Bill Nye Fails at Bioethics

Or, “Bill Nye Ignores Most Pro-Life Scholarship, ‘Science, Bitch’ Crowd Roars in Approval”

So Bill Nye’s new video is making the rounds on Facebook and the internet, in which he DEVASTATES the anti-abortion movement’s unscientific, backward, intolerant, and malicious move to force women to carry every child ever to term, especially if it’s against her will.  Yeah, not so much

With science!   Continue reading

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On what people want Christians to hear

The scene: some church, some Sunday morning

*Ray slips in the back door, picks a seat towards the middle*

Pastor: Now, according to a few passages in the the Bible, homosexuality is a sin.

Couple of older males in the audience: Amen!

Pastor: Now, wait, I’m not finished.  You know what else the Bible defines as a sin?  Divorce.

*uncomfortable silence*Try this in my church, see what happens

Pastor: There are countless passages that talk about how divorce is wrong, and that there are consequences to getting a divorce, such as the wife should be stoned.  Yet, I witnessed a divorce just this morning.  And I gotta tell you, it was heartbreaking, but I definitely didn’t attempt to throw rocks at the wife, even though she was the one who filed for divorce.

*Ray raises his hand*  Pastor Redbum?

Pastor: What the—who was that?  Who called me Pastor ‘Redbum?’ Continue reading

A Modest Proposal

Call it an epiphany, if you will.  A triumphant solution to the issue of abortion!

Since abortion pits the present against the future, our generation versus those unborn, we should start by giving the future a voice in our present politics.

“Even if we can’t know what future citizens will actually value and believe in, we can still consider their interests, on the reasonable assumption that they will somewhat resemble our own (everybody rationally desires to live, for example).”  Since “our ethical values point one way, towards intergenerational responsibility, but our political system points another, towards the short-term horizon of the next election,” we  “should consider introducing agents who can vote in a far-seeing and impartial way.”

Wells suggests creating a public “trusteeship” of nongovernmental civic and charitable foundations, pro-life groups and nonpartisan think tanks “and give them each equal shares of a block of votes adding up to, say, 10 percent of the electorate,” so they can represent issues like “not being torn limb from limb” and “respecting essential human nature” for the unborn generation that will be deeply impacted but has no vote.

Just kidding.  Someone else came up with it already, except about the environment and not abortion.

But let’s treat it like a thought experiment–and what an experiment it is!  Think of it: a coalition, given the power of 10% of the vote, for the issues that they are concerned with most!  A very large percentage of major elections are won with less than a margin of ten percent; many minor ones fit the bill too.

It would undoubtedly allow for most current abortion law to be swept back to pre-Roe, technologically and scientifically updated, with legal wording that recognizes the human rights of the unborn.

What’s that, you say?  The unborn might not grow up to be pro-life?

Thankfully for us, this proposal addresses that already.  Instead of addressing what views they may have when they reach maturity, it acts in their interest.  That’s what the proposal allows: and if their interest is strong enough to give them a political voice, then their interest is strong enough to allow them to…survive fetal development.

What’s that, you say?  It places undue burden on women?  It doesn’t seem that big of a deal to the esteemed philosopher who thinks that we can burden all of society in the interests of the unborn; would it really be a stretch to burden* society in a lesser way, especially if systems existed to help pregnant women and mothers?  After all, it is in our best interest, and that of the unborn as well.  The philosopher quoted above was kind enough to explain that the conflict of a current lifestyle cannot be rightly pitted against the interest of future generations, which happens to be a decent point as far as it goes.  This author finds it absurdly amusing that it was applied to environmentalism.

I’m sorry?  “That’s completely undemocratic, and is a slap in the face of the idea of self-government?”  Well, this author would have to agree with you on the ‘undemocratic’ thing, and the “We know what’s best for you” thing rubs most everyone that disagrees with it (no matter what that is) the wrong way.

But it all strikes this author as fantastical.  By all means, the environment requires good stewardship; and we do need to think about the future; but if we’re going to use some very important terms in dealing with the unborn, let’s at least see where else that rhetoric and reasoning goes.

And this author suspects that most people who would agree with Wells would probably be able to turn coal into diamonds with their butt cheeks at the thought of using their language to extend the same environmental interests to matters of abortion.

*’Burden’ is loaded language, but I’m using it here since it’s the common (and uncritically accepted) rhetoric.

(Edited to remove incorrect nationality for Wells.  The author regrets the error.)

Perry Noble forgets the words of Jesus

There’s a bee in Perry Noble’s bonnet.

Yesterday he ranted about the effort to boycott the sale of Girl Scout cookies due to their relationship with Planned Parenthood over the latter’s propensity to kill an awful lot of human beings every year.

But what is Noble actually saying?

Some are actually arguing (as mentioned in the title) that if I buy a box of Girl Scout cookies then I am basically murdering unborn babies…because the Girl Scouts supposedly give money to Planned Parenthood, a pro-choice group.

The insanity of that argument is unreal!

But is this insane?  Of course not.  Noble addresses none of the pile of evidence of the cozy relationship between the GSUSA and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

I have mixed feelings about boycotts: sometimes they are appropriate and other times they are not.  In this particular case, the moral severity of abortion–and funding it through an organization for young women that are then the available target audience for their…services…and then obscures the nature and scope of that relationship to the public, then yes, a boycott is most certainly warranted.

But to address Noble’s other point about the insanity of boycotting the Girl Scouts, let’s ask a question.  If it is insane to forgo tasty cookies because they are used to fund an organization that is rather friendly with an abortion provider, what happens to the money when we do not forgo them?  Planned Parenthood will get more funds. Noble seems to think that he’s making a good argument in suggesting that we’d have to make decisions about who makes everything.  To which I say: What seems to be the problem?  As has already been said, we already do this and it’s a good thing to do.  But it doesn’t mean that we have to become the hermits Noble seems to think we’d have to become because not all causes are as clearly immoral as abortion.  Some are a matter of tolerance.  Noble makes no distinction in his ham-handed argument.

Noble then goes into theological territory and makes some terribly egregious mistakes.  So why did I say in the title that Noble forgets the words of Jesus when he quotes Jesus?

Noble references John 3:17, but misquotes it to serve his argument.  What did Jesus mean when he said he did not come into the world to condemn it?

Noble then goes on to lambaste pro-lifers for their treatment of women who have had abortions:

We don’t know each and every story that goes along with why a woman chose to have an abortion, but, I have spoken with several ladies in my church who have had to deal with the fact they chose to abort a child.  They were all very scared at the time, fear consumed them and many of them were driven to the abortion clinic by their parents with no choice but to go through with the abortion.

Which makes me wonder.  Has Perry Noble really spent a lot of time around pro-lifers?  I have seen many pro-lifers who have stood patiently and quietly outside of abortion clinics to pray: are they guilty of the iniquity Noble accuses all pro-lifers of?  What about the women–many post-abortive themselves–who plead with women going into clinics not to abort?  Are they also guilty of Noble’s accusation of insensitivity?

Noble then launches into his piece de resistance:

It really is sad when Planned Parenthood and The Girl Scouts are actually acting more Christ like than many of the people who are taking aim at them through this boycott!

Well then.

That’s why I said that Noble has forgotten the words of Jesus.

” Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”–John 7:24

What does it mean to be like Christ?  Simply being nice?  Being understanding?  Listening?  Are those the hallmarks of Christlikeness?  Or rather:

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”–Matthew 7:9-11

It is to Noble’s grievous discredit that he mistakes the composure of those who kill the unborn for Christlikeness.  Anyone can be nice if they think they’re doing the right thing in helping others through hard times, but that nicety is not evidence of Christlikeness.  It is false virtue to appear loving in the commission of a grave moral evil.  How did that fact escape Noble?

The difference is the understanding of love.  Love is looking out for the best interests of another.  Sometimes that means graciously telling an uncomfortable truth.  Sometimes it means warning people of the evil committed at an abortion clinic.  It is by no means loving to graciously commit evil.  In this, Noble has failed to heed the rebuke of Jesus to make a right judgment, one not based on mere appearances.  Are there really evil pro-life people out there?  Yes, and they need to repent.  Noble is right to criticize those who simply tell others they are murderers, but very few of even them would not be kind in face-to-face, one-on-one meetings with those who consider or who have had abortions.  And Noble doesn’t seem to realize that most of what he terms “hate” may in fact have certain theological underpinnings in certain forms of Presuppositional apologetics.  But he fails to realize that the pro-life movement is more diverse than what he seems to think it is.

On a more practical level, Noble can be answered by summarizing his own arguments.  Where does he draw the “condemnation” line of what counts and what doesn’t?  Is the statement “abortion is wrong” a bad thing for Christians to say?  If the unborn are human, and this can be ascertained with science and philosophy apart from the Gospel, then why not seek to outlaw the destruction of the unborn for any reason?  He speaks of ministering to those who have had abortions, but is this the only permissible way to deal with the issue?   More troubling is that his arguments are not new; they are, in fact, common pro-abortion arguments.  His line about how we don’t know the story of every woman who has an abortion is most often followed by the phrase “Therefore we should not judge them for having abortions.”  How would Noble respond to such a common argument?  What logically follows from the presence of unkind pro-lifers?  I’ve seen them, and they do the movement much harm.  But what follows?  That we should not say that abortion should be outlawed?  He says that he wishes we did not live in a world where so many abortions take place, but this too is common pro-choice rhetoric: safe, legal, and rare is the usual form it takes.  What are we to make when the same line gets used by different sides?  Moreover, how would he respond to Biblical arguments in favor of abortion made by those from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice?  In his haste to hypocritically malign Christians, he parrots more than a few pro-choice arguments.  Unfortunately he ends on a terrible note: by saying that adoption is a “far better” option than abortion, he blunts the moral force of his opposition to it.  If abortion is the unjust taking of a human life, then it is not one option among many.  Morally impermissible acts are not options when the choice is between a morally brave, even heroic, act and one that is evil.  The entire crux of the pro-choice argument rests on abortion being worse than the other options, even much worse, but that it should be an option by virtue of the complex moral difficulty facing the women who have to choose.

To which I say: considering this wording, and the line about legislation having little impact (which is by no means the case), this is essentially a pro-choice argument with a few scattered, neutered, and ambiguously used pro-life platitudes.

He then careens across the philosophical divide to make a few very bad common pro-life arguments, namely that legislation won’t fix it and that it will take a conversion to change minds about the issue.  But this too is sloppy: it is not a theological position that the unborn are unique human beings worthy of human rights.  It can be concluded based on uncontroversial science and ethical conclusions that he himself appeals to in his own post!  Ironically, Noble is using the exact same reasoning that he accuses pro-lifers of: some who use harsh words and means to demean those who have abortions also believe that only conversion can change the entire issue for good.

Noble then says most Christians treat abortion as a “sin category” (scare quotes included) and that they don’t understand how justification works.  Of course abortion is not the unforgivable sin: and Christopher Kaczor makes this point eloquently in the beginning of his book The Ethics of Abortion.  We need not condemn individual women for seeking to better their situations, but that does not mean that all solutions are morally equivalent, and the law needs to take that into account.  But this is offered without a shred of supporting evidence and in fact parrots the typical slander against pro-lifers.  Again: I would submit that had Noble spent a fair amount of time around pro-lifers, say the 40 Days for Life crowd, he would see that he has untruthfully slandered fellow believers.   Thus he is actually quite guilty of the thoughtless judgment he accuses others of.

But suppose we visit another era, the Antebellum South.  Let us suppose that there are a group of kind slave-owners who are being boycotted by a mix of kind and unkind abolitionists, replete with boycotts and protest signs.

Which of the two is Christ-like?

And that is the answer to Noble’s pronouncement.

And let us further suppose that there is another person who opposes slavery who says that legislation cannot help it, and that it will take a conversion of the heart for someone to realize that it’s wrong, and that there are far better options than slavery but there are many highly charged emotional factors that can go into the choice to keep slaves.

Compared to the above-mentioned abolitionists, which of the two is more Christ-like?

Let us further suppose that the abolitionists win and the slaves are freed.  Let us ask these abolitionists, then,  Noble’s question of “What did you win?  You have not made a difference!”

And that is also the answer to Noble’s failed rhetorical flourish.

When the choice is between “eating cookies that fund the killing of unborn humans” and not, there is no dilemma.

Is human life a spectrum? Responding to Seidensticker

Clinton Wilcox over at his blog is currently examining a collection of responses made to common pro-life arguments by one Bob Seidensticker at his own blog at Patheos.  While many of Seidensticker’s responses merit further discussion, many of them rely upon what he calls the “spectrum argument.” It comprises the backbone of his arguments in favor of abortion and for responding to anti-abortion arguments.

He then gives quite a few examples of what this spectrum looks like, as well as analogies that he asserts proves his point.  He argues from examples of a spectrum from blue to green, where colors in the middle of the spectrum are both blue and green, that the ends of the spectrum are definitely blue and green.  He makes his point concerning the question of when adulthood begins:

What age is the dividing line between child and adult? Twelve years? Eighteen? Twenty-one? It’s a spectrum, and there is no objectively correct line. Again, the line is debatable but no one doubts that a child and an adult are quite different.

Eventually he applies it to the question of the unborn:

At one end, we have arms and legs, fingers and fingernails, liver and pancreas, brain and nervous system, heart and circulatory system, stomach and digestive system—in fact, every body part that a healthy person has. And at the other, we have none of this. We have … a single cell. In between is a smooth progression over time, with individual components developing and maturing. That’s the spectrum we’re talking about.

Therefore, according to Seidensticker, because the properties that humans have at one end of the spectrum are not at the non-human end of the spectrum, that it is permissible to abort before human characteristics can be identified.

He continues:

Let’s approach this another way. Consider a brain with 100 billion neurons versus a single neuron. The single neuron doesn’t think 10–11 times as fast. It doesn’t think at all. The differentiation of the cells into different cell types and their interconnections in the newborn may count for even more than the enormous difference in the number of cells.

Note also that the difference between a newborn and an adult is trivial compared to the difference between the cell and the 1,000,000,000,000-cell newborn.

But is this an accurate critique of pro-life arguments about the nature of the unborn, and human nature in general?  I argue that it is philosophically and scientifically imprecise to regard the earliest stages of development as less than human.  Here’s why. 

To begin, embryology paints a different picture of the earliest stages of development than how Seidensticker treats them.  While he does mention cell differentiation as well as totipotency, I’m not sure he understands how they affect his argument.  In fact he accidentally gets it right by discussing making individual cells totipotent, which is to say that the entire genetic code of a cell has been activated so that it has become, in effect, a zygote: it will begin developing as a unique human being instead of developing its original particular type of tissue.

That totipotency makes the scientific difference for his case.  The zygote, by virtue of self-directed development, has the capacity to develop into a fetus, and the process by which one cell becomes many pluripotent cells that in turn become the myriad tissues that comprise the developing human.  By failing to acknowledge the ability of the zygote to ‘unfurl’ into a complete human being with no outside assistance (except by accident while trying to make trouble for pro-life arguments), his comparison to individual cells in a child or adult fails in its objective.  If the zygote is a human being at a particular stage of development (as an awful lot of embryology textbooks attest to), then his spectrum argument misses the point.

Seidensticker also attacks a strawman argument by carping about what the unborn is called at various stages of development, and references a common pro-choice argument: that a blueprint is not a house, that an acorn is not a tree, and that a cell is not a baby and a cell is not an adult.  Again, by failing to account for what kind of cell it is–that is, one that has the innate capacity to exercise self-development, as opposed to one that can only develop into a very specific type of tissue–his argument fails.  He is right to describe the differences between a zygote and a newborn as a vast degree, but attempting to show a difference in kind he misses the point.

As most any pro-lifer would argue, of course a cell isn’t a newborn and an acorn isn’t a tree and a blueprint isn’t a house.  But this is a misunderstanding of what the embryo actually is.  An acorn is very much not a tree, but there is no question that an acorn and the tree it may become is not a member of a particular species.  We can identify a type of acorn as belonging to a particular kind of tree; similarly we can identify an embryo as belonging to a particular species of animal.  (More on that later.)  But the analogy with the blueprint and the house falls flat: the zygote (and later embryo) are not just the ‘plans’ for a living human being, but have the capacity to develop as long as that process is not interrupted.  A blueprint cannot potentially become a house; it will always be a blueprint.  An embryo, by distinction, has the capacity to develop by virtue of what it is.

It is worth noting that the term ‘baby’ is indeed scientifically imprecise and can refer to both born and unborn, but scientific precision doesn’t seem to be in sight with this particular argument–in fact, it depends on the science not being precise.  If the science of embryology is precise on when a distinct human being comes into existence where none was before, then his argument is imperiled.  The embryology textbooks above gravely imperil the argument.

The philosophical problems with the case fare much worse.  Seidensticker completely fails to account for the concepts of act and potency, and ‘essential’ and ‘accidental.’  (From the sound of things, some of the arguments he responds to don’t account for them either, or do so very poorly.)

As regards act and potency: Any potency that a thing has is derived from what it is–which is to say, its actuality determines its potentiality.  What it is determines what it can do.  By simply dismissing the zygote as a ‘cell,’ he fails to account for the actuality of that particular cell as compared to the actuality of other cells.  The blueprint mentioned above does not have the potential to become a house by virtue of what it is: a fancy piece of paper.  A zygote has the potential to become a fetus, then a child, and then an adult by virtue of what it is: a human being at a particular stage of development, complete with everything it needs to develop.  That is why the blueprint argument fails, and the acorn argument is not an accurate representation of development within species.  All the characteristic organs he mentions as belonging to humanness are contingent upon the makeup of the zygote; they cannot therefore be what constitutes our humanity.  On that note:

As regards essential versus accidental properties: An essential property is exactly that: without an essential characteristic, something becomes something else.  An accidental property is one that does not change the essential nature of a thing.  For example, a human can have hair, but does not lose humanity by losing hair, or by having lighter or darker hair.  A human can lose fingers or limbs and still retains a human nature, because fingers or limbs are accidental, rather than essential, characteristics of a human being.  This is the key (essential, if you will) question: what makes us human?  If it is not our sensory organs, or if we are still human without particular functioning organs (heart, liver, lungs, with a few exceptions I’ll mention in a moment), then can we really say that our humanity arises somewhere on a spectrum?  It does not; it is the case that the spectrum of human development itself depends upon our essential human nature, which can be found from the very first distinct cell on.  Everything he appeals to, with a few anticipated exceptions, is contingent upon the actuality that the zygote already possesses.  This is why his argument fails, philosophically and scientifically speaking.  The zygote and embryo are very different in degree from a fetus, child, or adult; but it is not different in kind.  At every stage of development, the human being is a “unified entity” in the words of Christopher Tollefsen and Robert George.  That crucial difference is ignored by the spectrum argument, to its failure.

As to the exceptions I mentioned above: In one example responding to pro-life arguments, he mentions a hypothetical where only a person’s head was kept alive and suggests that of course he or she is less of a person.  This raises serious questions about the ability of the ‘spectrum’ to accurately determine humanity, by virtue of begging the question of what makes us human in the first place.  Naturally, I anticipate consciousness asserted as an essential characteristic of personhood, as well as the primacy of the brain as the control center of the body, but applying the spectrum to the ‘living head’ would not be pretty to the person whose body simply comprises a head.  Is the ability to immediately exercise a capacity, with the use of a whole human body, the requirement for determining humanness?  Can the ‘spectrum,’ with its lack of objectiveness, be trusted to provide the right outcome for the question of whether or not a technologically-augmented head is deserving of full human rights?  That answer is ‘no.’  But the pro-life argument can be trusted in such a case, by virtue of its philosophical understandings of act and essence.

For what it’s worth: Seidensticker mentions pro-lifers who say that “Some pro-life advocates argue that the humans at either end of this spectrum are identical in every meaningful way […].”  This is puzzling.  Who says so?  What does he mean when he says “identical in every meaningful way?”  Does he mean morally meaningful?  Identical as far as species and kind go?  That the embryo is genetically identical at all stages of development?  Or identical in some other sense?  Inquiring minds want to know.  Because without further substantiation, this looks suspiciously like a straw-man argument.  Which does not seem surprising considering that sophisticated pro-life philosophy seems absent in this particular critique.

(Sort-of-edit: Wilcox has responded to this as well at his own blog here.)

Screwtape goes to Texas

(Somewhere in Hell)

My dearest Wormwood,

I must say it is with surprise and delight that you seem to be doing somewhat better for yourself having moved to the American Sector after that incident with the British fellow.  I will not deny that I was confounded when you sent that letter some time back saying “We need to wait it out and see what happens,” suggesting the situation after the latest of the humans’ big fancy wars was ripe for Infernal manipulation, but it seems you were right.

But word gets around down here; we had the internet installed quite some time ago (note: we had to settle for Comcast; don’t worry, they’ll get what’s coming to them in time) and we’ve been monitoring the situation in Texas for the last few weeks.  And we saw that some of your subjects were chanting “Hail, Satan” in some skirmish between those who support abortion and those who do not.

Unfortunately, word reached The Big Man Downstairs; He was none too thrilled that His title was taken so vainly.  It’s not that he disagrees with them; after all, they are on His side in the matter.  But it’s a matter of propriety.  His Maleficence doesn’t really want to be publicly associated with those who would actually defend the killing of viable children.  It’s a distraction.  So it needs to stop.  Also, it’s very bad PR, even for Satan.  He seems to think that the chanters were simply “trolling” (their word, not ours) the Enemy’s representatives.  As you know, He is much too grave a being to be trifled with like that.  Though He did commend them on their general Hellishness; they did a fine job of portraying the true nature of Hell, if you will recall our previous conversations about Music being drowned out by our Infernal Noise.

Which is not to say that he disagrees with them.  Oh, He finds it all amusing: the sideshow of those who speak of the issue in religious terms, on both sides, are doing a wonderful job of distracting everyone from the real issue at hand.  You must tell me, Wormwood–was it you that sought to clothe the Enemy’s resistance in almost purely religious garb?  Well, let me tell you, it has done a magnificent job–it’s a true stroke of genius!  It’s the distraction to end all distractions: by speaking of it only in our Enemy’s terms, as though He cares about it, allows those who have been influenced by our tempters to dismiss anything they say as that great and terrible faux pas, religious.  It took our Research Department a very long time (and at very great cost) to bring about the atmosphere of general distrust of anything that smacked of religion; but when it came about, it allowed for those hapless humans to dismiss almost anything from our Enemy’s camp because it was cheeky to speak about it at all.  And Hell have mercy (as if–but that’s for another letter) if someone appealed to metaphysics in order to argue something that applied to how humans behave and regard one another!  And thus the stage was set: even if a human disavowed the Enemy, if he took a stand on a matter of abortion he was regarded as being corrupted by ‘religion’ and dismissed as such.  So when it’s all said and done, even the humans under the Enemy’s control who spoke of abortion only in ‘religious’ terms were unable to hit the mark and provided us a useful distraction.

But the Enemy does seem to care about this sort of thing; His infuriating peons chose to sing a song about Forgiveness.  Forgiveness!  What gall!  What cheek!  Even after all the pains we went through to make the term ‘religious’ radioactive to them, they impose their insufferable mercy on those that we have convinced deserve no forgiveness and need no forgiveness.  We make it embarrassing and they went and did it anyway.  They might well even bring the whole charade down on accident.  And they’d better not, since we invested so much in making them seem cruel and heartless towards those who are tempted into abortion.  So it falls to you to rectify this situation.  Oh, to be sure, much of it is still beside the point and a useful distraction, and much of it is simply a bad argument, but it is all on terribly thin ice.  As are you.

Oh, the humans and their pathetic ‘rights.’  You’ve done well by getting them to think about rights selfishly, in terms of some sort of conflict, and in terms of unessential characteristics.  A death sentence simply for being the wrong gender–unthinkable after birth, but permissible before!  An unwanted child, deprived of life, simply because of how someone else regarded him!  Or because that human would deprive someone else of partaking in all manner of worldly pleasures that we’ve inculcated in them over the long years.  Know the gravity, then, of the thought that the mere presence of another human being that requires their attention may divert them from those worthwhile temptations and bring them into closer union with the Enemy.  Why He bothers to unite with them is still beyond us, but He has a knack for using things they perceive as ‘burdens’ to reveal Himself to them when our Noise is withheld.  We must work more on that.  Our Research Department is busy trying new ways to warp the thinking of some of those among them who call themselves “ethicists,” who are simply the most twisted sons of Hell you ever did see.  Can you imagine the scandal if anyone figured out their statements relied on metaphysics just as much as those who disagree with them?  Can you imagine the lack of chaos if they ever figured out the nature of rights?  Hence all the distractions.  Of course, they’ll have no rights at all Down Here, even if they wound up down here just insisting upon ‘their rights.’  But they’ll have no rights at all with the Enemy either; we’ll still tell them that much, but if they ever figure out how or why, the jig will be up.  Their concept of rights, as noble as they think of it, is still a very useful distraction when corrupted and debased.

But I digress.  Keep all the distractions going; even if they will not succeed this time, it is beside the point.  Our point is the myriad distraction.  Too few of them are fighting the real battles to make that much of a difference.  But if they start making much more of a difference, you will pay the price.  I hear the tempters at Comcast have a few openings, and no one wants to go there, do they?  I thought not.  Get to work.

 

Ever yours,

Screwtape

 

An open letter to Senator Feinstein

The Honorable Diane Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

I would like to share my thoughts regarding any upcoming legislation regarding firearms.

It is no surprise that many Americans disagree with your stance regarding the government’s role towards its citizens and firearms. But I think there may be some misunderstandings that I might be able to clarify.

An average citizen who owns a firearm has a particular way of looking at the world, and that firearm fits into that worldview. Our world comprises a vast range of ideas, emotions, acts, intentions, and possibilities, good and evil, and an indeterminate amount of risk. A firearm, then, becomes a very real reminder that civilization is always challenged on two fronts: by barbarism on one side, and by tyranny on the other, and that there is a certain amount of responsibility that is acknowledged by the bearer of such a weapon that both such dangers can literally be within firing range. The firearm just happens to be the current instrument of choice; we have not always had firearms, but we have always had to confront barbarity and tyranny, sometimes on the personal level. And those people who have an interest in firearms do not see an acknowledgement of that reality by those who advocate greater regulation of firearms. It is seen as a denial of a duty that has existed as long as humanity itself. They regard the Second Amendment not as the creation of a right but as a recognition of a right that every human has.

And I would venture to guess that many of these Americans do not know just how perilous life is outside of the States. We do not live in neighborhoods with armed security, where every home is protected by an eight-to-ten foot fence topped with razor wire, broken glass bottles, or electric fencing, with a metal gate that prevents unauthorized vehicular entry. We do not live, as South Africa does, in a nightmare where every single citizen has either been the victim of a violent crime or knows someone firsthand who has been the victim of violent crime. Even those who do not know of the reality of a huge swath of the world recognize that the capacity to defend one’s home and family is greatly enhanced by the capacity to own firearms, even those such as AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles. The more that guns are eliminated, the more our homes will become fortresses.

So they tend to view further restrictions on firearms not as a strengthening of a society, but a weakening of society, because civilization itself is maintained primarily by individuals. They do not accept that we are made better by such a move, because the results will never match the intentions, no matter how caring.

There is one other point that many Americans feel is lost on those who advocate further comprehensive firearms reform. Many of them, if not most of them, have a real problem with law-abiding gun owners being regarded (and in some cases treated) like law-breaking gun users. Many of them feel that it is supremely unfair and uncivil to fail to distinguish between the lawful and the lawless concerning guns, and when that distinction fails to be acknowledged, they ascribe it to a sort of moral relativism on the part of those who make that claim. And I think they have a point: when those who abide by the law are regarded no differently than those who ignore it, there is reason for concern, because it comes from a morally colorblind worldview. That worldview is disturbing to those who see firearms as a critical instrument in upholding a civil society, because it suggests that there is a fundamental amorality at work. Since the Connecticut shooting that apprehension has been well-founded. It smells like tyranny, of a government that does not trust its citizenry.

That’s all, I suppose. I am just a citizen, you are an elected official, and elections have consequences. Nevertheless, I felt it worthwhile to share my thoughts on the matter.

Respectfully yours,

David