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E-Pluribus | May 15, 2023
The euthanasia slope gets even slipperier; when a 'book ban' is not a ban; and in defense of accommodation.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Wesley J. Smith: Bioethicists: Euthanasia Okay for ‘Unjust Social Conditions’
Opponents of euthanasia have long argued that once society starts down the hill of intentionally ending life and particularly as a “medical care” issue, the momentum would be difficult to stop. Now, via Wesley Smith at National Review, two bioethicists in Canada are rhetorically greasing the skids, suggesting that “unjust social conditions” may be a justifiable reason to end one’s life.
Once killing the sufferer becomes a societally acceptable means for ending suffering, there becomes no end to the “suffering” that justifies human termination. We can see this phenomenon most vividly in Canada, because it is happening there more quickly than in most cultures. For example, a recent poll found that 27 percent of Canadians polled strongly or moderately agree that euthanasia is acceptable for suffering caused by “poverty” and 28 percent strongly or moderately agree that killing by doctors is acceptable for suffering caused by homelessness.
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This kind of abandoned thinking finds enthusiastic, albeit not unanimous, expression among secular bioethicists. In fact, two Canadian bioethicists just published a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics — a prestigious British Medical Journal publication — arguing that “unjust social conditions” justify lethal jabs (euphemistically called MAiD, for “medical assistance in dying”). The argument claims that killing is a form of “harm reduction.”
Read the whole thing.
Jay Greene: Are School Libraries Banning Thousands of Books? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Trust the Left’s Narrative
“Book banning” is generally a universally despised practice often associated with the Nazi’s burning of books in Germany in the 1930s during their rise to power, but too often these days, charges of book banning are throw around all too readily and disingenuously. Jay Greene of the Daily Signal reports on how independent research casts doubt on recent charges by PEN America that thousands of books are being banned in schools across the country.
“What we’re seeing here is a resurgence of widespread censorship in America,” Nadine Farid Johnson recently told The Wall Street Journal. Johnson is the Washington director of PEN America and co-author of its report claiming to identify 2,532 books banned in public schools during the 2021-2022 school year.
[. . .]
It is simply false that 2,532 books were removed from schools during the 2021-2022 school year. We know this is false because we examined online card catalogues and found that 74% of the books PEN America identified as banned from school libraries are actually listed as available in the catalogues of those school districts. In many cases we could see that copies of those books are currently checked out and in use by students.
[. . .]
The book “The Hate U Give,” which was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and primarily features black characters, is listed as one of the most frequently banned books, reportedly removed from more than a dozen public school libraries during 2021-2022.
But when we examine the online card catalogues in those school districts, we find copies of “The Hate U Give” available in every one of them.
For example, PEN America says that “The Hate U Give” was banned in Goddard Public Schools in Kansas, yet that district’s card catalogue lists nine copies of the book; three were checked out at the time we examined it. Similarly, the book was supposedly banned from the Indian River School District in Florida, but the card catalogue in that district shows 20 copies available, with several checked out.
Read it all.
James Stoner & Paul O. Carrese: What’s Un-American About Accommodation?
There’s nothing new under the sun, the Biblical writer of Ecclesiastes declared, and James Stoner & Paul Carrese of Law and Liberty say that the principle of accommodation is certainly not new under the American sun. While tribalism and total victory have made gains in popularity in recent years, Stoner and Carrese says that compromise and accommodation of various viewpoints has been and remain essential in our American experiment.
Was the intention [of the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) initiative] to produce something bipartisan? Emphatically, yes—as we have already responded to other conservative denunciations of our participation in such an effort. The Constitution has worked to hold Americans together for well over two hundred years because it was and is a bipartisan document, produced by compromise or, to use Fonte’s term, accommodation. Different people, different groups, and different parties interpret the Constitution variously, as they have different accounts of American history and different visions of America’s future. The genius of the Constitution has been to provide shared institutions through which debates can take place and choices made, as well as shared ideals to which Americans aspire even when we differ. If civics education cannot address these matters, if it is nothing but partisan indoctrination, how can we expect our constitutional framework to endure?
Partisan interpretations of the Constitution, the political system more generally, and the country’s history are inevitable and, given the inevitability of partisanship, we welcome the development of conservative curricula like those mentioned by Fonte as an alternative to progressive curricula that abound. The point of the EAD framework is to point out the topics that ought to be covered and to raise the questions that ought to be asked: not only what have been the country’s failings and what are situations that call for reform, but also what is the lasting significance of the nation’s founding documents and what are the achievements of American democracy that made possible the country’s growth and greatness. No doubt progressives and conservatives will supply different, even opposite answers, to these questions, but just as conservative teachers can be asked to confront unpleasant facts about slavery and conquest, so progressives ought to acknowledge the political liberty the Declaration and the Constitution secured and the prosperity the free market has achieved. EAD asks that these matters all be laid upon the table so that students are aware of the whole range of questions, recognizing of course that teachers will interpret matters differently, as will the students themselves.
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The dangerously pathetic condition of America’s civic health, and the dearth of both civic knowledge and patriotism among perhaps a majority of our youth, suggests that a focus on preventing leftist harms has only helped to produce an American educational system that undervalues civics and history education. The test results for civics and US history just announced in “the nation’s report card” (the NAEP, National Assessment of Educational Progress) for 2022 show that the long-term decline of civic education combined with the disruptions to schooling caused by COVID and pandemic policies have produced even more terrible scores than the last assessment in 2018. Those dismal results were a main rationale for the EAD study itself: that something new ought to be tried beyond the predominant polarization.
Read it all here.
According to a weekend New York Times article, some businesses are shifting from “diversity, equity and inclusion” to “diversity and belonging,” and the strategy is getting, to say the least, less than rave reviews:
Due to the obnoxious behavior of an onlooker/activist, this video is difficult to listen to, but is a great illustration of what those who are in favor of free speech and dialogue are up against, via Peter Boghossian and Chris Elston:
And finally, some wise words on free speech from Killer Mike’s grandfather and teacher Mrs. Ellison, via the Foundation for Individual Rights & Expression: