Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Are People?

Sometimes the things that seem most obvious are the hardest to define. This is true for abstract concepts like love, virtue, art and so on.

But I thought the idea of what people are was pretty clear. At least, until this election season. Now I'm not so sure.

For example, the Republican candidates all seem to think that zygotes are people. (For those who, like me, haven't taken a biology class in a while, a zygote is a fertilized gamete ... a fertilized egg.)

But at the other end of the spectrum, corporations are people. That's right! Mitt Romney said exactly that, with the Supreme Court to back him up. Apple and Exxon Mobile and AT&T are all people. So go ahead. Invite 'em to your next dinner party.

Recently, in response to Romney's obtuse comment that he's "not concerned about the very poor" and "not concerned about the very rich," Newt Gingrich quickly retorted that he's "concerned about all of the American people." But in December, Gingrich said "please don't turn America into Massachusetts." He also has no great fondness for New Yorkers who "live in high-rise apartment buildings writing for fancy newspapers in the middle of town after they ride the metro." New York and Massachusetts are among the first colonies settled, and the first states to ratify the Constitution, so their residents are clearly American.  So it must be the case that New Yorkers and ... um, Bay Staters are not people.

These same Republicans seem to believe gays are not people, and so should not be entitled to marry. They want to amend the Constitution to define marriage as excluding gay couples.

So can a corporation marry a zygote? And what kind of wedding music should they have?

1 comment:

Ken said...

As someone recently posted on facebook, "I won't believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one."