and as you asked, here are my thoughts:
1. For the first bit of heresy: OWS = wrong target = bad name.
The term "Occupy Wall Street" confused me quite a bit at first. It does give the impression it's directed at the financial industry. Although it might all appear to be the same thing in some protesters' minds, the financial industry is NOT the same as large business in general, executives as individuals, the wealthy, or any other way of defining an opponent.
The term "occupy" suggests can suggest college students taking over the Dean's office for a day rather than camping out and extending the protest over a long period of time.
Both those distinctions are important. Over time, it became clearer how the movement is defining itself, but those nuances may have been lost on a lot of folks who just see and hear a few news clips and soundbites.
2. Corporations -and by extension Wall Street financiers- should not be labeled the enemy.
I agree. Corporate malfeasance should be a target, but not corporations. There are certainly Marxists and statists paarticipating in OWS, which is fine. But it would be an enormous mistake for the movement to identify itself being fundamentally anti-business. That way lies Gus Hall.
3. Don’t we need a battle-cry? A more easily understood slogan than, ‘The 1% have take everything and the 99% have…’ Whatever. How about a simpler, better sound-bite like, ‘Re-regulate’? That single word, I think, resonates better.
The 99% vs the 1% is probably the best thing to come out of OWS. It has become a well understood phrase and has entered the public consciousness. "Re-regulate" may be an admirable goal in some areas, but "regulation" IMO is not a word for slogans. It is technical, complex, and difficult to generate any kind of excitement or outrage over.
4. I thought at first that a march on Washington was the only thing that would change the conversation. But DU has convinced me the logistics of that make it unfeasible. But something needs to be done other than camping out in public parks and squabbling with the police. Assemble and disperse. Assemble and disperse. Don’t give them a moving target and keep the protest alive but also keep the protest focused on the financial calamity that has befallen our country.
The camping out for weeks was actually a brilliant method of gaining attention. I think it would have fizzled and been forgotten if it were simply a bunch of day rallies.
At the same time, it is not clear that the protesters can expect to permanently live on small patches of public land in downtown areas. In some cities, it may need to migrate into day rallies where the participants sleep elsewhere in order to continue.
5. Newt Gingrich recently said that deregulation was a bad idea.... Should the movement seek to bring as many conservatives as possible into itself? Should we be courting Newt to stand with us?
It's always a good idea to get supporters from across the political spectrum, as long as it can be done without compromising principles. I personally don't think Newt is the right audience, but there are a lot of conservative economic populists who may (and do) sympathize with some of OWS concerns.
To do this, I would suggest de-emphasizing government efforts to spread the wealth and emphasizing eliminating corporate welfare and other ways government gives economic favors to corporation and the wealthy. THAT issue resonates with a large majority of Americans and fits in with OWS's message.
I have been to protests on subjects such as the invasion of Iraq which have been absolutely massive and yet barely registered in the media or on the public consciousness. Friends report the same thing happening in the Vietnam War era.
I think OWS does not fully realize what an enormous success it has already been in raising public consciousness of the gross disparity of wealth in this country and creating support for legislation that tries to alleviate it.
However, if OWS supporters imagine that this is an American version of the Arab Spring that will lead to Obama stepping down and a change in government, they are living in a fantasy world. Short of that, there has to be a way of pursing progress in small concrete steps. This requires political savvy and legal expertise as well as a leadership who can change tactics and choose where to focus efforts.
The civil rights movement was very good at gaining small victories and building on them. I have been thinking about writing a original post comparing OWS to the civil rights movement as a way to suggest the best direction for the future, but it requires some research. Maybe your thread will be an incentive.
On the other hand, I am not sure that there is enough agreement among the various participants in OWS on which smaller goals should be pursued. The simplest starting point is increasing the upper federal tax bracket, which has already been staked out as an issue. But even that may not fly with protesters who want to change the entire economic or political system. So as a practical matter, I am not sure it's going to work. I guess we'll find out.
A similar picture which appeared a couple of weeks ago used the word 'uni' for university, which is UK slang, despite the fact that it indicated the writer immigrated to the US.
This one specifies a "moderately priced, in-state public university", so perhaps it was modified. Although it does use a bar on the seven, which is not typical for the US.
I also agree with some of the sentiments. Free riders with a sense of entitlement offend a lot people, especially those who are self-reliant and do not instinctively try to work the system. It's like the character Frank Grimes in the Simpson's, who is shocked how Homer Simpson can have such a good life while being incompetent, although he is struggling despite being motivated and more capable.
On the other hand, while the sign singles out self-reliance as a virtue, very little of it refers to self-reliance. (In fact, the scholarship is accepting largesse from a benefactor.) I don't doubt that a good student would get a scholarship, but I do doubt a 90% scholarship at the kind of university described based on 'decent grades.'
Instead, what it seems to be championing is a radical choice to take on no debt at all. This is a completely different issue -- people working the welfare or unemployment systems can be completely debt free, while medical students can (and usually have to) go deeply into debt on the way to acquiring that valuable MD degree.
To the extent that the ad is effective, it depends on the assumptions that:
--the OWS protests are being driven by personal indebtedness (they are clearly NOT)
--debt is due to living beyond your means, which in turn is due to a sense of entitlement (sometimes true), and
--the financial industries are spectators simply meeting their unreasonable customers' needs.
To effectively counter this sign, whether it's real or not, it helps to point the subtle bait-and-switch going on here.
There are various forms for large organizations -- eg, nonprofit enterprises or companies where the employees control a majority of stock. A lot of those could be expanded, and the country might be better off.
On the other hand, there isn't a real track record of having large institutions like those except at the fringes of an industry. Credit unions are an example. I like credit unions and belong to one. But there is no country that I know of in which credit unions form most of the financial sector, which has a lot of functions other than consumer checking accounts. I'm not sure how well it would adapt to that model or how you would go from one to the other.
A lot of the knee-jerk corporate stuff is frustrating because it's broad-brush and appears to be against the whole concept of corporations and private enterprise. This actually stands in the way of a lot of needed reforms. You have to have a basic level of comfort with the framework in order to be in a position to influence any of those reforms.
It drives a lot of people towards the Republican party and ultimately defending things that they themselves probably don't even support because it's all under the guise of preventing socialism or saving the free market.
In any way form of organization, a certain type of people gravitate to the top. Where industry is run by the government, you have Soviet apparatchiks. Where the military is in control, they gravitate toward those functions. Even in the third sector, the top level of large organizations like universities and the United Way have adopted some of the same characteristics and inflated salaries as the private sector. Changing from one form to the other is useless without understanding economic history, psychology, and the behavior of groups. The answers are there, but most of them are not obvious.
There are times where it's better for the whole structure to be torn down and rebuilt. This is not one those times. There is a whole spectrum of opinion in this country, and it could be best directed by trying to improve and transform. Despite whatever outrages Goldman Sachs or Richard Mellon Scaife might have committed, there are a lot of business people who have their heads screwed on right. Robert Townsend of "Up the Organization" was one them. There are a lot of others who need some a forum and some leadership to do things within the current system.
and what options there are.
A lot of avowed socialists trying to avoid being painted as anti-business say that they support mom and pop businesses, but not large corporations. Well, there is no such thing as a mom and pop airplane factory or steel mill. The alternative is government ownership, and the track record of government-owned businesses is well known.
Corporations are the best employers by a good margin. Anyone working for a small business is going to be much better off working for a large corporation.
The reason a lot of smart executives are liberals is because they see the whole economic picture. The economy cannot grow if the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Corporations cannot sell their products and grow unless their customers make enough to afford their products.
This does not excuse a lot of destructive policies pursued by corporate groups or individuals like the Koch brothers. It is human nature that groups of people will seek their short-term interests. But the scare stories and demonizations do not represent at all what goes on day to day in the world that actually produces things and keeps the world operating.
OK, I expect to be pilloried for this. I don't think of myself as "pro-corporate," but the anti-corporate sentiment here is sometimes just overwhelming.
It's often depicted as a racial thing, especially by bigots, but it cuts across all races. If anything, the hillbillies are the worst.
Sometimes the strategies show some foresight and cleverness. A wife rents an apartment based on her own income. She then moves in her husband who has no credit and a prison record along with three other familiy members and one of her husband's drug-dealing friends. After moving in, they pay no rent, wait several months for the rent court process to go through, and move out one day before the sheriff is scheduled to come for the eviction, leaving a mountain of trash and discarded furniture and clothing behind. Some variation of this happens over and over and over. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who work two jobs and try as hard as they can to pay the rent. (In that case, I try to make allowances.)
There is a different psychology to generational poverty. For example, the accusations of people staying on unemployment as long as possible are absolutely true. It may be irrelevant to policy, because there are lots of people who DO want to work as long as jobs are available, but it does no good to deny that it exists.
People also take advantage of disability. I have at least two tenants now who as far as I can tell have no reason to be on disability -- one is a cute young mother and the other a big scary-looking lug who's actually kind of a sweetheart. Both were able to get an SSI check through a lawyer for a diagnosis of depression or something similar. They are both unskilled but appear perfectly functional. In the long run, it locks these people into never developing the ability to support themselves. I have constant inquiries from people with $700/month SSI checks who simply don't make enough to even afford a furnished room.
Sometimes people seek SSI because of a criminal record that makes getting a job very difficult. I understand their opportunities are limited and they are doing whatever they need to do to get by, and don't begrudge them the money. I'm actually glad for them to get more since it helps them pay the rent.
European countries have this issue too -- there are jokes in Germany about Schwabians telling Jesus "don't heal me -- I have two weeks of disability left." But it makes it more difficult to set good policy. For Medicaid and other programs to be sustainable, there have to be ways to limit the program to those who are really disabled rather than those who have the best lawyers.
I don't know what the solution is. But to me it's important to see it clearly.
When I had absolutely no money in a strange city and only a broken down car, I got two waiting jobs and slept in the car for a week until I had $300 in tips and could move into a rooming house. I spent almost no money until I had enough to fell slightly comfortable.
People in this part of Baltimore seem to have the philosophy "spend it if you have it." With that guiding principle, they are bound to be constantly broke no matter how much is coming in.
I have a handyman from Guatemala (legal resident) who is single and in his 50s. I like and respect him. He is a trained electrician, honest, and does good work most of the time. I pay him $15/hour cash. He recently worked over a week on a big project and I paid him $700 at once. Two days later, he needs more money because that's gone. He called me once at 8AM on a Sunday and asked for half a days' pay. He said he was at a bar and had met a really beautiful woman. I assume she was a prostitute and he was still there from the previous night. I understand he does not have a high salary, but whatever he does have is gone almost immediately.
This kind of thing seems crazy to me. It's not universal, but it's very, very widespread, and any approach to poverty or working class has to take it into account.
My grandfather owned a fence and ironwork company and had the same issue with his employees -- they would get paid on Friday, drink all weekend and ask for an advance on Monday. He hated to turn them down because some of these men had families. His solution was to change payday to Tuesday -- that made it more likely that the money would be used for food and rent.
are difficult for me to read, including the Koran and most Jewish apocryphal books:
Most literature concerning Gnosticism bears the same kind of imprint as most modern Xian theology does: You start with the text and naive readings and find that there's little interesting to say. Either you come up with stuff known 1800 years ago or you come up with trivialities (but I repeat myself).
For me, what's interesting is not the naive reading, but how it fits in historically. And especially in Gnosticism, whether the text is supposed to be allegorical or not. That is critical. When I was young, I used to imagine that religion and philosophy 20 centuries ago would have been literal and naive, whereas allegorical readings were a more modern development. Now I think it's the opposite.
As far as Paul being a gnostic, I had never thought so, but have begun to wonder.
Some of his phraseology and ideas and distinctively gnostic. For example, an expression such as "the god of this world" raises the question of whether Paul saw the God of the Torah as a demiurge. His eschatology seems a tad unorthodox when he says that "Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.” And he had the same mix of public asceticism and theoretical antinomianism that Marcion himself did.
Paul may have not even have been Jewish at all, but an Idumean relative of Herod that had grown up in a Mithraic environment, which would give him a different perspective and less of an adherence to the Law.
There's a lot more to the story than just saying there were different schools of thought. Showing how they developed from each other is key IMO. And even though academics are not usually people of faith, it's still difficult to break from the idea that orthodox Christianity was close to the original version of the faith.
to early church history, and it doesn't sound like most New Testament scholars are very clear, either.
You might be interested in The First New Testament which has a unique perspective on the first century and a half of Christianity. (The site appears to have been taken down in the last month, but is archived on The Wayback Machine.)
Although it's not written from a scholarly viewpoint, its proposals make a surprising amount of sense and are unique as far as I know. (This is from the perspective of a non-scholar who lurks on historical Jesus boards for academics.) It also contains a discussion of pagan Gnosticism throughout the ancient world which gave an amazing amount of context.
The author or authors argue that Paul was a gnostic, and so was most of what we think of as early Christianity. They argue that the orthodox position developed in the mid-to-late 2nd C as a reaction to Marcion's gnosticism and to his Bible, which was primarily Paul's epistles. They date the final versions of the New Testament books extremely late because, for example, the nativity accounts are seen as an attempt to flesh out Jesus' earthly existence.
I have some reservations in their understanding of the original Jewish followers. There may be some gnostic-like elements in what's left of that tradition (eg, The Ascents of James). Everything I know about James, Jude, the author of Revelation, etc is that they were fundamentally opposed to some of gnostic's basic principles. But OOH gnosticism was in the air and seems to have influence everyone.
you cannot possibly think that the rebels are unpopular or unauthentic. Artillery, heavy armor, and 30,000 mercenaries go a long, long way against poorly armed civilians. Air campaigns take awhile. Every report and fact on the ground shows 90% opposition to Qaddaffi, and all of the many defections have been against Qadaffi for the same reasons NATO has intervened. The Orwellian shoe is on the other foot.
To take a hands-off attitude just to be able say "Gee, my hands are clean" may be OK in some cases. To maintain that position when it means mass slaughter of innocent civilians is so unbelievably immoral it's difficult to know how to respond. Wake up!
There have been many debates held, and entire books written on the subject.
The official Catholic position, IIRC, is that in addition to heaven and hell, there is a waiting area (purgatory) in which souls of people who lived before Jesus were kept. Between Jesus's death and resurrection, he visited and preached to them in purgatory. Those who believed were saved and went to heaven; those who rejected him were sent to hell. Purgatory and Jesus' descent are not in the Bible, of course, and the theory is a bit convenient, but it does have a certain fairmindedness.
Calvinists, on the other hand, believe that everyone is condemned to hell from birth because of original sin. Unless someone has accepted Jesus, they are toast. Moreover, Calvinists believe in predestination, so they also believe that God selects certain people for heaven via irresistible grace, and there's pretty much nothing anyone else can do. In a legal or pedantic sense, all of the individual points are based on parts of the Bible. But overall, it offends peoples' sense of fairness and free will, and Calvinism is practiced in only a few parts of the Protestant world now, such as the Dutch Reformed and Orthodox Presbyterian churches.
Mainstream evangelical churches, of which the Baptist denominations are the largest, are a mixed bag. There is a widespread belief that infants who die go to heaven, but this is belief is held less out of any statements in the Bible and more out of moral rejection of the alternatives. Opinions differ on whether adults who die, never having heard of Jesus, go to heaven, hell, or are judged individually by God.
Michael Wood, who wrote "The Hidden Bible" and "Breaking the Romans Code," self-published books which sometimes appears in internet ads on DU, has some interesting observations. He believes that the phrase ‘aionios', translated as 'eternal' in English bibles, really means long-lasting but finite. So hell is a temporary punishment for sins committed in this life. He also discusses a passage in one of Paul's letters which he argues persuasively that Paul thought all of creation would eventually be reconciled to God. This is a minority view, but it can be argued seriously from the documents.
Personally, I think most of the authors of the Bible didn't really have this question uppermost in their minds when it was written. That's what oppression and a survival instinct will do to you. There were friends and enemies, and the enemies were against not only you, but your God, and were therefore evil. The weaknesses to this approach became obvious as the world became larger, more stable, and more secular. But unless something is crystal clear in the Bible, it's bound to result different opinions.
and I think most people who study them feel like you do. The question is how well the gospels reflect Jesus' life and words.
Why might Jesus be misquoted in the Gospels? Because the movement was split and most of what came down to us was written by the sect which survived the Romans rather than the one closest to Jesus.
It's commonplace for scholars to say that Paul started a new religion based on his own inspiration rather than Jesus. It's odd that few of them really follow that thought through.
Paul's epistles are constantly arguing against opponents of the movement. What's not immediately clear, however, is how much of this is directed against Jesus' brother. Salvation by faith alone, circumcision, festivals, table fellowship with Gentiles, long hair, vegetarianism -- once you begin to look for them, they appear all over the place.
Paul uses Old Testament scripture in, shall we say, extremely creative ways, many of which reverse the meaning of the original text -- for example, Moses' face being veiled to hide the fading glory of the law. Theological arguments after Paul often applied tendentious logic to unrelated scripture. Religious documents fabricated quotes, actions, and large amounts of biographical data. There are no reasons other than tradition and faith in the text to think that these didn't apply to the Gospels. And proposing revolt meant instant death, so any social criticism had to be internally directed against other Jews.
I personally think it is more instructive to look at the writings of most closely related to Jesus, namely the letter of James and Jude, and possibly Revelation. James has the same gentle, picturesque, didactic quality of a lot of Jesus' stories, but also has savage criticisms of the rich ('weep and howl...for the miseries that are coming upon you') and presumably Paul ('you foolish man...'). Jude is even more severe, with a radiant but stern moralism ('they are clouds without water...twice dead...'). These books are compatible with, but do not advocate, revolt. The Book of Revelation, however, has a full-blown militarism that probably resulted from the destruction of Jerusalem. (Otherwise why is there a need for a new Jerusalem?)
I really don't know Jesus' attitude toward violence. John the Baptist (Jesus' original mentor) and James were both avowedly pacifists, yet their rhetoric and methods fit perfectly with the many Jewish revolutionaries of the time, and John was executed like Jesus and James for political sedition. The 'Essenes', for that matter, were supposedly pacifist, but 'John the Essene' fought in the revolt. The occupation may have appeared so powerful that it was really a moot issue, and that passive resistance was the only viable avenue without a miracle of some kind. Jesus may have been anticipating a miracle that would deliver Judea and Galilee from the Romans -- the question is whether he expected to play a military role in that.
That's a long answer and I don't know if it makes sense. It's not at all the standard way of looking at it. There are no ways to prove any particular point other best fit, and that depends a lot of what set of facts you start off with.
BTW, since you mentioned gnosticism, I found a really good site written by Jewish/Christian gnostics. Don't agree with their point of view, but it really opened up an area that I never understood very well.
and used to pick up hitchhikers as well.
One time, I was picked up by five young Southern guys in an old Chevy Impala. They said they were on their way to beat up some guy who had done something to their sister. Despite my protests, they insisted on showing me their car could hit 100MPH with six passengers.
I was once stranded the whole night in the Connecticut countryside, but occasionally got rides immediately and arrived faster than if I had driven. One time, I went from DC to NC overnight carrying a two-drawer filing cabinet packed with stuff from a dead car I abandoned in Arlington. Had to sneak that big thing on an Arlington bus at night when the bus driver driver left for a few minutes. Stopped right over the beltway at a residential overpass, push it over a high chain-link fence, climb after it, and then carry it down to start hitchhiking. Can't believe it worked.
In college, I picked up a young working class guy at night on a country road near Greensboro, NC. He turned out to be drunk, started telling me his life story, and gave me this metal bracelet which I kept for years. I drove him to an intersection where he said his grandmother lived, but when we got there he was kind of dazed and said he didn't recognize it. On the way back to town, he fell dead asleep. It was after midnight and I had no idea what to do with him. So I found a cheap motel, left him sleeping, and went in to get him a room. Found a half-empty bottle of whiskey in his coat pocket which I poured out. As I was signing in, he woke up and wandered in to the lobby. When the desk clerk realized the room was for him, he said "I'm sorry, we don't serve that kind of person here." The hitchhiker said "That's all right, I'll find my way" and wandered off.
Shortly before I got divorced, I would sometimes get up at night, go out, and drive around blindly for an hour. One time I picked up a young black guy who seemed to be wearing some kind of karate uniform. I said "So, what kind of fighting do you do?" He got very confused and alarmed. I asked him about him about his outfit and he said "Oh, this is just an old sweatsuit."
The last hitchhiker I picked up was about ten years ago . It was evening, and she was hitching on Kenilworth Avenue in Bladensburg, MD. She said she was going up the road aways. We chatted for a minute and then there was an awkward silence. She finally said "So, you want a date or what?" I started laughing -- it didn't dawn on me that she was a hooker. "Well, some guys are kind of shy," she said before getting out. She was sweet.
I also drove a taxi for awhile and have five rental houses in Baltimore. Those are even better for lurid stories.
has answered the questions to their own satisfaction -- at least to the extent needed to conduct the current policy. Our opinions are based on much less complete knowledge. Your answers may differ, but from my point of view:
Who are the rebels?
They are a very diverse group representing most or all parts of the population, from the educated elite to students to laborers. They are not Al Qaida, anti-American, or proponents of Sharia law. They are a broad representation of the population. In Kosovo the US allied with the KLA, who were by all accounts a much worse group.
Who are we fighting -- on behalf of the rebels?
The US, UN, and NATO made it clear that they are not conducting a war against Qaddafi or the Libyan military on behalf of the rebels. NATO and a couple of other countries destroyed aircraft, airfields, armor, and other heavy equipment being used at the time for wholesale attacks on noncombatants.
Are we and NATO going to have to bomb and strafe pro-Qaddafi civilian fighters in order to take the rebels to Tripoli?
Well, if they're civilians, they're combatants, just like the rebels. The attacks so far have been against heavy equipment, and I would personally expect them to remain that way. They are, after all, being done to stop the use of aircraft against civilians. Whether the rebels successfully take Tripoli is not part of the military mission.
How much support do they have in Libya?
Certainly more than most revolts or revolutions. By all accounts, probably 80-90%.
The rebels' disappointment in the US and NATO shows that Obama was not just using the UN resolution dishonestly as a cover for prosecuting a war. NATO is not acting as the rebels' air force and should not expect to be able to call in air strikes. I am personally disappointed that Misurata seems to have been ignored in the last few days, since civilians are still being shelled and starved. But in general, the UN-sanctioned force is showing admirable restraint and adherence to the UN mission.
It may very well result in a military stalemate. I hopeful that a combination of rebel military action, UN aircraft, continued defections and desertions, and various diplomatic initiatives will lead to Qaddafi leaving within a few months. The US military planned for a 90-day mission, and so far it would appear to be on schedule. Kosovo looked even worse at this stage of the game, and it turned out fairly well.
What is particularly good is that Libya, and now the Ivory Coast, may be bringing about a new international consensus on when to the UN should intervene in struggles within a country -- specifically that the use of aircraft and heavy weaponry against civilians will result in air strikes to destroy the weaponry. It is a good balance between not allowing massacres while avoiding quagmires, and it has more authority than any country acting unilaterally.
and that David Elkington may not be the most reliable judge of authenticity.
On the other hand, *where* the codices were discovered is interesting -- in the Jericho/Qumran area. During the first Jewish Revolt in the 60s and 70s, the Jews hid documents and valuables from the Romans in this area, presumably including the Dead Sea Scrolls. The copper scroll in particular has a whole list of treasures in various hiding places.
The choice of lead is also interesting. The copper was made by people with wealth and resources, so they could use a more expensive metal for preservation. Lead was, I believe, a less expensive medium, more affordable for those with fewer resources. And while Paul had money, the leader of the movement in Jerusalem was Jesus' brother James. Although he was a leading priest, he was not rich and the movement was known as the "poor".
By the third century, the Ebionite movement was serious decline and I wouldn't have expected anyone to have hidden a genuine religious document in this location. Forgeries were common, but they would have been based on the religious mythology of the time, not the first century Roman sieges. The same is even more true of medieval and later forgeries. The only possibility would be for it to be a recent forgery, but the finder doesn't seem capable of it, and the Jordanian government is concerned enough about the artifacts to attempt to repatriate them.
The James ossuary never ran true and was immediately called out as a possible forgery. This one is surprising, but rings true.
Anti-abortion groups routinely use photos of third trimester fetuses in advertising, when they are pretty much fully developed -- ignoring the fact that abortions at this stage are not even protected under Roe v Wade unless the mother's life is in danger. Planned Parenthood actually has a reasonable argument that a fetus near the end of the second trimester is not yet human and should not have a standing that outweighs the right to privacy -- but it's buried in their web page, and you would never know unless you specifically looked for it. The anti-abortion arguments themselves could apply just as well to any stage of pregnancy.
The question in my mind is not whether abortion should be legal -- of course it should. It's a question of when. The anti-abortion folks IMO are asking the right question when they say it's a child, not a choice -- they're just giving the wrong answer.
The Supreme Court held that abortions were protected until the fetus was viable outside the womb, at the end of the second trimester. That is a strange standard, since it ignores the question of when a fetus becomes human, and is dependent on medical technology. If in the future a fetus were able to be kept alive after six *weeks*, would it make sense to protect abortions only up to six weeks? Or should abortions be protected until a baby *was* able to survive outside the womb based on 1970-era technology?
Once a fetus grows into a human being, IMO it should be protected. Abortions need to take place before that point. But a lot of people shy away from that question -- it's a matter of judgement and interpretation, and no matter what your viewpoint, there *is* no clear guideline. That's why it's uncomfortable.
Death is usually defined by the death of brain function, so perhaps the beginning of life should be, too. Before the fourth month at least, brain function probably isn't well developed enough to define a human being. But by the sixth month, babies can be born prematurely and survive. So the cutoff for conitutional protection should probably be somewhere during the second trimester. I understand that some European countries use the midpoint. Maybe that's better; in any case, it should be decided by science, not belief or demagoguery.
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