Posted by: readerjohn | January 31, 2015

Saturday, 1/30/15

  1. Free speech for me. Thee I’m not so sure about
  2. “Wilsonian” is not a compliment
  3. Great leap forward?: Dying (and killing) for “democracy”
  4. Tax bias, mansplaining and Otherkins

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | January 30, 2015

Friday, 1/30/15

  1. A reliable 10,000 year-old oral tradition
  2. The liturgies of secular nationalism
  3. The revolutionary pecking order
  4. Deeper, wiser, more rounded

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | January 29, 2015

Thursday, 1/29/15

  1. How to unmanipulate an economy
  2. Maybe he needed two steps back
  3. The least bad choice?
  4. Christophobia on frequent parade
  5. Authenticity’s everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made
  6. Gay Bob, Christian Bob, perceptive Noah
  7. Shameless Hugh Bait
  8. You’re better than those people, Gentle Readers

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | January 28, 2015

Wednesday, 1/28/15

I noticed that I was running long on religion, short on politics, so I moved the politics to a separate, forthcoming blog. This one’s all religious topics, should that be a particular turn-on or turn-off for you.

  1. Called to be righteous-with-wicked
  2. Called to chastity (tougher than you think)
  3. Shema, shahadah, credo
  4. Lying in the service of truthiness
  5. The debate hasn’t started until I’ve won

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | January 25, 2015

Sunday, 1/25/15

  1. Religiously neutral and scientific?
  2. You can’t fight something with nothing
  3. GOP to Pro-Lifers: take this bone and go away
  4. Rethinking marriage at retail
  5. Made for Paradise as deer for the forest

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | January 24, 2015

Sentimental Journeymen

There are two essential harms from [physician-assisted suicide]. First: Once doctors agree to assist a person’s suicide, ultimately they find it difficult to reject anyone who seeks their services. The killing of patients by doctors spreads to encompass many treatable but mentally troubled individuals, as seen today in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

Second: When a “right to die” becomes settled law, soon the right translates into a duty. That was the message sent by Oregon, which legalized assisted suicide in 1994, when the state-sponsored health plan in 2008 denied recommended but costly cancer treatments and offered instead to pay for less-expensive suicide drugs.

We’d be dour folk indeed if we did not respond in some way to the Brittany Maynards. But, surely one can ask, is poisoning her the best response on offer? And, since Hippocrates, most thoughtful doctors have said, “No.”

Thinking about the place of sentiments in our actions might be helpful. G.K. Chesterton addressed this issue in a 1901 essay entitled “Sentimental Literature”: “If sentimental literature is to be condemned,” he wrote, “it must emphatically not be because it is sentimental, it must be because it is not literature.” We all can immerse ourselves happily in tales of the loyal, courageous or romantic. The sentiments aren’t bad; it’s the literature—hackneyed, contrived, simplistic.

Physician-assisted suicide is sentimental medicine. It’s not the sentiments that are bad; it’s the medicine—bad because when assisted suicide is legalized, the sick don’t get more choices for their care; they get fewer.

(Paul McHugh, Dr. Death Makes a Comeback)

PAS isn’t the only sentimental medicine around.

The current standard of care for people with gender dysphoria begins with nonjudgmentally accepting the reality of the patient believing—knowing—that he was “assigned” (in the parlance) the wrong body at birth. Then, the patient is treated for any underlying anxiety or depression. He or she may also receive gender reassignment treatments, such as hormone therapy and/or sex change surgery. Dysphoric children may be prescribed puberty blockers to prevent their bodies from developing secondary sex characteristics, which can facilitate more-successful future gender reassignment.

(Wesley Smith) We all lead pretty busy lives these days, and we can’t stop and reflect on everything that crosses our paths. I had begun adopting the parlance “GLBT” just to avoid fights over terminology, but I’m thinking I was giving away too much with T and maybe with B.

Let’s back off a bit for perspective.

Dennis Avner never considered himself human. He related to the world as a cat.  And he found, over the decades, obliging doctors, to the tune of some $200,000.

Then he committed suicide.

There are a lot of shitty comments on here about how he was obviously disturbed and unstable, and while I can’t speak for his mental health at the time of his death, he only pursued what made him happy and came by it honestly. He told the class his earliest memory was wondering where his tail went. The world lost a really kind, gentle guy and the body mod world lost a pioneer who did a lot for people seeking to identify themselves as more than their physical bodies allowed. Rest in peace, Cat.

(Mollymerly commenting at the Gawker, emphasis added)

Did the sundry plastic surgeons do Dennis Avner any favor by obliging his obsession as if it were no more remarkable than asking for peanut butter on your hamburger? Shouldn’t they have steered him to someone who might straighten out what was in his head?

Or how about sufferers from BIID (body integrity identity disorder), who find physicians willing to amputate healthy limbs, or sever a spinal cord, to conform the body to the psyche’s reported “identity” as an amputee or paraplegic?

A 2009 article published in the journal Neuroethics argued:

When faced with a patient requesting the amputation of a healthy limb, clinicians should make a careful diagnostic assessment. If the patient is found to have body integrity identity disorder, amputation of the healthy limb may be appropriate after a trial of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and after careful consideration of the risks, benefits, and unknowns of all possible treatment alternatives. . . . Sufferers of BIID might be relieved to know that members of the medical profession will take their concerns seriously, and that, after careful deliberation, elective amputation of their troubling limb is a real possibility.

How does gender dysphoria – the conviction that you’re a woman despite your male body or vice-versa – differ from thinking, despite your human body, that you’re a cat, or that despite your intact body, you’re really an amputee?

I’m still intoxicated with the epiphany-by-analogy, so maybe I’m missing something.

Wesley Smith has given me these examples, but someone else had already planted the seed. Smith thinks of it, for one column at least, as involving a “a fundamental right to (let’s call it) personal recreationism.”

The current controversies surrounding gender dysphoria seem to be leading toward the establishment of a fundamental right to (let’s call it) personal recreationism. I understand why many see this as the most humane and liberating course. But nothing happens in a vacuum. Once that principle is accepted, there will be no limits.

I think of it more as a matter of doctors with no moral core, no sense that you are what your body is, regardless of what’s going on between your ears. They become, in the process, sentimental journeymen, forfeiting the right to be considered members of a learned profession however much we may admire their technical skills with scalpel and silicone. Or with a prescription pad for those whose tragedy is impending death on nature’s terms rather than their own.

No doubt many – most– of these cases are tragic, as evidenced by cat man’s suicide. There may be no real solution to the afflicted folks’ problems. I wish I had a more thundering response than to say “GLBT” is out of my vocabulary now.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Posted by: readerjohn | January 23, 2015

I too have a dream

I’ve been waiting for years for some state legislator to give this speech when the baying hounds are out, howling “Unconstitutional!” about some state Bill:

I took an oath upon entering office to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and of our dear state. You can look up my oath of office if you like. I never took an oath to cheerfully agree with whatever the United States Supreme Court, or our honorable state Supreme Court for that matter, says about what’s constitutional. I never took an oath to speculate that a Supreme Court would disagree with my own good faith interpretation of our Constitutions, and to wave the white flag before that bogeyman before ever voting for a law I think the courts might wrongly invalidate.

Part of the national Constitution is that powers not given to Washington, DC, are reserved to the states or to the people. Part of our system of government is that the states and the people have the right to govern themselves by laws they consider proper and, in the case of legislators sworn to govern constitutionally, that are constitutional. Part of our system of government is that courts don’t have a free-floating mandate to invalidate laws they think insufficiently progressive (or in another era, too progressive) if there’s no constitutional infirmity in those laws. My oath of office to defend Constitutions includes a duty to defend our system of self-governance against illegitimate judicial (or executive) encroachment.

The courts have no troops and no armaments. They only have the power of persuasion. I’m unpersuaded by a number of their decisions.

There comes a time, of course, when the highest court has ruled on a question, that the question is settled.

Abe Lincoln faced that with Dred Scott. The Supreme Court had the last word. The case was over. Sandford won. Poor Mr. Scott was still a slave. But the status of Mr. Scott was the question in “Dred Scott v. Sandford.” It wasn’t “Dred Scott v. The Peculiar Institution.”

So the question of slavery was not settled thereby – not politically and not legally. One could use the Dred Scott case to predict that future litigants with similar facts and legal theories would also lose (that a godawful civil war would ensue was less predictable). But there was always a chance that the next runaway slave would find a better lawyer, or a better legal theory, or both.

The doors of the courts must be open to those possibilities. Our fundamental system of self-governance must be open to those possibilities. If it’s not, we’re at the mercy, all 310,000,000 of us and forever, of one poor lawyer’s ill-chosen legal theory or bumbling advocacy – not to mention the increasingly prevalent scandal of our Attorneys General throwing cases (preemptively announcing that the laws they’re elected or appointed to defend are indefensible). Friend of the Court briefs can help lessen that threat, but they cannot eliminate the possibility of hundreds of millions cast into darkness under the shadow of a squabble between a handful of unelected litigants and amici curiae.

So on the matter before this Chamber, I will honor my oath of office. I will weigh the benefits of the Bill as public policy along with its constitutionality. I will listen in debate to the opinions of our dear state’s various law professors, bearing in mind, however, that they are high caste and have their own take (if not downright spin) on matters as surely as do we low castes (as the high castes remind us, while exempting themselves, so pointedly at times).

And when it’s time to vote, I’ll vote for the Bill if I think it’s sound, and needed, and constitutional, giving due weight to the opinions of other on all those matters.

But I will not borrow trouble and cower in fear of a judicial decision that might some day tell me I was wrong. I’ll read that opinion, if and when it comes, to see if it persuades me.

And if it doesn’t, we’ll start all over again until God or my constituents call me home.

I wish I could attribute that speech to a source other than my own imagination.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Posted by: readerjohn | January 23, 2015

Friday, 1/23/15

  1. Je suis un nihiliste
  2. Semitic Code Talkers
  3. The whisper, not the shout
  4. Just a different kind of authoritarianism
  5. The rhetoric of inevitability
  6. Head up, heels down
  7. A Culture of Millstones
  8. “Shut up,” he explained

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | January 22, 2015

On refusing to take “yes” for an answer

[W]hether the top marginal federal income-tax rate is 39.5 percent or 34 percent, life will go on. Life goes on, except when it doesn’t. I never went through any naturalization ceremony — if I wasn’t an American the minute before I was born, I don’t see how I became one the minute after. If I’m to live under a government that considers my life nothing more than an accounting entry, then there are any number of states that might claim my allegiance. The Swiss at least know how to keep a proper ledger.

The House of Representatives and its Republican leadership had a chance to take a vote on the question of extending the protection of our nation’s laws to people like me, at least to some of us. The bill was, strangely enough, essentially identical to one the House had already passed. I do not expect that, even had it passed, the bill would have become law. Senate Democrats would have filibustered it, and though that filibuster might have been overcome, President Obama, who should know better, would have vetoed the bill. But it would have been something to have the House of Representatives at least take the vote on the question. I could respect the “No” voters, in a way. At least they’re willing to say what they think. But pulling the bill because Renee Ellmers and Jackie Walorski don’t have the guts or the principle to vote one way or the other? That is — let us all acknowledge the plain fact — cowardice. Ellmers told her voters she planned to vote for the bill at the very moment she was maneuvering to escape doing so.

This is especially shameful considering that the vast majority of voters support the provisions in the bill. This bill was not a problem for Republicans, but for a handful of House members. Majorities of men support these changes, as do majorities of women—for that matter, only 17 percent of the people who describe themselves as “pro-choice” support the current anything-goes abortion regime. On a question that really matters, the House of Representatives had a rare chance to take “Yes” for an answer.

I can only conclude that that was not the answer you want.

(Kevin D. Williamson on the Stupid Party spiking a major prolife Bill on the very day of the national March for Life in D.C.)

Note that Jackie Walorski had Right to Life endorsement. I supported Michelle Bachman for her first Congressional run (i.e., her attempt to prove The Peter Principle) because Feminists for Life affiliate Susan B. Anthony List endorsed her eagerly.

Do you wonder why I’m politically burnt out on this issue, about which I still care a great deal?

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Posted by: readerjohn | January 21, 2015

Wednesday, 1/21/15

  1. Valorizing Gandhi
  2. The Hobby Lobby Moment
  3. Two Conservatisms
  4. Pope Francis catches Biden’s foot-in-mouth disease
  5. What’s a “successful parish,” anyway?

Read More…

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