! “Other people” are considered “people” because THEY ARE PEOPLE! Ow, that hurt.

Animal rights activists believe that once just one animal is accorded just one right, the “species barrier” will collapse. They may be correct in that, which is why the hard line between human duties and animal rights must be maintained–including the crucial moral distinction between us and our beloved dogs and cats.

 

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A Materialist’s 3/4 Search for Truth



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Only humans pursue truth. It is one of our exceptional attributes.

But we all find ways to somewhat hobble the quest. A bit ago, I wrote a piece at First Things noting that atheists/materialists claim the mantle of objective truth-seekers, but they are really not. While putting down some religionists’ naturalistic explanations myopia, they similarly refuse to acknowledge the potential mystical, and/or religious potentialities for the numberless inexplicable experiences people have reported over the ages. 

Even if they have an intense personal “encounter,” they often ”reason away” that which science can’t explain–in the words of Steven Pinker’s wife, Rebecca Goldstein–because doing otherwise could undermine their materialist mindset, or perhaps, corrode their self-perception as a proud rationalist. 

But just because something can’t be proved via the scientific method doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Thus, if rationalists want to be true truth/Truth seekers, it seems to me that they should acknowledge, to paraphrase Shakespeare, at least the possibility that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the philosophy of rigid materialism.  

This is why I was somewhat encouraged by atheist author Barbara Ehrenreich’s piece published in yesterday’s New York Times. She has written a book about a mystical–what some might have interpreted as religious–experience, which she did not pursue because of her and her family’s adamant atheism. From, “A Rationalist’s Mystial Moment:” 

But something happened when I was 17 that shook my safely rationalist worldview and left me with a lifelong puzzle. Years later, I learned that this sort of event is usually called a mystical experience, and I can see in retrospect that the circumstances had been propitious: Thanks to a severely underfunded and poorly planned skiing trip, I was sleep-deprived and probably hypoglycemic that morning in 1959 when I stepped out alone, walked into the streets of Lone Pine, Calif., and saw the world — the mountains, the sky, the low scattered buildings — suddenly flame into life.

There were no visions, no prophetic voices or visits by totemic animals, just this blazing everywhere. Something poured into me and I poured out into it. This was not the passive beatific merger with “the All,” as promised by the Eastern mystics. It was a furious encounter with a living substance that was coming at me through all things at once, too vast and violent to hold on to, too heartbreakingly beautiful to let go of.

Some would call that a gift of grace, an invitation to explore salvific potentialities. But Ehrenreich wasn’t interested in Truth if that was the direction in which her experience might lead her:

Since I recognized no deities, and even the notion of an “altered state of consciousness” was unavailable at the time, I was left with only one explanation: I had had a mental breakdown, ultimately explainable as a matter of chemical imbalances, overloaded circuits or identifiable psychological forces. There had been some sort of brief equipment failure, that was all, and I determined to pull myself together and put it behind me, going on to finish my formal education as a cellular immunologist and become a responsible, productive citizen.

Yet, she was haunted her whole life by the vividness of her vision.  

Ehrenreich has finally received permission from recent changes in scientific trends to turn away from the glib denigration of such experiences as mental breaks or some form of psychosis. Rather, she is now open to more quasi-materialist possibilities–albeit, still not those that might contain theistic implications:

Without invoking anything supernatural, we may be ready to acknowledge that we are not, after all, alone in the universe. There is no evidence for a God or gods, least of all caring ones, but our mystical experiences give us tantalizing glimpses of other forms of consciousness, which may be beings of some kind, ordinarily invisible to us and our instruments. Or it could be that the universe is itself pulsing with a kind of life, and capable of bursting into something that looks to us momentarily like the flame.

Except there is plenty of evidence of a loving and personal God of the same kind quality as Ehrenreich’s testimony of a potential larger material world. And if God exists, such experience are as “natural”–if unpredictable and unprovable–as Ehrenreich’s theorized invisible beings or altered mental states.

But good for Ehrenreich: Some phenomena will always remain a mystery, but it is progress that she is now willing to pursue what I think could be fairly described as a three-quarter search for Truth.

But there are risks: Seek and you just might find. Knock, and you never know what or Who will open the door onto you.

Ending the Baloney About “Rare” Abortion



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There was a full page ad in Sunday’s New York Times–expensive!–touting the message, “Abortion is not a crime. It’s a right.”

The ad was sponsored by the “Airlie Center, Virginia, for the World Leaders Consultation on Uniting for Safe Legal Abortion.” Here’s the wide-open fetus killing license the group advocates:

Make safe, legal abortion universally available, accessible and affordable for all women and girls.

Well, at least they’re not trying to snow us with the nonsense about wanting abortion to be “rare.” They seem to want  ubiquitous abortion, more than it already is. 

Swiss Assisted Suicide to Save the Planet!



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Assisted suicide is not about terminal illness.

Assisted suicide is not about disability.

Assisted suicide is not about mental illness.

Assisted suicide is about suicide!

All pretense otherwise was stripped off the movement as the Daily Mail reports that a healthy elderly woman flew to Switzerland to be made dead because she couldn’t handle how high tech has impacted society and, apparently, to save the planet. From the story:

A retired art teacher has ended her life at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland after becoming increasingly disillusioned with modern life. In an interview before her death, the 89-year-old environmentalist, from Sussex, said she felt technology had taken the humanity out of social interaction.

Anne, who asked to be referred to only by her first name, also said she was worried about the damage being inflicted on the planet through overcrowding and pollution.

This is right out of the Church of Euthanasia nonsense, only for real.

Ann was helped by one of the UK’s most prominent assisted suicide advocates. From the Independent story on the suicide:

Michael Irwin, the founder of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (Soars), helped Anne with her application to Dignitas. He said she had ended her life “with quiet determination”, and that her only “regret” was that she had been made to travel to Switzerland, accompanied by her 54-year-old niece, to do so.

Let’s see if Irwin is drummed out of the assisted suicide corps, as it were. I’ll bet not.

Another woman committed assisted suicide recently at a Swiss be-made-dead house because she was upset at losing her looks.

Death on demand: That’s what assisted suicide is really all about. 

#theyhavesomuchbloodontheirhands!

Eugenics Mostly Progressive, Not Conservative



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I have often stated that biologist/eugenicist Charles Davenport was one of the great villains of American history. Apparently a new book is coming out by Paul Martin, about American villains, includes a chapter on the odious man. Good.

But–there may be other agendas afoot in Martin’s writing about Davenport if the excerpt in Salon is a reliable indication. Indeed, a reader of the article would never guess that eugenics was primarily supported by political progressives who rejected human exceptionalism. From, “Hitler’s Favorite American:” 

What’s indisputable about the eugenics movement in this country is that it was driven by racial and class prejudice.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, white Protestant Americans feared being overrun by immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, people who traditionally had large families.

Groups such as the Race Betterment Foundation and the American Eugenics Society stoked those fears by suggesting that the superior traits of industrious Anglo-Saxons were being undermined by the lazy, degenerate masses showing up on their shores.

Meaning Catholics. And there’s no question that the era featured pronounced anti-Catholic bigotry, now, I’m afraid, in resurgence around other social issues. 

There’s some truth to what Martin writes, but he is more than implying that there is a nexus between supporters of eugenics 100 years ago and the liberal stereotype today that religious and other conservatives are prejudiced and racist. Thus the excerpt concludes:

And while we can celebrate the fact that the bigoted, immoral pseudoscience of eugenics has been consigned to history’s junk heap, regrettably the white supremacist attitude that shaped much of Charles Davenport’s career lives on in the beliefs of diehard social Darwinists—an outlook as persistent as a noxious weed, a kudzu of the mind.

Who are these “white supremicists?” Other than the rare crackpot and occasional KKK holdout, they mostly exist in the fervid imaginations of MSNBC commentators and such ilk who ubiquitously accuse Tea Party types, Paul Ryan fiscal conservatives, and opponents of Obamacare of secret racist motives.

Let’s get real: The Eugenics Movement was mostly a top/down phenomenon, driven into bigoted public policy tyranny by minions of the high academy, funded by liberal foundations like the Carnegie Institution for Science

Moreover it was primarily a politically progressive movement–technocratic at heart and claiming the mantle of “science”that presumed it possessed the wisdom to improve the human herd. All of this was based, in part–as my Discovery Institute colleagues have pointed out repeatedly–on a misapplication of Darwinian principles.

Indeed, Martin could just as easily have said that Davenport was Margaret Sanger’s favorite American. That he was Teddy Roosevelt’s, and George Bernard Shaw’s favorite American. That he was H.G. Wells’ favorite American, and Emma Goldman’s. Also, John Maynard Keynes and Oliver Wendell Holmes, of Buck v Bell infamy enthusiastically supported eugenics! The list of progressive eugenicists goes on and on.

With regard to “white Protestants:” Those who most supported eugenics were not primarily believers in orthodox concepts of Salvation and the sanctity of human life. Rather, the most enthusiastic Protestant eugenicists were liberal ”Social Gospel” types​–a historical fact documented splendidly in Preaching Eugenics by Christine Rosen. From my review in the Weekly Standard:

The Social Gospel movement, led mostly by Congregationalist and Unitarian ministers, grew rapidly in these years among mainline Protestant churches. The Social Gospel reconceived Christianity as being less about faith and salvation, and more about, as Rosen writes, “ushering in the Kingdom of God on earth through [social] reform and service.”

Many Social Gospel adherents viewed eugenics as God’s plan to reconcile the truths of science with the Bible. Toward this end, Bible verses were reinterpreted and found to contain what had theretofore been secret eugenics messages. Thus, in one minister’s sermon, Noah’s flood was God’s own eugenics policy for eliminating a human race that had degraded and become inferior. Others insisted that Christ’s Parable of the Talents was actually about improving the population: In eugenics exegeses, “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him,” took on a whole new meaning.

Today’s eugenicists are also primarily politically progressive academics–such as Princeton’s Peter Singer and Oxford’s Julian Savulescu–who reject human exceptionalism and the equal moral importance of all human life. Religious types who support the new eugenics, as the original version, tend to come from the most liberal Protestant denominations.

Today’s eugenics is not racist. But it is elitist. Progressives today tend to support “new eugenics” policies and policy approaches; eugenic abortion, genetic enhancement/engineering, eugenic infanticide, euthanasia, and/or transhumanist “post human” recreationism. 

This isn’t to say that there aren’t conservatives who buy into pernicious neo eugenics agenda items. But not sanctity of life conservatives. And certainly not those who most liberal Salon readers consider to be on the wrong side of history in the pro-life/pro-choice culture wars.

Admitting Global Warming “Info Manipulation”



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Climate Depot ran a story about a peer-reviewed journal article that defends exaggerating about global warming. I decided to check it out. Sure enough.

The need for international global warming agreements is so urgent, the authors claim, that “exaggeration” is justified in communicating with the great unwashed so as to increase their pessimism. From, “Information Manipulation and Climate Agreements” (my emphasis):

This article offers a rationale for the phenomenon of climate damage accentuation or exaggeration on the part of the international mainstream media or other pro-environmental organizations. Forming a binding IEA [International Environmental Agreement] to curb climate change is a matter of urgency. The IEA literature generally takes the pessimistic view that an IEA has little chance of success in resolving the climate problem because strong free-riding incentives prevent a sufficient number of countries from participating in that agreement.

When the media or pro-environmental organizations have private information on the damage caused by climate change, in equilibrium they may manipulate this information to increase pessimism regarding climate damage, even though the damage may not be that great…

[W]e show that the aforementioned exaggeration of climate damage may alleviate the problem of insufficient IEA participation.

But when people know they are being lied to, why in the (currently non-warming) world would they push their governments to participate in IEAs? 

The authors recognize that in more (supposedly) dire circumstances, that can be a problem:

In essence, overpessimism mitigates the problem of underparticipation that is caused by free-riding incentives. However, because people update their beliefs using the Bayesian rule, such information manipulation has a negative externality on the other state when climate damage is really huge, in which case the aforementioned information provider will not be sufficiently trusted even if it indicates the true state. As a result, the participation level falls further in this situation.

In other words, mendacity to increase fear about global warming can increase motivation to submit to the international technocracy after more minor events, but might reduce it after a major dislocation because of a loss of trust. 

The authors see the message manipulation as, essentially, a wash in promoting an international global warming agreement:

Overall, information manipulation has an ambiguous effect on IEA membership and global welfare from the ex ante perspective.​

Ambiguous? No. “Information manipulation” undermines people’s trust in science (at least, by association), destroys what is left of the media’s credibility on this issue, and is toxic to democratic deliberation. 

We have known we are being manipulated in this debate for a long time. The good news is that it doesn’t work well anymore except among those who are ideologically committed Chicken Littlists.

What is that old joke: How do I know global warming hysterics are lying? Their lips are moving. 

Feeding Tube Removed Despite Court Order



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Texas has a medical futility–what I call Futile Care Theory–law permitting doctors to remove wanted life-support that works from a patient based on their views about quality of life. 

Before that is done, patients/families are supposed to receive due process–such as it is–e.g., a hearing before a bioethics Star Chamber committee. Then, if the committee decides the treatment should end, the patient has 10 days to find a new hospital.

But here’s the thing: I believe that once a society determines that doctors can refuse wanted efficacious life-sustaining service–that becomes the meme–and eventually the due process part goes away. 

That may be part of what happened in a case out of a hospital near Austin. As recounted by Thaddeus Mason Pope, an estranged wife (of 5 years!) authorized pulling the feeding tube of Terry Mace. His parents won guardianship and a court blocked the dehydrate decision.

But the hospital did it anyway. From the Austin State Journal story:

Stephen Casey, one of the attorneys for Mace’s parents, said doctors at Seton Medical Center Williamson surprised the family by removing the feeding and hydration tubes for Mace sometime within the past few days. The 43-year-old Killeen man had been hospitalized since March 6, when he went into cardiac arrest and hit his head on a concrete floor.

After receiving a phone call Monday morning from Mace’s father, Casey went to the hospital and saw the tubes had been removed. Mace’s father got a doctor to reconnect the hydration tube Monday afternoon, Casey said. Mace died about 1 a.m. Tuesday. The hospital’s director of communications, Adrienne Lallo, released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the hospital had cooperated with Mace’s family. 

Some cooperation.

Apparently the hospital didn’t adequately explain that “comfort care” actually meant in Mace’s case, ”dehydrate to death:”

Doctors had told Mace’s family over the weekend that they were providing “comfort care” to him, meaning they were keeping him sedated and making sure he wasn’t choking, said Casey. Mace’s parents might have been confused about what kind of treatment their son was receiving, their lawyers said.

This is how trust in our health care system is being steadily destroyed.

Some might expect lawsuits to be filed. But I would probably advise the family not to risk adding insult to injury.

In my experience in this field, once a seriously disabled patient dies, juries tend to apply a “no real harm, no foul” invidious judgmentalism. In other words, imposition of futile care can sometimes be stopped before death, but afterwards, it ceases to matter very much outside the family’s mourning.

Humans Are the Enemy of Earth!



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I will be interested if the former Washington governor calls us cancers or a plague. Or perhaps, as David Suzuki has, maggots?

If you are having trouble viewing this email, please click here.

 
We have met the enemy and he is us.
Former Gov. Christine Gregoire

FORMER GOV. CHRISTINE GREGOIRE
TO SPEAK AT PLU FOR EARTH DAY

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22

Register for Lecture

Former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire will be the keynote speaker at Pacific Lutheran University’s Earth Day presentation on April 22; the title of her talk is, “We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us.”

Gregoire, who served as Washington’s governor from 2005-13, says Puget Sound offers a good example of the title. “As environmentalists have raised concerns about the health of the Sound, we have responded with answers from, ’the solution to pollution is dilution’ to ‘industrial discharge is the problem’ to today’s understanding that the health of a water body like Puget Sound is determined by each of us and what we do.”

As the 22nd governor of Washington, Gregoire prioritized the environmental health of the state and its residents: She created the Puget Sound Partnership in 2007 and insisted that the state invest in and deploy one of the world’s premier oil spill and prevention response programs. Gregoire also reinvigorated the state’s Department of Ecology and led the state to adopt Clean Air standards in 2009.

During her tenure, Gregoire passed laws that made the state a national leader in climate-protection policy, leaving Washington an environmental treasure for future generations.

Office of the President
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447
253-535-7101

[email protected] 

www.plu.edu/president 

 
 
PLU

 

Unintelligent Not Wanted in Life!



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Eugenics is pernicious. Its core philosophy holds that some human beings are better than others based on invidious categorization of human capacities and characteristics.

Eugenics leads to oppression and even, killing. The old eugenics unleashed involuntary sterilization in the USA–as well as infanticide and the murder of disabled adults in Germany.

Those horrors put eugenics into hibernation, but it has awakened in the very places it started in the first place–among the intelligentsia. 

Oxford bioethicist Julian Savulescu is a leading neo eugenicist. Now, he proposes screening embryos for intelligence–for them, of course–because, poor things, the less intelligent have “worse” outcomes in life. From, “Genetic Screening to Enhance IQ Should be Embraced:”

A common objection is that being smarter does not make your life better. In this study, researchers were concerned with those with an IQ between 70-85. Below 70 is classified as intellectual disability but an IQ of 70 to 75 is similar to mild intellectual disability.

Even for individuals with an IQ between 75 and 90 there are still significant disadvantages. Job opportunities tend to be the least desirable and least financially rewarding, requiring significant oversight…Individuals with this lower level of intelligence are at significant risk of living in poverty (16%), being a chronic welfare dependent (17%) and are much more likely to drop out of school (35%) compared to individuals with average intelligence.

Studies show that there is also an increased risk of incarceration and being murdered.

So make sure they have zero chance for a happy life. What a compassionate guy!

The answer? Make our babies through IVF and then toss those that would appear genetically to be destined for lower intelligence:

In my view, we ought to test embryos for such gene variants. Imagine you are having IVF and produce ten embryos. They are all clear of major diseases, but one of them has two copies of the Thr92Ala gene. Given that there are 9 others that don’t have this potentially disadvantageous trait, why not select one of them?

Of course this does not guarantee that the embryo you do choose will have normal intelligence, but based on the information you have, it reduces the chances. Given that the outcomes are so much worse than their alternatives, we should reduce the chances even by a small account, provided the costs aren’t great. But given that whole genome analysis is likely to be used in the future, why not use the information that is available to try to at least start off with a higher chance of a better life?

Here’s the thing: Eugenicists always think people “like them,” are best. Savulescu is very intelligent, and so he values intelligence. 

Here’s the other thing: Even if people have no problem discarding eugenically incorrect embryos as medical waste, it wouldn’t stop there. Eugenicist bioethicists generally accept personhood theory under which being human is morally irrelevant. What matters morally are mental capacities, such as being self aware. 

This means that all embryos, fetuses, and newborns aren’t persons. So, why restrict the eugenic cleansing to embryos in a dish?

Once the principle was accepted that we can morally stop the less intelligent from making it fully into life, it wouldn’t. As Margaret Sanger once put it, we have to pull the pernicious weeds.

Notice these guys never write about increasing our capacity for love. What a sterile, heartless society these eugenicists want. If their targets were gays or people of color, they would be rightly called bigots. Here too, just different victims.

Nor would the new eugenics long remain restricted to private decisions. Eventually, the government would either require–or give positive and negative incentives to parents–to make the eugenically correct “choices.”

This much I know: If Savulescu values prevail, we will descend into tyranny.

Switzerland is Jack Kevorkian as a Country



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More than one person committed suicide a day in the Swiss suicide clinic Exit. From the Swissinfo.ch story:

Swiss assisted suicide organisation Exit helped 459 people end their lives in 2013, 100 more than the previous year. Membership also increased by more than 8,000.

The Zurich-based organisation, which supports the right to self-determination, said last year it had received more than 2,000 enquiries from people looking to die, an increase of 18%.

This isn’t the only suicide clinic in Switzerland, nor necessarily the most active.

Culture of death, Wesley? What culture of death?

Jane Goodall Into Plant Dignity?



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I have never been a fan of Jane Goodall. Her work with chimpanzees wildly and intentionally–by her own admission–anthropomorphized the animals. Then, rather that being knocked down a peg by colleagues, the biological fields instead yielded to subjectivity in the discipline, which has impacted science adversely (in my view) ever since.

She apparently committed plagiarism in Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants. (Plants can’t be wise or express “wisdom!”) A revised edition of the book has been released correcting the previous intellectual conversion.

But that’s not why I write. Her comment to the Guardian about why she is happy the controversy has been resolved in the new edition raised my eyebrow. From the story:

In the revised edition of Seeds of Hope, to be published this month [April], Goodall said she had made minor changes to the text to address the book’s critics and added a lengthy notes section…And she claimed the controversy had turned out to be a “godsend.”

“I am really happy for the sake of the plants that we’ve got it right now. I feel this is a book we can really be proud of now.”

For the sake of the plants?” Good grief.

But then, this may be the flow of our deconstructing culture:

When you reject human exceptionalism, you go off the rails. Sigh.

Vegetarians Less Healthy



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Humans are natural omnivores. Some of us choose for ethical or health reasons to forego our natural diets to become vegetarians.  We are the only species in the known universe that would so do, which is one of the things that make us exceptional.

A new study out of Austria has now cast doubt on a claim often made by vegetarian proselytizers that one should forego meat and animal products for health reasons. From the study:

Overall, vegetarians are in a poorer state of health compared to the other dietary habit groups. Concerning self-reported health, vegetarians differ from each of the other reported groups toward poorer health.  

Moreover, these subjects report higher levels of impairment from disorders. Vegetarians additionally report more chronic diseases than those eating a carnivorous diet less rich in meat. Significantly more vegetarians suffer from allergies, cancer, and mental health ailments (anxiety, or depression) than the other dietary habit groups (Table 3).

Subjects who eat a carnivorous diet rich in meat more often report urinary incontinence. No differences between individuals consuming different forms of diet were found regarding their vascular risk.

The study doesn’t claim that vegetarianism causes these poorer outcomes. But one could imagine that varying significantly from a natural diet wouldn’t be the best for one’s health over the long term. 

I have never believed that we are ethically required to engage in practices contrary to our biological natures. If people want to, great. It is like monastics taking a vow of celibacy. Voluntary, not required.

In any event, it is food for thought. (Yes, I know some studies are contrary, so don’t yell at me!) 

 

POLST’s Potential for Abuse



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With the growing technocracy in medicine, it becomes increasingly difficult for patients to have actual control over their own care. Everything has become so (expletive deleted) arcane! Mind numbing, which is very dangerous because there is great potential for abuse in them-thar hills.

Take the POLST, which stands for Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment. This is a document placed in the patient’s chart that directs the medical team how to care for a patient in the event of a life-threatening circumstance.

POLST is different from an advance directive, such as the durable power of attorney for health care. But it is supposed to reflect patient or surrogate desires, and thus, be consistent with the AD. But if the POLST contradicts the AD, its instructions may be carried out instead of what a patient directed in his or her AD.

POLSTs follow the patient if he or she changes care/treating institutions. That means a mistake made in hospital A follows the patient to nursing home B.

POLST forms do not expire, and thus they can bind a patient years after signing, even if they no longer reflect patient desires.

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform has published an important white paper that should be pondered by anyone with a loved on in a nursing home or hospital. Since I think these findings may not be exclusive to California, I share a few highlights with you here:

1. Virtually anyone (in CA) can sign a POLST form–it doesn’t necessarily have to be the patient, closest family member, or appointed surrogate. The potential for abuse is obvious.

2.The (CA) law does not require POLST orders to be compared with a patient’s advance directive to assure they are consistent. That means a POLST order could require care a patient does not want, or more likely, visa versa.

3.POLSTs are not mandatory, but 73% of patients were often or always told that they are, and apparently, there are reports of manipulation of patient “choices.”

4. Non-health care professionals often fill out the POLST forms contrary to law. That’s a problem:

In long-term care facilities, a staggering 57% of all POLSTs are believed to be completed by non-health care professionals such as admission coordinators and business managers. While these persons may possess some basic knowledge of health care, they are not experts in medicine and the issues of end-of-life care. Thus, many important choices on the form and their implications may be inaccurately explained or not explained at all, leading to violations of patients’ basic rights to give informed consent prior to medical treatment.

5. This part is also really scary: Apparently POLST orders have been signed by family members even though the patient was competent! 

One Long-term Care Ombudsman in Los Angeles reports that multiple nursing homes have a standard practice of having POLSTs signed by resident family members, regardless of whether the resident has capacity to make health care decisions. This observation is reinforced by the fact that 59% of surveyed Ombudsman found that POLSTs were signed by third parties, even when the resident had capacity, “often” or “sometimes.”

Think of a family member whose potential inheritance is being drained by the costs of care. Or, a family member with a different good faith perspective than the patient. If they sign a POLST, their views– instead of the patient’s–will be followed.

I know this is eye-glazing but attention must be paid!

I was the named health care surrogate for my late aunt. I was offered a POLST to sign–and did. But I required that I be called before life-impacting decisions were made in almost all circumstances–DNR excepted, per her expressed AD wishes. In that way, I retained control to react to actual circumstances. That approach worked out very well for my aunt as she was dying.

Just a suggestion, but if you are a surrogate and asked to sign a POLST, you consider doing likewise. The life you save may be that of someone you love.

For more information on POLSTs than I can give here, see this fact sheet from the always elucidating Patients Rights Council.

How to Drive the Dying to Assisted Suicide



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Hey kids! I have an idea to cut health care costs: Let’s legalize assisted suicide and also ration care to the elderly and dying! Then we’ll still call it “choice.” Genius!

Think that’s alarmist? Assisted suicide is on the front burner in the UK, with the PM personally opposed to assisted suicide but still planning to allow  a free vote to legalize in the House of Commons.

At the same time, the NICE rationing board is apparently getting ready to reduce the level of treatment available to the elderly and late stage cancer patients. From the Daily Mail story:

Thousands of seriously ill cancer patients could be denied treatment under changes to the way drugs are funded on the NHS. Campaigners are warning that proposals from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will end the priority given to terminally ill patients.

They estimate almost 13,000 cancer patients a year who are given life-prolonging drugs might be denied them under the new plans – with the elderly particularly vulnerable. They are urging the Government to tell Nice to approve more treatments, as has been done in Scotland.

Of course, Oregon already jumped down this particular rat hole: It rations Medicaid–including life-extending cancer treatment to late stage cancer patients. But it will always pay for assisted suicide–as a Medicaid administrator oh, so coldly wrote to Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroups, denying payment for chemotherapy but assuring that their assisted suicides would be fully covered.

As Wagner put it: The state “will pay to kill me but they will not give me medication to try and stop the growth of my cancer.”

Compassion! Coming soon, perhaps, to Canada, Vermont, and the UK.

#it’stheendoftheworldasweknowit

Lovelock Loses New Time Warming Religion



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Global warming hysteria is part of the war on humans. 

Now, a general in radical environmentalism has hung up his stars. James Lovelock, the founder of Gaia Theory–e.g., earth as a living organism–has become a global warming agnostic. From the Guardian story:

Environmentalism has “become a religion” and does not pay enough attention to facts, according to James Lovelock. The 94 year-old scientist, famous for his Gaia hypothesis that Earth is a self-regulating, single organism, also said that he had been too certain about the rate of global warming in his past book, that “it’s just as silly to be a [climate] denier as it is to be a believer” and that fracking and nuclear power should power the UK, not renewable sources such as wind farms…

Asked if his remarks would give ammunition to climate change sceptics, he said: “It’s just as silly to be a denier as it is to be a believer. You can’t be certain.”

Wisdom. Climate hysterics have lost the public’s ear because their ludicrous, often mutually conflicting predictions, have cost them all credibility.

The best way to be gentle on the earth is to foster greater world prosperity. The environmentalists’ war on humans seeks to do the opposite, promoting policies guaranteed to increase poverty in the developed world and force more than a billion people in the poorest parts of the world to remain mired in bone-crunching destitution.

Radical misanthropic environmentalism serves a fearsome, destructive god.

Chimpanzees are Psychopaths!



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I was listening to a scientist interviewed on NPR today. He described his horror at watching chimpanzees hunt down monkeys and tear them apart, eating them alive as their prey howled in agony.

Naturally, being me, my human exceptionalism radar went up. I looked it up, and sure enough, they eat monkeys alive, meaning: Chimps are psychopaths!

Except they’re not. They’re chimps. They don’t have a moral nature. Thus, their torture of the monkeys is merely an expression of instinctive chimp nature.

We, in contrast, do have moral natures. Any human who acted like a chimp on a hunting frenzy would be rightly deemed a “Hannibal Lecter” psychopath, a person with a profound psychological disorder utterly lacking in empathy.

For all of you “chimps are people too” types–you know who you are–human moral accountability is just one reason why we are exceptional and chimps are not.

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