Friday, February 03, 2006

Brownback confused about the "culture of life"

Is destroying a frozen ball of eight cells contrary to a "culture of life"? Senator Brownback is sure it does, and has committed immense effort to protecting every frozen ball of eight cells he can.

Is killing adult human beings contrary to the "culture of life"? Brownback sez:
If use of the death penalty is contrary to promoting a culture of life, we need to have a national dialogue and hear both sides of the issue.
What would be the other side of that question? Would someone defend the proposition that killing people promotes a culture of life?

I don't think that the moral status of an eight-cell blastocyst is clear. Is it morally equivalent to an adult human? Not really, as I see it. I respect other people's right to see things otherwise, so long as they don't impose their beliefs on me.

There are all sorts of street chalkings on campus about the "pro-life" group on campus. Everyone is pro-life in the sense that they think life is better than death. But Senator Brownback isn't clear how that might apply to fully developed adult human beings. He is sure how it applies to undeveloped embryos. That's not pro-life.

There's an analogy to PETA to be made, but I have to work out a way around an awkward comparison between human embryos and lab rats or minks.

Let's go with chimpanzees. An adult chimpanzee has clear sentience, can communicate and interact with humans at a level at least as good as a human child. There's a serious case (one I disagree with) that chimps therefore deserve the rights we'd grant a human child. It's worth noting that human children have fewer rights than adult humans. There are groups that would hold it to be morally necessary to protect a chimp's life at the cost of a human life (just as you might value a child's life over your own).

A blastocyst is not sentient, cannot communicate, and is entirely dependent on the womb or a nutrient bath in a lab. Sam Brownback holds that protecting it against destruction is more clearly a moral imperative than protecting the life of sentient, communicating, independent, fully developed people.

I cannot wrap my mind around that.

The Catholic Church is consistent, and I respect that. There are Catholics who take a principled stand other than the Church's, and I respect that. Brownback is claiming the same principled stand (culture of life), but is not prepared to implement it fully.

This is cowardice. He knows that the death penalty is popular, and he wants to be president, so he asserts principles he won't uphold.