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March 17, 2008

Comments

SDG

This story dovetails with what has seemed to me to be one of the more interesting aspects of the decline of the post-Christian West: Although religion in the U.S. seems to be better entrenched than in Europe, the culture of death may also be more firmly entrenched over here in some ways.

Or perhaps that isn't it. Perhaps American-style culture of death is more fundamentalistic and more absolute than the European brand. Or perhaps it isn't even specifically the culture of death: Perhaps it's just something about the way Americans approach all kinds of divisive issues.

Hardcore partisans take a zero-sum, concede-nothing approach in which one's guiding principle must be defended against even the slightest and most common-sensical mitigating factors. Any mitigation is seen as an unacceptable compromise with and empowerment of the enemy, a dangerous precedent and the first step down a slippery slope toward the utter annihilation of all we hold dear.

Thus, e.g., there are gun-control advocates who oppose any and all legislation aimed at restricting access to firearms, even what seem like reasonable restrictions on assault weapons, registration requirements or whatever. Likewise, on the abortion issue, the most extreme pro-death wing, e.g., Obama, oppose even protection for born-alive infants surviving botched abortions.

In the UK, by contrast, my impression is that the pro-choice establishment may be more willing to discuss, e.g., the pain and suffering of the fetus, without the schizophrenic attitude of the American animal-rights / abortion-rights crowd that gets all up in arms about the suffering of animals but won't permit discussion about the suffering of the fetus.

Perhaps this story represents another example of this more nuanced attitude in the UK?

BillyHW

Here in Canada, "abortion" is the unmentionable of unmentionables. (Unless you're a Catholic priest who is also a Member of Parliament and your mentioning it only to mention how unmentionable it is for people to mention that it might be mentionable.)

Foxfier

SDG-- the reason the hard-liners you mention refuse to compromise is very nicely illustrated by the gun rights example you mentioned. Gun registration has already been followed by gun confiscation at least once, and some of the weapons that were added in the "assault weapon ban" were for purely cosmetic reasons-- they looked scary, while otherwise identical guns that didn't were left off.

And to be fair to the pro-death side, the pro-lifers *do* want feature-creep until we're not killing little people at all.

Although I still hold it's a sign that folks are being utterly deranged when they look at a new-born baby and try to claim the crying babe should die, just because of an attempted abortion.
Some folks have started asking: do you support the right to end the pregnancy, or the right to a dead child?

Scott W.

Gun registration has already been followed by gun confiscation at least once, and some of the weapons that were added in the "assault weapon ban" were for purely cosmetic reasons-- they looked scary, while otherwise identical guns that didn't were left off.

You beat me to it. And I would add that very few guns used in crimes were acquired legally. It's another example of legislation that only hampers the law-abiding and not lawbreakers.

Mary

Not only does registration lead to confiscation -- what other earthly use does registration have?

bill912

None, Mary.

jay

There's nothing better than getting out in the wodds with your gun. What makes it even better is when you comes across a really nice 12 point buck.

Sleeping Beastly

Perhaps it's just something about the way Americans approach all kinds of divisive issues. Hardcore partisans take a zero-sum, concede-nothing approach in which one's guiding principle must be defended against even the slightest and most common-sensical mitigating factors.

This may have something to do with the nature of our political system. In Europe they generally have proportional representation in Parliament. People can vote for a wider range of candidates (who, in theory, can represent a wider range of stances on issues.) In the US, in order for any issue (represented by a candidate) to see its day in the legislature, it needs to win over a majority of the electorate. The same holds true for state and local propositions.

In order for us to respond politically to any issue, it must first be addressed with a simple yes-no question, and we must aggressively win 50%+1 of the electorate to our side. After we've won the vote, the losers can howl and moan, but basically they have to put up with it.

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of democracy, and I think we now have better principles on which we could reconstruct a constitution, should we ever need to. A combination of consensus and subsidiarity, for instance, would take us a good part of the way there.

Incidentally, the laxity of American gun control laws is one reason we don't have the kind of socialist lockdown they're experiencing in Europe. It makes our legislators a bit more cautious.

Tim J

"Incidentally, the laxity of American gun control laws is one reason we don't have the kind of socialist lockdown they're experiencing in Europe. It makes our legislators a bit more cautious."

It should.

Deusdonat

"Incidentally, the laxity of American gun control laws is one reason we don't have the kind of socialist lockdown they're experiencing in Europe. It makes our legislators a bit more cautious."

Oh, please. I don't think there is a shred of evidence you could garnor to show cause and effect here. You might as well say lax gun laws have contributed to the demise of the dollar.

Back to the topic at hand, the UK is actually very conscientious of mental health, particularly when it comes to pregnancy. Post-partum depression is seen as a very real and problematic issue. There are several cases of women who have killed their new-born babies and gotten off with psychological counseling. British law and policy is for the most part based on "the greater public good", which is why they are so lax on abortions. They feel it is better that a woman who may not be fit to have a child should dispense with it sooner, rather than post-natally. Not saying I agree, just trying to bring sense to the argument here.

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