March 26, 2005

Brooks is a tool, part seven billion and five

In direct contrast to the political opportunism they have demonstrated on this exact issue in the past, David Brooks claims social conservatives think

The value of a life doesn't depend upon what a person can physically do, experience or achieve. The life of a comatose person or a fetus has the same dignity and worth as the life of a fully functioning adult.

Social conservatives go on to say that if we make distinctions about the value of different lives, if we downgrade those who are physically alive but mentally incapacitated, if we say that some people can be more easily moved toward death than others, then the strong will prey upon the helpless, and the dignity of all our lives will be diminished.


The core belief that social liberals bring to cases like Ms. Schiavo's is that the quality of life is a fundamental human value. They don't emphasize the bright line between life and death; they describe a continuum between a fully lived life and a life that, by the sort of incapacity Terri Schiavo has suffered, is mere existence....

The central weakness of the liberal case is that it is morally thin. Once you say that it is up to individuals or families to draw their own lines separating life from existence, and reasonable people will differ, then you are taking a fundamental issue out of the realm of morality and into the realm of relativism and mere taste.

You see, if we think it's right that individuals should decide for themselves whether to remain on life support, we simply no longer understand the meaning of the words 'right' and 'wrong'. Because, I guess, David Brooks has decided such things are clearly wrong.

Of course, all of this crap only indirectly applies to the Schiavo case because the bill passed by social conservatives in Congress simply said that the Federal court system should decide whether Ms. Schiavo had expressed a desire to be taken off life support in situations such as this. It didn't try to outlaw removing life support from patients in this particular or more general cases; it simply claimed a new area of Federal jurisdiction, and hence debate over the bill should have boiled down to precisely the procedural issues Bobo mocks non-social conservatives for bringing up. The fact that social conservatives didn't debate this on procedural grounds shows how much this bill was intended to stir up the anti-abortion vote (and if you don't see the connection you haven't been reading enough Pandagon lately).

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