Sunday, July 20, 2008

SHS Funnies

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

SHS Back on the Air--I Think

In case anyone tuned into this blog at the SHS II site, or reset their bookmarks, the original site is up and running again--very slowly. So, I am going to try and keep things there for convenience.

Here is the link. If things go bad again, I will be back at this site.

Thanks all, and I aoplogize for any inconvenience.

Pediatric Nursing Article's Nonjudgmentalism About Infanticide

Terminal Non Judgmentalism Alert: An important professional journal aimed at pediatric nurses has discussed killing sick and profoundly disabled patients with studied neutrality.

This is precisely how the Culture of Death permeates our society. A bioethical practice once almost universally condemned is promoted at the fringes. The initial response is resistance. But soon, the non judgmentalism arrives, usually in professional journals and among "progressive" pundits, asserting that these issues are "complex," or "difficult," or "gray," or "complicated." Once this non judgmentalism softens the ground, the issue shifts to one of mere "choice" (as with dehydration of PVS patients), and finally the decision of bioethicists (as in Futile Care Theory).

"The Groningen Protocol: What Is It, How Do the Dutch Use It, and Do We Use It Here?," (Pediatric Nursing/May-June 2008/Vol. 34/No. 30) by Anita Catlin and Renee Novakovich, is a case in point. (The Groningen Protocol is an infanticide "guideline" used in the Netherlands, discussed often here at SHS.) The article does a very good job of dispassionately describing infanticide practices in the Netherlands and Belgium, and contrasts it with American practices of palliative support, noting that euthanasia is unethical for nurses to participate in at the present time. It also gives both sides of the arguments about the Protocol, with yours truly the quoted opponent.

That is flattering, but the authors' rigorous objectivity about a matter that should be ipso facto condemned, is, to me, very worrying. From the article's bland conclusion (no link available):

Issues related to suffering infants, their families, and the nurses and doctors who care for them have been debated for many years. These issues have been examined medically(Carter & Levetown, 2004), ethically (Cassell, 2004), morally(Romesberg, 2003), and legally (Hurst, 2005). In the U.S.,with the desire for beneficence (doing good), the lives of extremely premature infants are frequently supported at the estimated cost of nearly one million dollars per hospitalization. The principles of social justice (care for all children) and non-maleficence (allowing no harm) are seen as less important. However, in countries with socialized medicine, the principles of social justice and non-maleficence (avoiding doing “good,” which causes suffering) have been seen as more important. As long as the U.S. health care system supports the use of extensive technology for infants with life-limiting conditions and provides reimbursement for extremely long hospital stays, the dilemma over what some might consider miracles and others view as suffering will continue
Beware! What we don't condemn, what we claim to be mere "dilemmas," we eventually are urged to allow. Infanticide is moving into the mainstream of bioethics and the medical intelligentsia.

(Can provide copy for those who e-mail me privately.)

Some Truths About PETA and HSUS

My friend David Martosko--who is the driving force behind the industry sponsored Center for Consumer Freedom--has a piece in today's Seattle Post Intelligencer about the need to spend Leona Helmsley's bequest to dogs on their welfare rather than animal rights proselytizing. Along the way, he makes some pithy points about two of the most prominent animal rightist organizations that the media generally ignore or about which reporters are woefully unaware. From his column:

So far, two familiar national animal rights groups, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States have announced their intentions to claim big slices of the $8 billion bounty. But neither one has the track record to handle such a responsibility.

Look at how PETA has spent the money it already has: The group raised more than $30 million last year, and found adoptive homes for 17 animals. Just 17. Meanwhile, it killed 1,815 dogs and cats--slightly more than the number of naked interns it sent out to "save" cows, chickens, and minks.

And although much of the public (and press) consider HSUS to be an actual "humane society," its record isn't any better. The group's name hides its lack of affiliation with any hands-on pet shelter anywhere in America. Of the $85-plus million HSUS spent in 2006, it gave only 4.2 percent to pet shelters.

My worry is that the term "animal rights" has become a catch-all term for animal welfare and animal protection, and thus in handing out the cash, a trustee or judge might not understand crucial distinctions. But animal rights and animal welfare are completely different concepts, the former being an ideology that ultimately seeks to end all domestication of animals, and the latter being in keeping with human exceptionalism to increase our efforts to treat animals humanely.

In my research for my upcoming book, PETA cames across as distinctly anti-human and profoundly mendacious. HSUS seems motivated by animal rights ideology but circumspectly spends its vast fortune biting at animal industries around the edges without actually promoting liberationist ideology.

But remember, money is fungible. If either organization gets their hands on the Helmsey fortune, woe betide animal industries that will be assaulted with increased litigation, propaganda, and agitation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bunny Letter Opener

Watch in horror as a cruelly enslaved rabbit is forced to open a letter by her lazy master.

GP Gives Suicidal Patient Drugs for Overdose

A GP in the UK is accused of prescribing a suicidal elderly patient an overdose knowing that she wanted to die so as to not be a burden on her family. He's in the soup. From the story:
Dr Iain Kerr appeared before a General Medical Council (GMC) hearing in Manchester accused of prescribing sodium amytal sleeping tablets to the 87-year-old, known as Patient A, against official guidance. She later died of an overdose of three other drugs, including a dose of temazepam which the hearing was told he also gave her.

The woman had talked of taking her own life so as not to be a burden on her family, the GMC heard.
I am glad the authorities are pursuing the case, but if we pass assisted suicide legalization bills, I don't see how this very scenario can long be resisted generally. After all, if we have the right to choose the time, manner, and place of death with a doctor's help, why not also the reason?

Remember always: Terminal illness is not what assisted suicide is all about. That is the pretext, the bait if you will, to get people to accept the principle. The real goal--as Dutch doctors have shown by providing how-to-commit-suicide instructions for patients who don't legally qualify for active euthanasia--is death on demand.

Spain Apes the Declaration of Independence

I have written about Spain's plan to pass the Great Ape Project (GAP) here at SHS previously. Now, I have a more extended piece on the issue in the current Weekly Standard on. From the article:

But why grant apes rights? After all, if the Spanish parliament deems these animals insufficiently protected, it can enact more stringent protections, as other countries have. But improving the treatment of apes--of which there are few in Spain--is not really the game that is afoot. Rather, as Pozas chortled after the environment committee of the Spanish parliament passed the resolutions committing Spain to the Great Ape Project, this precedent will be the "spear point" that breaks the "species barrier."

And why break the species barrier? Why, to destroy the unique status of man and thus initiate a wholesale transformation of Western civilization.
And to what will breaking the spine of human exceptionalism lead? I supply the answer:

Should that come to pass, the ancien régime (as they view it) based on the sanctity and equality of human life would crumble. In its place would emerge a society sufficiently hedonistic to eschew moralizing about personal behavior (Singer has defended bestiality), but also humbled to the point where people would willingly sacrifice our own flourishing "for the animals" or to "save the planet" and utilitarian enough to countenance ridding ourselves of unwanted human ballast (Singer is the world's foremost proponent of infanticide). Thus, in the world that would rise from the ashes of human exceptionalism, moral value would be subjective and rights temporary, depending on the extent of each animal's individual capacities at the time of measuring.
I conclude that attempting to knock ourselves "off the pedestal of exceptionalism" is terribly misguided:

The way we act is based substantially on what kind of being we perceive ourselves to be. Thus, if we truly want to make this a better and more humane world, the answer is not to think of ourselves as inhabiting the same moral plane as animals--none of which can even begin to comprehend rights. Rather, it is to embrace the unique importance of being human.

After all, if not our humanity, what gives rise to our duty to treat animals properly and to act toward each other in accordance with what is--the Great Ape Project notwithstanding--our exclusive membership in a community of equals?
I hope you'll read the whole thing. Whether one agrees or disagrees with my perspective, I don't think there is any gainsaying my analysis.

The Justice Department's Failures on Human Slavery

My colleague at the Discovery Institute, John R. Miller, has a piece in today's New York Times on slavery. Slavery is an important matter impacting human exceptionalism that I have covered here at SHS, but not nearly enough. Thank goodness for Miller-whose work at the State Department on this issue was unremitting, and who continues his commitment in a new project being developed at the DI (of which I am a part) called the Program for Human Rights and Bioethics. He writes:
From 2002 to 2006, I led the State Department's efforts to monitor and combat human trafficking. I felt my job was to nurture a 21st-century abolitionist movement with the United States at the lead. At times, my work was disparaged by some embassies and regional bureaus that didn't want their host countries to be criticized. I didn't win every battle, but the White House always made it clear that the president supported my work and thought it was important.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the Justice Department started a campaign against a new bill that would strengthen the government's anti-human trafficking efforts. In a 13-page letter last year, the department blasted almost every provision in the new bill that would reasonably expand American anti-slavery efforts.
What? Wait, there's more:
Should the State Department’s annual report on trafficking, which grades governments on how well they are combating modern slavery, consider whether governments put traffickers in jail? The Justice Department says no. Should the Homeland Security and Health and Human Services Departments streamline their efforts to help foreign trafficking victims get visas and care? No. Should the Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, State and Justice Departments pool their data on human trafficking to help devise strategies to prevent it? Amazingly, no.

In its letter, the Justice Department even opposes authorizing the president to create new awards for the international groups that are leading the struggle for abolition. It also doesn't want the State Department to be required to give the names of American anti-trafficking phone lines to visa applicants at American consulates overseas. It doesn't want a citizen task force to help develop an information pamphlet for victims.
Why on earth?
A culture clash, I suspect, is the real reason for the Justice Department's opposition. This isn't the usual culture clash of right and left, religious and secular. In this case, the feminist, religious and secular groups that help sex-trafficking survivors are on one side. And on the other are the department's lawyers (most of them male), the Erotic Service Providers Union and the American Civil Liberties Union--this side believes that vast numbers of women engage in prostitution as a "profession," by choice.

And to think I was once a "card carrying member" of the ACLU (as they say).

Miller calls on President Bush to intervene. Let us hope the president listens.

Bad News for Vegans

I don't put much stock in studies such as this, but since animal rights activists are ever about the purported unhealthful nature of meat, it may be that tofu increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease. From the story:

Eating high levels of some soy products - including tofu - may raise the risk of memory loss, research suggests. The study focused on 719 elderly Indonesians living in urban and rural regions of Java. The researchers found high tofu consumption--at least once a day--was associated with worse memory, particularly among the over-68s. The Loughborough University-led study features in the journal Dementias and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders. Soy products are a major alternative protein source to meat for many people in the developing world...

Soy products are rich in micronutrients called phytoestrogens, which mimic the impact of the female sex hormone oestrogen. There is some evidence that they may protect the brains of younger and middle-aged people from damage--but their effect on the ageing brain is less clear. The latest study suggests phytoestrogens --in high quantity--may actually heighten the risk of dementia.

Don't expect this study to be posted on PETA's Web site.

Why the Scientocracy Won't Work

Regular readers of SHS know that I am critical of the trend to let "the scientists" decide what is ethical and what our public policies should be. That not only subverts science by mutating it into an ideology or social movement rather than a method (scientism), but is nuts because scientific "facts" often change at breakneck speed.

Example: A new report from Australian astronomers warning of global cooling. From the story:
The study's lead author, Ian Wilson, explains further, "[The paper] supports the contention that the level of activity on the Sun will significantly diminish sometime in the next decade and remain low for about 20 - 30 years."

According to Wilson, the result is a strong, rapid pulse of global cooling, "On each occasion that the Sun has done this in the past the World’s mean temperature has dropped by 1 - 2 C."

A 2 C drop would be twice as large as all the warming the earth has experienced since the start of the industrial era, and would be significant enough to impact global agriculture output.
Screenwriter William Goldman once famously said about Hollywood, "Nobody knows anything." To some (obviously, not literal) degree, that is--and should be--true about science because otherwise new and novel theories will never be explored. Still, this story that utterly pierces the global warming meme is a caveat against confusing the current scientific consensuses, which are always subject to change, with truth.

Secondhand Smoke Temporary Alternative

For those who have tried to reach SHS and have noticed that I have not had any new posts in a week, it is because for reasons unknown to me, the FTP is not uploading. This isn't the first time this has happened, and so I am arranging an alternative platform. But until then, or until the FTP kicks back in, I will post here. I hope SHSers find it.

Color me frustrated.