Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mike Huckabee doesn’t understand ethics.

Huckabee is up in arms about the possibility that a brain dead patient may have their life support removed. According the the doctors the person died several weeks ago and the doctors have recommended removing life support since there is no chance of recovery once brain death has occurred.

He has this to say about it:

There is no such person who is disposable, one whose life has been deemed by others to be less than others and therefore expendable, I can’t share that.

The road that starts that way in deciding that some lives have less value and are unworthy of protection, that leads to a culture that tolerates the undeserved killing of over 55 million unborn children in this country. It leads to China’s birth policy that limits the number of children for a family and enforces forced abortion if they deviate from the state-determined ideal.

Now one could reasonably point out that this statement makes no sense in the context of this situation because the doctors aren’t disposing of a “person” since everything that made this girl a person, in any meaningful sense, disappeared once brain occurred.

However, I actually have another problem with this statement on a level that is more basic to the issue of human ethics. He implies that we cannot, as humans, ever treat one life as worth more than another. On the surface it seems somewhat reasonable, but let me provide a thought experiment. Let’s say that you come across two people and one of them is trying to murder the other, and further, the only way to stop the murder is to kill the one who is attempting to commit the murder. Would you consider it moral to kill in this circumstance? If the answer is yes then you have, in fact, taken the position that it is moral at least in some circumstances to value one life more than another. It’s one thing to argue that a particular instance of this is unwarranted for some reason but it is quite another to simply argue that we are never allowed to judge one life as preferential to another.

In truth, the only way to live consistently within the framework Huckabee proposes would be pacifism.  Which would make Huckabee, who has supported nearly every military engagement the U.S. has engaged in for the last several decades, massively hypocritical. Which brings us back to the original story. I imagine that even though the scientific information is clear on the matter of this persons brain death the family members probably still find making the choice to disconnect life support to be emotionally troubling. For Huckabee to interject his ill formed opinions, and create a public spectacle in the midst of this family's troubles in order to score points for his political agenda is unbelievably selfish and immoral.

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