A moral conundrum, or a motherly duty?

I just watched the latest episode of Chicago Med, one of my favorite shows. There were, as usual, a number of different cases going on, but the most poignant was that of a family with two young children and a pregnant mother whose heart was too weak to function for two. The older of the two children, a daughter about 11, was slowly losing her battle with leukemia. The unborn child was a perfect match as a blood marrow donor for the daughter with leukemia.

The conundrum was that the mother would not survive very long with her bad heart, and needed open heart surgery, but the anticoagulants that would make the bypass procedure feasible would damage and perhaps kill the baby. There were two other alternatives: heart surgery without bypass, which was much riskier than surgery with it, or intubation of the mother to keep her breathing after her heart gave out, which would result in her being in a “persistent vegetative state”.

The mother, over the objections of her husband and children, chose the intubation because at least it would keep her alive long enough to deliver the child who could save her daughter. Finally, after abject pleading by her children, she allowed the surgeon to do the heart procedure without bypass. She survived, but her child did not. Her daughter with the leukemia wanted her mother more than her own survival, and her mother was willing to sacrifice her life and her “quality of life” to save  her daughter.

I am writing this the day after my post about Anna March and her “intersection” argument to preserve abortion on demand. A couple of thoughts: the doctors informed the mother multiple times that because her heart was pumping blood for two people, it was too weak to do the job. The mother was willing to radically sacrifice her autonomy–including even the ability to breathe on her own–to protect her children. How you view those facts (yeah, I know it was a TV show, so consider this a thought exercise) says a lot about you.

Someone who believes as Anna March does would promote quality of life (primarily that of the mother) as the most important consideration, so allowing the mother to be intubated would be out of the question. The problem and solution would be simple: since the unborn baby was overtaxing the mother’s heart, abort him. Problem solved, but the parents wouldn’t consider that since it would probably condemn the sick daughter unless they could find another perfect blood marrow match and get on the list before the daughter died. They could also argue that the mother wasn’t trying to save her baby’s life primarily, but the life of her born daughter, which did appear to be the case.

However, the family in the show was functioning as a unit. The daughter said she didn’t want her life to be the focal point of the family. She lamented all the attention she was getting to the detriment of her little brother, and would rather have her mother alive than save herself. The father was not willing to have his wife become a vegetable no matter what. The little brother was too young to understand much of this except that he was about to lose his mother and he begged her to live. Let’s not ignore the burden to be placed on the son who was about to be born, saving his sister’s life.

Now in your thought exercise, compare the worldviews. One says nothing is more important than the autonomy of a woman. But what if that woman is part of a family? Is her autonomy really a standalone issue? The other worldview says that we are all part of a larger web of relationships, and one person’s decision usually affects others. I am reminded of a proverb that had a profound affect on me. “I slept and dreamed that life was pleasure; I awoke and found that life was duty; I acted and found that duty was pleasure.” True freedom isn’t the right to do whatever you want for you, it is the ability to know and pursue your duty to others. I wonder if Ms. March and her constituency would say that your duty is just to yourself?

 

Intersectionality: The radical theory of relating the unrelated.

According to Anna March, writing in Salon, Bernie Sanders is no longer a “progressive.” Here is part of her argument, which is mostly a defense of “intersectionality”, an ultra-lib theory of……well, read it, see if you can figure it out.

“Economic populism and what are commonly erroneously and dismissively referred to as ‘social issues’ — such as reproductive rights, immigration reform and civil rights for people of color, those who have disabilities, people of all faiths, LGBT people and women — are indivisible. Sanders routinely demonstrates his own lack of progressive values by dividing them.

“There is no economic populism without abortion rights and civil rights. No one can have economic justice if he or she doesn’t have fundamental rights. Yet Sanders has made it plain that abortion rights are negotiable and brushes off ‘identity politics.’ He consistently argues that his values — and his alone — should define what it is to be progressive. (Which can’t help but remind one of Donald Trump’s unilateral defining of terms.)

“Further, Sanders routinely divides matters of race and gender and class — which, again, cannot be untwined — by discussing the ‘pain’ and needs of working-class voters….. Being pro-choice is not an optional part of being a progressive. Full stop. There is no justice for women, there is no economic justice for women, without the right to control their reproductive lives. The right to have an abortion is not a ‘social issue.’ It is an issue of fundamental rights; it is a matter of economic rights. One is not a progressive if not pro-choice. One hundred percent pro-choice is the only pro-choice position. One hundred percent pro-choice is the only pro-choice position. That is, abortions should be safe, legal, accessible, funded and available on demand — for all.”

The reason I put that last sentence in bold is because her entire screed comes down to a defense of the idea that every woman should be able to abort her baby for any reason whenever she wants with taxpayers paying for it. Given that is the primary revenue stream of planned parenthood, the name of which I consider the primary euphemism of our age (the “final solution” for the not yet born), she could be on their payroll or their board. What I am most incredulous about is that otherwise intelligent people could accept such statements as true. Let’s dissect some of these tortured propositions:

1. Since abortion is not a noun but an act, and since the fetus will become a human being if not destroyed, what she is saying is the right to kill her baby in the womb is a precursor to economic justice–whatever that is. If that were true, wouldn’t every woman (she didn’t say they had to be unmarried) with children be impoverished?

2. The right for any woman to kill her child is “a fundamental right”? Rights come from where? The Declaration of Independence states that rights come from the Creator. The Constitution of the United States assumes that source of rights and establishes the system for their protection. The preamble says “secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.” That hardly presumes that killing our posterity is a fundamental right.

3. “Race, gender and class cannot be untwined”? That presupposes that they are even related to begin with. By whom? Obviously, by her philosophical cohorts. But race and gender are determined by God, or if you don’t believe in the Creator, then they are accidental and random, but in no sense are they related to class.

Then again, I am out of step with the philosophy that insists that such human characteristics are related by oppression and victimhood. Simply put, she makes no sense but her constituency will believe it uncritically. Sigh.

 

Sez who?

Last night I watched “Free speech apocalypse“–or as much of it as I could stomach–on Amazon. It’s Doug Wilsondougwils attempting to speak at U. of Indiana, while most of the “students” tried to drown him out. I have never been more convicted of the futility of starting a discussion/debate/argument with opinions. The starting point of fruitful debate is the unmasking of the authority behind the opinions. Once that is explicit, it can become the authority of the Bible vs. your leftist professor, Rolling Stone and MTV. Now, THAT’S A DEBATE!

Instead, viewers are treated to the spectacle of costumed hecklers yelling unintelligible insults, shaking their fists, waving little rainbow flags, draped in bunting that says “the queer will inherit the earth” (from whom? I ask, and how will you do that when you can’t reproduce your own kind?) and chanting alternately “we support free speech” then “this is hate speech.” I guess it’s difficult to justify supporting free speech while threatening and heckling and shouting down the one speaking. I can live with all that–that’s merely young, naive bubbleheads performing their job description. What I can’t live with is this faculty member, described as the protector of lesbian, bisexual, gay, transwhatever students (whose position is paid for by taxpayers on one of the most conservative states in the U.S.), proudly holding up the t-shirt he intends to wear at Pastor Wilson’s talk. It says “Jesus loves drag” and he further insults the Lord of Life by saying He would be on the side of the hecklers. Isn’t that even greater hate speech?

One of the primary justifications the hecklers gave for labeling Biblical wisdom as hate speech is that is that it encourages and justifies violence against LGBT people. I have 5 questions about that assertion:

1. Who actually does more violence, church-going Christians against homosexuals, or homosexuals against churches?

2. What does Jesus say about using violence against people for their beliefs and practices?

3. To label anything “hate speech” assumes you can read the mind of the speaker and know they intend to harm with their words. Since the labeler is claiming knowledge of the internal state of the speaker, what is their evidence for this power?

4. If your position is so righteous and correct, why do you fear and avoid dialogue, instead substituting name calling and ad hominem attacks?

5. The most important question is, “what is the authority for your position?” If you disagree with what the Bible says, what authority can you cite that has a greater track record of truth? Kinsey studies? Newspaper editorials? TV shows?

 

“Virtue signaling” and tweeting, a really modern way to get into college?

I know you can’t wait to find out what “virtue signaling” is. Stanford University accepted Ziad Ahmed after he wrote “#Black Lives Matter” 100 times across his personal application statement to the university. As if that were not enough for him, he also tweeted a picture of his statement and received immediate “applause” (I don’t know what that is, since I don’t tweet–my wisdom is too profound to be encapsulated in 140 characters don’t you know–but from the context of the article about this it sounds like something other denizens of Twitter do to show their approval). He was also accepted by Yale and Princeton.

Admirers called him “bold”, but others complained that his statement was “an insufficient defense of the movement” and an example of……wait for it….”virtue signaling!” My good friend and mentor Gene jokes that satirists are running out of material, then this item comes along. I can’t type fast enough to keep up with all the material to satirize! To be fair, Mr. Ahmed is more than just his statement. Here is a link to his website.the activist

If you don’t have the patience to wade through all his prose about himself, what he stands for is the third sentence of his self-description, “Ziad has resolved to work towards a world safe for all and accepting of everyone.” Sigh. Sure sounds great. However, the universities he is choosing among are not exactly safe for those who express opinions contrary to the current orthodoxy nor are they accepting of diversity of thought. So what does he really mean? Safe for whom? All? Not hardly. Accepting of whom? Everyone? Really?

The spirit of totalitarianism, and wolves in sheepskin.

Recently, University of California Berkeley canceled a speech that Ann Coulter was scheduled to give in May 2017, saying that they could not guarantee the safety of the speaker. This cancellation was sharply criticized by, among others, Bill Maher, who holds opinions the opposite of Ann Coulter in every way. He says they disagree about everything….except the right of “free speech” and the importance of being allowed to listen to those who disagree with you. I love what he said about beserkeley, I mean Berkeley. “It used to be the cradle of free speech, now it’s just a cradle for f____n babies.” Right on Bill. At least he is capable of seeing the bigger picture.

The university later reversed the denial. For those of you who are too young to remember or too apathetic to care, or unable to take a break from tweeting, instagramming or snapchatting, the “free speech movement”, FSM, was a series of protests and demonstrations that students initiated between October and December of 1964 on the Berkeley campus, but mainly a “sit in” by 1,000 students in Sproul Hall. They demanded the University stop restricting political activities on campus. When the chancellor asked them to leave, some did but most didn’t and things turned violent shortly thereafter. 796 were arrested. The University capitulated and relaxed the rules against political activity on campus and declared Sproul Hall a place for open discussion. However, this so-called FSM was hardly a new phenomenon.

That was then. How did a desire for open discussion morph into the desire to muzzle anything that disagrees with the current political orthodoxy? Here is a better perspective on the history of free speech. fsm isn’t new How did “political correctness” become the norm on college campuses across the country and the world? The secret is in the playbooks of the spiritual fathers of political correctness: Hitler, Lenin, Marx, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and their disciples. Yes, I assert that the campus thought police and their ilk have as spiritual fathers all the brutal dictators in history AND the vicious oppressors of today’s news (ISIS anyone?).

I use the word spiritual purposefully! What they all have in common is the spirit of totalitarianism. This earth is a place of spiritual warfare, and rarely does anyone possessed of a spirit realize who or what is “pulling their strings.” This spirit is manifested by the desire to control, not simply influence how and what other people think, live and do. It brooks no dissent or discussion, since such a desire can never be admitted or exposed. When challenged, people possessed by this spirit either suppress discussion if they control sufficient force, or they attack the motives and character of the questioners if they can’t shut them up physically.

The truth doesn’t fear dissent and welcomes disagreement. Lies are the opposite. Do you really want to know who loves truth and who loves lies? Look at who persecutes whom. Those who persecute dissent are generally those who need to defend their lies, whether a false religion or false political system. Apart from that, those who hate and fear anyone who is different, or whose customs they don’t understand, are also protecting lies they tell themselves.

But there is persecution, then there is PERSECUTION! The latter is killing, maiming, slavery, rape, burning of homes and churches, preferably with the victims inside. Think ISIS. Then there’s persecution, which might be snide remarks, name calling, looking askance. In most Western countries, which is it? They aren’t the same, not even close. Maybe it’s because I live in the USA, but I am bombarded with articles and headlines about persecution here, and it seems to garner more opprobrium than PERSECUTION of Christians in Muslim and Hindu countries. So who are really the most vicious oppressors today?

As bad as the wolves in sheepskin on campus are, they don’t have the weapons or brutality to PERSECUTE. But it probably isn’t for lack of desire. (Also see my post on March 15, ‘The epidemic of ______ophobias and “hate speech”).

Aaron Hernandez found dead in his cell.

Today his former team, the New England Patriots, visited the White House to be feted for their victory in Super Bowl 51. He might have been with his teammates today, instead of alone and hopeless. Five years ago, Aaron Hernandez was a star, and signed a contract extension on August 27, 2012. According to ESPN, “A league source said the extension is for five years and includes a $12.5 million signing bonus, $16 million in guaranteed money, and a maximum value of $40 million in additional money.

“Hernandez, appearing at the Patriots’ annual Charitable Foundation Kickoff Gala in the Putnam Club at Gillette Stadium on Monday night, was clearly thrilled and emotional about the contract extension. ‘I knew it was coming, just cause, when Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) got it, I knew there was a good chance I was next in line,’ he said. ‘Now that it happened, it’s definitely a blessing, and take it in, I’m excited to go on with my life. As soon as we started talking about contracts, I was emotional from that day on,’ he continued. ‘Honestly, it’s hard for me here (at the gala) to stay, keeping my mind off it, and it’s just, like I said, it’s surreal. Probably when I’m done with this conversation I’ll get some tears in my eyes. But it’s real, and it’s an honor.’

“Upon agreeing to the extension, Hernandez made a charitable gesture that Patriots owner Robert Kraft appreciated. ‘One of the touching moments since I’ve known the team — knowing that this is our charitable gala tonight — Aaron came into my office, a little teary-eyed and presented me with a check for $50,000 to go to Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund,’ Kraft said. ‘I said ‘Aaron, you don’t have to do this, you’ve already got your contract.’ And he said ‘No, it makes me feel good and I want to do it.’

“To Kraft, Hernandez’s donation reflected the organization’s desire to have players give back after receiving financial security by playing in the NFL. ‘That made me feel good because part of the thing that we learned early on is that we have a lot of young men who come into this business, and they come from humble financial homes, and part of what we try to do is make them understand is that there is a psychic income involved in giving back both your time and your financial resources, if you can do that,’ he said.”

It was not as if Mr. Hernandez didn’t have positive influences in his life, or confusion about right or wrong. He played college ball for Urban Meyer, with whom he would read the Bible many mornings.  His quarterback in college was Tim Tebow. From a USA Today story: “Tim Tebow attempted to keep Aaron Hernandez out of trouble during a 2007 bar squabble while both were playing at the University of Florida, but not even the mild-mannered, Bible-toting quarterback could keep the hot-headed tight end from slugging a Gainesville, Fla., restaurant manager and puncturing his ear drum. Still, after Tebow’s efforts failed, it appears the school or football program might have gotten Hernandez off the hook by reaching a settlement with the manager to keep him from pursuing charges, according to a supplemental investigation report on the altercation obtained by USA TODAY Sports.”

His quarterback with the Patriots was Tom Brady. This write up appears on a NESN website: “After a 2011 game in Denver, the two star quarterbacks spent a few moments chatting about the game and even talking about two of Tebow’s teammates at the University of Florida in Hernandez and linebacker Brandon Spikes. In the encounter, Brady and Tebow exchange some pleasantries before briefly chatting about the two Patriots players.

Brady: “Good game, Tim. You’re having a great year.” Tebow: “Thanks. I appreciate it.” Brady: “Keep it up. Good things happen to good people. Tebow: “I appreciate that.”
Brady: “And I’m trying to watch over Aaron and Brandon.”  Tebow: “I appreciate that, too, man. They’re good guys.” Brady: “[Yeah] they’re a lot to handle.” So, aside from Tebow’s clear “appreciation” for just about anything and everything Brady says, it’s interesting to hear Brady not only mention that he was watching over Hernandez but also noting that he and Spikes were a handful. That’s not to say they were necessarily difficult to handle or even a problem, but the comment does seem to carry much more weight now given Hernandez’s murder charge.”

It seems some men who could have been great mentors to Hernandez believed in him, and made an effort to steer him on the right path. But they were not the people whom he chose to be influenced by. He sought the company of drug dealers and petty criminals when he wasn’t with his positive influences. I am sure much will be written about his wasted promise. I read that he wrote John 3:16 on his forehead with a marker before hanging himself. Life is full of uncertainty and contradictions, and Aaron Hernandez’s life was among the most contradictory of all.

Four days ago when I first wrote the above there was even speculation that he was murdered. Today I read that other prisoners knew he was planning to kill himself weeks before he did, as he started giving away everything he had and began coating the floor of his cell with soap, so that if he lost his nerve while hanging he wouldn’t be able to get a grip on the floor. The whole thing is just sad.

A river is declared a person.

On March 15, 2017, the Parliament of New Zealand passed a law officially recognizing the “legal personhood” of the Whanganui River. whanganui. What does that mean? It means, among other things, the river “can be represented in legal proceedings.” I am not making this up. Here is what Time Magazine had to say:

“In what’s believed to be a world first, New Zealand’s government has granted a river the same rights as a living person. The Whanganui River, considered part of the living landscape by the indigenous Whanganui Iwi people associated with it, has been granted legal personhood under a parliamentary bill, reports local news service Newshub. Two representatives from the local indigenous community — one appointed by the government, another elected by the community — will be entrusted with acting in the river’s interests.

“I know some people will say it’s pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality,” Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said, according to Newshub. “But it’s no stranger than family trusts, or companies, or incorporated societies.”

There are already natural resources that are protected by legal mechanisms, such as trusts established by the Nature Conservancy. I am in favor of such protection. However, using well established legal structures to protect something seems to me to be substantially different from declaring that the resource itself is a legal person. Is that how the law reads? It appears that the law actually does confer a type of personhood on the river, in that it recognizes the relationship that the Whanganui Iwi tribe (Maori) has had with Te Awa Tupua (the Maori name for the river). That Maori tribe began a lawsuit to have the river recognized as an “ancestor” 140 years ago, and this legislation apparently does that.

So another precedent has been set. I don’t mean just the precedent of declaring a river a person. Similar precedents, in principle rather than content, are laws or regulations declaring gender to be a matter of personal preference rather than biology and marriage a union of whomever or whatever rather than between man and woman. This legislation is only the most spectacular example to date of the dominant principle of postmodernism, which is emotions and preferences trump objective reality.

Actually, the river legislation seems less egregious to me than the gender and marriage applications of that principle, because the Maori have held on to their beliefs about their oneness with the river for a long time, and as a spiritual principle it doesn’t need to jibe with the river’s biology. Within the context of how the tribe lives and believes, their oneness with the river reflects how they thrive in their environment and doesn’t harm others. While I believe there is much about this material world that none of us know, the Bible does have some words about those who worship the creations rather than the Creator.

 I cannot give any validation to those other applications of the principle, especially as it is applied to “transgender dysphoria” (we’ll call it TD for brevity), the new category of psychological confusion about what gender a person is or thinks they are. Imagine if you thought you had a disease, and decided to self diagnose it and self treat it. If you thought you needed surgery for it or drugs to treat it, would you expect to be able to get all that on your own recognizance? Of course not. But in the case of TD, a confused youth (and what youth is not confused about much?) can get life altering surgery and drugs for a psychological condition that is often temporary and self reported. For a look at what happens to some of those unfortunate people, check out the latest issue of World Magazine.worldmag

This post is REALLY about something more significant than giving a river legal rights. Too many people get upset and distracted by the content of a controversy, while missing the more insidious nature of the principle that is being espoused!