tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
Two quotations from _The Honest Politician's Guide to Crime Control_ by Norval Morris and Gordon Hawkins (which, based on what I've read of it so far, everyone should be forced to read, or at least, everyone who is a political leader or votes for them):
And, particularly from these "sportsmen," we must never tolerate the argument that if the murderer lacked a gun he would kill in some other way. If they believe that, they should, on grounds of sportsmanship, throw away their guns and club the deer to death, knife the bears, and poison the ducks.

The sanctity of life is often also taken to refer to the life of "the unborn child." Yet the use of this expression is as if we referred to the reader as "an adult fetus." To say that a fertilized ovum or an embryo is a human being and therefore entitled to the full protection of the law is a prejudicial abuse of language. Nor do those who take this position ever maintain it consistently, for they never embrace the logical corollary which is that all abortive operations are murders and should be so treated in law.

For our part, in view of the fact that human reproduction is a continuum, such questions as "When does life begin?" are unanswerable, except perhaps in metaphysical or theological terms. Nevertheless it is quite practicable to draw objective distinctions between abortion, infanticide, and homicide; and in terms of these well-recognized distinctions we say that abortion should not be regarded as criminal as long as the woman desires its performance. We see no reason to regard some other arbitrarily selected point prior to parturition, in what is a continuous process, as having any particular significance.
I think I may have posted part of the second quotation before. But it's worth re-posting, among other reasons because I came across this Cat and Girl comic that [livejournal.com profile] pinkhairedcyn linked to that says the same thing, only with pictures.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etb.livejournal.com
That reminds me of [livejournal.com profile] running_swede's observation that "the whole thing about being unborn is that you're not born yet."

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arisrabkin.livejournal.com
I'll definitely keep an eye open for the book.

However, I think the second paragraph is somewhat misleading. One can distinguish abortion and murder, and still oppose abortion. Saying "abortion isn't murder" doesn't mean "abortion should always be legal". Assisting a suicide isn't murder, but it's still criminal.

Drawing legal lines across a continuum isn't so rare. What we usually do in cases like this is to define a hierarchy of lesser offenses, for instance. I think people are right to be queasy about late-term abortion, and while I'll stipulate that it isn't the same as murder, that doesn't mean it's beyond the realm of social regulation.

Also, I see no objective difference between infanticide and homicide, while the authors seem to imply that such exists.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catamorphism.livejournal.com
Sure, but the paragraph is addressed to those who claim "abortion is murder", and is pointing out that those who say so in those words are almost always being disingenuous. The authors don't have anything to say (here, anyway) to people who think it's wrong but don't equate it with murder.

I think there's a difference between infanticide and homicide, but that opinion is probably pretty unpopular. (I think that killing an infant is more like killing a dog than killing an adult.)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arisrabkin.livejournal.com
I think "killing an infant is more like killing a dog than an adult" is worse than merely unpopular: it's not rhetorically consistent. There's no clear demarcation points on the spectrum from newborn to adult; and therefore, by your logic, any murder statute is making an arbitrary demarcation. In which case, the question becomes: what principles should we use to do that demarcation?

I think you'll have a hard time finding any reason better than "personal preference that need not be very rationally defensible" -- and you don't want to let that loose in a 'sanctity of life' debate, because you'll get outvoted badly by the religious right.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catamorphism.livejournal.com
Well, in principle I don't think it makes sense to punish someone for killing a 1-day-old infant as harshly as someone would be punished for killing a 30-year-old. In practice, I have less of a problem with calling killing of everyone older than 1 minute old "murder" than with calling killing of fetuses "murder".

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arisrabkin.livejournal.com
*nod*; that makes complete sense.

I actually meant it the other way -- if you want to call infanticide "criminal killing of a protohuman" rather than murder, then that label can be applied in places you don't want it.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 07:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fanf.livejournal.com
It's incorrect to say that no-one believes abortion is murder. On the other hand, http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 01:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cartman94501.livejournal.com
[livejournal.com profile] arisrabkin didn't say no one thinks abortion is murder. [livejournal.com profile] arisrabkin just said [livejournal.com profile] arisrabkin doesn't think abortion is murder.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 03:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fanf.livejournal.com
I should have said "is always" - I was referring to "they never embrace the logical corollary which is that all abortive operations are murders and should be so treated in law" which I believe is not true.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 03:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cartman94501.livejournal.com
Actually, I believe some of the more extreme examples, such as Randall Terry, do think abortion is always murder and thus deserving of the death penalty. Even worse, some of them invoke the Nuremberg principles, which allow the death penalty for "murders" which were legal at the time and place they were committed.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-13 07:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catamorphism.livejournal.com
This was written in 1970, though, before the fringe types were so vocal.

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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