Michael Rosen responds to my stem cells post from last night. I’ve edited-out the generous words for NRO and yours truly at the front. So don’t take the perfunctory tone for rudeness:
Permit me to respond to your post:
1) I didn’t actually say that you made a stronger argument than Ramesh. I meant simply that his claim was a “weaker” one than yours, namely that he was arguing something less extreme than you were (NOT that he did a poorer job of arguing it). Pardon the academic-logical-philosophy jargon.
2) As was noted in The Corner a couple of weeks ago (I could find it if you’d like), public health is arguably one of the most important functions a national government can serve (perhaps this was truer in the Middle Ages than today, but hear me out). Assuming that’s true, then, we have two significant public functions: defending citizens from invaders, and defending them from disease.
The question then becomes whether individual manifestations of those functions are legitimate or necessary (Ramesh’s term). Was the Iraq War necessary to defend our citizenry? Was it a legitimate exercise of state power? (I wholeheartedly believe YES, by the way) Is the government’s support for stem-cell research necessary to cure disease? Is it appropriate for the government to be funding it?
Again, these points are debatable. But I think it’s as accurate to say, as you do, that federal funding “force[s] people who think human life is precious to pay for its destruction” as it is to say funding the Iraq War forces people who [INSERT LIBERAL CANARDS ABOUT THE WAR HERE] to pay for its prosecution. Both of these statements, in my mind, are true, but largely irrelevant to democratic debate.
3) Animal rights: If by “come on”, you mean that animal rights activists shouldn’t be taken seriously, I pretty much agree (I got into it with a PETA rep here: http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16716). But if you mean that they are just a minority who needn’t be taken seriously, well, you’re then arguing that conscientious objection can and should only be appropriate or useful when LOTS of people feel offended by the government’s spending. That could be true, but you would have to identify at what threshold we should start taking those concerns seriously.