Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Monday, August 08, 2005  

John Pod -- unlikable

I was tempted to write about my personal distaste for John Podhoretz a few weeks ago since his appearance in The Corner. My single encounter through email with him a few years ago left me wondering about his prickly sensitivity and protectiveness of his ego.

His recent exchange with Ramesh Ponnuru illustrates a pathetic and whining defensiveness.

Today he writes some of the more shameful words imaginable about human life:

I am not a scientist and not fit to examine the evidence that says "life begins at conception."

Obviously, human life "begins" at conception, in the sense that we were all conceived and developed from that conception. Ontology recapitulated phylogeny, and 40 weeks later we emerged from the womb. But what does this tell us, other than that those who act as though no creature is alive until it breathes on its own are horrifyingly cavalier about this greatest and most basic of miraculous mysteries?

My wife and I had a miscarriage two years ago after 9 weeks of pregnancy. Should we be mourning that miscarriage as though a child had lived 9 weeks and died?

Technology has done extraordinary things over the past 30 years to make people conscious of the essential humanity of the unborn fetus, largely through the application of ultrasound and intrauterine photography. But it cannot resolve, or solve, the mystery of the progress beyond the moment of conception (my emphasis) -- when that embryo, fertilized inside the womb or in a laboratory, becomes a life that must be granted all the protections due all human life.

This is one of the most inept and stupidest group of statements anyone could make regarding life. Where to begin?

"I am not a sciemtist . . ."

This is pure weasel wording. "Not fit to examine. . ." This is simply insane to any person who claims to be capable of reason. You don't have to be a scientist to understand science, to understand the reproductive process. There isn't a scientist with any integrity who would not admit that human life begins at conception. To pretend that there is some doubt or question about the matter is one of the most egregious intellectual errors a man could commit.

What's with the "Ontology recapitulated phylogeny". This is nonsense. The idea that the embryo goes through some sort of "evolutionary" tableau of fish to frog to ape to man has long been discredited.

Should he be mourning a miscarriage? What kind of a man asks himself that? When a child is wanted and a miscarriage occurs, I would expect a decent human being to experience something of sadness, disappointment, and yes, grief for the offspring he will never see or get to raise. It was a unique child that was lost, and not an amorphous blob of protoplasm. If a man can't feel something about the death of his unborn child, well, he's not much of a man.

"the mystery of the progress beyond the moment of conception"? There is no mystery here. We understand exactly what occurs after conception. Human life develops until expelled from the womb and then continues to develop into adulthood and then declines to death (if accident does not befall it).

Earlier he says this:

The logical problem with the idea that "life begins at conception" is this: Since 25 percent of all pregnancies end in natural miscarriage, can it therefore be said -- without reference to religion -- that "life begins at conception" when so much of it is snuffed out by nature itself? Does that not suggest a kind of vicious brutality in nature -- Hobbes at his most Hobbesian -- that in turn leads us to a social Darwinism in which literally only the strong survive even to be born?

The logical problem is that Podhoretz doesn't understand logic. How many different kinds of things is he mixing up here? How does a miscarriage emply "social Darwinism" as a natural reaction or event as a result of it? Through Hobbes? Absurd.

Nor is the 25% statistic ever demonstrated. I have yet to see an actual study which proves this number, yet, it is widely accepted and asserted.

Nor does it necessarily follow that simply because embryos are miscarried that life is viciously brutal although it is clearly accidental.

What's distressing is that the whole tone of Podhoretz's idiotic statements is that of Pontius Pilate. He doesn't want to know the facts, he wants to wash his hands of the matter, he wants to allow the unborn offspring of humans to be killed by pretending it's not a real event involving real life.

Add to the fact that when challenged the guy becomes a complete jerk, and you have someone I dislike a great deal.


And he keeps digging that hole named Stupid with this:

More objections to my saying that a fetus-embryo may not be "fully human." People saying, "What is it? Part vegetable?" Come on, now. It is a seedling of a human being. Until a fetus is six weeks old it doesn't even have a gender. If you believe it to be fully human, you believe it not because of logic or science, but because of BELIEF -- which I respect and which is why I don't think Professor George's original proposal can do the trick to reconcile opposing views on stem-cell research.

See what I mean? One non sequitor after another of nonsense. An embryo has a determined sex longer before expression. What's his point? That it is BELIEF about when human life begins that we're debating? We know beyond a shadow of a doubt when human life begins. When it becomes considered a being worthy of respect and concern is another matter.

This guy is a complete, arrogant jerk.

And this:

. . . because I assume that there is a moral force in the universe (I'm not calling it God, in deference to Robbie George), and that his plan -- which often is or seems inexplicable to us mere humans -- is not, in the end, brutal. If "life begins at conception" believers whWhich (sic) is why in the universe I think we live in, the moral force would not create massive numbers of living human beings in embryonic form only to snuff them out(my emphasis).

This is so jejune and puerile as to be nearly unbearble. A variation of "a good God could never allow so much suffering, misery and death".

The "moral force" does indeed create all living things which are accordingly snuffed out. And your problem with that is what exactly? It's not nice? Unfair? God couldn't be so cruel?

How incredibly shallow is the JPod.


After being intellectually eviscerated by Robert George, Podhoretz does the classic evasion and escape manuever: if you can't prevent embarrasment entirely, deny the argument ever mattered.

Which suggests to me that this is a debate being conducted, in the end, on the head of a pin.

Yes, it is all just so much medaeval theology and nonsense I was musing upon. It's all a non-starter, a non-argument when all is said it done, academic wool gathering.

Podhoretz is a classic example of the male who can't stop himself from saying stupid things, but whose fragile ego can't admit to ever being wrong and thus plays all the silly face saving games. Pathetic.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:19 AM |