Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Missing Personhood

by The Tech Curmudgeon
(not a.k.a J. K. Rowling)

I suppose most people who think about it believe in some concept of fairness … that people should get what they deserve. People who are creative, industrious, virtuous or whatever else we consider good should prosper and do well in life. People who are less worthy … serial killers, maybe … not so much.

The big political differences, of course, lie in how we define worthiness. If we consider the recent Farm Bill passed by House Republicans, for example, big agri-businesses are worthy of government largess, while people who can’t afford food are obviously undeserving.

Now I can appreciate that people who have the temerity to lose their jobs, and the incredible self-indulgence to live at the poverty level, should not be rewarded for their anti-social behavior. But what about the kids?

There are kids who go to bed hungry every night. There are kids whose parents are drug addicts, or dealers. There are kids who are neglected, victimized or abused. How could they possibly deserve that?

This troubled me for a long time, until the answer finally dawned on me. It’s right there in the Republican platform. The inescapable logic of this can be summed up in a single word: personhood.

For those in the cheap seats, personhood is the idea that a fertilized egg … called a zygote … is a person, with all the associated rights and privileges. From the moment a human egg and sperm hook up, they become a full blown dude or dudette. That gives them a full nine months to be virtuous or villainous right there in utero, before they're even born!

So clearly the kids who have cancer and can’t afford treatment, the kids who inherit AIDS or drug addiction from mom and dad, the kids who are confused, misused and abused … did something naughty in the womb. Maybe they wrote on the walls, or bullied their twins. Maybe they kicked too hard, or tried to go breech. Whatever it was, it earned them their fates.

Once you accept the idea that everyone gets what he or she deserves, that’s the only possible explanation.

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