Home » Culture, Darwinism, Legal » Washington DC Event – Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, April 30, 2007

Washington DC Event – Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, April 30, 2007

Discovery Institute and FRC present:

Washington DC Event – Darwin’s Dangerous Idea The Disturbing Legacy of America’s Eugenics Crusade.

There is live video available for those who wish to see the event remotely. Dr. John West of the Discovery Institute shows the connection between Darwin’s ideas and America’s Eugenics Crusade.

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25 Responses to Washington DC Event – Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, April 30, 2007

  1. 1

    From the writings of darwinians one can extract any number of illustrations of what G.K. Chesterton described as “that creepy simplicity of mind with which the Eugenists chill the blood”. Here is one from Haldane.

    A correspondent writes to me to ask whether I approve of killing incurable invalids, and whether this is legal in the Soviet Union… There is no doubt that a vast amount of suffering would be saved if people undergoing great pain from incurable diseases were killed. The argument for killing an idiot child which cannot look after itself, let alone learn to speak, is equally strong. Nevertheless… I am against legalizing euthanasia until we have a society where there are no overcrowding and no big legacies, a socialist society in which the economic motives which make one man’s death into another man’s gain are gone for ever… – J.B.S Haldane, Science Advances, 1947. pg. 176-etc.

  2. It is unfortunate that you guys are holding the DC area meetings during normal working hours.

  3. Some years ago a patient told me how rich an experience it was for him to care for his dying father, through all his sufferings, right until the end. He said how grateful he was to have had that experience. And then he said that when his time came he would prefer euthanasia because he didn’t want to suffer.

    I suggested to him that maybe that would be to rob his own children of an experience that he had said he greatly prized. Didn’t matter. It was all about him.

    Euthanasia advocates use the language of compassion but my experience is that they have compassion only for themselves. It’s their pain (or disgust or workload or expenses) they want ended.

    If you ever come across “Deadly Compassion: The death of Ann Humphry and the Case Against Euthanasia” by Rita Marker (Harper Collins, my copy was published in 1993) it’s worth a read. Ann Humphry was the wife of Derek Humphry, author of “Final Exit”. Together they founded the Hemlock Society.

    Where I live euthanasia was legalised, briefly, about ten years ago. The fellow who was the chief practitioner/publicist was a local doctor who is still making a career out of his notoriety. Back then the local paper published a photo of him. He was lying on his bed and on the wall above were a couple of front pages with banner headlines referring to deaths he had arranged and accomplished. It struck me that maybe they were trophies, such as serial killers like to keep.

    Very definitely creepy.

  4. janice

    I’m a pretty firm believer that individual liberty, a founding principle of the United States, includes the right to die in a place and time of one’s own choosing, provided it does not infringe upon anyone else’s liberty.

    I don’t think it should be legal in such a way that you can get yourself put down as easily as you can get a tattoo but to deny a painless, dignified end to a competent adult in great pain with a terminal illness is IMO a major violation of the individual liberty the United States should be preserving and protecting.

  5. DS – how do you justify any restrictions on how one chooses to exit, once you concede the principle?

  6. jaredl

    Not everyone is competent to make those decisions. Minors would be one instance. Another would be people in transient emotional distress (divorce, death of a child, depression, anxiety, and things of that nature). If they want to kill themselves badly enough they can do it without government sanctioned assistance. While the government shouldn’t prohibit suicide it also has no compelling reason to make a suicide pill legal to sell over-the-counter without a prescription either.

    Likewise I’m not opposed to legal abortion in all cases either but rather just abortions that are so easily obtained it becomes a backup form of birth control. No woman who becomes pregnant from rape should be forced to bear the fruit that involuntary union, for instance. Granted the unborn child is not guilty of any wrongdoing but neither is the mother so in that instance her right to choose whether or not to endure a forced pregnancy and birth overrides any other rights. If she became pregnant through voluntary intercourse then it’s a whole different ballgame and that applies to both parents. In that case their informed choice to risk pregnancy makes them culpable.

  7. DS – I was under the mistaken impression you were a fellow libertarian when you appealed to liberty.

  8. I do believe that one has the right to a natural death, but that is as far as my belief in personal choice and liberty extends to. I do not think that it is right to legalize one’s own unatural death. People can have a change of heart, no matter how rational you think he was when he made the choice to die. There is no second chance when the person is dead.

  9. jaredl

    I was under the mistaken impression you were a libertarian too. Then you appealed to anarchy and I realized I’d made mistake.

    Wingless

    What gives you the right to tell others they have to die the way you want? How would you like someone telling you when and how to die?

  10. DaveScot writes:

    “I’m a pretty firm believer that individual liberty, a founding principle of the United States, includes the right to die in a place and time of one’s own choosing, provided it does not infringe upon anyone else’s liberty.”

    But why should I accept this notion of liberty? Suppose I think it reasonable to believe that killing is unjustified unless one has a good reason for it, e.g., self-defense, just war, etc.? The society you envision is one that implies that my idea of liberty is false and that I do not have a right to live in a society in which reason, rather than the capricious choice of the victim, should determine who lives and who dies. Your view also entails that human life is not intrinsically sacred. For if it were, then I would have no more a right to kill myself capriciously than I would to kill another capriciously.

    DaveScot:
    “I don’t think it should be legal in such a way that you can get yourself put down as easily as you can get a tattoo but to deny a painless, dignified end to a competent adult in great pain with a terminal illness is IMO a major violation of the individual liberty the United States should be preserving and protecting.”

    What counts as a “competent” adult? Is it one that can appreciate and understand her own intrinsic dignity? If so, then your case collapses under the weight of a moral concept that human choice does not have a right to violate. On the other hand, if a competent adult is just someone who is not insane or depressed, then one can kill oneself based on false beliefs about one’s own intrinsic dignity. But this would mean that one has a right to do wrong. But this is incoherent, since one cannot be permitted to do the impermissible. (I understand that some will reply by saying that I am confusing legal right with moral right. I’m not. What I am doing is responding to DaveScot’s notion that there should be a legal right based on a pre-political moral right, the right to “liberty” as he understands that term).

  11. DaveScot:

    “What gives you the right to tell others they have to die the way you want? How would you like someone telling you when and how to die?”

    The second question begs the question, since it appeals to the very self-interest that your case is supposed to support. Imagine if I stopped a thief and he said to me, “How would like someone telling you when and how to steal?” If stealing is wrong, then appealing to my possible desire to do wrong as a justification for the thief’s doing wrong makes no sense.

    The first question again assumes a libertarian view of liberty, the point at issue. After all, to claim that one must be given the right by another to interfere with that other is precisely the libertarian view of liberty. Thus, the first question, like the second one, begs the question.

    I find it odd that you defend a libertarian view of the person that seems so inconsistent with a purposeful view of human persons that ID is supposed to embrace. Libertarianism makes sense if there is no overarching human good to which the polis should aim. This is why I have alot of respect for Timothy Sandefur and Ed Brayton, consistent libertarians who see clearly the philosophical implications of the denial of intrinsic human purpose.

  12. Don’t forget Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, and company over at http://www.lewrockwell.com . DS is a conservative, not a libertarian.

  13. Libertarianism makes sense if we don’t concede others have a higher right to ourselves than we ourselves do. Why should I concede my neighbor has a moral right to point a gun at my head to coerce me to do his will, rather than my own?

  14. “Why should I concede my neighbor has a moral right to point a gun at my head to coerce me to do his will, rather than my own?”

    The same reason you don’t have a right to point a gun at your own head for the same reason your neighbor points it at you. If your neighbor can’t kill you for unjustified reasons, e.g., you’re ugly, you walk funny, you’re bald, why is it all of a sudden right to kill yourself for the same reasons even if you consent. Your consent adds nothing to the quality of the reasons offered. But since the reasons determine whether you are justified in your act, the absence of good reasons means you are not justified, and thus have no right to do it.

    The key is to understand yourself as a person with intrinsic dignity. If libertarianism means the right to treat yourself in ways that violate your own dignity, then libertarianism is just adolescent angst dressed up as a philosophy, “Nihlism in a Cheap Tuxedo,” if you will.

  15. I own myself. Ergo I may dispense with myself as I see fit. You do not own me. You may not, therefore, impede my dispensation of myself, for that is to initiate force against me outside of strict self-defense.

  16. 16
    Vladimir Krondan

    Returning to the Eugenics channel,

    Like it or not, euthanasia is a basic pillar of the modern ‘darwinian’ eugenics movement led by Galton, the Darwins, the Huxleys, etc.

    Euthanasia, abortion, birth-control, segregation, sterilization, &c., are methods advocated by eugenists to further the cause of eugenics. Julian Huxley, one of the fathers of the ‘modern synthesis’ was director of the Eugenics Society, and was on the executive committee of the Euthanasia Society. Margaret Sanger was a member of both the American and the British Eugenics Societies. David Hamburg was director of the American Eugenics Society, the AAAS, and also Carnegie Corporation, which financed the Eugenic Records office and the Station for Experimental Evolution. Paul Popenoe, author of Applied Eugenics was on American Eugenics Society board of directors. He wrote, in Applied Eugenics,

    “The inefficients, the wastrels, the physical, mental, and moral cripples are carefully preserved at public expense. The criminal is turned out on parole after a few years, to become the father of a family. The insane is discharged as “cured,” again to take up the duties of citizenship. The feeble-minded child is painfully “educated,” often at the expense of his normal brother or sister. In short, the undesirables of the race, with whom the bloody hand of natural selection would have made short work early in life, are now nursed along to old age.”

    Around 1930, the Catholic Church specifically condemned the methods by which eugenists were seeking to change society: euthanasia, abortion, sterilization, etc. The (predictable) response was published in Eugenics Review, 1931:

    “… the Pope delivers an uncompromising ultimatum not only to eugenists, but to all who seek to order their own affairs in the light of science and human judgement. It is a defiant return to mediaevalism… at the beginning of this survey it was written advisedly that the Encyclical was a return to the Middle Ages. Its mediaevalism is carried so far as to ignore all anthropology, all history not contained in Genesis, and to attack not only the practice of eugenics, but also the underlying biological bases. Not only is current biology specifically attacked, but an onslaught is made on the whole texture of science and the liberty of thought…

    Back to Haldane.

    An important propaganda technique of the eugenists, is to instill some confusion between suicide and euthanasia. To put it bluntly, in a way that stresses the difference, suicide is when you blow your brains out; euthanasia is when you get someone else to blow your brains out for you. Now, as to questions like ‘should the government supply me with a gun, or with an executioner, if my preferred way of offing myself is by the bullet but I cannot do so on my own? We can leave questions like that on the pile marked ‘useless questions for libertarians to argue about’.

    True to his eugenist roots, Haldane directs the euthanasia issue into one about suicide. First he introduces us to Engel’s new man, that imaginary ideal communist we often hear about in Marxist literature,

    “In The Origin of the Family, Engels made a very profound remark… he wrote, “when a new generation has grown up… they will care precious little what anybody to-day thinks they ought to do; they will make their own practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each individual, and that will be the end of it.”

    And then he says,

    The people of a communist world will differ from us… they will also find one of their main sources of happiness in work for others, and will not want to live when they can no longer do such work.

    This is an extraordinary summary of Haldane’s socialist utopia. When a communist new man feels that he has become unproductive to the state, or if he is told so by the state, he will simply blow his brains out. Suicide, yes? But note carefully, Haldane’s essay is not titled Suicide, it is titled Euthanasia. Disambiguating Haldane’s confusion between suicide and euthanasia, this means then, that the new man of communism, having become unproductive, will hand himself over voluntarily to the firing squad. “…that creepy simplicity of mind with which the Eugenists chill the blood…” And whether you like it or not, his executioners will be murderers, despite of the new man‘s cheerful disposition toward suicide, willingness, last wishes, volunteerism, &c.

    Janice – concerning serial killers.

    Is there much difference between Jack Kevorkian and a serial killer? Kevorkian’s obsession with death is obvious if you look at his art. But there have been many medical ‘angels of death’: Kevorkian with about 130 victims; Donald Harvey, a nurse who killed 34; Michael Swango, paramedic who murdered at least 60; Roger Andermatt, a swiss nurse who insisted his motives were “sympathy, compassion and a desire to end the suffering of the patient”, he killed 27. Arnfinn Nessett, a norwegian nursing home administrator killed anywhere from 22 to 138; Harold Shipman, 15 up to possibly 300 victims, mostly elderly; and Jane Toppan, a nurse who murdered 31 people and testified in court “That is my ambition. To have killed more people — more helpless people — than any man or woman who has ever lived.”

  17. I own myself.

    Imagine that some very intelligent person has designed and manufactured a self-replicating, self-aware robot. Who owns the replicas?

    One major thing I have against euthanasia programs is that they drag in another person. It’s one thing to commit suicide. It’s another to expect someone else to effect your suicide for you. Maybe that person consents. Here the question becomes; why do they consent?

    Do you want someone to kill you who wants to kill you? Would you like, in your last conscious moments, to see that person getting a buzz out of watching you die? In my student years we conducted physiology and pharmacology experiments on animals and at the end of the class they were destroyed. In pharmacology the demonstrator used to ask for volunteers. They were always the same people and I can assure you that it wasn’t a matter of injecting a bolus of potassium and walking away. Most of them took what I have to regard as a deeply unhealthy interest in the details of the animal’s passing.

    But can you ask someone to kill you who doesn’t want to kill you? If you pressure them to accede to your wishes and they consent is it real, informed consent? Can they know beforehand how performing that act will affect them? Of course they can’t.

    For a report on the effect on doctors of participating in euthanasia see here.

    This garbage about “dying with dignity” makes me angry. Dying in a non-messy way (even if one does have to stoop to the grotesque by requesting that a plastic bag is put over your head, just to make sure) is not the same as dying with dignity.

    And, Vladimir, I think there’s no difference at all. If you read the literature on serial killers it becomes obvious that the ones who operate in hospitals and other health facilities do what they do for exactly the same sort of reasons. These places are just different hunting grounds with different populations.

  18. Must agree with Janice.

    All this crap about “dying with dignity” comes from where exactly. Who decides what is dignified death?

    Christ chose crucifixion. Was that “dignified”? Hanging naked, bloody, bruised and humiliated with his crown of thorns?

    The apostle Peter gives us an apt illustration of human fear and repugnance at suffering leading to an erroneous view: “Pity yourself Lord! This shall not happen to you”, he said when told of Christs coming death.

    Curiously, this was the only instance in which which Christ called a human Satan.

    This thread’s discussion reminds me of CS Lewis’ “That Hideous Strength” and “The Abolition of Man” wherein the self-proclaimed “competent to make those decisions” elite scientists decide who lives and who dies. And of course, end up killing whoever they deem “unfit” (ring a Darwinist bell?) to live.

    Again, upon what grounds of logic and morality does anyone have a right to take their own life?

    There is a huge difference between right and freedom.

    I have the freedom to burn my neighbor’s house down, but not the right. I am free to commit suicide but do I have the right? Under which circumstances? Who decides?

    Who are these “competent to decide” persons?

    Medical doctors? If so then from whence do they receive this enlightenment to decide life/death? Upon what moral foundation?

    A Catholic priest who worked in Holland writes on this kind of activity there where euthanasia is legal and practiced every day,

    “…one of the requirements for graduating from nursing school is to assist at an abortion.

    Families with members with sicknesses justifying hospitalization are heroic in their charity. But hospitals in Holland are no longer places of healing. They are fearsome places where euthanasia is practiced nearly automatically. Doctors have invented a new kind of euthanasia called ‘mortification’ where food and water are denied patients making them die of hunger and thirst, that is, they are starved to death. A 1997 report revealed that 55% of nursing home patients are dying from this lack of care called ‘mortification.’ ”

    Moral insanity and idiocy reign when Darwinian evolved ethics are actually put in practice. The holocaust is only one such instance. Holland’s ‘mortifications’ are another.

    This is always the danger.

    Therefore let us beware lest, having given to man a transient dignity founded upon a whim of ego, we remove the true dignity completely.

    I do not trust anyone with a eugenics formula – no matter how “dignified” it appears towards man. No matter what feigning of “compassion” towards the suffering it musters.

    Eugenics, assisted suicides etc., are always destined to become assisted murders.

  19. “I own myself. Ergo I may dispense with myself as I see fit. You do not own me. You may not, therefore, impede my dispensation of myself, for that is to initiate force against me outside of strict self-defense.”

    A series of stipulations is not an argument.

    Setting that problem aside, it is difficult to understand what it means to “own yourself,” since this would make you both property and property-owner, both agent and non-agent, both subject and object, both instrument and end. To treat yourself as if you were less than a person–a thing–diminishes your stature in your own eyes. Why should anyone respect your rights if you won’t even respect yourself by seeing yourself as a mere thing subject to your own will? Self-deception is not a virtue, especially if you consent to it.

  20. Janice,

    You make great points.

    If mercy killing becomes a “by right” thing, I strongly suspect most of the killings will be done against the wishes of the person killed.

  21. I hope that I will have the proper meanas to end my own life when I feel I don’t want to live anymore.

    I also hope that in case I should not have the means or the ability to do it by myself, if and when such at time comes, that somebody else will have mercy on me and let me escape needless suffering. God understands, he knows me, and wishes me well.

  22. I’ll have to disagree with Dave Scott on this one—without gray areas the pressure is to push the law’s boundary to the limit, and these days you know what that means. The advocates of death moan over the rape victim and where do we end up? Millions upon millions of dead babies. Now the issue is suicide—don’t you care about the excruciating suffering of the terminal cancer patient? That they say—but where do you think they want to take us?

    No! The law needs gray areas and it’s in the gray areas that we can extend mercy (say, to the physician who succumbed to the screams of the terminal cancer patient). But if we permit no gray areas then we’ll find the boundary shifting irrevocably into ever darker degrees of evil.

  23. 23

    I own myself. Ergo I may dispense with myself as I see fit. You do not own me. You may not, therefore, impede my dispensation of myself, for that is to initiate force against me outside of strict self-defense.

    “A series of stipulations is not an argument.”

    Alternatively, one might ask of Professor Beckwith, “Who owns me?”

    That should elicit an argument.

  24. “Alternatively, one might ask of Professor Beckwith, “Who owns me?”"

    No one. Persons, by nature, cannot be property. That’s the short answer.

  25. “Who owns me?”

    If I am designed, then I think that my designer would have a pretty good case for ownership.

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