Baby Fuel

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I suppose, like Wesley Smith, I should not be surprised that over 15,000 aborted babies were incinerated as medical waste in the UK, with some of the remains used as fuel. The systematic dehumanization of the unborn child began with the rebellion against traditional norms in the 1960s. The UK was the first of the two to legalize abortion with the passage of the 1967 Abortion Act. The United States Supreme Court, in an act of judicial fiat, legalized abortion in the January 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. As Smith notes, incinerating aborted babies is the end-result of denying personhood to the fetus. The body of an adult who dies is considered to be a body of a former person and worthy of some respect. Aborted babies, having never been considered persons, are treated like any other piece of medical waste. If they have never been persons, they are things and can be treated as mere utilitarian objects. “We need to recycle fuel instead of just throwing it away, so why not use aborted fetuses.” While logical given the premisses of the pro-abortion crowd, this use of aborted babies marks a new low in the decline of morality in the West. A society that kills its most vulnerable cannot escape the social consequences, including a cheapening of human life in general. How much lower can the UK (and Canada and the US) go? I doubt there is a bottom limit.

The United States Should Mind Its Own Business

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Once more the United State government, with the help of a cowardly, subservient media composed of the usual coalition of convenience o the war wing of the Democratic Party and the Neoconservatives, is sticking its nose where it does not belong. Attempting to follow up on the failures of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the earlier disaster in the Balkans, the U.S. is now helping to stir the pot in the Ukraine. The  political unrest in the Ukraine reeks of the stink of the influence of the CIA and other American “intelligence” agencies. The media is playing up reports of human rights atrocities on one side in the Ukrainian dispute in order to stir up conflict with Russia. As usual, President Obama, carrying forward the tradition of Ruaaia-hating in the United States, “warns” Russia not to be involved in the Ukraine.

The sheer hypocrisy of the United States is sickening. While the U.S. is no worse than other countries, its claim to be a shining city set on a hill somehow exempt from fallen human nature should turn the stomach of anyone not brought up on the gruel of American civil religion. The U.S. had no problem subjugating its own rebellious states with the loss of 600,000 lives, and it engaged in mass murder in the Philippines conflict in the early twentieth century after starting a war with Spain in 1898 which was about imperial conquest and nothing else. Since then American interventionism has increased, especially after Woodrow Wilson’s utopian scheme of spreading American democracy throughout the world.

Thus the United States interfered in a conflict in the Balkans it did not understand, leading to the victory of the enemies of the United States who funded Al Qaeda and other Muslim terrorist groups with American support. In Iraq, millions died, including many children, in America’s crusade against Saddam. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is poised to retake the country, which it will absent continual American intervention that can only, at best, delay the inevitable.

The issue between Russia and Ukraine is an issue between those two countries. It is none of the business of the United States. If Mr. Obama, who is outclassed by Mr. Putin in leadership in every respect, believes that the most effective Russian leader in fifty years will give up Russian naval bases in the Ukraine and avoid influencing a country which is of vital stragetic interest to the Russians, he is naive and foolish. Russia refuses to be kowtowed by American pressure to change its legal system to reflect American anti-Christian secular values.  The newly rejuvenated Eastern Orthodox Russia has been a counterweight to the growing atheism, secularism, and watered-down Christianity of the United States, and the American elite classes resent that. The elites believe that they can teach Russia a lesson in the Ukraine. God forbid that they try to do so. As for warmongering Neoconservatives, if they wish to risk a nuclear war with Russia for the Ukraine, they are welcome to travel over there and fight themselves. To fight a war with Russia is sheer madness, and provoking them is close to insanity as well. The United States should get out of its empire mode and be a more modest nation. Hubris has been the downfall of many nations in human history. The United States, by overreaching itself in interventions that are none of its business and not in the U.S.’s national interest, needs to heed the proverb in the Bible: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Suspension from School and Possible Jail Time for Wearing an NRA Shirt!?

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National_Rifle_Association

National_Rifle_Association (Photo credit: ChrisWaldeck)

At the link, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/06/17/west-virginia-teen-arrested-for-nra-shirt-officially-charged/, is the story of a fourteen-year-old boy suspended from school for wearing a pro-NRA t-shirt. Not only was he suspended, but he was arrested and faces up to a year in jail for “obstructing an officer,” apparently because of something he said that offended the officer. Freedom of expression is dead in the United States except for the politically correct. A student would probably get away with wearing a pro-abortion t-shirt or a shirt promoting every kind of moral perversity, but God forbid the student wear a shirt defending gun rights. The officer claimed that the student’s “refusal to talk” kept him from doing his job as an officer. Now silence is punishable by arrest and a prison sentence.

Now I know many police officers personally–the vast majority are not like the arresting officer in this case. However, none of them appreciate having their authority questioned. To some extent that is understandable, but this does not justify abuse of police power. School officials also lacked common sense in calling the police in the first place.

The situation reminds me of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, when the dictatorial pig who rules over the animals says that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In the United States, we are rapidly getting to the point, and are most likely already to that point, that “We have freedom of speech, but some speech is freer than other speech.”

Like many Americans, I feel a sense of anomie watching my country turn into a totalitarian state. This incident in West Virginia, the constant surveillance, the rising power and  increasing militarization of federal law enforcement agencies, and the United States military engaging in judicial executions without trial of American citizens through drone strikes–these are just the beginning of what promises to be the end of what little remains of the American republic. Sometimes I could sit down and cry. There seem no realistic options to escape a totalitarian state other than to leave the country, but Europe is moving the same direction. As a Christian, I trust in God that all will be well in the end. In the meantime, we can all love God, love our families, work with dignity, and do what little we can to slow the inextricable destruction of liberty in what used to be the land of the free.

University Student Behavior

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A crowd of college students at the 2007 Pittsb...

A crowd of college students at the 2007 Pittsburgh University Commencement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As late as the early 1960s, the professor had a near absolute authority to discipline a class in whatever way the professor saw fit. Some professors would even slap students who made foolish comments. Very few people would want to return to those days–a university student should not be afraid of a professor. However, student behavior since the early 1960s has worsened in the college and university setting.

The problem began in 1964 with the student revolutions. Beginning with the “Free Speech Movement” at the University of California at Berkeley, which originally allowed anyone, no matter what the person’s ideology, to speak, the student movement degenerated into an orgy of radical leftism. Students took over administration buildings, and in the case of the University of California, the entire campus. It took then Governor Ronald Reagan calling out the California National Guard to restore order. Such protests continued, though with less radical effects, from the 1970s until the present. Today, however, at the classroom level the problem is with students who talk in class out of turn, walk out early if they feel bored with class, use cellphones and other electronic equipment in class, or smart off at the professor in class or in an e-mail. I suppose in some colleges and universities there has been much more serious disrespect than what I have experienced, but even the relatively “minor” problems in my classes point to some fundamental problems in American society.

“Respect” can mean the respect due any human being for being human, respect for a person’s position (for example, respect for the president of the U.S.), or the respect that is earned when someone lives a good moral life or does a job well. All three forms of respect play a role in the classroom.

Students should respect the professor’s position. The professor worked hard to gain degrees in his field and is in a position of authority over students–not arbitrary or overbearing authority, but authority as someone who teaches, guides, and helps maintain decorum in the classroom. Too many students think they know more than the professor, even in the professor’s own field of study. This is highly unlikely to be the case and is most often evidence of a student’s immaturity. Pampered, spoiled students whose parents have protected them from the harsh realities of life tend to remain at the developmental level befitting someone younger than they. They still hold on to the attitude that they know everything and that older people are ignorant fogies who accept only outmoded ideas. Some students will mature out of this immaturity (especially women), but many do not. I can have a sense of humor about that form of disrespect in class, but if students do not grow out of such arrogance, it will harm them in the future. Other students rebel against any authority figure, no matter how benign. Their misbehavior is not as much personal as it is about a hatred of authority in general.

Students lack respect for human beings qua human beings when they talk in class about non-class related subjects when the teacher is giving a lecture. They are also disrespecting other class members and exhibiting a “me, me, me” attitude that damages the American social framework more than any other attitude. It has become practically difficult to discipline students for such behavior, especially for large classes. Except for test days, I do not fight over phones–if students do not listen in class, they will not do well on exams, and that will be their punishment.  It is the “I don’t care; I’ll do what I want” attitude that so exacerbates me and other professors. Of course if students talk out loud in class about last night’s ball game or about other topics having nothing to do with the lesson for the day they reveal their disrespect for not only the professor, but also for their fellow students. One of the worst behaviors I have seen is when a student walks out of school due to being bored or due to disagreement with the professor. This behavior shows disrespect for both the professor and for the educational process in general.

Then there is the respect that a professor earns for doing a conscientious and thorough job in teaching, who carefully integrates research and teaching, and who helps students to excel. Despite the fact that a conscientious professor does a good job, bad apples in the class who disrespect the professor’s work (usually out of sheer spite) can make trouble for the class and encourage otherwise good teachers to receive poor evaluations by stirring up trouble in the class. Such agitators are dangerous, and if the professor detects their handiwork, the professor can take steps to confront and discipline them.

Being a college or university professor is a tougher job than in the past–the behavior of high school students in the 1970s has become mainstream behavior on college and university campuses). I fear what the future holds for college and university professors without a restoration of the traditional family, parental discipline, and a commitment from college and university staff to affirm the importance of classroom discipline.

Belgium: The Return of “Useless Eaters”

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English: Skull and crossbones

English: Skull and crossbones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At http://www.france24.com/en/20121218-belgium-looks-euthanasia-minors-alzheimers-sufferers is an article on a proposal that will most likely pass Belgium’s legislature that allows euthanasia for minors and for Alzheimer’s patients. Increasingly secular, godless Europe is finally passing laws that reflect the decline of the remnants of Christian ethics that held on for a while after the decline of religious belief. The phrase “useless eaters” was coined by a Nazi doctor who was discussing Nazi Germany’s euthanasia program. It had no problem killing minors and people with senility of whatever cause. With no clear cut behavioral diagnostic difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and senile dementia in general, the new law, when passed, could de facto be applied to some non-Alzheimer’s senile patients.

What are the limits on the age of minors? Apparently none–any minor deemed “too sick to live” by a doctor and by parents or guardians could be killed. The slippery slope that supporters of euthanasia claimed would not happen is already fact. Next door in The Netherlands, voluntary euthanasia quickly led to involuntary euthanasia, and there was, for a time, a proposal on the table to have a “quality of life threshold” below which a person would no longer have the right to live. It may just be a matter of time before the severely mentally retarded will join the list of “useless eaters” and euthanized. A godless society only gives life a utilitarian value. Although Kant tried to set up a secular system that allowed for intrinsic human dignity, his dream died, at least in some European countries, and the remnants of the Christianity that still influenced Kant died away. Now there is no bar to making decisions regarding euthanasia not based on alleged “mercy,” but on a person’s ability to “contribute” to society. The fittest survive; those considered unfit will be eliminated. The most frightening instances of murder are those murders that use mercy to justify them. The only “mercy” involved may be for the family to get a burden off their back and the state to save on medical bills due to fewer patients requiring long-term care.

The United States, for now, has enough residual Christian belief to avoid Europe’s direction for now. However, given the responses of most of my medical ethics students to questions regarding the moral rightness or wrongness of physician assisted suicide, it seems that those supporting PAS will win in the long run. If they do, it will be no surprise if PAS leads the way into voluntary active euthanasia and eventually to involuntary active euthanasia. Society will be at last be in part of a eugenics movement that will make the earlier movement in the first decades of the twentieth century seem like child’s play. God help us all if that happens–and it will happen in Western Europe (and probably in Canada) before it happens in the United States. But with 30% of young people in the U.S. classifying themselves as “irreligious,” the road toward Europe may be wider than one might think.

Atheists forget, when they catalog the crimes of religion, that the mass murderous regimes of the twentieth century were atheistic: Nazi Germany, the Stalinist Soviet Union, Maoist Communist China, North Korea, and Cambodia when it was under the rule of Pol Pot. The sanctity of human life does not make sense in an atheistic framework; the value of human life must be instrumental and not intrinsic in a consistent atheistic system. It is no surprise, then, that Belgium and the Netherlands are going the route toward allowing more and more classes of people to potentially be subject to euthanasia. The Nazi world of alleged “useless eaters,” a world Europe once claimed to eschew for good, is coming back to haunt a godless society. The price paid for such folly will be very high.

Richard Land and the Censoring of Discourse about Race in America

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English: Vectorized Southern Baptist Conventio...

English: Vectorized Southern Baptist Convention logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Richard Land‘s radio show has been canceled by the Southern Baptist Convention. Although Mr. Land was cited for plagiarism, which he apparently did commit, this was not the focus of the SBC’s statement. The SBC was concerned about Mr. Land’s allegedly inflammatory remarks concerning the Trayvon Martin case.

What did Mr. Land say that was so horrible? He said that Mr. Obama was taking political advantage of the situation. One can make a good case for this claim–Mr. Obama said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin–this could be construed as an attempt to shore up support among his base. Political charges similar to Mr. Land’s claims have been made quite frequently in conservative circles, though perhaps with more tact than Mr. Land used. Mr. Land also referred to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as race baiters. An even more solid case can be made for that claim–are Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton beyond criticism? Should they escape the inevitable criticism that those in the public eye routinely face? Surely not except in a liberal fantasy world. Does anyone remember the Tawana Brawley case or the Duke Lacrosse case and how Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton stirred emotions to a dangerous level in cases that turned out to be other than Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton claimed?

Discourse about race has become so emotionally charged that the range of politically correct things to say has narrowed to the point that one cannot say anything outside the liberal party line without being labeled a racist. Now I don’t know if Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter or not–I will wait until the facts of the case come out. Pointing out the fact that some individuals are using the case to agitate others and to stir up dangerous emotions is not irresponsible or wrong. The more the left and the pseudo-right shut off discourse, the more frustrated those silenced become. If those silenced already had wrong attitudes, they will only be hardened in them. If they did not have wrong attitudes, they are far more likely to gain them after being silenced. Cutting off discussion of race will most likely lead to an increase, not to a decrease, in racism.

I have noticed a leftward trend in conservative Evangelical churches over the last few years, fueled by liberals in their academic institutions. These colleges, universities, and seminaries train ministers and other church officials. They may be technically “conservative,” but they buy into much of the left’s beliefs, including supporting politically correct speech on race. If Mr. Land had used an obscenity to refer to another race, he should have been fired and disciplined by the church. If he had claimed that one race was intrinsically superior to another, then he should have been disciplined. He said neither of those things. Yet he lost his radio show and was forced to apologize–I do not doubt the sincerity of his apology. What I doubt (without defending everything Mr. Land said and not justifying his plagiarism)  is the apparent belief of Southern Baptist officials that any criticism of Mr. Obama, Mr. Jackson, or Mr. Sharpton is tantamount to racism, which is an absurd position.

Traditional Moral Positions and the Public Square

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Freedom of Speech (painting)

Freedom of Speech (painting) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Canada, it is a crime to publicly assert that practicing homosexuality is a sin. In my ethics class, students regularly write on their essays that being a virgin until marriage is “prudish,” and they do not take seriously the traditional view that couples should refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage. In many academic settings, those who believe abortion to be morally wrong are silenced, to the point that the University Faculty for Life presents an option to its members to hide their membership in the organization so that their colleagues do not find out. The notion that there is objective right and wrong is excluded from most public schools, and moral relativism is taught as the gospel truth (and teaching it as such is, of course a contradiction).

It is true that freedom of speech does not, as the old saw goes, give anyone the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Surely being morally opposed to abortion or to practicing homosexuality or to premarital sex is not the equivalent to shouting “Fire!” Yet such opinions are being increasingly excluded from the public square, in academic institutions first, and then in the wider society.

I believe in academic freedom. If a student or faculty member wishes to defend the moral rightness of premarital sex, of practicing homosexuality, or of abortion, that student or faculty member should be allowed to have a say in the university square. But academic freedom also implies that those with the opposite views on these issues should be allowed to make their case. I am a conservative, but if a liberal student makes a strong case for his position, he will get a good grade on his test and will not be punished for his views. The situation should be the same for a conservative student who makes a good defense of his position in a class with a liberal professor. To give them credit, some liberal professors do give their students such academic freedom and believe in such for their colleagues. There is a subset of professors, however, who want to silence conservative voices, especially on controversial moral issues. Such violation of freedom of speech has taken place in some institutions of higher education, to the point that a professor in one school who presented a natural law argument against homosexual practice (and did not even claim to agree with the argument) was fired–until a court awarded him his job back. The problem is that he should not have lost his job in the first place. What is going on is that hostile rhetoric against moral conservatives is repeated so much that people begin to believe it (“they are haters,” “these people are filled with anger,” etc.). I have never understood why holding moral action A to be wrong implies hating the person who performs moral action A. I wish I could say that such an ignorant position prevails only in academia, but it is present in broader society. More and more the elites in academia, the media, and in Hollywood, are attempting to exclude traditional moral discourse from legitimate discussion and to push their views onto society as a whole. It may be just a matter of time before the United States goes the direction that Canada has gone (depending on election results, court appointees, etc.) and makes illegal conservative moral discourse on abortion and on sexual ethics. I wonder who the real narrow minded people are, the real bigots, the real haters. I would venture a guess that most of them are not moral conservatives.

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