Obama and McCain part deux.

October 7, 2008

Just a quick excerpt from the debate. After…errr live blog commenting on Ryan’s Blog of amazement, (megorious.com on my blog roll), I’ve really decided this debate was sort of benign? Obama did very well but McCain was sort of just angry and rude? At one point he referred to Senator Obama as “that one”. As usual he called us all his friends, I think McCain is a little unbalanced. He needs to level off if he wants to stop the hemorrhaging in his own campaign that is now trailing in the polls. John McCain shuffled around awkwardly,while Obama pretty much sat and observed while McCain spoke. The aggression is definitely intensifying as we move forward in the campaigns and as election day moves closer. It’s evident, more and more so, that this election will be one of the most important elections of our time, if not the most.

Oh and also, If you decided to play the “My friends” drinking game, remember to use something slightly less alcoholic next time…because after hearing it about 43 times I can’t walkk.


Keith Olbermann *thumbs up*

September 11, 2008

Normally I’m against any sort of news personality with an opinion. But I’m impressed with the poise, intelligence and intent of Keith Olbermann. I’m a moderate politically, so i try to stay pretty balanced. But he raises several good points and I definitely commend him on his bravery in speaking out when few others would.

This song has been playing on my Ipod non-stop for the past two weeks…

September 2, 2008

and every time I hear it, I want to jump off a bridge.

“Well youre the closest thing I have
To bring up in a conversation
About a love that didnt last
But I could never call you mine
Cause I could never call myself yours
And if we were really meant to be
Well then we justify destiny
Its not that our love died
Just never really bloomed

Well I cant let go
No, I cant let go of you
Youre holding me back without even trying to.
I cant let go
I cant move on from the past
Without lifting a finger youre holding me back.

And then we saw our paths diverge
And I guess I felt OK about it.
Until you got with another man,
And then I couldnt understand
Why it bothered me so.
How we didnt die we just
Never had a chance to grow.

I cant let go
No, I cant let go of you
Youre holding me back without even trying to.
I cant let go
I cant move on from the past.
Without lifting a finger youre holding me back.

And it might not make much sense
To you or any of my friends
Though somehow still you affect the
Things I do.
And you cant lose what you never had
I dont understand why I feel sad
Every time I see you out with someone new.

I cant let go
No, I cant let go
No, I cant let go of you.

I cant let go
No, I cant let go of you
Youre holding me back without even trying to.
I cant let go
I cant move on from the past
Without lifting a finger youre holding me back.

I cant let go
No, I cant let go of you
Youre holding me back without even trying to.
I cant let go
I cant move on from the past.”

-Can’t Let Go by Landon Pigg

The most intelligent thing I’ve read…on a coffee cup.

August 29, 2008

“Our prejudices arise from the fear of things we do not understand. If my generation has a single goal, it must be to promote education – education that advances us not only technologically, but also intuitively and emotionally. In today’s fast paced world, advancing has to mean more than scientific discovery; it is our responsibility to force ourselves beyond our comfort zones and become knowledgeable about the people around us.”

-Jessica Arden Ettinger, Student at the University of Virginia.

Well put.

The Ethics of Cloning

August 22, 2008

I guess this is part two of re-visiting my ethics class writing. Both pieces I really like, mostly because my arguments are fundamentally moderate. But hey whatevs. Let me know what ya think.

Cloning ethically and practically is a difficult subject to begin with. Much like abortion the biggest controversy with cloning is ultimately the question, what do we consider life? As a nation, a society, and a united people life holds great value. If we could decide that multi-cellular blastocyst has the same rights as a frozen mini-pizza then we would not even consider that it could feel pain, suffer, or feel a loss of life. That would be absurd, and not only that it would be a ridiculous conclusion to come to. As a society we can’t really accurately decide if a blastocyst, non-human animal, or insect has the same feelings, awareness, etc as a human being. We cannot experience what a dog does, or what a grasshopper might. We can only assume that because these creatures don’t have the same facial expressions, same form of communication, and live different lives than us that they simply cannot feel the way we do. They cannot have a soul or a spirit.

This is the current language of the cloning and stem cell research debate. What is life, when does it start, and at what points does said life, or potential therefore, have rights? I believe that as a culture and as a society, we are in no way, shape, or form ready for what cloning entails. We simply are not that responsible, and we can’t handle that kind of power over humanity. Stem cell research is the field in which I have different opinions than that of cloning. The problem with cloning is that as humans we are imperfect, that being the case having that sort of power over human life, with the potential to customize said human life is absurd for our culture. Someone would obviously use that power for self gain and the worst reasons that could be imagined. It would be an inevitable event. There are approximately 6.7 billion human beings in the world right now. There is no argument you could make that someone of those almost seven billion wouldn’t decide to make a clone army, clone humans for organ harvesting, or some other horrible and inhuman way to use cloning for self gain. Cloning itself has a number of gains and possibilities for science but responsibility is a trait we lack, as its been shown in our forms of government, in the treatment of fellow human beings, and in the treatment of the planet upon which we live.

Animal cloning runs a parallel fate to that of human cloning. It can be potentially inhumane, dangerous, and has abominable possibilities. While there is an endless swath of negative consequences there are many gains to be had by animal cloning. Species like the Panda, for which reproduction is difficult, would have a guarantee to continue on and animal cloning would help animals that are near extinction. Scientifically it would advance animal studies, and would help humanity in various other fields. More milk cows more milk, cheaper. The problem exists with all of these is that ultimately; this cheapens life not only for humans but for animals as well. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that if we had the power to create life under our own circumstances, that it would be any more valuable. The reason, for the most part, why life is valuable is because of the circumstances for which it exists. It’s not necessarily a rare thing, but it takes a special combination of events that makes life a miracle. What makes life so valuable is not in the formula for cloning. You take away the potential for love, marriage, a joining of two people to create something completely new and different from everything else in the world, or the universe even.

Setting the moral arguments aside we are not even legally able to clone in most cases. Thirteen states have banned all forms and types of cloning, others have formed state and government research, the list goes on. There is no federal law banning cloning, but it remains tabled in the senate. Most foreign countries have devised their own cloning laws or regulations, and as of now there is no known (proven) human clone. Virtually all members of the U.N. agreed that human cloning should be banned in the General Assembly’s adaptation of a declaration that would ban all forms of human cloning. Sichan Siv, the U.S. delegate to the U.N. applauded the declaration for opposing scientific efforts that would: “take advantage of some, vulnerable lives for the benefit of others.” (washingtonpost.com, 2007) However Britain, Belgium, China and other countries that support “therapeutic cloning” or the cloning of human embryos in medical research aimed at finding cures for diseases—said they will not honor the declaration, which is actually not a legally binding one. So as a legal issue stem cell research and embryonic research is more widely tolerated than outright cloning, but even with that being said it still being disputed widely and different governments have different standards in relation to the rules surrounding cloning.

One could argue that as human beings we have a right to pursue this research and to clone other humans. This argument falls on the shoulders of the ‘what is life?’ debate. We as humans and Americans have the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. At what point does that right stop. Cloning not only endangers another human life, or potentially human life, but endangers several aspects of humanity as a whole. Setting aside the psychological aspects of human cloning, how is it fair to the clone itself. What can make any of us assume that you’d want to be a copy of somebody else? Who are we to create life without it being so special and sacred? There are so many factors surrounding cloning and we can’t begin upon answers or solutions to all of these questions. Until we are able to we can’t assume that we have all the answers, or even if there is only a 1% chance that the clone will be born with a paralyzing psychological deficiency is that 1% worth the cost?

Bringing up the psychological aspects of cloning, there are many unknowns in the ID of a person. There are still psychological disorders that aren’t discovered or even recognized. The human mind and psyche is so complex that we are just now starting to understand how part of it works. Bringing a clone into that equation adds so much to the already complex human mind. Being born individual is part of what creates our Id and Ego, take that away and what does that make us? If a clone is a copy of someone else, would that clone take on the same traits as the person from which it originated. Is the clone even an ‘it’, or if you cloned Jeff from the office do you now have two Jeff’s with the same identity? Or do you have a whole new person who just looks like Jeff. There are infinite situations in which you could ask a number of questions regarding what you would have as the result of cloning. Simply stated we just don’t know. We will never know until we clone someone, and even then, the result may be something nobody was even expecting.

A much larger fact of human cloning is that it will essentially water down the human gene pool. If cloning becomes a predominate form of reproduction, diversity would diminish and would effect genetic diversity. Even if not done carefully we could just be cloning genetic flaws for generation after generation. That sort of cloning would basically halt the evolutionary change and hinder our ability to constantly adapt to the world we live in. Cloning, while argued would advance the human race, would really just hinder it. It is possible that we could develop a way to create perfect human beings but that would remove all forms of individuality, or who is even to say what perfection would be. The much larger issue on the horizon of cloning is stem cell research where responsibility and potential study would help humanity endlessly.

Stem cell research is just as controversial as cloning in the debate of what we define as life. Stem cell research has the potential to save millions of lives. That is all that needs to be said. What is lost in stem cell research is already unused embryos for cultivation of stem cells. There is no suffering, no inhuman treatment of a clone, no pain. To be say there is no life lost would be presumptuous of me because life has yet to be defined. For all intensive purposes however the gains would be outstanding and the loss would be already tossed aside, 150 cell blastocysts. With the right research and cultivation of stem cells, we could cure: Parkinson’s disease, cancer, damage to brain and spinal cords, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke damage, heart disease, damage from burns, from diabetes, from rheumatoid arthritis, from Purkinje cell degeneration, from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and from vision and hearing loss. (Sam Harris, 2004)

As it can be plainly seen the gains are enormous, and what do we lose? Again I would say the equivalent of frozen blastocyst cells are mini-pizzas. While these multi-cellular formations do have the potential for life I do not believe them to be life. My view has always been that life begins at viability, and in fertility clinics all over the nation test tubes with already fertilized embryos are tossed out daily. Saving those embryos for research to move forward stem cell treatment would push our society so far forward medically that the way in which we live life and the quality of our lives would improve vastly.

While in my own opinion that as a society we are not ready for the fate that would come cloning, I don’t believe that argument against cloning and stem cell search is a valid one. The argument, which is a similar one used in abortion, about what we determine to be life is an irresponsible one. The argument about life is simply a failure of our country and others to separate church and state. Life is life not because of viability, or realizing one’s identity, it’s about having a ‘soul’ or a ‘spirit’. That is the only factor that determines how we treat other creatures, other humans, etc. If Spanish explorers had thought that the South American natives had souls would they have been treated as they were? If a non-human animal had the ability to communicate like a human do you think that we would give it the same rights as a human? That being said why don’t humans of greater thought and intelligence get better treatment than humans who aren’t as smart or who can’t communicate as effectively. This creates a sort of life chaste system, where creatures below us aren’t treated with the same respect as creatures higher up on the list. The argument against cloning, or even stem cell research shouldn’t be about having a soul or being moral according to god. The argument should be the ability for our society to recognize that cloning is inherently wrong, there is far too much potential to make monstrosities, and the means for which this power could be abused is too abundant. Instead of agreeing upon a set of common morals we bring religion, a much larger unknown, into the formula.

Stem cell research is not taking a life; it is using the potential for life to give life to somebody who desperately needs it. Cloning is wrong, maybe someday when our society earns the ability to be responsible in world affairs, treatment of other human beings and creatures, then we will perhaps to take advantage of all that cloning could offer us for scientific advancement. That day may never come, but as it stands the legal holds on cloning are right on and should be tightened further. However stem cell research avoids many of the pitfalls contained within the argument for cloning. There are very few arguments that would claim stem cell research to be harmful and responsible for the murdering of blastocysts. The benefits are numerous and the only real result of the research would be an advancement of knowledge not only of the human cellular structure and how our bodies work, but on how we can cure diseases and damage that was once permanent. Damage that ruined lives and families. This research could save millions of dollars in health care money, drug costs, financial aid, etc.

An adequate solution to the cloning debate is a far off one. Legislation against human cloning sits at the senate and probably won’t be addressed until the next presidency. The argument still is widely debated. Cloning, while offering some gains in science, is ultimately something we should avoid as a society if we wish to move forward in humanity. With cloning we would effectively halt evolution and lose all sense of individual identity. There are numerous outcomes that are undesirable the biggest of which is creating something so horrible and psychologically damaged that it makes humanity monsters for even considering cloning. The best we can hope for is the result of stem cell research to move modern medicine forward in efforts to combat the growing number of diseases and harm to humanity. Without a responsible and less dogmatic reaction to this debate we will never fully understand our bodies and the role humanity plays in this world. If life is special and it is intended to be that way, taking advantage of human beings for the gain of others is unacceptable, and shows the true nature of humanity. It is widely believed that humans are inherently good creatures but as such we sometimes act in undesirable ways for certain reasons or under certain circumstances. There is no circumstance in which we should create a life to take advantage of, whether it is to harvest organs, to create a clone army of disposable people, to replace a dead child. No situation allows us to put aside our morals for the personal gains that cloning offers. If we can’t hold onto our morals in the face of selfish personal gain, then we should be able to in the potential suffering and sacrifice of others that cloning takes advantage of.

Abortion: Ontologically and Morally

August 22, 2008

Just as a foreword I wrote this for my ethics class about a year ago and its something I feel very strongly about, I hope you guys will give me some comments and criticism regarding it. Got an A on it too!

Abortion is one of the most difficult ethical issues to argue for or against, regardless of your position, the facts involved, or Roe v. Wade, in no circle of modern civilization is it simple to argue for the murder of a potential life. Whether the argument is driven by facts, religion, or moral beliefs, the argument itself must be that of a methodical one. The two primary arguments in the ethical debate of abortion are derived mainly from the ontological status of a fetus. If you assume an unborn fetus is a person, then it has rights, that of any other person, infant, etc. If you say that a fetus is not a person, it therefore has no rights, so there should be no moral issues with aborting one. I believe that life starts at viability but however ultimately the decision should lie with the mother.

The ontological status of a fetus, to me, depends heavily on viability. I believe that life begins at viability; I believe that true life starts one recognizing self and the world around self. While I was raised Catholic I don’t think that religion has much to do with abortion, rather I believe viability is what determines life. As it was decided in Roe v. Wade, abortion laws interfere with a woman’s right to privacy;

“State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother’s behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy” (Roe v. Wade, 1973).

That all being decided it’s not about religion, having a soul, or viability. A fetus is, in effect, part of a woman’s body, and as such her decision is her own, and not subject to the opinions or ideals of others. Just because some religious groups, the president, political groups, etc don’t agree with abortion, doesn’t mean it’s up to them. In my opinion the matter of abortion, the morality of it, the ontological debate, all lies on the mother’s shoulders.

However I think that morally abortion is acceptable under the following circumstances: If the birth endangers the life of the mother, if the fetus will be born into a less than satisfactory life (i.e. rape victims, pregnant minors, life of poverty, dangerous household, etc.), or if the fetus will be born with a disability that will make its life harder, or shorter than it should be. I don’t condone abortion as a method of birth control, I don’t condone random abortion without good reason, and I don’t accept abortion as an acceptable solution in the late second and third trimesters. Like it’s often said the moral debate and contributing arguments are derived mostly from the debate on whether or not a fetus is a person. I whole heartedly agree with that. It’s much easier to agree with the termination of an unfeeling grouping of cells rather than talking about hacking a baby to pieces. So morally I am apt to agree that without viability, it is not considered a person.

It is very easy, in my opinion, to see both sides of the debate and understand why there would be people who don’t easily accept the ideas for and against abortion. The obvious argument ontologically is that life begins at conception. This argument is not easy to argue for or against, based solely on the numerous parts of the debate, and the gravity of each part. You can easily bring about the unarguable defense that life begins at conception and according to the interpretation of the bible, terminating a pregnancy is murder. Or that viability or not, it’s still a life. Webster v. Reproductive Health Services argues that: “the State’s interest in protecting potential life could come into existence before the point of viability” (Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 1989) and that they were not going revisit Roe v. Wade and decide what at what point life begins. So I think it’s safe to assume that regardless of moral standings, most people are not arguing for baby killing when abortion is brought up. However the idea of that is what most who argue against abortion believe. Not only is it baby killing, but straight out murder of what is potentially a conscious, thinking, feeling form of life. No matter who you are, for the most part, it is hard to argue killing what is potentially life.

Since the jury is still out on the legal aspect of what is life, we come down to the opposite ends of the moral debate. That what we abort is in fact life, the beginning of a human being, one that some say possesses a human soul or a spirit, or for the scientologist an alien spirit. Or that taking of life in any way, shape, or form is morally wrong. So this all comes full circle; taking a life is wrong in our society so to make this morally acceptable as a society and culture it must not be a life that we are taking, merely a premature cluster of cells. It all comes down to fairly standard beliefs, that killing is wrong; especially the killing of something that has what some say is a spirit or soul. One that can potentially communicate and what may in fact be conscious of itself, its creation, and the world around it. With that all said, who are we as individuals to in any way even begin to decide the fate of a human life without probable cause. It varies from case to case, such as if you get an abortion in the state of Massachusetts. A fetus is not considered a life since it is held that life begins after birth. Therefore it all comes back to what we believe is life, and if it is in fact life then if it has the rights of any other human being.

Ultimately this debate runs itself in circles and as a continually developing society we need to agree on what we determine to be life before the debate of abortion will ever begin to see an end. That’s what lies at the beginning of the debate and ultimately lies at its finale and our own opinions on this lie at the root of that debate. That until proven true, life is defined as: “the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.” (dictionary.com, 2007) If that is truly what life is than life begins at conception. So until we can all cumulatively agree that life begins at conception, we must draw our own responsible conclusions on what we believe and the facts supporting each argument. Ultimately it boils down to our value of life and also that of the choice of a responsible mother. What is truly the correct argument is one that can be proved, and that argument is a far off one.

Re-writing the federal laws of abortion to consider both sides of the argument would have to not only place a point at which life begins, but also come to a solution that respects said life in how abortion would be carried out. Ideally that abortion is acceptable with good cause, gives certain circumstances when abortion is acceptable and to roll on as a society to greater issues that help us develop more, rather than sticking us in a situation where religion rules a church-state divided country. Ideally the best conclusion to this debate is to just leave the decision and moral weight thereof on the shoulders of the mother. Who are we as a society to step in so presumptuously and say that you can’t do what you want with your own body because it’s not right. Well according to what? According to the beliefs of religion, individuals, science? The best step we can take in what I would call the right direction is the realization of our own moral responsibility and that the only bad that comes with the wrong decision, lies solely on the person who makes it.

A fresh start.

August 18, 2008

So I will be writing on here way more frequently than on my previous blog. I haven’t really had much free time until recently and I’m going to be writing more and more for the Metro so it makes it a bit easier.

I also may post my articles here before they are even printed…which I don’t think is allowed but I’ll do it til I get in trouble. Feel free to leave your opinions comments etc and I will update this as frequently as possible!