"Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe"
In Memoriam Stephen T. Johns, Righteous Among Nations
"Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe"
In Memoriam Stephen T. Johns, Righteous Among Nations
A Kansas doctor who performs abortions was murdered today at his church. I'll leave it to others to discuss the long history of this doctor's part in the abortion debate; what I want to show you today is the transparent lies told by the murderous group Operation Rescue.
"We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. (sic) Tiller was gunned down," anti-abortion group Operation Rescue said in a statement on its Web site. "Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."
What a steaming pile of crap. What do they mean, "see him brought to justice?" Did he violate any laws? If OR really wanted to "work through...legal means" they would focus on legislation, rather than bringing to justice someone who has not broken any laws. This type of rhetoric shows the violent, murderous thinking behind OR. Oh, I'm so glad they pray for Dr. Tiller's family to find peace in their Lord, the one who they say is the only route to comfort, the one they think would approve of murdering a doctor.
Anyone who can't see through the transparent approval of this murder, justified by a "greater cause" and the belief in a vengeful god and an afterlife is being intentionally blind. OR is a domestic terrorist group and should be treated as such.
I've been reluctant to write about the Daniel Hauser case. I don't even want to imagine what his parents are going through. If you're not a parent, I can't explain it to you, so you'll have to trust me---having a kid with a life-threatening illness can drive you to do the unimaginable.
And what Daniel's parents have chosen to do is nearly unimaginable, but until you've been there, judgment must be tempered by compassion. But that compassion is only for the parents and the patient, not for those who are supporting their horrible decisions.
Daniel is 13 year old boy with Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer that is curable with radiation and chemotherapy. Without it, it's deadly, and the death isn't pretty. I've diagnosed patients with Hodgkin's and had the pleasure of watching them go on to live normal lives. None has ever regretting being treated.
Daniel's parents apparently belong to a cult called Nemenhah, some sort of New Age-Christian gamisch of beliefs with a Native American patina. Like most cults, it wants your money, your absolute obedience, and ideologic purity. In return you get to abandon your money and your access to modern medical care.
Daniel's parents, after one cycle of chemotherapy, decided to follow the Nemenhah dictates and eschew modern, curative medical care. They may or may not realize that the suffering they are inflicting on their child is much worse than anything he could experience with treatment. When the courts ordered him back to treatment, the mother took Daniel and ran. She is currently wanted by the police.
The basic ethical principles here recognize that children, while autonomous beings with rights, have a limited decision-making capacity, and must rely on adults, preferably their parents, for guidance. If the parents cannot provide a safe environment, the State becomes involved, as it did in this case.
Blogging requires a thick skin. So does life, so I don't get personally worked up about shit that happens on line. But some things do piss me off.
So, President Obama is getting an honorary degree and giving a commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, and some folks aren't too happy about that. Why? The stated reasons is his support of limited abortion rights. Let's examine why this stance is hypocritical and nonsensical, then examine the real reasons for the protests.
Beliefs of a speaker
Notre Dame has a reputation as a good university, and I'm quite certain that classes on campus include ideas not part of official Catholic belief. I'm willing to bet that not every student, professor, and employee hold to every letter of Catholic doctrine. Still, one could argue that honoring a commencement speaker is a larger act than allowing a professor to teach and research (although I'd disagree with that, too).
So Obama holds an opinion about an important issue that is different that the opinion of the Church. So what? Has every speaker held to the NIcene Creed? That's some pretty important stuff there. Must a speaker hold to all Catholic beliefs? If not, which ones must the believe?
After all, if "life" is the primary test here, then Bush and Reagan should have been turned away for their support of the death penalty and of war. Or are some lives more important that others?
Purpose of a speaker
Is the purpose of a commencement speaker to support all the beliefs of the school's sponsoring faith? Well, that would rule out many Catholics, so clearly the purpose of the degree and the speaker is not to come as a pure cheerleader for the Faith. Perhaps the purpose is to invite a prominent, successful person, and hear their views, their story. Obama is certainly a good speaker and a successful person. Seems like a good choice.
Content of speech
I'm sure that the university doesn't limit what a speaker can say---that would be antithetical to the purpose of a university. So they are of course taking a risk when they invite a speaker. But does anyone really think President Obama is going to choose the one issue on which he and the Church most disagree and speak about it? And if he did, is the faith of the students so weak that one speaker could eradicate four years of education?
What is the meaning of a degree from ND, honorary or otherwise? Does it mean that in addition to your successful education you agree with the Vatican on every single letter of doctrine?
Motivation of protesters
We should take at their word protesters who say they feel Obama's abortion beliefs, and his ability to influence policy make him a poor choice. It's clearly hypocritical and narrow, but why would they lie?
But are they recognizing all of their motivations? After all, plenty of other influential speakers have had no trouble coming to Notre Dame. Protesting a president's policies is a good thing. It's a sign of a healthy democracy. But what does it mean to try to deny him a platform based on a single issue, while offering that platform to people like Bush with similarly "offensive" views?
Protesters say that Obama's principles are strongly opposed to Catholic beliefs. Oh, really? Besides abortion, which beliefs would those be?
I know that my more conservative friends will think this is ridiculous, but Obama represents something fundamentally different than the Bushes and Reagans. If Obama were coming to the University to give a speech on abortion rights, this would be problematic (although not that problematic). But every president in the last 50 years has been invited to speak at ND without a litmus test. What makes Obama different?
To state the obvious, he is Black, has a Muslim middle name, and is liberal. He is different, and here in the Midwest, he makes many people uncomfortable.
As this presidency continues, I hope we will get past this and focus on real policy disagreements rather than fake issues. There are real problems in this country, affecting real people, and there are real disagreements on how to fix things. Let's go there.
In a recent post, Dr. Free Ride made some excellent points about conflict of interest and medical professionalism (emphasis mine):
What I find more interesting, and problematic, here is [the authors'] unexamined premise that it is a bad thing that medical experts have a certain kind of monopoly. Indeed, their monopoly is recognized by the state: you can't practice medicine without being properly trained and licensed.
Because of their specialized training, physicians and medical scientists have an expertise that arguably puts them in a better position than the state to promulgate disease definitions and treatment recommendations, and to evaluate research reports. Neither lay people nor elected officials can be assumed to have the expertise to make these decisions. Asking the state to make the rules about which submissions to a medical journal ought to be accepted seems like a really bad idea -- so why would asking the state to interfere with the judgment of medical experts in such "gate keeping" seem like a good idea?
I bring this up not because she hits it just right, but because the whole idea of medical "expertism" bugs people. As an internist, I have knowledge that others do not. People seek me out for that knowledge. Application of my tools without the proper knowledge is a very dangerous thing.
That's why direct-to-consumer drug advertising is a bad idea. It puts a profit-making, product-promoting entity between the patient and the doctor. It essentially enlists the patient in its advertising campaign. These ads corrupt the doctor-patient relationship, and attempt to "de-professionalize" medicine.
Many of these ads are simply deceptive. For example, a popular allergy pill is advertised as being the only one approved for "indoor and outdoor allergies." Medically, this makes no sense, as they are the same thing. It's a simple technicality. But really, deceptive or not, these ads are a bad idea.
So, when I saw the headline about objections to certain drug ads, I figured there was some sort of health concern, such as a failure to disclose risks.
Nope. Rather than complain about unethical or deceptive ads, the complaint was about the unseemly nature of one particular common medical problem, erectile dysfunction.
Give me a damned break. This is just another fake morals issue at a time when the entire economy is in the shitter. According to one Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) who apparently isn't concerned about Pakistan's nukes or Comerica's solvency:
A number of people have come up, including colleagues, and said I'm fed up. I don't want my three or four-year old grandkid asking me what erectile dysfunction is all about. And I don't blame them.
Hint to all of you offended by ED ads: your kids are going to be asking difficult questions FOREVER. You'd better learn to answer them. Also, these ads aren't placed during Sesame Street. How do you handle questions from the kids about the plot of Desperate Housewives?
Look, I'm all for getting rid of direct-to-consumer drug advertising (and honestly, I'd like to get rid of direct-to-doctor ads too). But to single out ED ads because they give you the willies is just plain stupid.
I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence.
Leaving aside that it was Gerald Ford who presided over the last pandemic, if you are a real American, you will answer this question:
What is so fucking interesting about it?
OK, OK, so the U.S. isn't a democracy per se but really a representative democracy, with a federalist set up. Still, most of us understand the basic idea of a democratic, federalist republic, right? The ultimate power resides with the citizens, who vote for representatives who, well, represent our interests in the seat of federal power. If we don't like the way we are being represented, we usually vote out the offending representatives. We also elect a chief executive, albeit a bit indirectly, and, like our representatives, if we don't like the job they're doing, we vote them out at the next opportunity. It's all set out in the Constitution, and if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.
This founding document has served us quite well. Sure, it's had its problems, like its hyperfederalistic support for slavery, but we fixed that. It's just flexible enough not to break when bent a little. And when we had a tough election back in 2000, rather than blowing each other up, we managed to turn over the office of the President peacefully (although as Jeff Toobin has said, maybe not having tanks in the streets is not the only measure of a democracy).
One of the common themes in biology and medicine is the feeling that somehow there must be more. Creationist cults simply know that life must be more than matter, and mind-body dualists (which includes most alternative medicine advocates) are certain that humans are more than an "ugly bag of mostly water" (sorry for the geek reference). If you can stick with me here, I'll explain to you a bit of the history surrounding this fallacy.
Most of us intuitively feel that we are both a body and a person. In every day life, it makes a certain operational sense to think of our "mind" as being something distinct. From a biological standpoint, however, this doesn't work as well.
Biology was one of the last of the "natural philosophies" to become a science. It was clear to those who studied chemistry and physics that certain principles seemed to explain the natural world, but those who studied living things were mostly involved in description. Still, biology has become a science in its own right. According to Ernst Mayr, one of the greatest biologists of the last century, a number of events preceded biology being recognized as a legitimate science. One vital event was the recognition that all biological processes were constrained by the laws of physics and chemistry. Another important step was the rejection of two erroneous principles: vitalism, and teleology.
Yes, we all know that Jon Stewart is a genius, but you have to watch this one to fully appreciate what a genius he really is.
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