Thursday, January 04, 2007

One more slip down the slope towards the brave new world...,,3-2530561_1,00.html

"Parents defend decision to keep girl a child

Her name is Ashley X, and she is the little girl who will never grow up.

Until New Year’s Day, not even her first name was known. Ashley was a faceless case study, cited in a paper by two doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital as they outlined a treatment so radical that it brought with it allegations of “eugenics”, of creating a 21st-century Frankenstein’s monster, of maiming a child for the sake of convenience.

The reason for the controversy is this: three years ago, when Ashley began to display early signs of puberty, her parents instructed doctors to remove her uterus, appendix and still-forming breasts, then treat her with high doses of oestrogen to stunt her growth.

In other words, Ashley was sterilised and frozen in time, for ever to remain a child. She was only 6.

Ashley, the daughter of two professionals in the Seattle area, never had much hope of a normal life.

Afflicted with a severe brain impairment known as static encephalopathy, she cannot walk, talk, keep her head up in bed or even swallow food. Her parents argued that “keeping her small” was the best way to improve the quality of her life, not to make life more convenient for them.

Because of her small size, the parents say, Ashley will receive more care from people who will be able to carry her: “Ashley will be moved and taken on trips more frequently and will have more exposure to activities and social gatherings ... instead of lying down in her bed staring at TV all day long.”

By remaining a child, they say, Ashley will have a better chance of avoiding everything from bed sores to pneumonia — and the removal of her uterus means that she will never have a menstrual cycle or risk developing uterine cancer.

Because Ashley was expected to have a large chest size, her parents say that removing her breast buds, including the milk glands (while keeping the nipples intact), will save her further discomfort while avoiding fibrocystic growth and breast cancer.

They also feared that large breasts could put Ashley at risk of sexual assault.

The case was approved by the hospital’s ethics committee in 2004, which agreed that because Ashley could never reproduce voluntarily she was not being subjected to forced sterilisation, a form of racial cleansing promoted in the 1920s and known as eugenics (it was satirised in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby). However, the case of Ashley X was not made public, and, as a result, no legal challenges were ever made.

Ashley’s doctors, Daniel Gunther and Douglas Diekema, wrote in their paper for the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that the treatment would “remove one of the major obstacles to family care and might extend the time that parents with the ability, resources and inclination to care for their child at home might be able to do so”.

The paper inspired hundreds of postings on the internet: many supportive, others furious. “I find this offensive if not perverse,” read one. “Truly a milestone in our convenience-minded society.”

It was the critical comments that finally provoked Ashley’s father to respond.

While remaining anonymous, he posted a remarkable 9,000-word blog entry at 11pm on New Year’s Day, justifying his decision.

The posting includes links to photographs of Ashley, in which the faces of other family members, including Ashley’s younger sister and brother, have been blanked out. “Some question how God might view this treatment,” he wrote. “The God we know wants Ashley to have a good quality of life and wants her parents to be diligent about using every resource at their disposal . . . to maximise her quality of life.”

Ashley’s father went on to describe how her height is now expected to remain at about 4ft 5in (1.3m), and her weight at 75lb (34kg). Without the treatment, she would have grown into a woman of average height and weight, probably about 5ft 6in and 125lb, with a normal lifespan.

The medical profession is divided. “I think most people, when they hear of this, would say this is just plain wrong,” wrote Jeffrey Brosco. of the University of Miami, in an editorial. “But it is a complicated story . . . (But) high-dose oestrogen therapy to prevent out-of-home placement simply creates a new Sophie’s Choice for parents to confront.

“If we as a society want to revise the nature of the harrowing predicament that these parents face, then more funds for home-based services, not more medication, is what is called for.”

George Dvorsky, a director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, countered: “If the concern has something to do with the girl’s dignity being violated, then I have to protest by arguing that the girl lacks the cognitive capacity to experience any sense of indignity.” "

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Murder of Saddam Hussein

Capital punishment (The Death Penalty) is not a complicated issue for the detached, rational observer. From the perspective of a detached rational observer (someone who is not related in any way to the victim, for which the convicted is being killed), "capital punishment" is a premeditated, planned, "cold blooded" (emotionless for the executioner - the executioner has no more stake in the crime being avenged than I do), taking of a human life. One could easily use this definition to describe murder. That is fairly easy and there isn't a whole lot more to say, but I will anyway.

One can certainly understand how a victim, or the relative or friend of a victim of a terrible crime could become angry. Indeed, seeking revenge is certainly a natural impulse. Unfortunately, revenge is not "justice", revenge is an emotional, base impulse, and for Christians, revenge is a sin. I will not jump into the religious arguments against capital punishment, because its really quite obvious that capital punishment/murder is incompatible with a Christian outlook, despite what some "Christians" claim. Instead, let us focus on the objective truth and reality, that all can easily agree on. One cannot undo a murder, so clearly murdering a murderer simply compounds the crime.

Perhaps the argument that capital punishment is a deterrent holds some statistical relevance, I don't know and haven't bothered to look it up, because frankly, execution as a deterrent does not make the execution any less a murder. Statistics therefore, don't matter here. One could argue that a murderer (convicted person) has given up all rights to life or freedom or anything by committing murder. Without diving into religion and the dignity of all human beings and such, lets dispel any thought that man or "the state" in the example of capital punishment, which is a representative of man (whether endorsed by the governed overtly, or by the lack of the governed making an effort to overturn its government) has any right to murder another man. No man has the right to murder another, as soon as such an imagined right is championed by one man or the state, the very nature of equality and freedom break down, because the entity that now holds the power over life and death has been elevated to a higher status than the victim of the murder (execution). Once a man, or state has the power to determine who can and shall be killed, all who do not hold the position of greatest power in the state are potential victims. It is not hard to look through history and find examples of this power being abused, as it will always be abused, due to man's imperfection. One cannot be free or considered equal with other men, if his very life continues at the whim of other men. If the life of all men is not respected, the life of no man, save he who holds power, is respected. As a note to those whole hold power, no man holds power forever, and evil men are dealt with in evil ways in time.

The only time an execution is excusable is when it is unavoidable. For example, if ten people are trapped on a small deserted island, and one man murders another. The eight people on the island, may feel they need to kill the murderer, since no prison exists in which to hold the murderer and keep him away from the peaceful citizens. In that example, one would have to search long and hard for an alternative to execution. In the real world however, there is no shortage of prisons. Murderers can be imprisoned until natural death with very little difficulty and cost. For those people that believe they should not be forced to pay, through taxes, for murderers to be housed and fed, banishment is always an option as well. Murder however, is never justified.

For those that read this and then ask if I am a pacifist, the answer is easily no. Murder, which we defined several paragraphs above and killing in self-defense are clearly not the same.

So, what does this all have to do with Saddam Hussein and his execution? It was afterall the Iraqi's and not the USA that executed Saddam Hussein right? Well, yes, the USA did not open the trap door that dropped Saddam to his death. Our government, and therefore we who support our government (and that is everyone who pays taxes, whether you voted for those in power or not) are complicit in his murder. We held him for the current Iraqi government. We then handed him over to the Iraqi government for his execution. Further, we are responsible for protecting and keeping in power the current Iraqi government. Therefore, a great deal of responsibility is ours. Why should you care? Afterall, we execute our own people all the time, who cares of an Iraqi is executed? We have shown the world, once again, that we support cowards and terrorists. As one can clearly see in the pictures of Saddam's execution in media outlets the world over, his murderers didn't even have the courage to show their faces. They wore ski masks, just like the cowardly terrorists who wore masks while they sawed the heads off of living American citizens and then released the videos to the internet. The people we are dealing with in Iraq today, are no better than those we are supposed to be fighting. Now we know it, and so does the rest of the world. This is something to deplore not celebrate.

What is done is done, it cannot be taken back, and all will have to live with the consequences, in this case it was not just a simple murder, but it was a murder that shows the world once again that our commitment to freedom and democracy are hollow and meaningless.

Evolution and ID from a Catholic perspective

Interesting article. After reading it, I still believe what I believe, and am no closer to knowing if I am out of line with what I believe. Without a whole lot of explanation to why, I will just state, I believe in microevolution but do not believe we came from single celled organisms. I have no idea how old the earth is, and don't really care. I am not convinced that God measures time the way we measure time, so I am not committed to a literal reading of Genesis, but I have no personal need to buy into other "scientifically" based theories with regards to the age of the earth. There, I put it all out there, I don't feel a need to debate or argue much of this, as my opinions are philosophical in nature. And being a skeptic, convincing me otherwise would be quite difficult. Now, go read the article and see if it clears anything up for you, should you have questions yourself.