Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dr. Kass, Medical Man

Atrios’ use of the term “Wanker of the Day” is usually not as apt as it was today with his current wanker, Leon R. Kass, M.D., Ph.D.  Writing for Boundless Webzine, a website of Creep Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Dr. Kass preaches against the evils of the dreaded Birth Control Pill.  Per his bio, Dr. Kass is currently serving alongside the likes of Dr. Charles Krauthammer on The President’s Council of Bioethics.  Dr. Kass is also the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago and Hertog Fellow in Social Thought at the American Enterprise Institute.  Needless to say, this isn’t just some jackharry crackpot with more indignation than ability.  He’s an official crackpot.

I also learned that Dr. Kass is married to Amy Apfel Kass, Senior Lecturer in the Humanities at the University of Chicago and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute (read: career woman).  The Kasses have two married daughters and four young granddaughters, which seems odd, as our current wankfest involves the evils of birth control pills.  

To have two grown-up daughters and still be married, he must have been married for a very long time.  Yet only two kids??  Is it that Dr. Kass, medical man, was shooting a lot of blanks these past few decades?  Were they test-tube babies, in defiance of God’s Will?  Or perhaps his disdain for birth control was solely limited to the Pill, leaving open the possibility that he preferred prophylactic enhancements for her pleasure.  

Or more likely, this might be yet more proof that the joyful sex life of the married couple is not quite as joyful or thrilling as Dr. Kass would have us believe.  It’s almost as if he’s just playing a big hoax on the abstinent Christians out there.  “Oh yeah, it’ll be even better if you wait,” he says with a wink; but the lack of children says something else.  

And after all, one only needs to look at all the extramarital sex going around to realize that, for many people, sex with their life partner leaves a little something to be desired.  As if, perhaps, they’re not getting it at home.  I’m sure the pill is somehow to blame for that too.  But whatever it was, I find it safe to say that there was probably a lot of wanking going on in the Kass household.

Sexier Sex

He clearly states over and over that sex should always be reserved for the married; and even goes as far as to suggest that sex education in school should actually romanticize sex, so as to make it sound even more wonderful and awesome.  He writes of the “failure of sex education to attempt to inform and elevate the erotic imagination of the young.”  And goes on to say that by explaining how sex works, they’re making it less erotic.  

Right.  Sex is less sexy if you know how it works; and this is a problem.  And if the clinical presentation of sex by your middle-aged spinster health teacher is “technocratic” and makes sex sound worse; then what exactly is the complaint?  It sounds like he’s just trying to make things worse.  Call me crazy, but I’d prefer that my kids think that sex was boring than to believe it is erotic and exciting.  But I suspect they won’t listen to me in either case.

He goes on to write: “True sex education is an education of the heart; it concerns itself with beautiful and worthy beloveds, with elevating transports of the soul.”  That’s right; a man of science and a leading bioethicist is suggesting that the education of sexual physiology and technique be replaced with the poetry of Shelly and Keats.  I’ve never read either, but I suspect that this might be at least a partial explanation as to why he only had two kids.  He was reading the wrong How-To manual.

Making Babies

And mind you, it’s not enough that people are married.  Or if they were intellectually honest (which they’re not), it wouldn’t be enough.  Because they don’t just say that sex is for married people.  They say that sex is for baby-making, and that babies can only be raised properly by a married couple.  But then if a couple can’t have babies, then why should they be having sex?

One could even argue that, if sex is for making babies, then an unmarried couple that can have babies is a more apt sexual coupling than a married couple which cannot; as the unmarried couple can always get married, but the married couple still can’t procreate.  

And if the purpose of marriage is procreation, then why are the baby-disabled allowed to get married at all?  That made sense back before we understood how this kind of thing works.  But in this modern age, we have a pretty good idea of whose peters and cooters are in working order.  As a personal example, my wife once got fixed, and before they’d unfix her (we wanted kids); they made sure to do a peter test on me to make sure that my equipment was working properly and that the operation wouldn’t be a waste of our time (I passed with flying colors, so to speak).

And so we know who can and can’t be making babies, and could make marriage-suitability decisions based on that information.  Were the Kasses intellectually consistent, they would be forced to denounce the marriage of the baby-disabled.  If anything, they should be seen as an abomination; particularly if one of the pair has working equipment.  It’s one thing for gays to shack-up; as the Dobsons can never be quite sure that they won’t be passing on that gay-loving sperm.  And so it makes sense to take them off the market in pairs.  But if a baby-abled gets together with a baby-disabled person, they’re taking their precious God equipment offline permanently.  And that’s the kind of thing that makes baby Jesus cry.  

I’m probably getting far too personal with this, but after all, what is sex if not personal?  And if we’re not going to use real-life examples; then we’re more likely to get fantasyland jokes, like the works of Kass and Dobson.  So to get personal, what have the good doctor and his wife been doing all these years, with only two children?  And now that their children are grown, do the Kasses still need to stay together?  And to be gross, are they still doing it?  

Dr. Kass believes that sex is a wonderful thing that should be preserved for married couples, for the purpose of bringing babies into the world properly; yet for him, this “wonderful thing” seems to have only accomplished its purpose twice.  I know unmarried people who have done better.  Either there’s something wrong in the Kass household, or God just doesn’t like him very much.  Probably both.

Ideological Fools

And check this out; everything I just wrote wasn’t even why I started writing this.  I got kind of side-tracked when I read that this long-married man, who’s all about sex being better if you’re married, only had two kids.  But that wasn’t what I got into this for.  No.  I was here on a different tangent: Dr. Kass’s argument versus the realities of the unwed mother and abortion.

This was another case of a conservative having a valid, if oddball argument; but only by limiting the subject matter by treating it as if it existed in vacuum.  He only discusses the unwed sex of those using birth control; but is forced to deny the existence of non-users.  And the vacuum is glaringly obvious once we have a glance at our Social Conservative List of No-No’s.  No, I’m not referring to the big one: homosexuals.  But almost as important to the Dobsons: Unwed mothers and Abortion.

Naturally, any thinking person would immediately identify the problems of unwed mothers and abortion as being mutually self-canceling.  Specifically, that the second problem is an obvious solution for the first; and the first being a natural outcome of avoiding the second.  Only an ideological fool would suggest that both of these are problems.  That’s like complaining about your runny nose, while railing against kleenex.  (And no, I’m not likening abortion to sneezes).

But it all makes sense once you realize what these sickos are really after: Punishment.  I actually wrote this section after I wrote the end, so I’ll just leave this issue for now; to be picked up later on at the end.  But needless to say, more abortions would mean fewer unwed mothers.  And more birth control pills would mean fewer abortions.  And that is why the only mention of abortion in his piece lumps it together with the Pill; rather than admitting that the one is only necessary when girl fails to take the other.  

Imagine how different that piece would be if he had to admit that abortion is only necessary because all girls aren’t on the Pill.  His readers could then weigh the consequences of “Free Love” with that of “Baby Murder” (their term), and he would lose a large segment of his audience.  So abortion has to be excluded from the discussion; with the only reference to it implying that it’s somehow linked to the Pill, rather than an alternative to it.

Onto the Unwed

Unwed motherhood; it’s a problem, especially to the Dobsons.  It’s just wrong and against God’s Will and is causing so many of our modern problems.  Conservative columnist and joke on humanity Maggie Gallagher, a long-time unwed mother whose success contradicts almost everything she writes, often drones on about the social and economic destruction created by those who follow her footsteps (though she rarely admits to her unwedded status (she’s married now)).  On a sidenote, Gallagher is a perfect example of conservative-brand welfare.  The only real jobs she’s had were writing for conservative think-tanks and organizations.  So they’re willing to give money to ignorant unwed mothers, just as long as they continue to crank out pro-conservative pap.  (Something for you welfare queens out there to take note of.)

But here’s the thing, there is one thing that unwed mothers generally have in common: They don’t use birth control and they sleep around with people they shouldn’t.  We hear about this all the time: Older males preying on young and foolish teenage girls; just to leave them in the lurch when babytime comes.  And then there are the sluts who will sleep with any Tom, Dick, or Harry that come along.  But then, when push comes to shove, they don’t even know which guy to send the Attorney General after.  And there are all kinds of girls doing it with the wrong guy, even their boyfriends, and being abandoned.  The conservative world is chock full of these stories.

And let’s face it, if these guys weren’t the “wrong ones” then they’d marry the girl and the baby wouldn’t be born out of wedlock.  So it’s fairly easy to conclude that almost all unwed mothers are having trouble picking the “right” guys.  And don’t forget, there are also the social ills caused by women who want the baby, but not the man; and get knocked up with the intent of being a single mother.  This is particularly prevalent among the lesbian scene, I understand; and I’m sure the conservatives haven’t even gotten warmed up inventing new woes to blame on this troubling trend.

But again, there is one thing that all these kinds of girls have in common: They don’t use birth control.  Or if they did, the odds are very strong that they didn’t use them properly, because they didn’t know how (and showing them how is one of Kass’s big problems).  And yet they sleep with the wrong guys; with “wrong” meaning exactly what the Dobsons and Kasses think it to mean.

Nailing Dr. Kass

But you see, this is a critical nail against Kass’s argument.  He argues that because women who pop the Pill don’t need to worry about anything popping out nine months later, that they won’t be picking the right kind of guys to sleep with.  And thus they’ll debase sex and degrade themselves.  As Kass says of Pill poppers: “Her sexuality unlinked to procreation, its exercise no longer needs to be concerned with the character of her partner and whether he is suitable to be the father and co-rearer of her yet-to-be-born children.”  

With the pill, “Girls just want to have fun,” Kass says anachronistically circa-1984, and won’t do a good enough job of picking their lovers.  But uh, hello!  How does this fit in with the problem of the unwed mothers?  They’re not using birth control, and it’s quite obvious that they’re doing a pretty poor job in the Picking Lover’s Department.  And yet their hormones haven’t been separated from the consequences.  They know that when the sucker goes in, they don’t know what all might be coming out.  So what gives?  Doesn’t this entirely undermine Kass’s argument?

Of course it does.  Especially when you think a little more about it.  Who is doing worse: a woman who is so foolish as to have unprotected sex with creeps who also aren’t protected and don’t care to be, or the woman who plans ahead and has handy birth control for sex with those same creeps?  And further, who is more responsible than the women who have the foresight to consult with their doctors regarding birth control and to regularly take the pills he prescribes?  Are we really to believe that these women are picking worse lovers than the completely unprotected?  Of course not.  Only a fool would say that.  A fool named Leon Kass.

And it should be mentioned that a more salient reason why Kass has to exclude unwed mothers from the discussion (the phrase does not appear in his essay), is because the problems he discusses are actually much worse for women who don’t use birth control.  In fact, the evils he lists are all usually attributed to unwed mothers, and to make mention of them in his discussion is to remind us where more of this blame lies.  But it isn’t with birth control or the Pill; it’s with unmarried sex.  And if the Pill is causing these problems, than the lack of the Pill makes them infinitely worse.  

So if he discusses unwed mothers, the associations made by his readers will instead be focused on that problem, which is significantly more tangible and easily described.  But the worst problems of unwed motherhood are almost entirely solved by the Pill.  That’s why we recommend it.  So he is forced to deny the existence of this important social issue.  An unalert reader (which is the only type who could take Kass’s work seriously), would almost believe that he was discussing unwed motherhood.  By using similar rhetoric, it is almost as if he is attributing the problems of unwed mothers to the Pill!  

But there are unwed mothers, and they are unarguably exhibiting worse behavior than the Pill-Girls.  Dr. Kass can exclude this fact from his discussion, but it is only intellectual dishonesty that allows him to do so.  To be honest, is to admit defeat.

Case Closed

And this is utterly devastating to Kass’s argument.  It’s over and done with.  He loses.  And it’s obvious to see what Kass’s argument really is.  He’s against birth control, but doesn’t have a good argument against it.  He has a real argument, but it’s a laughable one which he can never be open about.  The real argument is that the Kasses want punishment against those having sex.  He doesn’t mind you having sex, but just as long as there are nasty consequences to it.  You’ll be an example to the others: A walking after-school special.

And so what else does this mean besides more unwanted pregnancies and lots of STD’s?  Premature deaths, suffering, embarrassment, expense, ruined lives, what have you.  All in an attempt to get people to stop having sex.  But they always say that it’s for the sake of the consequences; as if we need consequences so that we can warn people of the consequences that we’re ultimately to blame for!  The means justifies the ends, and vice versa; because they’re the same damn thing.

And not only is he willing to sacrifice people to these consequences, he’s insisting that we must do so; to save the others.  He states that it is immoral and wrong to do otherwise.  As he complains that “most programs of sex education in public schools have a twofold aim: the prevention of teenage pregnancy and the prevention of venereal disease, especially AIDS.”  This approach he says is “at best, morally neutral,” and that because it’s so important, “amorality on this subject is itself morally culpable.”  

And again, he can only say this because he believes that sexual consequences are more important to have than the prevention of those consequences.  He’s saying that it is morally wrong to cure what can be cured because immoral actions require a moral consequence; and that we’d be promoting immorality were we to remove the consequences from the immoral actions.  And to argue this, he had to attribute unrelated problems to the Pill; of women picking the wrong lovers and whatnot.  But not only is it obvious that this problem isn’t caused by birth control pills; but that it’s still a better problem than the moral consequences he wants us to stop curing.  

I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer that my daughter be sleeping with the wrong guy, than for her to sleep with the “right” guy and get knocked up when she didn’t want to be.  I’d prefer that she slept-around and finished college; rather than settling down with Mr. Right at age 18 due to an “accident”.  Don’t get me wrong; I’d rather she not sleep around at all, but that’s not really my choice, is it.  And if she does sleep around, I’d prefer that it be without negative consequences.  Sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind; but an unwanted baby is beyond cruel; it’s humane.  A human should not be brought into existence simply as a lesson in morality.

Bioethicist Leon Kass sees things differently and would prefer to make that decision for me and my daughter.  He would also prefer that this “right” guy give AIDS to my daughter, than to wear a condom.  Not that he condones AIDS, but he prefers it to consequence-less actions.  Apparently, abstract immoralities are worse than concrete diseases and unwanted children.  

Heck, one would almost think that the Kasses don’t believe that God is going to be punishing us after it’s all over.  You’d think he’d see that as the ultimate consequence.  But somehow, that never enters the discussion either; and so he sees Pilled-up sex as being consequence-less.  People have burned for lesser heresies than that.

And so this is an example of our modern conservative ethicist.  Someone who desires and demands that bad things happen to people; simply as a warning to others.  This is a man who has the ear of the president, and can give input into important ethical decisions that affect America and the world.  This is our conservative man of thought.  A medical doctor who desires bad things to happen to people; just to prove a point.  Things which we can easily prevent; but for which he believes it is wrong to do so.  Imagine a heart doctor refusing to perform a bypass-operation, in order to demonstrate to others the dangers of Krispy Kreme.  This is conservative ethics: when morality comes before the medicine.

1 comment:

Heraldblog said...

Save it for me, sweet love! though music breathe
Voluptuous visions into the warm air;
Though swimming through the dance's dangerous wreath,
Be like an April day,
Smiling and cold and gay,
A temperate lilly, temperate as fair;
Then, Heaven! there will be
A warmer June for me.

That pretty much sums it up for me.