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Is it the Y chromosome?

Honestly, I know enough biology to know that it can’t be. It just can’t. And yet how else to explain the sudden ignorance of a guy as sharp as Bob Somerby? He’s talking about Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow beating up on Stupak for tribalistic, Village reasons.
Somerby finds that inappropriate.

For ourselves, we think pro-choice groups have every right to bail on the bill if they decide it ends up affecting choice in unacceptable ways. But then, we also think that anti-abortion groups have the right to make the same sort of decision. That is, to jump ahead just a bit: We assume that different people, acting in good faith, may judge the morality of a measure in different ways.

Leaving Olbermann and Maddow aside, this is the first time I’ve seen Somerby completely miss a question of right and wrong.

What if the amendment read, “Hair straightening is unnatural and immoral. No medical costs associated with complications can be paid for using any Federal tax dollars.” Would he be as tolerant of that viewpoint? Male circumcision is an unnecessary procedure whose only health benefit comes from compensating for poor hygiene (or, in the case of AIDS, from the unnaturally thickened skin of the glans). Would he be as quick to understand people with moral objections to the deformation of men? (Note to the humor-challenged: I’m paralleling anti-abortion attitudes, not actually arguing for a specific kind of anatomy.) If I felt it was immoral and harmful to everyone to overpopulate the planet, and attached an amendment saying that no Federal money should ever be spent on pregnancy, childbirth, or infants after the second child, would he sagely say my morality could become law if I had the votes?

I could have all the morals I want about these things. As soon as I tried to make anyone else live according to them, I would be wrong.

Stupak and Pitts deserve disgrace for trying to take away our rights. It has nothing to do with morals, Stupak’s, mine, or the man in the moon’s. Rights. The right to control our own medical procedures. The right to control our bodies. Rights. Get it?

So, no, “different people, acting in good faith” may not judge a law about rights in different ways. Not even when it’s a law about women’s medical rights.

What is so hard to understand about this? Even with the handicap of a Y chromosome?

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Coakley for President

It’s about damn time this started being said. (h/t Suburban Guerrilla):

Coakley, in her boldest gamble of the campaign, said that fighting for women’s access to abortions was more important than passing the overall bill, despite its aim of providing coverage for 36 million people, establishing a public insurance option, and prohibiting insurers from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions. [Ed. note: Coverage to some 2 million, varying assistance to the other 34 million. Guaranteed issue, yes, but the pricing of policies for people with pre-existing conditions is basically up to the insurers.]

“To pretend that now the House has passed this bill is real progress – it’s at the expense of women’s access to reproductive rights”

Women’s rights are human rights. Sexism kills.

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You have no rights

The Stupak amendment, the greatest rollback of rights for women in decades is now in that thing the House has been calling a “Health Care” bill. (Links from Reclusive Leftist, The Confluence, WiredLeft.)

But women are just, as always, the expendable canaries in the coal mine. Their rights are toast, which means so are everyone else’s.

I’m going to shout that: WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE TOAST WHICH MEANS SO ARE EVERYONE ELSE’S.

Rights are for all. When only some people have them, they’re just privileges. And privileges can be taken away.

Think through the consequences of what equal rights for all really means, and you wind up with a system that doesn’t look much like what we have now. There’s lots more about it here, but this is the bit (paraphrased) that concerns us right now:

The right to control one’s own person is fundamental. Even the right not to be murdered is secondary, since killing is allowed in self-defence.

Abortion muddies the argument only because some people believe the fetus is a person with legal rights greater than those of the mother since it can require her life support. There is nothing to stop women from believing this and living accordingly because there is a right to control one’s own body. Depending on beliefs, an individual’s dilemma about abortion may be very complex.

But fair social policies are simple. Either everyone can live according to their beliefs, or nobody can. And personhood is necessarily a belief, a social or religious category. It’s not possible for it to be a matter of objective fact. Biology can only determine who belongs in the species Homo sapiens, but no cellular marker lights up when someone is due to get legal rights.

I’ll repeat: personhood is necessarily a matter of belief, whether that’s based on religion or social consensus.

Therefore those who oppose abortion because they believe the fetus is a person with special status have to hope they are never successful in legislating how others handle their pregnancies. If they are, it means that exceptions could be made to the right to control one’s own person.

Once that principle is admitted, then there is nothing to stop a majority with different beliefs from legislating forced abortions.

Over-population is, after all, the source of the environmental problems killing the planet.

There is nothing to stop an aging population from requisitioning a kidney from healthy people walking around with a spare.

There is nothing to stop doctors from performing medical experiments on you for the public good.

There is nothing to stop the majority from deciding all those old folks are too expensive to live.

Really. Nothing. Once you take away the right to control your own body.

Extreme? Sure. So why is it okay when applied to women?

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Cheering news for a Saturday

You think you got problems? Hah.

Japanese Fishing Trawler Sunk By Giant Jellyfish
The trawler, the Diasan Shinsho-maru, capsized off Chiba`as its three-man crew was trying to haul in a net containing dozens of huge Nomura’s jellyfish. …

The crew of the fishing boat was thrown into the sea when the vessel capsized, but the three men were rescued by another trawler, according to the Mainichi newspaper. The local Coast Guard office reported that the weather was clear and the sea was calm at the time of the accident.

One of the largest jellyfish in the world, the species can grow up to 2 meters in diameter. The last time Japan was invaded on a similar scale, in the summer of 2005, the jellyfish damaged nets, rendered fish inedible with their toxic stings and even caused injuries to fishermen.

As you go through your day, remember, it could be worse.

This concludes our cheering message.

Carry on.

, , , Nemopilema nomurai

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The color of night

Really. That would be the general color of the night sky if the universe wasn’t expanding. You’ve probably never wondered why the night sky is black. “No sun,” you point out. “Duh.” But it’s not that simple. Every single bit of sky is full of stars, all blazing away. The light may take a long time to get here, but it does get here. So, on that basis, the night sky ought to be a carpet of light from all those uncountable stars. But since the universe is expanding, they’re all moving away from us. Since they’re moving, there’s a Doppler effect and the light is shifted to other wavelengths. The further away they are, the more it’s shifted, until all their light shifts right out of the visible range. And that’s why the night sky is dark except for the few stars whose light is still visible.

So the next time you’re admiring the night, look at the dark, too, and remember that you’re watching the universe grow.

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