On euthanasia 24

Here is our Facebook summary of this article:

Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill allowing terminally ill patients to end life, using drugs prescribed by their doctors. (There are religious conservatives who think taking your own life is an affront to “God” and that he wants nature run its course, even when you’re deathly sick, in constant pain, and have no hope for recovery – although he loves you. ) The choice to die is not made a requirement. The law simply gives patients the option to die if that’s what they want. The act stipulates that patients must be physically capable of taking the medication themselves, that two doctors confirm the reaons for the choice, that the patients submit a series of written requests, and that there be two witnesses, one of whom is not a family member.

This is the one thing Governor Jerry Brown has done that we approve of.

But we have heard reasonable arguments against euthanasia.

So we invite readers to give us their views on the issue.

Posted under Ethics, Miscellaneous, News by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tagged with

This post has 24 comments.

Permalink

A future for some, or maybe none 2

Lately there seems to be more  discussion than usual, at websites devoted to political comment, on the emotionally charged, interrelated subjects of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and eugenics.

Eugenicists want to breed a better human species – better according to their own taste – by selecting desirable specimens for reproduction and systematically killing off the rest.

Such a program is acceptable to environmentalists, who want the earth to have a much smaller human population. Some of these go much further. Believing that the globe we live on is more important (to whom?) than ourselves, they wish and plan for there to be no human beings on it at all. For we are willy-nilly contaminators and destroyers of the natural world, which will flourish best without us, and only without us be perfectly preserved (for what?).

Dealing with these subjects, This Week in Eugenics! is a fascinating and important article (read the whole thing) by Zombie at PajamasMedia. Among other facts and connections, he supplies this:

John Holdren, the Science Czar of the United States, has long expressed an intense admiration — one that bordered on hero-worship — of a man named Harrison Brown, a respected scientist from an earlier generation who spent his later years writing about overpopulation and ecological destruction. In fact, as Holdren has pointed out several times (including very recently), it was Harrison Brown’s most famous book, The Challenge of Man’s Future, which transformed the young Holdren’s personal philosophy and which inspired him to later embark on a career in science and population policy which in many ways mirrored that of his idol Brown.

Holdren’s regard for Brown was so high that in 1986 he edited and co-wrote an homage to Brown entitled Earth and the Human Future: Essays in Honor of Harrison Brown, in which Holdren showers Brown with accolades and unrestrained applause.

At first glance, there’s nothing remarkable or amiss with this picture: one respected scientist giving credit to and paying tribute to another. Happens all the time. Except in this case, something is amiss. Grievously amiss. Because Harrison Brown, whatever good qualities Holdren might have seen in him, was also an unapologetic eugenicist who made horrifying recommendations for “sterilizing the feeble-minded” and other “unfit” substandard humans whom he thought should be “pruned from society.”

Quotes from both Brown and Holdren:

“The feeble-minded, the morons, the dull and backward, and the lower-than-average persons in our society are outbreeding the superior ones at the present time. … Is there anything that can be done to prevent the long-range degeneration of human stock? Unfortunately, at the present time there is little, other than to prevent breeding in persons who present glaring deficiencies clearly dangerous to society and which are known to be of a hereditary nature. Thus we could sterilize or in other ways discourage the mating of the feeble-minded. We could go further and systematically attempt to prune from society, by prohibiting them from breeding, persons suffering from serious inheritable forms of physical defects, such as congenital deafness, dumbness, blindness, or absence of limbs. … A broad eugenics program would have to be formulated which would aid in the establishment of policies that would encourage able and healthy persons to have several offspring and discourage the unfit from breeding at excessive rates.” — Harrison Brown, in The Challenge of Man’s Future

“Harrison Brown’s most remarkable book, The Challenge of Man’s Future, was published more than three decades ago. By the time I read it as a high school student a few years later, the book had been widely acclaimed…. The Challenge of Man’s Future pulled these interests together for me in a way that transformed my thinking about the world and about the sort of career I wanted to pursue. … As a demonstration of the power of (and necessity for) an interdisciplinary approach to global problems, the book was a tour de force…. Thirty years after Harrison Brown elaborated these positions, it remains difficult to improve on them as a coherent depiction of the perils and challenges we face. Brown’s accomplishment in writing The Challenge of Man’s Future, of course, was not simply the construction of this sweeping schema for understanding the human predicament; more remarkable was (and is) the combination of logic, thoroughness, clarity, and force with which he marshalled data and argumentation on every element of the problem and on their interconnections. It is a book, in short, that should have reshaped permanently the perceptions of all serious analysts….” — John Holdren, in Earth and the Human Future: Essays in Honor of Harrison Brown

This man remains the Science Czar of the United States, appointed by Obama. My previous exposés of Holdren (the whole “forced abortions and mass sterilization” thing) were so widely linked that they entered the mainstream consciousness; but to my mind this lesser-known eugenics-related scandal — the connection between Holdren and Harrison Brown — is even more shocking. And yet he blithely jets around the world as a representative of the United States, as if none of this had ever been revealed.

As most of us are dull a good deal of our time in this vale of tears, and all of us are backward in something or other, and even the most intelligent among us act stupidly now and then; and as deafness, dumbness, blindness, and limblessness do not affect this state of affairs one way or the other (remember Homer was a blind man), the question is not who will be the victims of this sweeping schema for understanding the human predicament and permanently solving global problems since plainly we all qualify, but who will be the arbiters of our fate

Only exceptional, brilliant people, or at least people who believe themselves to be exceptionally brilliant, ponder and define “the human predicament”, and come up with a remedy for it. It takes a lot of leisure – probably as much as a tenured professorship provides, or an appointment as an adviser to a president – to devote oneself to defining and analyzing “the human predicament” with “logic, thoroughness, clarity and force”, and then to solve it tout court. Or if not that, anyway a lot of chutzpah.

Is it in the hands of such persons that we should willingly entrust ourselves, for them to decide whether we may continue our existence individually or en masse? How many of us want John Holdren and his like to guard over us? As many, one might suppose, as want Obama to be our “keeper’ (which he claims to be, having been called he says to that high service by his Christian faith). We’ll only know the answer in 2012 when we find out what proportion of the electorate, informed at last that Obama is one of the would-be arbiters of human fate, will vote for him to serve a second term.