Krauthammer: being human is a process

Charles Krauthammer is a frequent guest on “The O’Reilly Factor.” The other night, during a discussion of the current Planned Parenthood outrage, C.K. referred to the early embryo as a “clump of cells,” as though such cells get thrown together by an accident of nature, like a pile of gutter debris after a storm. There is, he says, a legitimate difference of opinion between those, like O’Reilly, who defend the embryo’s humanity from conception, and those who think that full personhood is achieved in the course of a “process.” The two argue about it.

This “clump of cells” language astounds coming from a medical doctor, who ought to know better than anyone that all the information necessary to form the highly sophisticated brain producing all that intellectual output that makes him such a valued commentator (and a best-selling author to boot) is right there in that clump of cells from the very beginning. Destroy the clump that will become C.K. (end the “process,” in other words) and you destroy C.K. He will not be available for TV appearances. Thus, there is no difference between the process of becoming a person and the possession of personhood itself.

C.K. never does identify at precisely which point in the process any one of us can lay claim to this exalted status. The video is below. I’d drag the slider to 3:56 and stop at about 7:15. After that it’s back to politics.

[Update]: I suspect that Ross Douhat, lacking a medical degree, is considerably smarter than C.K.]

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Hawk takes my squirrel friend…

in the camphor tree in the back yard. (Click to enlarge)

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Correspondence from the Catacombs (cont.)

From another friend:

Hi, Bill:
I just saw this article in this week’s edition. It is a very sober assessment of where we are, I think. Fr. Rutler’s summation is “chilling”, as the overview of the edition says; however, it seems to me he is correct: this is the zenith of a spiritual battle, the outcome of which Christ assures us. We must pray to endure to its end. See what you think.

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Filmed by Bernadette at the Milwaukee zoo.

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Correspondence from the Catacombs

The first of a couple of recent email exchanges, post-Obergefell.


Bill, I can’t take it much longer. My dear father had a refrain about the contemporary scene: “madnesses on the land.” I’m glad he passed from the scene four years ago. He could not have imagined even five years back what’s going down now. That Catholic philosopher who described witnessing modernity as watching a nuclear bomb going off in slow motion, MacIntyre? We’re in fast forward now. I’m in a sick panic.


Panic won’t help. The new regime must be resisted, but what form that will take I have not the wisdom to foretell. All the states, for example, should behave as if the Obergefell decision did not exist. That is, continue doing business as they always have.

This will require great courage at all levels of society, which I think is probably lacking in general. A few individuals have shown it, like that Baronelle Stutzman in Washington, but I suspect most Christians today have little taste for martyrdom. We’re about to find out what Christianity is made of in this country.

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There’s a new painting

…at the top left of the People art page.

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I told you so

From 2003:

…The law, in short, is a signal from society, a badge of shame that need not be worn in public but serves nonetheless as an ever-present, nearly invisible reminder that we do not accept what they do, and never will. It serves as a quiescent rearguard against talk of other things, like gay marriage, the cacophony of which argument will now, through the media, assault our sensibilities daily, and our personal lives more intimately.

What, for example, do you think is going to happen to certain textbooks in your children’s schools? To the free speech rights of students and teachers who have moral objections to homosexual behavior? To the public posture of gay teachers of children who heretofore have found discretion the better part of a valorous “coming out?” To our civil rights laws, now that the right to a degrading sexual practice, like the right to abortion, has been enshrined in our constitutional law? Take it from there…

When I said at the beginning that this ruling renders all sex the same, some will object that I go too far. And they have a point. Even Justice Kennedy, perhaps sensing the breadth of the swath his intellectual thresher is cutting through the autumnal, once-verdant field of our moral culture, does a little dancing in the barnyard, his belated attempt to assure us that victims of rape, sexual child abuse, and incest will not find the umbrella of the law’s protection withdrawn: “The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.” Could this last refer to marriage? But how will he refuse them? The “liberty” he has granted is based purely on a right to privacy and on mutual consent. He finishes his thought: “The case does involve two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle. The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives,” (the Texas law, of course, allowing them their private lives but not the public respect, which is what I suspect he finds most irksome.)

But Mr. Justice Kennedy, many homosexuals want to make marriage a practice “common to the homosexual lifestyle.” And since, in marriage, sexual intimacy (not formerly of the kind you have now given constitutional protection) seems to come with the territory, on what principle of law – not of sociology, or psychology, or of any other field of inquiry – but of law will you deny to them this most sublime of human bonds? And don’t appeal to the law’s reliance on our nation’s “history and tradition”, for you have already conceded, in your defense of personal “autonomy,” that there is no such thing, or at least that no one tradition is better than any other: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” I rather imagine that an Andrew Sullivan will have no trouble fitting marriage into his concept of existence and the mystery and meaning of human life. All he needs is another man to give consent. How will you say no?

I am not optimistic that he will, for here is the most concise rendering of his judicial philosophy I was able to find, and in his own words: “As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.” How will he say no?

How will he say no to prostitution, a consensual, adult transaction capable of being conducted purely in private?

How will he say no to adultery, a purely private, consensual, adult transaction?

Suppose a group of differently minded adults – say a man and three women, five women and three men, variorum ad infinitum – decide they’d like to marry to fulfill their concept of the meaning of life? How will he say no?

Suppose the age of consent in some state is 16, and a resident, full-blooded brother and sister decide to get it on? How will he say no? A father and his teenaged daughter? How?

The whole thing is here.

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Words to be recited at a wake

America, America,
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good
With brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.

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There’s a new painting…

…at the top left of the People Art page.

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Has anyone (any conservative) in the House drafted an article of impeachment for Justice Kennedy?

Whether Kennedy is a practicing Catholic or not, has any bishop publicly noted that his ruling incurs automatic excommunication?

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