Doritos, NARAL, and Sci Fi

Posted: February 8, 2016 by ShortTimer in Culture, Philosophy, Science
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In the last few weeks, I keep piling up stories that will probably be strung together in a few Field Day posts, but this story from HotAir I didn’t want to leave on the back burner and get to later.

The title is “I suppose we should talk about that Doritos ad“.

This is the ad:

And this was the response from NARAL:

And a screenshot in case it disappears:

naral superbowl 50 tweet humanizing fetuses

So they’re opposed to humanizing human offspring, because it’s some tactic of the anti-choice movement.  Humanizing fetuses is… bad?

NARAL’s twitter feed sounds like the hard leftist craziness it is, but as they’re not the kind of people I follow on twitter – Twitchy does a fine job of keeping up on that sort of thing anyway.

Not sure why they use the statue of liberty as their twitter avatar, seeing as how she’s in favor of accepting those poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free, not yearning to crush the lives from people who will never breathe, but I guess irony escapes them.

I’m a sci fi fan (and I don’t care that it’s become SF or “speculative fiction” to clean up the image of bug-eyed monsters from the 50s), and from the perspective of most humanist sci fi, I can’t see any way that NARAL doesn’t come across as utter monsters.

I just spent part of this morning watching SFDebris Star Trek reviews – I enjoy seeing what someone else has thought of classic (and not so classic) episodes of the past – and even if I don’t always agree with the takes that he has on them, I usually gain some greater understanding of the episode and story.  This morning one episode review I watched was his review of Star Trek: Enterprise Similitude.

Enterprise was the prequel spinoff series that aired in the late 90s early 2000s and fared poorly.  Especially compared to The Next Generation and Deep Space 9 (which was highly underrated), Enterprise was weak.

The story Similitude involves the chief engineer getting seriously injured after an engine mishap, the ship getting stuck in some kind of anomaly that was decaying the hull, and the need to save the engineer.  So the highly unethical ship’s doctor decided to make a clone of the engineer by using some alien critter larva, then force-grow the clone, and basically strip it for parts.

Thing is, the clone is recognized as a person.  Even though it was grown for the specific purpose of being harvested for organs, the clone is a copy down to neurological pathways of the original, so it has his memories and knowledge (dubious science, I know), and is fully self-aware and more than a little opposed to being used for parts.  In the end the clone cares more for the comatose engineer and the memories of trying to make things right for his/their lost sister and family, especially knowing it’s force-grown and will age and die in a few days.

Even in this mediocrely written sci fi, there’s some understanding that something is being done with life – that life isn’t something to casually throw away, and that a human life (or near-human life) is a valuable life – and that virtue of life is acknowledged even if it’s a force-grown clone created with a specific purpose.

Plenty of folks on twitter smacked NARAL around by pointing out the definition of a fetus is “a developing human”, but the whole thing strikes me as something both telling and sinister.  It shows the character of people who are in NARAL and those who support it, and it’s really disturbing.

From an alien perspective, an alien may or may not care for the idea of terminating gestating offspring, but denying that a gestating offspring is still a member of the parent race is just nonsensical.

If aliens from Zeta Reticuli said, “yeah, we kill our offspring when it’s inconvenient for us because we value the agency of full-grown Reticulans over those of our larva”, you might well find them offensive, especially depending on their history and culture.

If they said, “yeah, we kill our gestating fetuses when it’s inconvenient for us because those things aren’t Reticulans”, you’d probably find them to be poorly written or a race in absurd denial in order to justify their actions.

The problem for NARAL might be that saying you should be able to kill offspring – which is their position – then makes it solely a question of timing.  The argument I remember hearing in college philosophy courses was the “future like ours” theory, that means you could kill off the weak, crippled, or handicapped, but that you shouldn’t kill off the strong in the womb.  The same argument also began to apply to “future like ours” as in what can be provided for the offspring, thus it’s was okay to kill the strong if you were poor and couldn’t afford an ideal future for that offspring.  There was also an argument that human offspring aren’t capable of independent life before a certain time period, and that makes it okay to kill them because they’re not individual beings yet – this is intended to be a trimester argument, but its logical conclusion would include newborns and children up to a few years of age who couldn’t survive in nature without assistance (an argument that has been made before).

Those last parts become unpalatable and monstrous to most of society right now.  Using sci fi/speculative fiction to explore the concepts, there’s not necessarily a reason they couldn’t become or be considered acceptable, given the proper framework.  Maybe a warrior group kills the weakest of its offspring, or an overpopulated planet exterminates them, but even then there’s a reason.  The warrior race wants to be stronger, the overpopulated planet is concerned with its stability – they understand the offspring are theirs, but deny them life for a reason (albeit ones we may not agree with).  I still couldn’t see a writer coming up with any kind of logic to a race that would deny its own offspring, unless it were an intentional flaw in the race – like some kind of adherence to an obsolete philosophy from when they were warlike or too numerous to survive that they now take as gospel.  It might work for an group with a strict collectivist mentality that’s harshly enforced, or for a group that steadfastly believes in some throwback idea that they don’t realize they’ve outgrown.

Human cultures in the past have engaged in practices like those, but concern for our species and enlightened concern for all humanity has moved us past that… except for the people who want to drag us back.  NARAL denies the humanity of a developing offspring that even infanticidal cultures of the past would not – because the infanticidal cultures of the past acknowledged it as a decision, either an ugly one or one they simply choose to be willfully apathetic about due to circumstance – while NARAL is afraid of the moral bankruptcy or perception of callousness that comes from acknowledging what they’re advocating.

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