Monday, August 27, 2007

Moral Equivalence and Michael Vick

Forthwith some questions raised by the Michael Vick situation:

How does the abhorrent torture of dogs for pleasure differ in any significant moral way from a late-term abortion or from certain types of animal hunting? If Vick had set the dogs loose on his property, and he and his friends hunted them down and killed them, what would the moral distinction be between that and hunting, say, a bear? If there is no significant distinction then what's the distinction between killing dogs in a hunt and killing them in a dogfight?

Perhaps, someone might reply, the difference lies in the brutality to which the unfortunate dogs were subjected, but then what's the moral difference between what was done to these animals and ripping the limbs from an unborn baby and crushing its skull? Why do people who think abortion should be legal gasp in horror that Michael Vick and his friends would be so barbaric as to force dogs to fight each other and to brutally kill the ones which lose.

Is it because they think the unborn baby is not a person? Neither is the dog. Is it because the woman's body is her property and she has the right to do with her property as she pleases? Vick was on his property, doesn't he have the right to entertain himself as he sees fit as long as no one else is harmed?

I'm not defending Vick. I'm just wondering why people who condone violence against the unborn and big-game animals are so sickened by what Vick is charged with doing. If any of our readers can explain this to me, I'd be grateful.


P.Z. Myers and Academic Fascism

Atheistic biologist P.Z. Myers is evidently being sued for some unkind reviews of a book on evolutionary biology he posted on his web site. The suit seems frivolous, but in response to the news of it Myers said this:

I still stand by my review, and now I'm a bit disturbed that someone would think criticism of a scientific hypothesis must be defended by silencing its critics.

Hmm. Myers thinks it disturbing that someone would want to silence critics of a scientific hypothesis, yet Myers is the same guy who exclaimed that he wanted to fire any teacher who's critical of Darwinism in the classroom. Here are his words:

"Please don't try to tell me that you object to the tone of our complaints. Our only problem is that we aren't martial enough, or vigorous enough, or loud enough, or angry enough. The only appropriate responses should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing and humiliation of some teachers, many schoolboard members, and vast numbers of sleazy far-right politicians.

"I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It's time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots. If you don't care enough for the truth to fight for it, then get out of the way."

We learn here what we might call the P.Z. Principle of scientific theory review. It can be stated thus: Criticism of scientific theories should never be prohibited or constrained unless it is one's own favorite theory which is being criticized. In that case the critic should be severely punished by the academic storm troopers.

Intellectual fascism is alive and well among the Darwinians and the sound of breaking glass fills the air.