Late to the Party

Seems I missed out.  It’s been almost a week since Missouri Representative Todd Akin went all “I’m an ignorant douche and don’t care who knows it” on the national stage, with this statement that defies both any sense of decency or understanding of science:

“It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.

Pretty much everything that can be said about Todd Akin himself has already been said (the best comes from Jim Wright), so I’m not going to get too deeply into Akin’s comments in the sense of what they say about him and his mindset (especially since he already gave that exclusive to The Onion).

No, there’s something else this idiot’s comments bring up that I think is more important anyway.

See, since he made these comments, the Republican party has made a big show about trying to get Akin to drop out of the race (Claire McCaskill, for her part, has encouraged Akin to stay in the election.  I can only imagine why, maybe because he’s now the easiest of targets for her to defeat, but I digress).  But the platform of the party backs up Akin’s views.  It’s been no secret for decades that they want Roe v Wade overturned completely, with no exceptions for anyone, under any circumstances.  The party’s pretty much made it clear that they don’t want him to drop out because of what he said, but because he said it out loud.

Even their vice presidential candidate vocally agrees with Akin (why this isn’t being harped on in the “liberal” press, with all its supposed bias, is beyond me).

Yes, you heard right, “the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”  So a cluster of a couple hundred stem cells is always more important than the life and wishes of the person in whom that cell cluster resides.  Wow.  Just… wow.  Obviously, Paul Ryan doesn’t think there should be any exception at all, for any reason whatsoever.  And he’s the darling of the party and the man they are hoping to install as the second most powerful man in the world (though, and I wouldn’t be surprised in any way to discover that this is the case, I suspect that party leaders are looking for a situation similar to Bush/Cheney, where the POTUS is just a figurehead, being controlled and manipulated from behind the scenes by a VP who is, for all intents and purposes, immune to any repercussions from such policy decisions, but again, I digress).

It’s clear to anyone who can read or understand the English language that the Republican platform is exactly what Todd Akin advocates.  The only reason they don’t want him to say it out loud is that such a position is still fairly unpopular with any but the most backward and ignorant Americans.  And here’s where we get to the crux of the matter… with part 2 tomorrow


29 responses to “Late to the Party

  1. As usual great post! Sadly, there is no difference between the Tea Party and the Republican Party any longer, as evidenced by Akin, Ryan, and Romney. Even more sad is that the Republican Platform is now a platform of pure unadulterated hate:

  2. Paul Ryan is being logically consistent. To recognize the human worth and value of each human individual (born and unborn), than to give an exception for rape and incest or to simply hold that abortion shouldn’t be used as a contraceptive is to contradict yourself and make commentary and judgments on people’s sexual lives and situations. It lends an attitude of “You made your bed, now sleep in it.” People can have very good intentions in a multitude of situations that might motivate abortion. But the ends doesn’t justify the means. You have to take the attitude that you would if the child was already born. In which case it can be said that there are situations where both lives are hanging in the balance. You have one person’s arm in your right hand and you have the other person’s arm in your left. You have to let go of one to grab hold of the other to save one person’s life, or else they’ll both fall to their deaths. But since morally speaking that is very complex moral situation, that should be left to the mother and doctor to carefully discern. In which case, a law that permits abortion to save the life of the mother is reasonable.

    Either way, though, I think selling the country on that won’t do. People don’t tend to be very logically consistent and they often have trouble dissecting objective moral judgments with judging the value, intelligence, and personality of individuals. “That is murder”, gets turned into “you are a murderer.” “That’s a stupid remark” gets turned into “That person is stupid.”

    • If Paul Ryan were being consistent about all human lives being sacred, he’d advocate outlawing capital punishment. If Paul Ryan were being consistent about all human lives being sacred, he wouldn’t have proposed a budget that perpetually increases our bloated defense budget that serves only to kill people in the name of increasing defense contractors’ profits at the expense of the well being of the rest of America and the world. Paul Ryan doesn’t give a shit about the “sanctity” of human life, and his policy positions confirm that to be a fact. You are a fool to think human life means anything to him and his ilk.

      Moreover, a blastocyst is most emphatically NOT a human being, any more than my hair follicles, or testicular cells, are human beings. Having human DNA does not a human being make. If it did, malignant cancer cells would come under the protection of the 14th Amendment. To put non-viable cells on equal footing with actual humans is an insult to humanity as a whole.

      Finally, you are right about one thing; the ends definitely do NOT justify the means. Tune in for part two tomorrow, we’ll be talking about exactly that.

      • Thank you, Will! Ryan is not being consistent in any way, just as Romney is not being consistent. Sorry to be so assertive here, but I’m so tired of white heterosexual men controlling and creating the dominant discourse.

        • I agree with you Michael, except I would say “white, heterosexual (closeted and self-hating gay) rich men.”

          Just saying… I’m a white heterosexual man, and I have absolutely no desire to tell anyone what they can or can’t do in the bedroom or with their bodies.

          • Will,
            Yes, I’m sorry. I should included more qualifiers. Yes, are an amazing ally. It seems that heterosexual men that are completely comfortable with their sexuality have no problem with gay folk. I wish there were more folk like you Will!

      • 1. The pro choice position argues that the human life is not valuable because it is at an inferior level of development. The pro death penalty position argues that a person can forfeit their right to life by committing a heinous crime. As such, when pro death penalty people talk about abortion, they’ll also describe it as an innocent life. I don’t agree with the death penalty, but that doesn’t mean there is not a logically consistent approach to being opposed to abortion and supporting the death penalty.

        2. Whenever I hear any politician speak about the ulterior motives of the other party (socialism or out to serve big business), all I see is a bunch of politicians attempting to maintain their job security. They’re not actually threatened by each other. Their only possible threats are third parties. Their strategy over keeping third parties from gaining power involves creating a crisis situation between both parties. (either that or incorporating them into their party before they are an official third party) They have to convince the general public the other guy who actually has a legitimate chance at getting the office will cause terrible ruin or continue us on the same terrible path we’ve been on. We have to fear the other party so that we come to an acknowledgment that voting for a third party is actually simply taking away the vote from your second choice and giving it to the opposing team. They don’t want us to consider them both qualified candidates with equally valid but differing points of view. We suffer when the parties don’t work together. We don’t suffer because the opposing side has the most destructive ideas on the planet.

        3. A human blastocyst is a distinct human organism (hence my choice in term “human being”). A human hair follicle is a component a more complex and larger human organism. The same is true for sperm, ovums, etc. Hence, a human blastocyst is a human being and a part of the human species. What you are rather trying to argue is that the blastocyst is not yet a person or an entity deserving of the right to life. But that was not my argument and I think its much harder to argue that a blastocyst is a person on strictly a natural scale. That’s when you get into religious beliefs about the existence of the soul, though interesting enough it is BECAUSE of scientific advancement that lends to the argument that “ensoulment” happens at the moment of conception. I’m not arguing that because that’s a religious argument and I don’t need it.

        • 1. Both arguments you mentioned here are the same. Is it your (or anyone else’s) right to decide that someone’s life is forfeit because you do not approve of their behavior? Do you have more right to decide that than I have to decide that a group of stem cells’ lives are forfeit because they cannot survive without a host (thus making them, literally, a parasite)? I believe you were commanded by your savior to not judge others, were you not? Are we now in the position that you can only forfeit your right to life by acting strongly enough in opposition to societal expectations? No. Human life is human life is human life. To kill is to kill, period.

          2. Can’t argue there, except I think we suffer even more when the parties do work together. You might find we agree on what’s really going on with the so-called “culture war.”

          3. A blastocyst is NOT a distinct human organism. Until it is viable outside the host, it cannot be considered a distinct human organism any more than cancer, which also grows inside the body, and has 100% human DNA. It is, in fact, not a person. I don’t have to take the same approach I would if the baby were already born, because it’s not a baby and it hasn’t been born. Arguments that a blastocyst is a human being must inevitably get into religious beliefs about the existence of the soul, which is why that’s the wrong side of the argument to take. If you can’t make your argument without resorting to “God says so,” you have a shitty argument.

          • 1. Two distinct premises make two seperate arguments. If you can’t understand that, I have nothing more to say on the subject, but take a course in logic.
            2. Ok
            3. I agree. “God says so” is a terrible argument, but it isn’t my argument. My argument is that it is a distinct human organism. To deny that is to refute scientific definitions. Parasites are organisms. . Thus the question is if being a human organism gives something value. If you can’t understand the basis of your opinion, you’ll continue to argue past people of the opposing side.

            • 1. I don’t need a course in logic. Both premises require an outside, human determination of the validity of that particular living thing and its intrinsic right to exist. That one has exercised volition while the other has not is irrelevant. Either human life is sacred or it isn’t. You can’t argue that one can forfeit one’s own sacredness by virtue of exercising volition in opposition to societal norms, without essentially claiming that humans have the inherent right to decide who among us may or may not live. In which case you can’t argue for anti-choice legislation.

              3. What makes it a distinct human organism? I’ll agree that it is a distinct organism with complete human DNA, but it is in fact no more human in that sense than a malignant, cancerous growth. So in what way do you make the distinction between a tumor with the same DNA as me, and me? And I do understand the basis of my opinion, thank you very much. The point is that having human DNA does not a human being make, and that a cluster of human stem cells is not in fact a human being. Not that complicated.

              • A tumor is not an organism

                • With what criteria are you deciding what is/is not an organism?

                  From the American Heritage Science Dictionary, 2005:

                  An individual form of life that is capable of growing, metabolizing nutrients, and usually reproducing.

                  Cancer cells meet every one of those criteria.

                  • A tumor is not an individual form of life. It is a series of cells within an organism that have gone haywire in a manner that impedes the other organs and their functions and eventually destroys the organism.

                    • So were the Heliobacter Pylori that gave me my ulcers. But they were still organisms.

                    • Nope, bacteria are individual life forms. Cancer is not. I was not arguing that individual life forms cannot be put down. It is ok to put down a sick dog because its a dog. It is not ok to put down grandma.

                      Logically consistant pro choicers value life more on a basis of having certain characteristics. This viewpoint however is not consistant with the notion of human equality. To be consistant would be to say that some human lives are more valuable than others and that there is a hierarchy. So the most intelligent people with the greatest responsibilities on the planet are more deserving of life than an impoverished person with down syndrome who has to rely more on other’s care to survive and strains the country’s economic resources. An adult dolphin logically may be said to be more valuable than a newborn infant. There are even logically consistent in this train of that that rationalize infanticide up. Unlike other animals, we are actually born while we’re technically fetuses. We are born at an earlier stage of development because if we were more like other mammals, our heads would end up to be born. When we are born we are not really self aware. Many of the characteristics we claim make human life valuable do not show up till we’re about six months old (which if we were like other animals, we wouldn’t be born till we were at that developmental stage).

                      Pro lifers though tend to be of the mindset that human life is of equal value. There is no hierarchy, though the powerful have a responsibility for the weak. As such killing a newborn is more heinous than killing a fully developed adult of superior intelligence. How we view animals is different. We may believe in compassion, but they aren’t human beings. We may be likely to frown on people who love their pets too much. We may see it as disordered for someone to love their pet as they would a child, though at the same time we acknowledge animals can be abused and that we have a responsibility toward them. Its simply for different reasons.

                      Thus the questions to debate are the value and legitimacy of the differing value systems. If people don’t understand the core of where they disagree, than pro choicers will simply continue to spew meaningly phrases like “clump of cells”, “not a baby.” etc and pro lifers will keep saying “its a baby and its murder.” Neither statements are arguments. In fact both statements are true. It is a baby and it is a clump of cells. All living organisms are clumps of cells. All you’re doing then is arguing semantics. “Don’t call it a baby because it has a positively emotionally charged connotation.” “Don’t call it a clump of cells because it has a negatively emotionally charged connotation.”

                      Neither group is saying anything significant nor are they making good arguments when they argue that way.

                    • While it may be convenient for you to argue against a pro-choice claim that some forms of human life are inherently more valuable than others, I made no such claim. My claim is that a blastocyst is not a distinct human organism, because it is by definition parasitic, and cannot survive outside the host body.

                      You are arguing that a blastocyst IS a distinct human organism, but have yet to describe the criteria by which you arrive at that conclusion.

                      Since the only commonality between a blastocyst and its human host is human DNA, by what additional means are you categorizing said blastocyst as a distinct human?

                    • The cliam that some forms of human life are inherently more valuable than others is the only valid pro choice philosophical argument their is. The claim that a blastocyst is not a distinct organism separate from the parent is just wrong. You’re arguing against science when you claim that. I already pointed out that it differs from cancer because it is a distinct lifeform. You seemed to ignore the fact the “distinct life form” from the definition when you tried to refute my claim. BTW, any parasite is an organism. Not being able to survive outside of the host’s body has nothing to do with what it is to be a living organism distinct from the host!

                      It is a human organism because it is the offspring of humans. Again irrefutable fact.

                      Thus the only question is whether or not this distinct human organism has value. To argue that is to argue that not all human organisms (in other words not all human beings because a being can be another word for organism) have value.

                    • I didn’t claim that a blastocyst is not a distinct organism. I said it’s not a distinct HUMAN organism. Again, having human DNA does not necessarily a human being make. Unless you’re claiming that what makes a human being a human being is that it has human DNA and is formed from sperm and ovum. Is that your claim?

                    • LOL. Are you claiming that when an organism reproduces, a new specie is created?

                    • I believe I said it’s a living thing. Never claimed it’s a new species. You, on the other hand, cited a source showing cancer to not be a separate species, in order to somehow try and refute that cancer cells are alive

                    • Will S: I didn’t claim that a blastocyst is not a distinct organism. I said it’s not a distinct HUMAN organism.

                      Honestly Catholic: Are you claiming that when an organism reproduces, a new specie is created?

                      Will S: I believe I said it’s a living thing. Never claimed it’s a new specie.

                      My new response: Then you are denying it is a distinct organism. Shall we continue going around in circles where you affirm a definition and then deny you’ve affirmed that definition?

                    • I am not denying it is an organism, nor denying any definition I’ve previously affirmed. I am saying (for the Nth time) that simply being an organism with human DNA is not sufficient to be considered human. Our individual cells have human DNA. While they require a very specific set of circumstances to continue to grow and thrive, they are indeed living things in their own right, capable of all the behaviors that characterize an organism. Those behaviors, as previously defined, consist of the ability to react to stimuli, reproduce, grow, metabolize nutrients, and maintain homeostasis. In order to create and ensure the specific circumstances they need to thrive, cells specialize and cooperate to perform various tasks, in the process growing into a human. Yet those cells are not humans in and of themselves.

                      That the cells are highly specialized, and work together to maintain said homeostasis, serves not to refute that they are individual living things. Instead it shows only that they are interdependent for survival, unless found in the specific (and extremely rare) circumstances they need to thrive individually.

                      A HUMAN is what you get when the cells are all specialized and fully functional, enabling the complex, multi-cellular organism, the cooperative whole, if you will, to more fully ensure the survival of the individuals. Until then, all you have is a group of cells with the same DNA. They are most decidedly not the same thing.

                      Will there be some point where you describe a set of criteria for determining what is/is not human? Because repeatedly explaining the equivalent of why seeds are not trees is getting tiresome.

                      And just an FYI for the future: Species is a basic term of biological classification. Specie is a basic term for coinage.

                    • As far as whether cancer cells are living organisms, the good folks at UC Berkeley have already answered the matter for us.


                    • The article says cancer cells aren’t a species, doesn’t say they’re not distinct living things. Cancer cells are alive. They reproduce (albeit asexually). They metabolize nutrients. They respond to the environment around them. They can be killed.

                      They are living things. How can a living thing NOT be an organism?

                    • You either did not read or failed to comprehend the link I sent you. The only way to claim cancer is a distinct living organism is to claim it is a new specie. How can a living thing not be an organism, you ask? They can be the cells of a larger organism. In the case of cancer, they are my cells malfunctioning through a genetic mutation. The link you posted argued that the mutation made them a distinct specie and thus no longer my cells and thus a distinct organism from me.

                    • Sorry the beginning of my last response about the cancer cells should have read “did not read or failed to comprehend the article YOU sent ME”. I reversed it.

                    • No, I fully comprehended the article. It does not argue that cancer is a new species. It argues that there is variation between cell lineages within a cancer, much as there is variation between the cells lining the intestine. They are not separate species, but different variations. Much in the same way that Dalmatians are the same species as German Shepherds, while remaining highly varied from one another.

        • I also notice you left out any mention of the war machine. Convenient…

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