We are the 99%

November 25, 2012

Ann Coulter, Fordham, And The Trib

Amazing how far they'll can stretch a false comparison.

From today's Tribune-Review:
And from the august halls of academia comes a report that Fordham University effectively barred conservative columnist Ann Coulter from speaking on campus but welcomed Princeton bioethics professor Peter Singer, who “has long lamented the societal stigma against having sex with animals,” The Daily Caller reports. In Fordham’s defense, Georgetown University Jesuit and senior government professor James Schall says the church isn’t afraid of any idea — so long as it has a fair chance to explain its own position. Evidently Ms. Coulter’s conservatism must be pretty scary stuff for those deep-thinking Jesuits at Fordham.
Ah, the need to fact check the braintrust is ever present.  Let's begin.

Looks their one and only source for this blurb is the Daily Caller article mentioned.  Had they done their homework and dug into the, you know, facts, they'd have found that the premise of first half of that first sentence is simply untrue.

Fordham University did not "bar" (effectively or otherwise) Coulter from speaking.  Indeed Fordham never invited her.  The university's College Republicans did.

And they're the ones who disinvited her.

And CR President Theodore Conrad said he reached this decision before University President Father Joseph McShane issued this statement - a statement that began with:
The College Republicans, a student club at Fordham University, has invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus on November 29. The event is funded through student activity fees and is not open to the public nor the media. Student groups are allowed, and encouraged, to invite speakers who represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular, points of view, in keeping with the canons of academic freedom. Accordingly, the University will not block the College Republicans from hosting their speaker of choice on campus. [emphasis added.]
The reason why the Conrad disinvited Coulter? From the Fordham Observer:
The decision was arrived at by Conrad early this morning, well before Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J. and president of Fordham, sent an email upholding her scheduled appearance.

“I do take responsibility in not doing the proper research,” Conrad said. “We did not properly vet a potential speaker for Fordham University.”

“The things that she said are not things our club stands for or anything at Fordham stands for and I feel we would be doing a lot of people a diservice in bringing a speaker like that to Fordham. The bad outweighs the good in this.”
Turns out that doing the proper research can lead to embarrassment - first for the Fordham CR and then for Scaife's braintrust.

But that's all beside the point, to be honest.  The braintrust was looking to establish a false comparison: (Conservative Coulter gets bounced by the same university that invites infanticide/bestiality fan Peter Singer!)

Except that what the wingnuts accuse Singer of, he's not guilty of.  Here's Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review Online:
Once an Ivy League professor is known to be a proponent of infanticide, perhaps nothing he says or writes should thereafter raise eyebrows. Still, Peter Singer’s latest writing is worth noting — if only so someone at Princeton University takes notice.

In the online magazine nerve.com, Peter Singer writes an opinion piece, “Heavy Petting” — part a review of Dearest Pet: On Bestiality by Midas Dekker, “a Dutch biologist and popular naturalist,” but really more of a statement about the last sexual taboo — sex with animals.
And then:
Much of Singer’s review is simply not fit to be reprinted on NRO, but rest assured that he gets graphically specific at times, trying to demonstrate just how widespread the sex-with-animals scene is — and has long been.

And while Singer explains that a human male who has sex with hens ultimately kills the hen, he wonders if it is any “worse than what egg producers do to their hens all the time.”
Of course she wants you to think that Singer's in favor of both. But let's look at what he actually says.  Here's that opinion piece she mentions.  It's a 12 year old piece discussing the taboo against bestiality and its limits - no where is he advocating such conduct.  For example on that hen sex, he wrote:
Almost a century ago, when Freud had just published his groundbreaking Three Essays on Sexuality, the Viennese writer Otto Soyka published a fiery little volume called Beyond the Boundary of Morals. Never widely known, and now entirely forgotten, it was a polemic directed against the prohibition of "unnatural" sex like bestiality, homosexuality, fetishism and other non-reproductive acts. Soyka saw these prohibitions as futile and misguided attempts to limit the inexhaustible variety of human sexual desire. Only bestiality, he argued, should be illegal, and even then, only in so far as it shows cruelty towards an animal. Soyka's suggestion indicates one good reason why some of the acts described in Dekkers book are clearly wrong, and should remain crimes. Some men use hens as a sexual object, inserting their penis into the cloaca, an all-purpose channel for wastes and for the passage of the egg. This is usually fatal to the hen, and in some cases she will be deliberately decapitated just before ejaculation in order to intensify the convulsions of its sphincter. This is cruelty, clear and simple. (But is it worse for the hen than living for a year or more crowded with four or five other hens in barren wire cage so small that they can never stretch their wings, and then being stuffed into crates to be taken to the slaughterhouse, strung upside down on a conveyor belt and killed? If not, then it is no worse than what egg producers do to their hens all the time.) [Emphasis added.]
So where is he in favor of it?

Now, onto that false "infantide" charge.  This is from Singer's own FAQ:
Q. You have been quoted as saying: "Killing a defective infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Sometimes it is not wrong at all." Is that quote accurate?

A. It is accurate, but can be misleading if read without an understanding of what I mean by the term “person” (which is discussed in Practical Ethics, from which that quotation is taken). I use the term "person" to refer to a being who is capable of anticipating the future, of having wants and desires for the future. As I have said in answer to the previous question, I think that it is generally a greater wrong to kill such a being than it is to kill a being that has no sense of existing over time. Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living. That doesn’t mean that it is not almost always a terrible thing to do. It is, but that is because most infants are loved and cherished by their parents, and to kill an infant is usually to do a great wrong to its parents. Sometimes, perhaps because the baby has a serious disability, parents think it better that their newborn infant should die. Many doctors will accept their wishes, to the extent of not giving the baby life-supporting medical treatment. That will often ensure that the baby dies. My view is different from this, only to the extent that if a decision is taken, by the parents and doctors, that it is better that a baby should die, I believe it should be possible to carry out that decision, not only by withholding or withdrawing life-support – which can lead to the baby dying slowly from dehydration or from an infection - but also by taking active steps to end the baby’s life swiftly and humanely.

Q. What about a normal baby? Doesn’t your theory of personhood imply that parents can kill a healthy, normal baby that they do not want, because it has no sense of the future?

A. Most parents, fortunately, love their children and would be horrified by the idea of killing it. And that’s a good thing, of course. We want to encourage parents to care for their children, and help them to do so. Moreover, although a normal newborn baby has no sense of the future, and therefore is not a person, that does not mean that it is all right to kill such a baby. It only means that the wrong done to the infant is not as great as the wrong that would be done to a person who was killed. But in our society there are many couples who would be very happy to love and care for that child. Hence even if the parents do not want their own child, it would be wrong to kill it. [Emphases added.]
Tell me again how he favors infanticide?

Coulter embarrassed herself by calling the president a "retard."  Agree or disagree with Singer's nuanced argument, but putting them on the same intellectual plane is simply absurd.

And not checking the facts in order to make that false comparison is ridiculous.

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

This is a tricky area of discussion. We can learn much about the parallels and differences between cultures and religions by discussing ideas that involve relativistic morality, such as bestiality, abortion or war. Bu immediately we run the risk of crossing someone's boundaries and inviting their condemnation based the the morals of some specific morality and/or religion.

There are a lot of people who accuse me of being a doctrinaire and close minded liberal. What they really mean is that I am close minded because I don't praise their personal wisdom. I personally am willing to discuss anything, but discuss includes expressing my opinion. So many people who disagree with me attack me on a personal basis instead of disputing the content of my ideas. Do liberals do that as well to conservatives. Certainly in some cases, probably in many cases. I don't attack the liberals since I don't disagree with their ideas, but I will only defend their ideas, not their methods.