Month: January 2017

Who cares if the baby is a ‘person?’

Anti-choice apologists have a tendency to focus on the question of at what stage a baby is a ‘person.’ Of course, for many, due to their religions positions, they will maintain that the baby is a person as soon as it has a soul, and this, they will say, happens at inception (an odd time, since many fertilized eggs fail to implant, and die without the woman ever knowing she was pregnant), or at some other specific point.

Atheists on the other hand might argue that it occurs when the brain begins development, or at some other measurable point.

However, I find the question to be quite irrelevant to the debate on abortion choice. Obviously if the baby is not a person, nobody objects to aborting it. Suppose on the other hand that the baby is a person. Then the question is: does one person have the right to live by being parasitically hooked up to another human being? Does that other human being have the right to have someone who is hooked up to them parasitically removed?

I would have to say that the answer to the latter question is yes. The irony here is that most people who claim to be pro-life would be mortified at the idea of the government requiring them to donate blood, or bone marrow, or anything of the sort. Yet, if you claim that the government can force a person to allow another person to remain physically connected to them for survival, you must, to be consistent, also maintain that any person can force another person to give them bodily materials for survival. Or, alternately, the anti-choice apologist could argue that the mother-baby relationship is a special case. However, I don’t buy it as a ‘special case.’

For me, it is one or the other: either everyone has the right to decide whether their body will be used to support the life of another, or nobody does.

 

EDIT: I’d like to add a quick explanation for why I referred to the foetus as ‘parasitically hooked up’ to the mother. Yes, pregnancy is essential for the continuance of the species (at least until we can figure out how to grow humans in labs). However, in principle, both the foetus and the parasite are foreign organisms which are deriving their nutrients and survival from the human. I wished to emphasize this similarity.

Who cares if Manning got anyone killed?

I admire Chelsea (Bradley) Manning. She revealed many horrible things that the US was doing. Now, her opponents point out that she may have gotten some innocent people, some innocent US patriots, killed. There are two things to be said about this.

The secondary point is the one I shall mention first. There is no evidence that anyone got killed because of Manning’s leaks. None whatsoever. I challenge her opponents to bring any such evidence forward.

But the second point is this: collateral damage, or the threat thereof, is an acceptable price to pay as long as the goal is good. I have mentioned this before, when speaking about the ethics of protesting. At that time, I said that I could not support a protest which targeted the innocent, no matter how good the goal of that protest might be. However, I would support a protest that targeted the guilty, even if it ran the risk of also harming the innocent.

Manning’s revelations (and also Snowden’s and Assange’s) fall under the same sort of reasoning. I support them because the goal was good: to reveal great injustices and wrongs, which the world has a right to know about. Even if people were harmed in the process, even if innocent people were harmed in the process, that is collateral damage that is fully justifiable for the goal.

I support Manning for the same reason that I support dropping the atomic bombs on Japan during WWII: yes, both may have run the risk of hurting innocents, but both had an excellent goal (the difference being that Manning stood much less chance of harming innocents than the atomic bombs, of course).

Can a white American comprehend the plight of a black American?

Or can a male understand the plight of a female?

Well! Let us suppose not. Then there must be a reason.

  1. Is it because of the white’s ethnicity? Then you admit that ethnicity determines capability, and hence, you are a ‘racist.’ In fact, you must admit that either a person cannot understand the experiences of another (see the second point below), or else that there is a genetic inability to understand the experiences of another, unless the two are genetically similar.
  2. Is it because a person who has not experienced one type oppression cannot understand another person’s oppression? Well, if you think this, then let us expand. Can a black person understand a woman’s oppression? Can a white woman understand a black’s oppression? Can an hispanic understand a black’s oppression? Can an Italian understand the oppression that an Irishman’s ancestors experienced under the English? Really, can any given person X understand any given person Y’s experience of oppression? Because such experiences have not been identical. So such experiences must not be mutually comprehensible, according to such logic.

In fact, it is possible for one person to understand another person’s experiences, regardless of how different that person’s experiences might have been. The basis of the positing of the concept of empathy is that a person can understand another person’s feelings, as long as they 1. know what that person experienced and 2. know what that person felt in reaction to that experience.

Granted, it might be harder to empathize with a person whose experiences are more different from ours than someone whose experiences are similar to ours. For example, I myself, a white American, could probably have an easier time empathizing with Barack Obama than with some poor white from the Appalachians. Because Obama and I have had more similar experiences, even though his ancestors were partly African!

Finally:

3. If you think whites cannot understand the experience of blacks, do you believe blacks can understand the experience of whites? If so, you are racist yourself. Or, if you think males cannot understand the experience of females, but females can understand males, then you are sexist.

Really, if whites cannot comprehend blacks, then blacks cannot understand whites. And extending that logic, no one person can understand the experience of another.

(Actually, I believe that no one person can understand the experience and emotional reaction of another in full – but we can come damn close, and we can understand or at least empathize with people whose experiences are quite different).

In fact, to go on upon this matter, can a black American understand slavery better than a white American? I answer no. Because 1. Even if SJWs were correct about how experiencing oppression is necessary to understand it (why do they not think that it is necessary to be an oppressor to understand oppressors? Curious), no black person today has been a slave, and 2. You don’t need to have experienced a thing to empathize with it.

By a similar sequence of reasoning, no, a woman is not more able to understand sexism than a man.

To summarize:

Suppose you need to belong to group A to understand the sufferings of a member of group A. Then:

  1. Group A cannot comprehend its oppressors.
  2. More importantly, since any given group can be subdivided, member 1 of group A cannot understand the sufferings of member 2.
  3. Being a descendant of group A does not make you a member of group A.

The only way to avoid these conclusions is… empathy.