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Monday, July 27, 2009

Ron Paul: The immorality of taxpayer funded abortion

In his latest column, libertarian Congressman Ron Paul writes:

Healthcare continues to dominate the agenda on Capitol Hill as House leadership and the administration try to ram through their big government healthcare plan. Fortunately, they have been unsuccessful so far, as there are many horrifying provisions tucked into this massive piece of legislation. One major issue is the public funding of elective abortions. The administration has already removed many longstanding restrictions on abortion, and is unwilling to provide straight answers to questions regarding the public funding of abortion in their plan. This is deeply troubling for those of us who do not want taxpayer dollars funding abortions….

You can continue reading here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on July 27, 2009 | Permalink

Comments

Yet another issue that so-called libertarians at the Western Standard pretend doesn't exist and instead choose to attack more politically correct and less important issues.

You simply cannot call yourself a libertarian and ignore issues such as this. Libertarianism, like every other ideology, is a badge you earn, not a hat you wear.

Brock, Watson, Carnegie and the rest: you're not fooling anyone, you're no libertarians. You give so many free passes on so many fundamental issues of liberty that it's quite obvious you are all left wing radicals, merely rage with the machine politically correct soldiers in the war on western civilization, picking and choosing relatively trivial incursions of liberty to give the obviously false impression you are libertarians while ignoring massively more egregious violations of liberty. You're not fooling anyone with one clue to rub against the next one.

On that note: is there some sort of embargo on criticizing Obama here at the WS? Most statist president in American history and in the 6 months he's been in office there have been few if any criticisms of him from this quarter. That's a tacit admission of support and I've seen enough: you're statists. Give up the charade.

Posted by: 73764574 | 2009-07-27 12:54:42 PM


It's already a reality in Québec. And their population has been in free fall for decades, even with immigration.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-27 12:59:43 PM


"while ignoring massively more egregious violations of liberty."

Like...

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-27 1:19:59 PM


Can you do better than a one syllable grunt Scott?

For a fellow as self assured as you are, you ask a hell of a lot of questions.

Socratic method? You are no Socrates. If you have something to say, say it, then slap a period at the end. No interrogative, please, it's an admission that you need everything spoon fed to you.

Posted by: 745754754 | 2009-07-27 1:38:59 PM


"Can you do better than a one syllable grunt Scott? "

I was asking you to name "massively more egregious violations of liberty" that you would like to see covered. Evidently you would just rather post rude comments.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-27 3:02:07 PM


Don’t let Bernanke get away with his attempt to destroy Ron Paul’s campaign to audit the Fed.

Join 5,500 plus outraged Americans and sign, comment and promote the Abolish the Federal Reserve Petition to show your displeasure at the real estate and financial meltdown caused to a large degree by easy money policies of Greenspan and the Fed.
http://www.petitiononline.com/fed/petition.html

Posted by: Ron | 2009-07-27 3:38:42 PM


The state should neither fund abortion nor use tax money to prevent abortions. Taking either of these views means that one is not libertarian on this issue. Do not confuse Ron Paul's opposition to tax funding with libertarianism since he is quite willing to use the state to ban the practice. He is a conservative, not a libertarian.

Posted by: cls | 2009-07-28 2:58:57 AM


"Do not confuse Ron Paul's opposition to tax funding with libertarianism since he is quite willing to use the state to ban the practice. "

Incorrect. Ron Paul wants to return the abortion issues to the states. He doesn't think it's a federal issue.

Stop spreading misinformation.

Posted by: Jack | 2009-07-28 6:40:02 AM


The question at stake is not the beginning of life—there is no good reason to doubt that human life begins at conception—but the stage at which the developing entity qualifies as a “person”, which entails attaining a legal/moral status appropriate to have its rights respected. There is no doubt that infants and children, not to mention seniors and adults, qualify as “persons” in the appropriate sense. They are entitled to certain rights and others have the obligation to respect those rights and not interfere with their exercise. But the character of those rights tends to vary with the age, background and experience of different persons. Not all persons are entitled to the same rights.

Even though, in most states, persons are entitled to serve in the military, enter contracts for pay, drive automobiles on highways and become engaged and marry, for example, when they are of an appropriate age, background and experience, there are few who would seriously contend that children, for example, have the same rights as young adults. Even if those who attain the age of 18 acquire the right to drive automobiles on highways—with appropriate driver’s training—there are few who would contend that children who are 5 or 6 years old ought to enjoy that privilege. Societies are pervasive with graduated rights, which apply to persons at different stages in their lives under suitable conditions. And this raises the question of the existence of a “right to life”.

The idea that ova fertilized by sperm are entitled to some “right to life” has no basis in law or human experience. The most widely adopted standard is that newborn offspring have that right, which is reflected by virtually universal revulsion at infanticide. But a zygote, an embryo, or even a fetus (during the first two trimesters)—in the opinion of the Supreme Court—does not enjoy that right. And, viewed from the perspective of the theory of graduated rights, this makes a great deal of sense. When the entity cannot even survive apart from its intrauterine environment, there is no appropriate basis for differentiating the fetus from the mother as a separate “person”. The fetus at this stage appears to be a special kind of property of a woman where her rights far transcend those of the developing entity, whose continuing existence is dependent upon hers.

Indeed, the theory that ensoulment should be used to justify the claim that a zygote qualifies as a “person” with the right to life, if adopted as a matter of public policy, would inject the government into the most intimate aspects of our lives. To protect the rights of “persons”, we would need the services of a vast enforcement apparatus, which would subject women to monthly pregnancy tests, since otherwise we would be unable to even identify the complete class of persons whose rights need to be upheld. The occurrence of miscarriages would become important to make sure that murders were not being conducted and concealed under the guise of a natural process. It might even become important to monitor the disposition of sperm to uphold that legal standard. Cameras and wiretaps might be required to track the use made of ejaculate from masturbation.

Attacks upon the court’s decision are virtually universally not well-founded. The core of morality is treating other persons as ends and never merely as means. Expressed most simply, morality requires treating other persons with respect. Persons are treated as ends when we respect their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Persons are treated merely as means when we do not respect their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Consider murder, robbery, kidnapping, and rape. The imperative not to treat others merely as means, however, does not entail that we never treat one another as means—as with employers and employees, doctors and patients, students and teachers—so long as that occurs within the context of relationships of mutual respect. When conflicts arise between the interests of the mother and the interests of the fetus, there should be no serious doubt whose interests should prevail—even during third trimesters in matters of life and health.

The popular position that abortion is murder has inflamed politics in the United States, where many citizens embrace “single issue voting”, casting their ballots for those who oppose abortion and actively working against the “pro-choice” position. One would have thought that forcing a woman to carry a fetus to term against her will was on a par with forcing a woman to have sex against her will. But “pro-life” proponents don’t appear to be bothered by this specific form of enslavement as though women are not entitled to exercise control over their bodies or how they spend their lives, even though there are many reasons women might not want to carry to term. As a rule, bringing a new life into existence entails a minimum eighteen-year moral obligation.

That a conception has resulted from incest or rape may be the most disturbing motive to seek an abortion, but it is far from the only. Women who are very young and immature may simply not be prepared to bear and raise children. Women who are sufficiently mature may have other plans in mind than rearing children, including the pursuit of higher education and securing employment. A woman with children may dread the responsibilities that come with having more. They may also lack the resources—material or emotional—to sustain them. And many parents are unwilling to pass responsibility for raising their offspring to others through the process of adoption. Surely no woman should be compelled to bear children, give birth or surrender her offspring against her will.

Those who oppose abortion would not only impose their moral codes upon others but appear to adopt a narrow-minded attitude toward sex. Even the church tends to categorize sex as proper when its objective is procreation and improper for other purposes as recreational. But surely there is an appropriate role for sex within the context of affectionate and loving relationships. It is not the case that sexual relations are necessarily procreational or recreational. And if measures taken to prevent conception should fail—which has been known to happen!—the termination of an unwanted pregnancy may be the most responsible and morally appropriate alternative. It may be the option that, under those conditions, represents the highest degree of respect for all of the parties, including husbands and other children, who are thereby affected.

Like the existence or the non-existence of a divine creator, there is no proof of the occurrence of ensoulment. Whether there is one god or many gods, a god for every season or every activity—even whether god should be envisioned as male or female!—lies beyond all possibility of human knowledge. Were I to declare that there are exactly 435 gods, no one could prove I am wrong. And the case for envisioning God as female rather than male is rather substantial. Women, after all, are capable of giving birth, something no man can do. If God is supposed to be the creator, then it makes more sense to envision The Creator as a woman than as a man. The very idea that pubic policies should be based upon beliefs that lie beyond any possibility of objective investigation raises problems than which few qualify as more profound.

And yet the claim that ensoulment occurs at conception as opposed to implantation, coincident with the development of the heart and the brain, at viability or quickening (when the mother can feel activity by the fetus within her uterus) or even at birth is logically arbitrary and endlessly debatable. There is no objective or scientific foundation for any such belief. This, of course, is why matters like this are articles of faith insofar as they are incapable of resolution on the basis of objective or scientific investigation. There are no observations, measurements, or experiments that could settle the matter one way or ther other. As in the case of the existence of God, no one can prove the existence of souls, much less that ensoulment has ever taken place—even once!—during the history of the world. The question lies beyond any prospect of empirical resolution.

As a young assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Kentucky, I attended a seminar by a member of the Department of Physics, who asserted that, because souls and electrons are both kinds of non-observable entities, there are no differences between them. Challenging the audience to prove him wrong, I pointed out that there are significant differences between them because there are established laws that govern the behavior of electrons and but no known laws that govern the behavior of souls. Electrons make impressions on photographic plates during the conduct of experiments in the laboratory, but no similar empirically detectable results are possible in the case of souls—or of God, for that matter! If we allow articles of faith to determine public policies, we abdicate our responsibility to base actions that affect us all on established truths rather than mere beliefs.

The philosopher who has shown the most acute appreciation for the problems thereby engendered was a 19th Century Englishman by the name of William Clifford. He advanced a principle known as “the ethics of belief”, according to which we are morally entitled to hold a belief only if we are also logically entitled to hold it. We are logically entitled to hold a belief—about what is true as well as what is right—only when it satisfies appropriate standards of logic and evidence, which are objective in their application. In this case, every suitable investigator, confronted with the same range of alternative hypotheses, the same body of evidence, and the same rules of reasoning, would arrive at the same conclusions as to which beliefs should be accepted, rejected, or left in suspense. Beliefs about souls and gods would be left in suspense, since there is no way to determine their truth or falsity objectively.

Those who understand the ethics of belief recognize that many—even most—human beings are psychologically incapable of suspending beliefs about souls and gods and other mysteries that transcend human knowledge. The vast majority of theological beliefs, including those about God and the afterlife, cannot satisfy its conditions. Indeed, given Clifford’s standard, most theological and religious beliefs are ones that we are not logically entitled to accept and therefore are not morally entitled to believe. This is the case with respect to the Vatican’s latest declarations. Most of us may be unable to satisfy this standard with respect to our personal beliefs, but it is surely in the public’s interest—and respectful of all of its members—that the formation of public policies should not be determined by—or strongly influenced by—beliefs that we are neither logically nor morally entitled to accept.
--From "The Vatican's Immoral Decision", OpEdNews (google)

Posted by: James Fetzer | 2009-07-28 6:58:51 AM


It is embarrassing to observe a prominent libertarian--who is an ob/gyn physician, to boot!--staking out a position that would severely limit a woman's right to choose. That is about as dumb as it gets, even in Washington! If there is a fundamental "right to privacy" that is rooted in the Constitution, as the Supreme Court has found, then it applies across the nation and not only in specific states that choose to acknowledge it. Denying funding for this purpose, which wealthy women can afford, moreover, obviously and blatantly discriminates against the poor. This is an immoral stance for a principled politician to take. While I often agree with Ron Paul, in this instance, he is so far off-base that it is a stretch to imagine how he can adopt such a demonstrably indefensible position--as I have explained above--either as a libertarian or as a human being.

Posted by: James Fetzer | 2009-07-28 7:18:08 AM


"staking out a position that would severely limit a woman's right to choose."

Ron's position is that it should be a state issue, and further to that, abortions shouldn't be taxpayer funded. That says nothing of choice.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-28 7:53:56 AM


Actually, James, in most cultures life is seen to begin at conception. Some cultures even count age from the calculated conception date, not the birthdate. According to a 19th-century medical text, a child who was born dead was considered to have had a "separate life" and a death certificate was issued.

Not to mention the fact that, with rare exceptions, all of the reasons for refusing personhood to zygotes and fetuses are based not on fact, but on selfishness and emotion. When you're talking about something as basic in our society as the right to life, you're faced with something you can't casually abrogate because a sniffy teenager whines, "My boyfriend said it wouldn't happen to me if I was on top," or "Whaddya mean she's pregnant? We only did it once!" Truly, behaviour we should delight to honour, hmm?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 8:28:54 AM


"Denying funding for this purpose, which wealthy women can afford, moreover, obviously and blatantly discriminates against the poor."

Should we provide funding for Porsches, too? Like abortions, sports cars are both optional and unaffordable for the poor. This argument is truly "as dumb as it gets."

"This is an immoral stance for a principled politician to take. While I often agree with Ron Paul, in this instance, he is so far off-base that it is a stretch to imagine how he can adopt such a demonstrably indefensible position--as I have explained above--either as a libertarian or as a human being."

You attempt to secure taxpayer funding for the vivisectioning of inconvenient unborn and have the nerve to speak of morality and principle? Hah.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 8:32:36 AM


Infanticide conforms perfectly to the doctrines of relativism. It's morality hinges upon consensus and nuanced definitions of 'personhood' such as that with which James Fetzer illuminated us.

The point is that morals can be scientifically and socially determined. We must struggle to ensure that dissenting views are suppressed, or it would be they who determine what is right and what is wrong.

Needless to say this is intolerable: It would be most difficult to face the implications of past actions if infanticide was recognized as murder.

This must be avoided at all cost. Encouraging others to partake is obviously central to this strategy.

Posted by: Timothy | 2009-07-28 10:04:43 AM


"The point is that morals can be scientifically and socially determined."

Science says nothing about morals. Socially, yes, morals are formed that way.

"We must struggle to ensure that dissenting views are suppressed,"

No, free speech includes speech we don't like.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-28 10:35:26 AM


Timothy, experience tells us that we may as well tolerate dissenting views, because if they are superior to those currently held, they will win out in the end, regardless. History may be unkind to those who would hurry her, but she is just as unforgiving to those who would hold her back.

The focus should instead be placed in developing the best views possible and then energetically defending them against all comers, ensuring that any would-be usurper must be of the utmost quality. History cannot be stopped nor hurried, but she can be led.

That said, history is not on the pro-choicer's side. The practice of abortion has been illegal throughout most of many societies' histories, and cannot be rationally reconciled with respect for life, nor presumption of innocence. All of the justifications for it are murderously self-serving. The advent of technology like 3D ultrasound make the pro-choicer's position increasingly untenable, and fewer abortions are performed every year.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 12:32:59 PM


Shane,

The downfall of every single great society occurs precisely because it is the bad ideas that eventually won out. Subsequent generations basically took for granted what made their society great in the first place. This is what we're doing right now and only a small minority realize what is happening.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-28 4:45:22 PM


Women who cannot afford abortions are being penalized relative to those who can. If we believe in the Constitution, as does Ron Paul but not some of his followers, then we understand that the right to privacy and the right to choose how to use our bodies are among the most basic to which women as well as men are entitled. It has been said that, if men could become pregnant, then abortion would be one of our most sacred rights! Well, the same applies to women, who can become pregnant. I am both surprised and disappointed at the response to the arguments I have presented above, which are advanced to clarify the moral standing of abortion. Certainly, the common standard for the existence of a person is not conception, since an ovum and sperm has no such standing, but the occurrence of a live birth. That someone on this forum would make such a baseless argument suggests that reason is not prevalent here, even if libertarians like to pride themselves on their possession of that ability. Indeed, I find it fantastic that a political group that is ostensibly committed to keeping the government out of our lives and maximizing freedom would use the government to impose limitations on our ability to exercise it. The crucial concept is not freedom per se but effective freedom, which entails the resources to exercise it. Some of those who have posted on this issue need to give the matter more thought, because Ron Paul is off-base on this question, where his stand contradicts his most basic avowed principles. If the right to privacy is rooted in the Constitution, as the Supreme Court has maintained, then it applies across the nation and should not be left to the states do decide--any more than freedom of speech or freedom of religion should vary from state to state. I therefore conclude that libertarians are no more consistent in their politics than conventional politicians and deserve no more respect. Ron Paul is a good man but, on this issue, he is wrong--and his followers ought to admit it.

Posted by: James Fetzer | 2009-07-28 10:18:34 PM


"The downfall of every single great society occurs precisely because it is the bad ideas that eventually won out. Subsequent generations basically took for granted what made their society great in the first place."

No, great societies usually fall when a younger, more energetic one springs up nearby. The ennui and lassitude of an older, more mature culture is easy fodder for an upstart horde whose zest for survival and adventure has not yet been dulled by endless contemplation. Gandalf put it more eloquently than I could ever hope to.

"This is what we're doing right now and only a small minority realize what is happening."

Only a small minority ever realizes what is happening, Charles. Nothing you, I, or anyone else does will ever change that. You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 11:36:51 PM


"Women who cannot afford abortions are being penalized relative to those who can."

And is the same true of poor women who can't afford hit men to off their cheating husbands?

"If we believe in the Constitution, as does Ron Paul but not some of his followers, then we understand that the right to privacy and the right to choose how to use our bodies are among the most basic to which women as well as men are entitled."

The very precise text of the Constitution makes no provisions for either.

"It has been said that, if men could become pregnant, then abortion would be one of our most sacred rights!"

How do you figure that? The same gender that fights all the wars is the one that has outlawed murder in every society in history. That sounds like something a woman would say.

"I am both surprised and disappointed at the response to the arguments I have presented above, which are advanced to clarify the moral standing of abortion."

And your emotional responses are of no importance whatever.

"Certainly, the common standard for the existence of a person is not conception, since an ovum and sperm has no such standing, but the occurrence of a live birth."

Certainly not, actually. Typically the existence of a person is confirmed by heartbreat, brainwaves, fingerprints, and response to stimuli--all true of an 8-week-old fetus. Do you figure that if you keep repeating falsehoods over and over again that they will magically become true?

"That someone on this forum would make such a baseless argument suggests that reason is not prevalent here, even if libertarians like to pride themselves on their possession of that ability."

Again with the appeal to personal belief. It's not enough for you to simply say that reason is not present; you have to show WHY the opinions being offered are unreasonable. You are not a conjurer who can alter truth with a few well-chosen words.

"I find it fantastic that a political group that is ostensibly committed to keeping the government out of our lives and maximizing freedom would use the government to impose limitations on our ability to exercise it."

I'm not a libertarian. I'm a classical liberal. I don't like government interference either, but a law against the unjustifiable killing of an innocent I'm willing to support.

"The crucial concept is not freedom per se but effective freedom, which entails the resources to exercise it."

Translation: Equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. Spoken like a true communist, tovarich.

"Some of those who have posted on this issue need to give the matter more thought, because Ron Paul is off-base on this question, where his stand contradicts his most basic avowed principles."

And you need to give the matter your first thought, because up to now you've been limping along on emotional puke.

"If the right to privacy is rooted in the Constitution, as the Supreme Court has maintained, then it applies across the nation and should not be left to the states do decide--any more than freedom of speech or freedom of religion should vary from state to state."

The Constitution says nothing about privacy. The Supreme Court did some creative interpretation to conclude that the right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure (Section 8) is equivalent to a Charter right to privacy. Their famous canard "reasonable expectation to privacy" is particularly laughable.

"I therefore conclude that libertarians are no more consistent in their politics than conventional politicians and deserve no more respect."

Like I said--all your arguments in favour of abortion are emotional, and therefore are no argument at all. Feelings are not on a level with facts, no matter how much you wish they were.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 11:55:35 PM


An ignorant response: "I'm not a libertarian. I'm a classical liberal. I don't like government interference either, but a law against the unjustifiable killing of an innocent I'm willing to support." This reply, of course, completely disregards the arguments that I've presented above. It's as though Shane Matthews was so eager to add his two-cents worth that he cannot even take the time to study the arguments I have presented. If we take viability as the point at which a "right to life" first applies, then abortions prior to that stage are not murder because they do not involve the killing of a person. And during the third trimester, they only qualify as murder if they are done for reasons other than to preserve the life or the health of the pregnant woman. I can't abide these knee-jerk replies from those who have not thought this question through. There is no good reason to treat zygotes, embryos, or early term fetuses as though they were persons. Neither ordinary language nor the stages of development nor the Supreme Court supports it. This is called "begging the question" by taking for granted as a premise a point that requires independent justification, which, in this case, turns out to be unavailable. An entity that cannot survive independent of its presence within the body of another does not properly qualify as a "person". Instead, it possesses the status of a special kind of property until viability occurs, at which point the first in a series of rights--a "right to life"--occurs, which is only the earliest to which persons are entitled and even then does not prevail in conflicts with the rights of the woman nurturing it. The perversion of rights that the court has found to be implicit in the Constitution by those who avow they support it is hypocritical in the extreme. I can't image a better example of shallow thinking on a crucial subject that this latest post. And the suggestion that arguments based upon ordinary language, fetal development, and Supreme Court decisions are "emotional" reveals the intellectual poverty of the author. If this is the kind of thinking that impresses any on this site, then Ron Paul is in more desperate shape than I have supposed, since his position not only violates his avowed commitment to the Constitution but appears to appeal to those who are incapable of thinking through controversial issues like this one. Most of the posts here fail to come to grips with the points I have raised, which reflects the nature of many social conflicts: those who are most strident in their opposition to a woman's right to chose how her body should be used have given the matter the least through. No "liberal" should support the tyranny of giving the state control over a woman's use of her body. And if she has the right to control the use of her body--within the strictures I have identified above--then the state has an obligation to give her the resources to support the exercise of that right. Too many "libertarians" appear all too enthusiastic about denying the poor and the homeless, especially when they are women, rights that others in society are capable of exercising by the expedient of denying them the capacity to exercise them themselves. That is completely wrong and morally corrupt. No one committed to the Constitution and to human rights should take a stand that deprives women of their right to control the use of their bodies for reproductive or other purposes. It is akin to sexual slavery and to prostitution, even if presented in the guise of a libertarian principle. Ron Paul should come to his senses and reverse himself on this matter.

Posted by: James Fetzer | 2009-07-29 9:39:08 AM


"An ignorant response...[that] completely disregards the arguments that I've presented above. It's as though Shane Matthews was so eager to add his two-cents worth that he cannot even take the time to study the arguments I have presented."

Well, golly gee, James, I really should have realized from the outset that this was all about you. Remember what I said about pro-abortionists being selfish?

"If we take viability as the point at which a "right to life" first applies, then abortions prior to that stage are not murder because they do not involve the killing of a person."

And if we don't? Adults on life-support usually aren't viable either; do we repeal their personhood and put all their property in escrow until the tube comes out? Why should we accept your completely arbitrary and self-serving standards?

"I can't abide these knee-jerk replies from those who have not thought this question through."

I can't abide narcissistic moonbats who have to make everything about them.

"There is no good reason to treat zygotes, embryos, or early term fetuses as though they were persons."

Except for the fact that every available fact says they're both alive and human, and the fact that the only reasons for ignoring the first fact are completely selfish in nature.

"n entity that cannot survive independent of its presence within the body of another does not properly qualify as a "person"."

Your slant on it. Mine differs. Yours is motivated by selfishness; mine is not. Guess which one is purer morally?

"Instead, it possesses the status of a special kind of property until viability occurs, at which point the first in a series of rights--a "right to life"--occurs, which is only the earliest to which persons are entitled and even then does not prevail in conflicts with the rights of the woman nurturing it."

More opinion, condoning slavery, this time. Also the abrogation of the right to life when weighed against the woman's right to not fret over her expanding waistline. Where do you come up with these little gems, James?

"The perversion of rights that the court has found to be implicit in the Constitution by those who avow they support it is hypocritical in the extreme."

Yes, it most certainly is. The right to life goes out the window, to be replaced by the right to look good in a bikini. That takes a special kind of narcissism.

"I can't image a better example of shallow thinking on a crucial subject that this latest post."

I can't imagine you imagining anything. You're too steeped in self-regard to pay any attention to the world around you.

"And the suggestion that arguments based upon ordinary language, fetal development, and Supreme Court decisions are "emotional" reveals the intellectual poverty of the author."

Your arguments aren't based on these things. They're based on your personal opinions, which are themselves based on your personal feelings. The word "I" appears in your latest post no fewer than seven times. And remember, this is the same Supreme Court who confabulated a right to privacy in public places out of a written right to not be searched for no reason.

"If this is the kind of thinking that impresses any on this site, then Ron Paul is in more desperate shape than I have supposed..."

Says you. Tell me, is it written down somewhere that university professors must be insufferably arrogant and self-glorifying pedagogues? Given the reputation universities have acquired of becoming indoctrination factories rather than forums for scholarship, you're in a poor position to be criticizing someone else's thinking. I suggest you clean out your own house first. You have not proved yourself anyone's superior save in sheer self-regard.

"Most of the posts here fail to come to grips with the points I have raised, which reflects the nature of many social conflicts: those who are most strident in their opposition to a woman's right to chose how her body should be used have given the matter the least through."

The least THOUGHT, O esteemed professor emeritus; the least THOUGHT. All of your points have been addressed; you just don't like the answers. That has a tendency to happen when you try to build an argument for ignoring irrefutable scientific facts in favour of some arbitrary standard you crafted yourself with your chosen ends already in mind, rather than choosing the ends based on the facts. That is not what thinking men do. That is what men do when they find thinking inconvenient. Or else fear to know what the product of that thinking would be, and prefer willful ignorance.

"No "liberal" should support the tyranny of giving the state control over a woman's use of her body."

No one proposes giving the state such control. They merely propose refusing to allow the woman to assert that control over the body of another; i.e., the unborn infant.

"Too many "libertarians" appear all too enthusiastic about denying the poor and the homeless, especially when they are women, rights that others in society are capable of exercising by the expedient of denying them the capacity to exercise them themselves."

That is one of the most appallingly constructed sentences I have ever seen. In fact it's so poorly written that it's difficult to discern exactly what you object to. It does stand, however, as a sterling testament to the academic notion that the true purpose of writing is to obscure poor reasoning, inflate weak ideas, and above all to inhibit clarity.

"hat is completely wrong and morally corrupt."

No, the vivisectioning of inconvenient unborn and calling it progress is completely wrong and morally corrupt. Telling the woman (and the man, too) that there is a duty to finish what they started hardly qualifies as the human-rights violation of the century.

"No one committed to the Constitution and to human rights should take a stand that deprives women of their right to control the use of their bodies for reproductive or other purposes."

The Constitution does not come close to explicitly granting this right. It is instead the product of some highly imaginative (and activist) jurists. But then, the generation that both you and they represent has not been noted for its strong attachment to the notion of personal responsibility, or to morality in general.

"It is akin to sexual slavery and to prostitution, even if presented in the guise of a libertarian principle."

No. Slavery is where one human being is owned by another. The slave is chattel, property, ballast, to be used or abused as the owner thinks fit. The owner may sell the slave, or kill him, without penalty. And that is exactly the status you accord to the unborn. And whether a proposal is right or wrong has nothing to do with the presentation.

You don't impress me with your arrogance or your titles, James. They are but yappy barks intended to conceal a feeble bite.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-29 10:39:21 AM


P.S. Paragraphs. Use them. Professor Emeritus.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-29 10:40:25 AM


The missing comma must have confounded your intellect, which is not saying a lot: "Too many "libertarians" appear all too enthusiastic about denying the poor and the homeless, especially when they are women, rights that others in society are capable of exercising, by the expedient of denying them the capacity to exercise them themselves." Alternatively, using a dash: "Too many "libertarians" appear all too enthusiastic about denying the poor and the homeless, especially when they are women, rights that others in society are capable of exercising--by the expedient of denying them the capacity to exercise them themselves." Either way, the point is impeccable. I would not indulge in ad hominems but to accent that your posts are full of them. There must be more than a dozen in this last response alone, which hints at the poverty of your argument by changing the subject to the author of the argument. Why, I wonder, have you raised the question of my status as a retired professor? That is your doing, not mine. I can't imagine what leverage you expect to derive from doing so. My career is a matter of public record: http://www.d.umn.edu/~jfetzer/ says it all. I presume you are appealing to some deep-seated negative feelings toward academicians that you take to be present in this audience. I certainly hope that is not the case. But after spending 35 years teaching logic, critical thinking, and scientific reasoning, I can usually spot phony arguments a mile a way--and your posts are loaded with them! Here's one of your classics: "No, the vivisectioning of inconvenient unborn and calling it progress is completely wrong and morally corrupt. Telling the woman (and the man, too) that there is a duty to finish what they started hardly qualifies as the human-rights violation of the century." Really? Your use of the phrase, "vivisectioning of inconvenient unborn" certainly looks like an emotional appeal. And for you to assert, "Telling the woman (and the man, too) that there is a duty to finish what they started", is such a primitive stand that I can hardly believe any reasonable person would assert it. But then, I suppose, since you asserted it, it follows that you are not among them. It is striking that your stances does not even accommodate cases of rape and incest, which indicates that you are an extremist of the worst sort. Nor, of course, do you consider that pregnancies can occur in spite of a couple's best efforts to forestall it. Yet you would punish them with a (minimal) eighteen year commitment, which does not take into account their age or standing in the community, the resources at their disposal or their family situations. You discount the possible occurrence of serious birth defects, which are another important motive that justifies the use of abortion. You appear to qualify as a moral and mental Neanderthal, if I may say so, by displaying a profound dislike for ordinary human relationships between men and women. It is no leap of logic to infer that you believe that sex is appropriate for the purpose of procreation exclusively and that, in any other case, it qualifies as casual or even promiscuous, thereby completely discounting sexual relations as an expression of affection within the context of a romantic and loving relationship. Egad! Reading your posts even suggests that you may think women become pregnant IN ORDER TO HAVE ABORTIONS! Does it not occur to you that, in a matter this personal and this profound, such decisions should be left in the hands of a woman and her physician? You would require that a woman carry a fetus to term REGARDLESS OF HER SITUATION. Let us hope that most libertarians and liberals are not contaminated by the anti-sex and inhumane motives that drive you to treat women as instruments of reproduction who are not entitled to exercise control over their own bodies. The essence of morality is treating other persons with respect. I have explained why zygotes, embryos, and early term fetuses do not properly qualify as persons and why third-trimester fetuses are persons but their "right to life" does not outweigh the right to life and health of the woman bearing them. You, by contrast, appear to have no respect for women as persons and their right to control their own bodies. That is a stunning indictment of your moral limitations, but let us hope that others are not corrupted by your grossly immoral stance.

Posted by: James Fetzer | 2009-07-29 1:08:20 PM


@Shane"No, great societies usually fall when a younger, more energetic one springs up nearby. The ennui and lassitude of an older, more mature culture is easy fodder for an upstart horde whose zest for survival and adventure has not yet been dulled by endless contemplation. Gandalf put it more eloquently than I could ever hope to."

Here's a topic I do know more about you having anthropology and classical history training. And I
know in this comment, (as in most cases), you're talking out of your ass.

@Shane"Only a small minority ever realizes what is happening, Charles. Nothing you, I, or anyone else does will ever change that. You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

I'm impressed, you finally made a comment that made sense. But then again, it's a no brainer position.

@Shame (what an appropriate typo)"Well, golly gee, James, I really should have realized from the outset that this was all about you. Remember what I said about pro-abortionists being selfish?

Well, "Dr." Matthews is an expert on being selfish.

@Shane"More opinion, condoning slavery, this time. Also the abrogation of the right to life when weighed against the woman's right to not fret over her expanding waistline. Where do you come up with these little gems, James?"

This sounds like jealousy.

@Shane"You don't impress me with your arrogance or your titles, James. They are but yappy barks intended to conceal a feeble bite."

Yes he's more impressed if you agree with his opinion.

@Shane"


Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-30 11:47:38 AM


@Shane"P.S. Paragraphs. Use them. Professor Emeritus."

As usual, when Shane doesn't have an intelligent response, he gets picky about writing style.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-30 11:50:28 AM


It would be easier to read James' posts if he would make some paragraphs.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-30 12:22:34 PM


"Here's a topic I do know more about you having anthropology and classical history training. And I
know in this comment, (as in most cases), you're talking out of your ass."

Then you should have no trouble refuting the statement, cum laude troller. Proceed.

"I'm impressed, you finally made a comment that made sense. But then again, it's a no brainer position."

"No-brainer," not "no brainer." Cum laude troller.

"Well, "Dr." Matthews is an expert on being selfish."

Can you back that assertion, cum laude troller? Before answering, remember that it is you who is trolling, not I, and that everyone on this blog has seen you do it.

"This sounds like jealousy."

Of whom, cum laude troller? OF a 9-11 truther with delusions of sanity?

"Yes he's more impressed if you agree with his opinion."

More impressed still if someone's writing actually resonates with the lofty credentials they wave around. You, on the other hand, misspelled one of the papers you used to work for. Not typoed. Misspelled.

"As usual, when Shane doesn't have an intelligent response, he gets picky about writing style."

And don't you wish you had some. Cum laude troller.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-30 12:27:13 PM


"The missing comma must have confounded your intellect, which is not saying a lot..."

Your sentence doesn't read any better with punctuation. It seems to state that people deny others rights by denying themselves those same rights. Far from being impeccable, the point is opaque to the point of pointlessness. Also, when nesting quotes, the inner pair should be single, not double. And I see you still haven't figured out where the enter/return key is. Got a little too used to the Dictaphone, did we?

"I would not indulge in ad hominems but to accent that your posts are full of them. There must be more than a dozen in this last response alone, which hints at the poverty of your argument by changing the subject to the author of the argument."

Horseshit. You use them frequently and with gusto, and in the tone of one accustomed to deference. Had you found my ad hominems offensive, you would have simply pointed that out, rather than blathering like a cranky old man about my supposed ignorance.

"Why, I wonder, have you raised the question of my status as a retired professor?..."

Merely to show you that no one, with the possible exception of Doug, aka "cum laude troller" is impressed. As I said, your style is that of one accustomed to deference. You will find none here, save that you earn it. You've done a poor job so far.

"I presume you are appealing to some deep-seated negative feelings toward academicians that you take to be present in this audience. I certainly hope that is not the case."

Yes, I have detected an increasing bitterness from academia, coupled with a genuine puzzlement that they don't command more influence than they seem to think they should have. Perhaps if they came down out of the clouds and engaged real people instead of just talking down to them from their ivory towers.

"Your use of the phrase, "vivisectioning of inconvenient unborn" certainly looks like an emotional appeal."

On the contrary; it is a cold, unvarnished description of what the procedure entails. I've seen the videos. If that statement distorts the truth in any way, why then, simply tell us how.

"And for you to assert, "Telling the woman (and the man, too) that there is a duty to finish what they started", is such a primitive stand that I can hardly believe any reasonable person would assert it. But then, I suppose, since you asserted it, it follows that you are not among them."

Two punctuation mistakes in the first sentence, teach. And you're making this about you again. Tell us why it is "primitive," why that is bad if it is, why we should always embrace the complex over the simple, and why you assume I would be as self-serving as you, to assume the basic facts and ethics suddenly become moot simply because I am involved. I knew your generation eschewed the notion of personal responsibility, but even I never expected you to be this brazen about it.

"It is striking that your stances does not even accommodate cases of rape and incest, which indicates that you are an extremist of the worst sort."

Again with how shocked you are. And we both know that those instances number in the single percentile of total abortions, over a million every year in Canada and the U.S. alone. Even if exceptions were granted in these cases, which is still not really justified because the baby is still not at fault, it would hardly make a dent in the number of abortions, and you know it well.

"Nor, of course, do you consider that pregnancies can occur in spite of a couple's best efforts to forestall it."

The pill boasts a 0.1-percent pregnancy rate. The sympto-thermal method is virtually bulletproof. For a full third of her cycle a woman cannot possibly get pregnant. But then, keeping track of your cycle does take some effort. How much more convenient to simply hump, hump, hump, and flush the issue.

"Yet you would punish them with a (minimal) eighteen year commitment, which does not take into account their age or standing in the community, the resources at their disposal or their family situations."

Are you old enough to have a Funk & Wagnalls? Good. Look up "adoption."

"You discount the possible occurrence of serious birth defects, which are another important motive that justifies the use of abortion."

And if a child develops a serious defect after birth, does that merit execution too?

"You appear to qualify as a moral and mental Neanderthal, if I may say so, by displaying a profound dislike for ordinary human relationships between men and women."

Again with the emotional potshots. Your entire post is filled with them. In fact, they are your post: trenchant opinion served up with an endless font of bile. And I see you have succumbed to the common modernist mantra that anything that is new is automatically better. Good. Reflect that I am newer than you. Just as you cannot turn back the clock, you cannot stop it from going forward, either.

"It is no leap of logic to infer that you believe that sex is appropriate for the purpose of procreation exclusively and that, in any other case, it qualifies as casual or even promiscuous, thereby completely discounting sexual relations as an expression of affection within the context of a romantic and loving relationship. Egad!"

Yes, Heaven forbid you should be deprived of the delights of snorting cocaine off a stripper's tits. Again, this argument derives from selfishness, a bristling indignation that someone would dare interfere with your pleasures. Which, as you will recall, was the thrust of my last post. But you are mistaken; I enjoy sex as much as anyone. But I take the appropriate precautions. And if worst comes to worst, there's always adoption. The demand for babies, especially white ones, far exceeds supply.

"Reading your posts even suggests that you may think women become pregnant IN ORDER TO HAVE ABORTIONS!"

Uh huh. And by supporting the laws against drunk driving, I have conclusively demonstrated my personal conviction that people get drunk in order to have accidents.

"Does it not occur to you that, in a matter this personal and this profound, such decisions should be left in the hands of a woman and her physician?"

If the pregnancy imperils the woman's personal health, then yes. Otherwise no. And any doctor in such a situation would do well to remember that from the moment of conception he now has two patients.

"Let us hope that most libertarians and liberals are not contaminated by the anti-sex and inhumane motives that drive you to treat women as instruments of reproduction who are not entitled to exercise control over their own bodies."

They're entitled to full control over their bodies, just not over anyone else's. Oh, and giving the father a say in the decision to compensate for his obligations if the woman decides to keep the baby would be an excellent way of bringing the father into the picture more. Give a man only obligations and no rights, and it's little wonder he so often leaves.

"The essence of morality is treating other persons with respect."

No, the essence of morality is concern for other people's welfare. What you describe is the essence of courtesy, not morality.

"The essence of morality is treating other persons with respect. I have explained why zygotes, embryos, and early term fetuses do not properly qualify as persons and why third-trimester fetuses are persons but their "right to life" does not outweigh the right to life and health of the woman bearing them."

No, you have explained your opinion. Your "reasons" are lacking, overly vague, and manage to completely overlook relevant medical and scientific information. You're just squeamish about offing in the third trimester because by then it's impossible to credibly deny you're dealing with a human. But science tells us we're dealing with a human all along. Science was not your field, though, from what I gather. But it was mine.

"You, by contrast, appear to have no respect for women as persons and their right to control their own bodies."

Do you think parroting what you've said already will make it truer? Here, have a cracker.

"That is a stunning indictment of your moral limitations, but let us hope that others are not corrupted by your grossly immoral stance."

Again, you are "so shocked." Surprise, surprise; in the end, after all the flag-waving, bitter denunciations, rousing soliloquies, and hysterical hand-wringing, it's all about you. Which is no more than what I said.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-30 1:04:46 PM


P.S. You missed your calling by not going into politics. You've got the moral outrage aspect down pat.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-30 1:11:49 PM


The topic is the immorality of tax-payer funded abortions and it seems to have been lost on some. Doug I suggest that you keep your personal hatred for Shane to yourself or take it elsewhere. It is a turn-off for the rest of us. Furthermore to claim to be a "libertarian" while supporting the collectivist James indicates that either you are not a libertarian or that your personal hatred for Shane blinded you. James uses the old lie of claiming that anyone not supporting tax-payer funded abortions is anti-women along with the usual insults.

One may not see anything morally wrong with abortions or one may find them morally wrong, but that is not the same as defending tax-payer funded elective surgery, which is after all what abortions are.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-30 2:05:10 PM



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