Leftist: “All Life Is Not Equal”

Posted: February 1, 2013 by ShortTimer in Eugenicists, Leftists, Philosophy, Progressives and Left
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The title and conclusion from this Salon piece, entitled “So what if abortion ends life?”:

I believe that life starts at conception.  A life worth sacrificing.

Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.

The thing is, leftists are death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers.  They make judgements against those who truly bear no responsibility for their condition (grandma and babies), while defending those who are responsible for their own problems (terrorists and murderers).  The left wants their lives to be consequence-free.  That someone would argue an innocent life has no rights is a very telling position to take.

But we make choices about life all the time in our country. We make them about men and women in other nations. We make them about prisoners in our penal system. We make them about patients with terminal illnesses and accident victims. We still have passionate debates about the justifications of our actions as a society, but we don’t have to do it while being bullied around by the vague idea that if you say we’re talking about human life, then the jig is up, rights-wise.

The big difference is that these examples – drone strikes, the death penalty, terminal illness, and even sometimes accident victims, involve decisions made by those actors.  Those life and death choices are made as a result of their actions.

Drone strikes used against terrorists are supposed to be used in order to minimize casualties of good people and hold accountable only terrorists and their allies.  Terrorists chose to be terrorists.  The death penalty exists only because there are people who have chosen to commit atrocities against their fellow man and are being held accountable for it.  Murderers chose to be murderers.

Patients with terminal illnesses are fully developed people who are able to make decisions about their own lives.  The terminally ill can choose what they wish with their lives.  Accident victims depend person by person, depending on wishes they expressed to their families prior to their injuries; so even they sometimes have choices as to whether they wish to continue living or end it – even if incapacitated.

A human life that is not fully realized is no less human.  The Salon writer agrees, but simply does not care.  This is honest, but shows how cold and callous a philosophy this is.

When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory. I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.

The Salon writer agrees that both are human life.  This is again both honest and very telling.

Consider the sub-heading to her piece:

I believe that life starts at conception. And it’s never stopped me from being pro-choice

And she finishes with this:

…it saves lives not just in the most medically literal way, but in the roads that women who have choice then get to go down, in the possibilities for them and for their families. And I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.

Some of this is similar to the “future like ours” argument.  If a prospective baby wouldn’t be loved or would maybe have poor opportunities in life, it’s not as valuable as other lives, and it can be/should be destroyed.  It’s a sketchy argument because it leads down a road that justifies killing children and adults as well if they don’t have “good” lives.  But in this case, it’s more an argument of “if it inconveniences the mother”.

See what this really sounds like now:

I believe that life starts at conception.  A life worth sacrificing.

This is making fundamental judgements not about life choices by an individual who can make their own decisions and who will live with accountability with those decisions.  This is about one person making a decision to exterminate a human life based on the idea that “women’s choices and their possibilities” are more important than the human life they carry.  And this ignores entirely that the woman and man (or men, if that’s her thing) involved had the choice to avoid pregnancy entirely.  (There are plenty of ways.  The internet is full of suggestions.)

Let’s revisit this medical ethics paper from the Journal of Medical Ethics:

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

If a potential person, like a fetus and a newborn, does not become an actual person, like you and us, then there is neither an actual nor a future person who can be harmed, which means that there is no harm at all. So, if you ask one of us if we would have been harmed, had our parents decided to kill us when we were fetuses or newborns, our answer is ‘no’, because they would have harmed someone who does not exist (the ‘us’ whom you are asking the question), which means no one. And if no one is harmed, then no harm occurred.

As the Salon writer agrees that human life begins at conception, but that some lives are worth sacrificing… well, we’re back to the old eugenicist arguments again.

We’re back to a group of leftist-progressive planners who decide whose life is worth saving and whose is not – based on their own whims.  In this case, they do so on both a personal level and on a societal level by advocating for abortion.  (Which is what Margaret Sanger did.)

There have been no actions made by the life forfeited to deem it worthless.  The human life destroyable by the Salon writer so she isn’t “punished with a baby” has no influence on its death.  It did nothing wrong, and made no choice.  Again, the murderer and the terrorist who face death at someone else’s hands do so because of actions they chose.  The terminal patient or accident victim may choose to face death by their own hands or with the help of others as that is a choice they have made.  The evil parties made their decision to forfeit their lives, the good parties made their decisions to end theirs.  Those parties are responsible for their own ends, for good or evil.  The zygote, fetus, or infant destroyed so the mother (and perhaps father) can skip out on the physical, financial, and social burdens of parenthood is destroyed due to no fault or decision of its own.

The leftist decision here is that “yes, life begins at conception, but I can take a life because I want to”.  That’s basically it.

I believe that life starts at conception.  A life worth sacrificing.

This is about abortion, but it’s actually bigger than that.  It’s about the value of life in competing value systems.

The conservative/traditionalist value system looks at life and all its possibilities, whether intended or not, as a bounty and a treasure.  That same view sees that life is a gift that can be squandered or misused.  Those who abuse their life and the natural rights they enjoy simply by their existence (regardless of whether you see life and rights as preexisting by being God-given or nature-given) may have their lives ended.  In short, bad guys may forfeit their lives by their decisions.  Conservatives/traditionalists tend to argue against euthanasia and the ending of ones’ life out of respect for the gift of life – they may empathize with the pain, but often empathy for the desire to end suffering will not outweigh their love for life.  This often comes from a long view of history, which is full of people who overcome suffering – and thus it leads to a desire to help those who are suffering to go on living.

The leftist/progressive value system feels that life is only a treasure if you feel like it.  They view that it’s “unfair” to those who are fully developed that they should have to suffer consequences of their actions.  This applies to the hapless new mother and father who didn’t take enough precautions as much as it applies to the villain who didn’t care about someone else’s life.  They see the developed lives in front of them and fall to the Broken Window fallacy – they truly can only see what’s in front of them.  They can’t see the loss of the potential life destroyed.  They feel for the murderer and listen to his story of disadvantages and “social injustice”, but they don’t care about his victims.  The left never really cares about actual victims.   They feel that an unformed life is worth destroying, that a human life that isn’t fully developed isn’t of any worth at all – because it’s all up to them to arbitrarily assign value.

To quote Thomas Sowell:

“For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.”

The “new man” leftist/progressive has decided that their value system, arbitrary as it is, is better in all means.  In their hubris, they disregard history, and substitute their new amorphous morality.  This applies at all levels – it applies to the value of life – and it applies to human life that may be sacrificed for the greater good.

The “greater good” in this microcosm is the mother’s physical life (which very few object to), and then it progresses to the mother’s financial and social life (which more object to), and finally simply to the mother’s convenience and whim.

The “greater good” in the larger leftist view sees “the mother” become “the people”, and the individual human life that can be sacrificed becomes… the individual human life that can be sacrificed – all for the “greater good”.

From a purely libertarian point of view, being able to live freely of coercion is the most important thing.  If the life of a mother is threatened because of a pregancy gone awry, the mother’s life is sacrosanct – she should not be forced to risk her life.  If a woman is raped and rendered pregnant from it, the woman was forced to become pregnant, but the life created did not choose its origins and is also guilty of nothing.  Whatever the mother chooses – to reject the force that made her pregnant and terminate the pregnancy, or to acknowledge the pregnancy as a human life and as a victim of things outside its control – either should be her choice.  If life itself isn’t formed at a certain level, if something is still a medical condition that may or may not be life, then that leaves some area for a mother’s choice (hopefully with the father’s input as well).  A lot of both acceptance and rejection of abortion stems from where people believe that level is.

But if both sides of the debate have decided that a life is a life, and one side claims that it can just be killed arbitrarily, that leads to a conclusion that coercion, domination and destruction of other lives is acceptable.

I believe that life starts at conception.  A life worth sacrificing.

The author asks “So what if abortion ends a life?”  The response to that “so what” is that by the same reasoning, all lives are worth sacrificing on a whim.

The Salon author’s argument that she should be able to kill kids based on feelings holds every bit as much weight as Adam Lanza’s.

Update: Moonbattery gets it, too.

Presumably the same thinking would apply to humans of all ages deemed to be inconvenient.

Liberalism is reducing us to a society of monsters.

Comments
  1. ryan59479 says:

    I guess if all life is equal, and all beings have equal rights by the virtue of being alive, any decision regarding who gets to decide what becomes completely arbitrary.

    • ShortTimer says:

      Not so.

      All life is equal, but the individual’s choices can forfeit their own life. A criminal who attacks you has made his own right to life forfeit as he has put you into a state of war with him. He threatens you and you have a right to defend yourself – his decision put his own life in peril.

      If someone becomes terminally ill, and they choose to take their own life, that’s also their individual decision. They’ll have to die/live with that choice depending on their own belief system.

      If you’re making a life and death decision for someone who is innocent, then yes – that’s arbitrary. Usually it’s called murder.

      If your statement’s intention is to say that there is no morality, that everything is arbitrary, and we live completely in a mindless state of nature, and “do what thou wilt” and such, then go read Locke, or just about any other philosopher. You guess wrong.

      • ryan59479 says:

        Rights have nothing to do with morality. If rights can be taken away based upon a completely subjective moral decision, then they aren’t really rights at all. They’re simply privileges allowed by people projecting an arbitrary system of values upon you.

      • ShortTimer says:

        What subjective moral decision would that be? Give specifics.

        Also, go read:
        http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtreat.htm

      • ryan59479 says:

        Any moral decision is a subjective one, since morals aren’t absolute.

      • ShortTimer says:

        Wrong.

        There are dozens of world religions that disagree; and every creed that exists also has its own absolutes, unless “Do what thou wilt” is all.

        Even the absence of religion and philosophy still lends to the fact that life itself exists to exist, thus individual survival becomes the only goal, and moral decisions are based on that which guarantees survival. Survival becomes the absolute.

        Regardless, the point to the post here is that someone that says “a human life is a human life” then turns around and says “it’s worth destroying” for her own interests. This means there is no sanctity of life; upon which pretty much all of human society rests. If you can arbitrarily destroy one life, your philosophy means you can arbitrarily destroy another.

        That, too, becomes absolute.

        Unless, of course, this is an elaborate setup for the line: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes”, which is itself an absolute.

      • ryan59479 says:

        So then give me one absolute moral. And don’t say anything about murder or killing, since you just proved that that moral is relative. Killing a fetus is wrong, but killing a home intruder is not. If taking a life were part of an absolute moral, as you claim, then your example in a previous reply about killing a home intruder would fly in the face of that.

      • ShortTimer says:

        You miss the point, then refuse to hear what the point is.

        The difference is between taking a life as murder or taking a life as killing (or even as euthanasia).

        The attacker who seeks to harm you has placed a reducd value on his own life. His life held the same place as yours did until he chose to seek harm to you.

        The fetus, which the leftist author says is human life – has made no such decision. It is incapable of making such a decision.

        One has done something to warrant a devaluation of its life the other has not.

        In the case of euthanasia – one has devalued their own life. There are those that would still argue that their life has so much value they should never kill themselves, but nonetheless the individual has chosen to reduce the value of their life so as to justify their chosen course of action.

        Again, actors who chose to devalue themselves may do so. The man at the end of his life due to illness may chose that he is at his end, and he may choose his means. The attacker has chosen by his decision to make his own life forfeit, and your actions may be the means to his end.

        Those who do not chose to devalue their lives by their own actions (or in the case of infants & kids, cannot), mean that their lives cannot be forfeit.

        It comes down to volition.

      • ryan59479 says:

        So then you can’t give me an example of an absolute moral…and also just proved my point about morals being relative and subjective. If the ‘wrongness’ of taking a life is dependent upon the situation and volition of the parties involved, then there’s nothing absolute about it all. Once you start demarcating when the same action has different values or meanings in different situations to different people, then it becomes entirely relative and subjective. If you take away the “meaning” you’ve imbued due to “volition” then killing is killing, regardless of the situation. You yourself have personally added the moral flavor, if you will, of why the same action is wrong in one circumstance and right in another.

        I’m not trying to make the point that morality isn’t purposeful or that it doesn’t play an important role in the function of a society. I’m merely trying to illustrate that it’s illogical to try and make one moral absolute in one context and relative in another.

      • ShortTimer says:

        Again, you miss the point and then refuse the point. I’ll reiterate, a bit more succinctly:

        Murder and killing are two different things. (Euthanasia is another different thing.)

        Stealing and gathering are two different things.

        Rape and sex are two different things.

        Robbery and sharing are two different things.

        I’ve given you examples. Your refusal to acknowledge them doesn’t change them.

      • ryan59479 says:

        My point is that the only difference between all of the things that you mentioned is an arbitrary delineation created by you or by a society. Your assertion that these are valid isn’t anymore legitimate than a refusal to believe them. Ergo I believe we’ve reached an impasse in this conversation.

      • ShortTimer says:

        You fail to understand again.

        Volition is a choice of the actor, it determines the act.

        It isn’t arbitrary, it’s a choice by the actor(s). They determine what it means.

        Your argument that society or others determine the act ignores individual agency.

        Society and others often determine madmen to not be held to account, because they don’t understand their actions. The madman disconnected with reality may be physically able to harm someone, but he may also not understand nor have the capacity to understand that he does harm. He lacks individual agency.

        Others do not. They determine their own actions.

      • ryan59479 says:

        I don’t know how much clearer and logical it gets: killing and murder are both taking a life; the difference is one provided by human beings, not by the acts themselves.That makes the morality behind the acts subjective. If you want to carry absolutist views in a subjective world, it’s your choice to try and force a square peg through a round hole. If you don’t understand the framework of logic and thought experiments within the context of philosophy, then our discussion can go no further. Best of luck.

      • ShortTimer says:

        “The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.”

        Alternately: “If a dog had a square ass, would it shit bricks?”

        Acts require agency.

        Your assertion ignores this.

      • ryan59479 says:

        Also, I feel I should add that I’m enjoying this discussion, and feel that it’s been highly productive.

      • ShortTimer says:

        There is something to be said for a lot of discussion. If you don’t know the framework from which another argument comes, sometimes it’s easy to miss points that others take as self-evident; or if you’re short of some facts, to not see why folks have taken the points they do.

        I’ll note that some of the most famous use of the phrase “self evident” comes from the Constitution, wherein the Founders were all very well-read men, and so they understood the framework by which those rights were self-evident.

        Again, I suggest Locke, though he’s very dry.

  2. genomega1 says:

    Reblogged this on News You May Have Missed and commented:
    Leftist: “All Life Is Not Equal”

  3. JBH says:

    Great conversation going here. Part of the reason this blog exist. Shorttimer keep up the good work. Ryan we appreciate your participation!

  4. […] a month or so ago, a Salon Leftist made the argument that “All life is not equal… a life are worth sacrificing.“  And last year, the Journal of Medical Ethics argued for post-birth abortion… that […]

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