Monday, June 10, 2013

On the Subjects of Drugs, Suicide and Abortion


It may be argued on philosophical grounds that everything is static, existing without change in all of Time and Space, and that both Change and Free Will are simply illusions caused by the gradual revelation of that which already is. Or, it can be argued that the Universe is Deterministic... that the laws of cause and effect are such that events unfold as they must; and that while Change exists, Free Will is again an illusion. But if Free Will is an illusion, it is an extremely strong one... so strong that even the people who make the above arguments succumb to the illusion to the extent of believing it is possible to convince someone that they're correct. After all, if they actually were correct, then such convincing would be a pointless exercise; and if they truly believed they were correct, they would act accordingly and not even make the attempt.

We have an innate, intuitive sense that Free Will exists. Our entire society... our every action... is rooted in this belief.

Free Will is what defines our lives as ours. The Liberty to exercise control over our own lives is the inalienable right of every responsible adult. Even if what we do is knowingly self-destructive, it is our choice: our decision to make. It is not our place to impose our will on other responsible people.


I think you may be able to guess my stance here. It is none of my business whether you wish to partake of recreational drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, marijuana, etc.. That is your choice. It is your body and it is your responsibility to deal with the consequences of your decisions. Those consequences may include a shortened life-span, or addiction, or poor health. Those consequences are likewise your responsibility. I think it's pretty stupid to engage in behavior that leads to those consequences, but it's not my job to stop you.

That said, out of compassion and love, I may feel obligated to point out those consequences and try to talk you out of the behavior. But unless you want and ask for my help in avoiding them, I can't force you to reject your cigarettes or your six-packs or your joints, pills, pipes or needles.

You have the right to treat your body as you please. But as a responsible adult, you don't have the right to drag others down with you. It is no one's responsibility to feed your habit. It is no one's responsibility to hold your hair while you throw up, or to buy you a new liver or lungs. No one owes you treatment or counseling when you screw up your life. Again, out of compassion and love, I contribute to organizations that provide treatment and counseling. That is a charitable act... it is not your "due", nor is it Society's "responsibility". I believe that those who think it is are horribly misinformed. As there is nothing of "charity" in stealing from one man for the benefit of another, and no one is responsible for your health but you, I do not support the idea of tax-funded programs to slough off onto the impersonal State those things that human beings should be doing for one another.

Nor do you have a right to a particularly dignified exit from a predicament that you, of your own free will and accord, got yourself into. If you want the freedom to do drugs, and wind up screwing up your life to the point where you need assistance from the public to extricate yourself, then it's up to you to display that very minimal bit of humility required to ask for the assistance... even if that's at the prompting of some charitable soul who offers it.

Your freedom is innate... but the consequences of your actions are earned. And if you prey on someone else, I will be first in line to fuck you up.

I don't find this to be a particularly harsh stance when people are informed of it as part of their upbringing.... and I think everyone should be. It is not unjust to leave someone to the fate he has chosen. In fact, when we offer treatment through charitable organizations we are putting Love above our sense of Justice. However, it is unjust to choose a self-destructive course of action and then assert that you are entitled to impose upon everyone else to make it all better for you. That is a selfish and wrong attitude that no healthy society should encourage.


"Suicide should be illegal, and the penalty should be Death" -- Unknown

If you've read Dune by Frank Herbert (or seen one of the film adaptations) you may remember the words of Paul Atreides: "He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing." As with drugs, your life is yours, to the extent that you may choose to end it. Again, I think this -- in most cases -- is destructive and wrong. I will attempt to talk you out of it and/or offer counseling, but the ultimate decision is yours.

In some cases, I think this is a perfectly reasonable, intelligent, and understandable decision. My mother died of an incurable form of lymphoma. While she chose to live to the very end of her natural life, her last few weeks were spent in inconceivable pain. She bore it with a superhuman tolerance provided by her unshakable faith. Nevertheless, I can certainly understand if a person would choose not to bear that pain. I can certainly understand that a person may even wish to end his life cheerfully, while still in full possession of his faculties. Knowing that every single person will die, I see no harm to Society in recognizing that a person has a natural right to determine how.

That said, don't ask me to murder you. While the legal definition of murder is defined as "the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being", my conscience is a bit broader, requiring serious examination of that word 'unlawful'. The legal definition I just quoted implies that it would be OK to slaughter redheads so long as we pass a law saying "they need killin'". Obviously that's an unsatisfactory definition, but we don't really have a good one. The requirement for 'malice aforethought' would allow mercy killings and assisted suicide, both of which may be wide open to abuse when privately performed. While I would defer to majority rule regarding assisted suicide, I would have to insist that it be done by trusted professionals, and only at the well-documented request of the person to die.


While you have the right to destroy your life with drugs or even kill yourself outright, your right to destruction stops with yourself. In my post, Libertarian, I note that as my ability increased my parents' responsibility decreased. Now, this rightly implies that the younger I am, the more they hold the reigns of responsibility. So the question is, at the ultimate stage of vulnerability, do they have the right to kill me?

Well, first you have to understand how this issue of "responsibility" works. While your parents are responsible for you as a child, and your actions, they do not wield that responsibility on their own behalf. Rather, they must wield it in your best interest. They are your guardians, not your owners. Though this is true at any age, the younger the child, the more we emphasize it. For instance, a parent cannot sexually pleasure himself (or herself) with a child, and certainly not a baby! The younger the child, the more heinous this is. Beating a teen to a pulp is bad; beating a baby to a pulp is worse. We recognize that even though a child not fully formed... that its brain and body continue to develop throughout childhood... and sometimes either the brain or the body never fully develops... we still recognize that this is a person with rights that must be guarded.

Nevertheless, there are those who seriously argue that these rights appear from nothing with the cutting of an umbilical cord, allowing partial-birth abortionists to sever a spinal cord instead, arguing that it's a matter of choice because it's "the mother's body".

Well, no. It isn't. One has only to examine the DNA to expose that untruth. Even in the womb, the child's body is distinct. It is the same DNA that this person will carry to the grave, completely unique except in the case of identical twins. The blood of the mother and child do not mix: you may have a different blood type from your mother. Furthermore, that DNA, upon the very closest of examination, is fully human. The fetus is a distinct and individual human life. So in arguments over abortion on these grounds, science fully supports the notion that this is not the mother's body. Of course, this isn't in accord with the dogma of the self-proclaimed 'scientific' Left, so they choose to discard ALL of this science and instead focus on 'viability' and 'personhood'.

The viability argument is that so long as the fetus can't survive on its own, it's the mother's body. There are a couple of difficulties here. The first is that even a newborn isn't viable in that sense. It cannot forage, it cannot feed unassisted. Yet, we universally acknowledge that it's an individual. Second, the moments it takes for the fetus to exit the body and be called a 'baby' do nothing to alter its viability. Children are routinely extracted from their mothers via C-section, as were all three of my sons..Here we have the incremental problem of "how many grains of sand does it take to make a 'pile'?" There must be a scale of viability and we must find some point on that scale, and say "HERE". Any decision we make in this regard is to some extent arbitrary, and complicated by the argument of 'personhood'.

We have a very hard time defining exactly what a person is, or when personhood exists, or even whether -- as the brain develops -- one individual is more of a "person" than another. Clearly, we start off believing that potential must have some role in it. After all, a monkey is more accomplished than a newborn human, but we allow that the human has more rights. Certainly, if you were to test the two, you'd conclude that the monkey is smarter. But the child generally has potential that far outstrips that of the monkey, and that potential is present from conception. Only, in some humans it's not. Of course, I'm thinking here of those humans who do not develop normally; who have genetic dysfunctions that limit their potential. So can we conclude that one human is more of a "person" than another human? Again, I look around and see that it's it's universally acclaimed on both Left and Right that 'special' children are persons in every respect, to the same extent as budding geniuses, and having the same right to life. So we're obliged to discard our initial assumptions about potential, and even ability. In fact, we're left with no clear definition at all, leaving us with the disturbing conclusion that pro-abortionists advocate the termination of a distinct, individual human life solely due to its location.

This leads to something that you probably don't think about, and wouldn't expect. The idea that a baby is only human after it takes its first breath is based in the the common law that originated in England, many centuries past. It is based on the knowledge that existed before we understood DNA, and genetics, and before we had a complete picture of the circulatory system, and how the umbilical cord operates, and the developmental process. This is one of those areas where the Right embraces modern science, but the Left prefers to remain mired in the medicine of the Middle Ages.

Of course, there are arguments about "the life of the mother", which then get stretched to "the life or health of the mother", with the definition of "health" getting stretched and abused to include desire or economic inconvenience. None of these are compelling except for the immediate loss of the life of the mother should the child not be aborted. There are also the arguments of rape or incest, neither of which change the fact that this is a distinct, individual human life. I think they support arguments in favor of sympathy, compassion, assistance, and adoption, but not abortion. Not murder.

In my mind, it's pretty clear that except for that instance of the immediate decision of saving the mother or child, that abortion is properly described as 'murder'. It is the intentional killing of another human being with malice aforethought. With that one exception it certainly can't be anything but malice. It is a deliberate imposition of death, certainly not done in the best interest of the child. It is only the word 'legal' in the court's definition of 'murder' that prevents it from being exactly that.

Given that I'm averse to murder; given that I have no more or less idea than you do when 'personhood' starts, or even what it IS; given that I fully subscribe to the notion that the more helpless a person is, the more responsibility we have toward them; given that this is true even when you're not legally responsible for a person (which compels a human being to offer assistance to someone who's being mugged, or has been in an accident); I have NO motivation to draw any line, arbitrarily or otherwise, and say, THIS is when it's OK to kill a child. If I err, then I choose to err on the side of caution and in favor of a new human life.

Even then, I don't think this is a normally a matter for Federal jurisdiction. Quite simply, there is so much disagreement and so much room for error that the decisions should be made as close to the People as possible. Unless it occurs on Federal property or affects significant Federal interests, even murder is not a Federal offense, but a matter left to the States. This is an issue on which we should rely heavily on individual conscience, with the People of a State being free to set their rules accordingly; and so that, should you find yourself in a State where you think the law (whatever it may be) is unconscionable, you can re-locate.

Again... all that said, my vote is pro-Life. But the law is what it is. Even though the majority says you can abort, there's nothing that compels you to. I advocate and encourage you to choose in favor of Life and adoption; and leave the decision to you without malice, knowing that for many people either choice is difficult and heart-wrenching

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