December 16, 2005

What “Culture of Life”?

This week saw the epitome of hypocrisy from the Republican Party and the President of the United States. These are the same people who preached “Compassionate Conservatism” when they were campaigning for election, yet we all know that George W. Bush is neither compassionate nor conservative.

Let’s start with some background…

Terri Schiavo

Back in March the Republican Party, together with the ‘Religious Right’, went so far out of their way to try to rescue a brain-dead woman from being disconnected from life-support, where she lay for 15 years. Terri Schiavo was well beyond the point of recovery, and no amount of medical treatment was going to bring her back to any semblance of a normal life, yet Bill Frist, Jeb Bush, and the Religious-based Republican Party took extreme measures to try and ‘save’ her. In their statements they professed the ‘culture of life’ that was so important, as they tried to scorn Liberals for killing her.

Right to Life

It’s this same ‘culture of life’ that motivates these hypocrites to advocate for the unborn. The ‘right-to-life’, anti-abortion movement is largely a religious, Republican wedge issue. It’s a ‘wedge’ issue because it really has NOTHING to do with politics and lawmaking. Instead, it’s used as a tool by the Republican Party to divide Americans and lure Christian Evangelicals over to their side.

I don’t agree with the anti-abortion argument, but I do respect it. And I certainly respect their right to have their opinion and to voice it. I certainly wouldn’t condone the killing of babies, but whether or not the unborn are considered living beings is a matter of interpretation. I don’t recommend abortion, and given the choice, I’d rather see healthy pregnancies come to term and produce fruitful, contributing members of society. Unfortunately, unwanted pregnancies all too often don’t turn out that way.

I also recognize the fact that death is a part of the ‘circle of life’ (forgive me for quoting ‘The Lion King’). And by ‘circle of life’, I don’t just mean humans. Animals, reptiles, birds, fish, and plants all participate in this delicate ‘circle of life’ as well, yet we kill them routinely. The question is - “Why?” Perhaps it’s out of self defense (you killed an animal that was attacking you) or out of mercy (the horse broke his leg and you had to put him out of his own misery). Many times we kill for food. And sometimes… we kill… just… for sport.

That’s right, fellow humans… we routinely kill… because it’s fun! Isn’t that what fishing & hunting are all about? Sure, occasionally we’ll eat the prey we’ve killed, but largely the purpose of fishing & hunting is for sport. Enjoyment. Pleasure. Kicks. Yeah, I feel like stepping outside with an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle and shooting down my neighbor’s dog.. just for the fun of it. Ooooohhhhh, there are laws against that? Of course this begs the issue that there’s a difference – they’re not human. A valid point in deed - we would never treat humans this way. But, why do we treat animals this way?

Where do we draw the line? It’s hard to say. I think there’s some arbitrary place, but the line does need to be drawn. And in my humble opinion, that’s really what it comes down to… where to draw the line… between right and wrong… between moral and immoral. Sometimes it’s a fine line. But sometimes, it’s a gray area, and drawing that line isn’t quite so easy.

So here’s my point…

This week there was an opportunity for either the Govenator of Cal-ee-forn-ya or the Presinut of the United States to show their compassion, but neither of them have any. Here was a chance for the Republican Party to stick by their ‘culture of life’, but as we know, that was all just political rhetoric in an attempt to demonize Liberals.

I won’t bother alluding to the crime Stanley Tookie Williams was convicted for, or the loss his victim’s families must have endured. I wouldn’t begin to debate whether his actions of 25 years ago were heinous, and that his victim’s families suffered irreparable harm. Nor do I want to enter into a discussion on the pros and cons of capital punishment.

By all accounts, Williams was as rehabilitated as can be expected. Not only was he a contributing member of society from behind bars, but he was a positive influence for young people to avoid gang activity & violence, with his series of children’s books… even to the point of being nominated for a Nobel prize.

I’m not saying that he should’ve been released from prison, but surely Stanley Tookie Williams had earned clemency from the death penalty. However, our Republican leadership, who profess and preach about the ‘culture of life’ and ‘compassionate conservatism’, would have none of that.

Someone needs to ‘splain me why the ‘culture of life’ means compassion & advocating for unborn fetuses, embryonic stem cells, and brain-dead vegetables, but not for living people.


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