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Fri, Sep. 22nd, 2006, 11:13 am

It seems that whenever I'm off for a day or I'm out sick (as I was yesterday, and somewhat disinclined to check the internets) I end up missing the things that interest or affect me.

Richard Hammond damned near killed himself in an accident involving one of those land speed record setting drag racing car things. Frank Miller stopped sucking long enough to be responsible for the movie behind that trailer there and if I'd been reading the internet yesterday I would have learned about Japan's crazy cigarette etiquette (smoking is widespread but no one litters their butts, no one walks while smoking and everyone carries portable arhtrays)

The one that really pissed me off though was The High Court's decision to force a blood transfusion on a woman who does not want it. The Judge's rationale behind it was what really got my blood (no pun intended) boiling because he never once cites any legal reason for the decision - which is his GOD DAMNED job, not issuing moral arguments for his decision which was somehow backed up by the full force of the law. Think about this - a judge's moral decision is law. This is a very dangerous precedent for every last one of us and by rights we should kick up a royal goddamned stink about it.

From the article:

He said a newborn child had come into the world and had no other relatives that were known of, anywhere in the State to care for it and provide physical, emotional and spiritual nurture.

This is a cop out. Children are left in this state all the time and often for reasons far less noble (or "noble") than religous conviction. The state is perfectly content to send those children back to the sudan or similar fun vacation spots to spend their lives in fear and misery before being killed, raped, mutilated, circumsised or god knows what else. Furthermore when it comes to convicting someone of a crime the system is rarely inclined to be lenient because the child would have to enter the foster/adoption system. If being a mom doesn't affect the decision to keep you out of prison then it shouldn't make a difference here.

He said the interests of the child were paramount.

Well actually no they're not. I'm sick to death of this culture of sanctity about children - once you hit a certain age you do not disappear off the society love list - the child is as much a person with rights as the mother is, no more, no less. Placing the "interests" of the child above that of the parent is morally corrupt. Everyone is equal, you don't get to make judgement calls about who is more worthy.

By ways of a comparison, where do we stand on adoption now? If the state feels that it can force the woman to violate her most firmly held convictions so that she can continue being a parent then why do we continue to allow people to give up children on the basis that they're not fit/ready to be a parent? Should we be allowed to stop women from travelling to england for an abortion (again) on that basis?

Maybe I'm being extreme or tenuous in these connections but a legal precedent has been set here - the state can interfere in the rights of an individual based on its perception of her role as a mother and if you think someone won't use that precedent to pull some kind of X case stunt then you're more optimistic than I.

The judge also said that when faced with such a dilemma, he believed he should err on the side of preserving life. 'If life is preserved,' he said, 'the arguments can be made at a later date.'

EDIT: No, when faced with such a dilemma a Judge should err on the side of the law rather than making crap up off the top of his head and using his own opinion. Judges are supposed to be impartial and use the law like a scalpel to carefully determine the extent of wrongdoing and the appropriate punishment, not wield it like a cudgel to impose an opinion on someone else.

At the risk of veering towards rhetoric here, life is the most sacred and valuable gift you will ever receive but as with any kind of gift it is yours to decide what you do with it. If you wish to waste the book token of life on issues of "guns and ammo" then that is your decision as much as it is to purchase a copy of the bible, "stupid white men" or Noam Chomsky's latest.
Importantly though, you may also choose to return or reject that gift (though in doing so I think it only fair that you do it in a manner that causes the least hurt to all involved - slit your wrists in a bath, don't chuck yourself in front of a train) and that is your right as well. Life can be hard, not being able to cope with your situation is not a crime or a failing on your part as a person - hell, the people who struggle on are just as often too stupid to realise their predicament as they are too strong to let it get to them. In this specific instance of course she isn't suicidal but her preference is to die rather than compromise her beliefs - not a huge difference (it is the consequences of life that are too painful to consider rather than the prospect of continuing) and it is her decision to do this with her life.

The predecent is set - the system can prevent you from allowing yourself to die, if that means strapping you to a table then fair enough. More to the point, if we're to "err on the side of life" then what of vegans who don't wish to take medication derived from animals or undergo procedures involving animal organs? If the welfare of the child takes utter precedence then we almost certainly should not be allowing pregnant women to go abroad (or own coathangers) or make their own decisions at all.

This is dangerous garbage and I guarantee you someone will (ab)use the precedent set here to promote their own agenda to crap all over people's rights (and women's rights in particular - ask yourself if you believe it'd be an issue if this were a man, he'd be a corpse by now) and impose one moral set over another - something that has no place in the law.
Also bear in mind that my track record for accurate prediction when I'm being pessimistic and angry is excellent.

Fri, Sep. 22nd, 2006 11:44 pm (UTC)

As the voice of reason here, you are entirely wrong on your opinion of the judge's decision.

This is all about Scienctific fact and common sense Vs. Faith Vs. blind obedience to scripture.

First off the whole Jehova's witness refusal to take a blood transfusion thing. Suicide is a sin. By refusing the blood transfusion she was effectively committing suicide.

The judge's responsiblity is not to uphold the letter of the law exactly as it's written. His responsibility is to the safety and wellbeing of every member of society. I refer you to the man X case a few months ago. I also refer you to the case of pope Benny Vs Islam : Reason Vs. Faith Vs. Scripture. Reason and Faith can co-exist but Scripture and Reason cannot. Scripture was written to help explain the un-explainable 5000 years ago.

The judge's decision has prolonged the life of a member of society. Her quality of life has not degraded to point now where her life is worthless. He made the right decision.

Let's be 100% clear on this, Jehova's witness believe blood transfusions are the same as eating blood which is forbidden under laws that God himself wrote in the bible thousands of years ago?

And for another thing. Do you think doctors don't allow people to let themselves die every hour of every day? Have you ever seen someone die of cancer? "I'm giving you this 20mg of morphine to ease your pain and the fact that it will kill you is semantics"

And law is all about Morality. look at the oldest set of laws we know... They're in the bible dude and most of them still stand up pretty will. Thou shalt not kill. What about the doctors who would be killing through inaction?

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)

First off, make no mistake - I'm no fan of any doctrine or set of morals that put someone in a position of having to choose death, I'm a big fan of self preservation and I'm more on "where there's life there's hope". So ultimately I think her decision idiotic and irresponsible.

Now, 1am is the wrong time for me to launch into a philosophical discussion but I'm off to Cavan tomorrow morning and I know full well I'll have forgotten this post and my response by monday so this might not be the bestest response ever.

Common sense Vs Faith Vs Blind Obedience - common sense is entirely relative. Your version of common sense is significantly different to mine. My version of common sense is wildly different to this woman's who in turn has a very different version of common sense to an Islamic man who has an entirely different set to a Japanese man who has a vastly different common sense compared to a right wing republican and so on and so forth. There is no such thing as common sense. It is practically indistinguishable and inseperable from morality anyway.
Common sense in many places involves terrible practices, from stoning women to death for being raped to female circumcision to men not being as good at parenting as women and instances where an alcoholic mother will be given custody ahead of a man in the best position in the world to take custody. The law may be an ass, but common sense is a drooling fucking retard.

This is my main point I suppose - we consider ourselves to be more enlightened because the law is supposed to transcend "common sense" and recognise the rights of the individual which have nothing to do with gender or skin colour or anything else.

This takes us to the role of the judge - where common sense is not ever supposed to apply. A judge is supposed to use fact (as derived from testimony and evidence) and law to reach the legally appropriate decision (I admit to using the american definition of a judge there though). Common sense is not supposed to apply because it is so entirely subjective. To some judges (unfortunately) it is "common sense" to aquit a rapist because the victim was dressed like a "slut" or it is "common sense" to aquit a drunk driver because he is a "pillar of the community" or some similar bullshit that somehow excuses being drunk off your ass and doing a hundred through a residential area. Ultimately if all judges followed the principles of the law Judge Saddam Hussein should reach the same decision as Judge Jello Biafra. Wishful thinking I know, but thats how it is supposed to work.
At the end of the day, I figure I vote for the people I want writing and defining my legislation and I'd rather not leave it up to one unelected and unaccountable bloke in a chamber somewhere.

"The judge's decision has prolonged the life of a member of society. Her quality of life has not degraded to point now where her life is worthless. He made the right decision."

I suspect she would disagree on both counts. The judge entirely disrespected her beliefs and religous freedoms - two fundamental pillars of any evolved civilisation. An absolutely monstrous action that sets a precedent where his opinion shits all over her god given right to treat her body as she sees fit.

Suicide is a sin - There might be some semantics here. Suicide is taking an active hand in your own demise, she is/was refusing life saving treatment. Certainly, her reason for doing so is... questionable, interpretations of the bible aren't the best thing on earth to throw your life away over but another example is a Hindu who refuses an operation to insert a bovine artery to facilitate kidney dialysis. Furthermore, suicide is not a sin in all religions or cultures.


Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)

To a JW suicide is a sin!

Her argument is that GOD said to somebody 5000 years ago "don't eat blood! that's a sin"

so she has a choice of two sins.

And as for respect everyone's religion... Let's say I'm a Satanist and I believe it's ok to eat babies and kill people? are you going to respect my religion then? What if my religion says I'll get into heaven and be serviced by 13 virgins if I martyre myself by killing the infidels? Is that ok with you?

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)


The witnesses actively discourage the practice (though exceptions are made and it is a fiercely discussed philosophical issue regarding when blood is blood and when blood is a bunch of chemicals). They don't regard the refusal to take blood as suicide. Whether or not you do is entirely your own issue.


The dictionary definition of suicide does not include this situation. The intentional taking of ones own life is distinct from refusing treatment.

So, they don't see it as suicide quite simply and even if they did, why does someone feel they have the right to say that you can't do what the hell you want with your own body? Thats the crux of this issue after all, that she doesn't have the right to determine what she does with her own body.

As for the others, no - obviously once your beliefs start infringing on the rights and liberties of another then it is not to be respected. You have the right to those opinions, you have the right to express them and you have the right to practice your religon but that right ends where someone else's jaw begins.

And lets make a distinction here between practice and consequence. It is now a JW practice to die, it is a consequence of their beliefs. Hell... if we're going to go down ridiculous hypotheticals here, if a doctor told you that the cure for what ailed you was to bury yourself in the colon of a dead man you'd think twice. It'd be morally and ethically repugnant, not to mention the physical revulsion and whatever religous issues it would raise. Does the state have a right to take you in hand and guide you in?

Anyway, again, this has sod all to do with religon, it is about the freedom to make your own decisions regarding your own body, not the freedom to harm someone else, not what moral standard is correct, simply that you are free to do what you want to your own body.

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 01:55 pm (UTC)

Ultimately if all judges followed the principles of the law Judge Saddam Hussein should reach the same decision as Judge Jello Biafra.

What you're saying is we should have a computer for a judge, practically guaranteeing that Captain Kirk will show up, beat up some Gardai, have sex with Mary McAleese and blow up Judgematic 2000 with a poignant legal conundrum, liberating us from its artificial reign.

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 01:35 am (UTC)

I don't fault the doctors in this. Their oath is to "do no harm" - a tricky ethical quagmire at the best of times and they're not really.. "involved" in this - it is a conflict between this woman and the judicial system, the doctors are (willing or otherwise) pawns in the disagreement. It is one of the worst jobs in the world, I wouldn't dream of holding them accountable in this mess.
In this example and the euthanasia scenario you describe, I would guess it would be considered harmful to apply treatment where it has been rejected 0 as evilrobotshane pointed out, in the USA if someone refuses treatment and you go ahead then it is actually assault - and thus harm. In situations where euthanasia is an option then it is a matter of taking the lesser harm, inaction would cause more pain and suffering than the (undesirable) alternative. At the end of the day, no means no.

As for the commandments - there are... what? three decent ones in there. Don't kill, don't steal and don't lie. Honouring your father and mother is good and all but I'll pass on keeping sunday holy, not saying GODFUCK!, I'm open to the possibility of other gods so number one is out. Graven images are... well, a bit late for me there. Coveting asses and commiting adultery are good guidelines but I'm somewhat against thought crimes and I won't judge about what two consenting adults get up to. Three commandments. Not bad guidelines for behaviour but far from being something I'd like seen as laws, especially in light of the other bits in that testament that involved all the ... killing and adultery :)
Besides, the new testament overwrote all of those - now we have love thy neighbour and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and I'd hope that if there was ever a situation where I was willing to die for what I believed in that my friends would have the good grace to realise that I'm not a child and that it was a rational decision on my part based on my own firmly held convictions and I'd hope that they'd have the respect for me as another human to honour those wishes

Well, since its me I'd actually hope that they sobered me up and took whatever godawful substance I was imbibing away from me but in bizzaro world where I think principles are worth that sacrifice I would hope that it was respected.

Its like this - either we start enforcing quality of life on everyone or the law butts the hell out - you can't pick and choose who gets on the lovelist of unwanted judicial protection. People who refuse medication for whatever reason should not be forced to take it because it removes the free will necessary for society to evolve into something greater. The more rules we put in place like this the less respect we treat the citizenship with and to assume that someone's decision to die is based on their stupidity is the greatest sin of all and the greatest of presumptions on our part. You simply cannot go around disrespecting someone's beliefs like that, disagree certainly but if you can't respect their reasons and motivations then why should they ever respect or even believe your motivations for your actions?

If we're to talk about place in society, why let people join the military? why not make sure we're sending the gobshites and no-hopers - they're going to be damaged goods if they ever see action - psychologically scarred at best, physically ruined or dead at worst so we should keep the good ones in one piece. Why let people drink or smoke? they both reduce one's ability to function as a member of society and reduce productivity. Half the hobbies we enjoy are deeply unhealthy and don't lend themselves to being a fully functioning member of society and the workforce. Hell, why are we letting women enter the workforce?

Sure, these aren't the same as allowing yourself to die but at the end of the day what you do with your life is your decision. Common sense dictates that you're less productive at work if you're tired from a night of raiding so shouldn't you have a curfew? Bollocks you should - you make a decision to do something with your life and no one has the right to tell you otherwise. If you want to drink, smoke, fuck, play games, piss your life away entirely or just die, no one but no one has the right to stop you.

holy christ.. half two...

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)

" If you want to drink, smoke, fuck, play games, piss your life away entirely or just die, no one but no one has the right to stop you.


I'm sorry but yes they do if your actions have any negative effects on other members of society. Life is not all about the individual. human rights do not only apply to singular humans. That woman gave birth to a child and that child has a right to a mother even if that mother believes everything written in a book 5000 years ago still has relevance today.

You talk about civilisation evolving and yet you defend people who cling to ideas that have been disproven beyond doubt. God didn't make the world on thursday afternoon 5,130 years ago by the way. That was what we like to call an 'allegory'

Somebody (a wise man, probably a priest) back in the mists of time probably noticed people getting sick from raw meat and put two and two together and decided meat should have no blood in it to be healthy. The villagers liked the taste of their steaks rare and weren't happy about it. So the wise man said " GOD SAID NO BLOOD OR YOU GO TO HELL"

Next thing you know some people are dieing needlessly because you defend their literal belief in an allegory.

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 02:43 am (UTC)

If the child has a right to a parent then the state is being hypocritical in the extradition of immigrant parents and is therefore in no position to issue edicts, moral or otherwise about the issue. That aside:

Every damned decision we make has an effect on other people and very very frequently it is a negative one. Why aren't we preventing smart people from doing dumb jobs and ensuring that everyone lives up to their potential? Why aren't we banning smoking, drinking and mind melting pop music drivel that has been proven to reduce cognitive capacity? There isn't much we do at all that doesn't fuck someone a few degrees down the line. Ipods are made in sweatshops, cola supposedly has a hand in violent supression of unions in south america, most chemical companies are out and out fuckers who will shit all over an entire village in the name of profit.
Not to promote hedonism and amorality or anything but if you stop to consider all the repercussions of every action you take then you would be paralysed by indecision.

To assume that she did not consider her child in all this is to do her a great injustice. Christ, how hard can it be to make a decision like that? She considered the child and obviously decided that her immortal soul and the billions of years of paradise (which I don't believe in myself) were worth more.

Not that I buy into the five thousand years thing but the nature of God is such that it can't be proven or disproven - handy I know. For all we (philosophically) know, God created the universe yesterday and created all of us with memories stretching back further than the day before.

I defend those ideas because I believe in the right of people to believe what the hell they want and from that come philosophies and ideas that would otherwise never evolve in an environment of cold, hard rationality. Charity is not a concept that would have an easy time of it under the scrutiny of logic but the world is a better place for it. Crazy isn't always bad. I disagree with her decision utterly but imagine for a second you believed, I mean REALLY believed with every fibre of your existence that taking that blood would mean an eternity in the greatest torment you can possibly imagine - that is her reality and that is why she did it. If she took that blood she would be condemned to hell eternal and never be with her child in paradise. Whats forty plus years apart compared to eternity? I'd be pretty sure that eternity in paradise would outweigh any ideas society had about my role as a parent.

Like I said, I don't agree or believe but before you rubbish it remember that this was her reality, just as our reality is something entirely different but no less real to us and probably no less wrong.

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)

And there are plenty of people whose reality is the belief that the world is flat... so are you telling me to respect all beliefs?

A five year old beleives that bears are cuddly. Would you allow them to wander alone into the bear enclosure simply because they had not been educated well enough to understand that Rupert the Bear is not literal truth but something we use to teach with?

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:52 am (UTC)

I don't respect all beliefs. I think many beliefs are downright stupid. But I do respect the right of others to hold their beliefs. Freedom is the right to be wrong.

As for the statement that there are plenty of people who think the Earth is flat... I've never met anyone who thinks that. How many people do you know who believe the world to be flat?

(Please answer that or withdraw your statement.)

Liberalism makes an implicit assumption about the nature of the individual; that is, that we are each a distinct being with self-awareness and the ability to make conscious decisions. There may also be an implication of the ability to understand the consequences of actions.

Abortion is so controvertial because the nature of the foetus is not agreed upon by both sides. Children raise similar complications. Society has decided, rightly or wrongly, that children lack the capacity to make reasoned decisions and so do not have the freedom adults have. That has no bearing on this woman's case.

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 11:28 am (UTC)

My "Flat Earth" comment was meant to stress the point that certain beliefs are just plain 100% wrong. I don't know anyone who believes that however I do work with 2 creationists.


To those two people the fossil record, geology and in fact virtually all branches of evolutionary science are an elaborate hoax.

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 01:53 pm (UTC)

there are plenty of people whose reality is the belief that the world is flat... so are you telling me to respect all beliefs?

If there were so many of them that they elected a flat-earth government, which, in an X-Case allegory, restrained you from leaving the country because you were on the way to England to catch a plane to Sydney after a week or two in San Francisco... which obviously they believe to be impossible and tantamount to suicide on your part... would you be okay with that? They're enforcing their beliefs on you. That lady had the establishment's beliefs enforced on her. Even if someone could prove she's wrong - which is impossible because technically the scientific method can never prove anything, just make very strong hypotheses - it's a precedent that sets up a world of hurt.

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 04:11 pm (UTC)

"That lady had the establishment's beliefs enforced on her"...


Welcome to the concept of civiliastion...

Establishment beliefs being enforced on individuals are how any society works from the smallest groups of hunter gatherers millenia ago right up to the present day.

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 02:59 am (UTC)

And another thing... if, when I die somebody can live by using my colon for whatever then so be it. I have NO need for my colon after I'm dead.

And yes I do carry a donor card and everything is free to whoever needs it when I'm dead ...

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 05:51 pm (UTC)

"That woman gave birth to a child and that child has a right to a mother..."

Whoah. Just last weekend the state decided that a particular child could not be brought up by it's (natural) mother and father, but instead should be adopted by it's (foster) mother and father, against the express wishes of the natural parents and only considering the psychologist's evidence that the child had bonded with the foster parents, and not considering current psychological work concerning infant/newborn trauma when separated from the natural mother.

So if that case stands, the implication is that any (suitable) mother would do...

And if (as I agree) scripture was written to explain the unexplainable 5000 years ago, why should we then "look at the oldest set of laws we know... They're in the bible dude" That is, after all, scripture, which also says some of our mutual friends are evil and should be stoned to death for who they choose to sleep with; or for that matter that I should be stoned to death for two of the lunches I had last week...

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006 11:44 pm (UTC)

My point was that the JW's are taking specific points from the bible and making them their set of beliefs. Even though the bible is full of contradictions.

Thou shalt not kill. That one right there is pretty much ingrained into every code of ethics in humanity.

I recall an episode of "The West Wing". One of my favourites. If only I had Jed Bartlett's incisive knowledge of the Bible and his wit.

Bartlett is about to speak to gathered radio talk show hosts at the White House. He enters the room and all stand and applaud. One though, a blond woman, does not. Bartlett seems rattled by this woman and eventually he addressess her directly.

"Excuse me Doctor, it's good to have you here. Are you an M.D.?"
"A Ph.D," she replies.
"In Psychology?" he asks.
"No, sir", she responds.
"Social Work?"
"I have a Ph.D in English Literature", she says.
"I'm asking", says Bartlett,"because on your show, people call in for advice and you go by the title Doctor, and I didn't know if maybe your listeners were confused by that and assumed you had advanced training in psychology, theology or health care".
"I don't believe they are confused. No sir", she responds.
"Good", says Bartlett. "I like your show, I like how you call homosexuality an abomination".
"I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr President. the Bible does".
"Yes, it does", Bartlett obviously has the response he needs and continues.

"Leviticus 18:22. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophmore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would be a good price for her?"
"While you're thinking about that can I ask another? My chief of staff Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obliged to kill him myself or is it ok to call the police? Here's one that is really important, cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?"

Sun, Sep. 24th, 2006 11:07 am (UTC)

So can I sue the West Wing writers for breach of copyright (probably not cos I copied it myself) for filching the Anne Coulter "letter" from my LJ? :-)