Saturday, December 26, 2009

Drill, Baby, Drill!

My morals on death are determined by reasonable social cost, and pain and suffering of the individual. Until a baby is birthed, into our society as an individual with a birth certificate, I see no real social cost in killing it. As long as its suffering is not too terrible, I see no problem killing it. A baby in the 8th month of gestation having its skull drilled in and crushed is fine with me.

The above may seem cruel and unsavory - but only in the context of a society in which many view the fetus (even the zygote, often) as a complete human being. I find the hunting of large mammals as cruel and unsavory - especially the part where they are stuffed and hung on the wall. But I recognize that my feelings are relative to my own moral compass, its bearings aligned with my religious, political, and cultural views. There is no overwhelming rational clarity that places either abortion or hunting into a clear moral category.

Unlike, say, the murder of a ten year old, the gutting of a family pet, or incest. Those fall into specific moral domains defined by broadly agreed upon - universal among humans - moral and social codes. These codes may someday change, and individuals may develop personal convictions contrary to norm, but until they achieve politically viable status, they will remain subject to democratically achieved laws. This has no bearing however, upon whether any of them are morally correct - that will be up to the individual to determine for him or herself.

But governing laws are not passed on the moral compass of individuals, but on that of the state, representative of the will of the people. Thus, while I personally feel hunting as despicable, not only do I respect my fellow citizens' moral trajectories, more importantly I respect the will of the people and all laws it passes within that context. Were my convictions strong enough, I would be well within my ethical rights to break the law in order to do what I felt was right. Legal rights, of course not, but ethically speaking, yes. If a ten year old boy was going to be murdered legally before me, I would be ethically obligated to stop the act, as long as I felt sufficient conviction (I would!).

So while it would be ethical to oppose abortion (or hunting), one would have to be sufficiently confident enough in their convictions to oppose its legal practice, much less otherwise illegal personal actions to stop it. And yet while I am confident in my ability to evoke powerful logical and rational arguments against murdering ten year old children and having most reasonable people accept them, I am not nearly as confident in my ability to persuade foes of abortion or hunting enthusiasts. Thus I cannot expect fellow citizens to consider banning either. Until abortion or hunting become as morally compelling to the will of society as murdering young boys, we cannot expect others to go along with our personal convictions on the matter.

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