Thursday, August 06, 2009

Personhood

!!! WARNING !!!

The following blog entry may offend some readers. It is not intended to offend (well, maybe it is, a bit), but as is the point of the Ray Bradbury book, Fahrenheit 451, everything will offend someone. So if you hold strongly to a personal belief system that you are not willing to contemplate may possibly be open to interpretation or if you're just easily offended, you may want to give this entry a pass.

!!! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED !!!

Those of you lucky enough to be living in this lovely state of Colorado, have you heard the news? The Colorado For Equal Rights group is at it again. The seemingly innocuous name of the group belies its true purpose. Equal Rights sounds like a good thing, right? (Though every time I hear that phrase I am reminded of the old Saturday Night Live sketch with Gilda Radner playing Miss Emily Litella: "Eagle Right? What's so special about eagles that they deserve rights? If you're going to give rights to the birds at least give them to the parrots. At least they can talk." – But I digress…)

Hiding under this seemingly innocent name is a bunch of religious zealots who are trying to impose their personal religious beliefs on us. They supported the 2008 Personhood Amendment ballot initiative. For those of you not lucky enough to live here, the initiative was on the 2008 general elections ballot and was an attempt to codify religious beliefs. It basically said that in the State of Colorado, the law will recognize any "person" equally and that in the eyes of the law, any unborn person will be given the same rights. The law essentially defined a zygote (a fertilized egg) as a person with full rights and protections under the law.

Now, as a religious belief, or as a part of a personal ethos, I have no problem with this concept. I don't personally believe it, as I know that there is a physiological difference between a cell and a human. There are reasons that some cultures frown about even talking with friends about being pregnant in the first trimester. The problem is that these are cultural, religious, social, and personal beliefs.

Well, now this group has gotten it into their heads that the reason their amendment was soundly defeated was not that it was a bad idea with little support, but because they were not clear enough in how they tried to explain that a fertilized egg should be able to get security clearance from the government.

So, coming to the 2010 ballot thanks to Colorado For Equal Rights, a "new and improved" attempt at getting their personal and religious beliefs into the Colorado constitution. They now want to convince the public that "Personhood begins at the start of the biological process of a human life."

Oh! That's clear! Much clearer! Thanks!

The problem is that that is even less clear! Oh what fun this will be! What is the "beginning of the biological process?" Is it when the egg gets fertilized? Is it when the man ejaculates or the woman ovulates? Is it when the couple looks at each other across a crowded room and that chemistry clicks?

If this passes, what's next? The Monty Python Amendment?
"Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm gets wasted,
God gets quite irate!
"

Come-on these are all arbitrary lines anyway. The one that is currently in force, that the fetus becomes a person when it is birthed, makes perfect sense. The one I have heard of as being in force in places, that a fetus becomes a person when it could viably live outside the womb, makes sense.

The problem, as Douglas Adams put it in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is that nobody has ever come up with an empirical definition of life. One definition may run something like this: "Life is that quality which a person may lose as a result of falling from a cold and mysterious cave suspended one mile above an alien planet. This is however not a very good definition, as it could equally well apply to glasses should the subject be wearing any."

We all know that what this group really wants to do is define a fetus regardless of its viability as a person so that the can define abortion as murder. And when you come down to it, this is a personal decision. It is either your personal religious or moral belief that it is wrong, or it is your personal conviction that a woman has a right to make her own medical decisions. Either way, you have no right to impose your personal beliefs on anyone else.

You have every right to share and discuss your personal beliefs under the first amendment to the constitution (that is if you are a citizen or resident of the USA, you have this right) but that right does not include the right to enforce those beliefs on someone else.

Well, that is my personal rant for the day. I saw that this group was at it again and just had to vent. This is me, stepping off the soapbox. (Damn! I wish my friends hadn't convinced me not to set-up a box at speaker's corner while I was in London!) That could have been fun!

Wherever you are today, I hope you have the right to speak your mind. I also hope you will take the opportunity to exercise that right!

Don Bergquist – August 06, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good Rant!

Taking your position, agreeably, would mean that we should continue to exercise the separation of Church and State. If we make a decision on this issue based on religious beliefs, we cross the Church/State separation line. Doesn't the Constitution have something to say about that?

Don Bergquist said...

Dear Anonymous Reader:

Yeah, something like that. But then how many times these days does some group see the phrase “Congress shall pass no law” as a minor hindrance to what they want to do?

I’m a bit Jeffersonian in my thinking about the constitution. I read somewhere that Jefferson never thought the constitution would be a long-term thing. He advocated a regular Constitutional Convention to review and rewrite the constitution as needs arose.

It may be a good thing that we use the amendment process we do instead. Can you picture a constitution that is written by some members (of either extreme) that have been in power recently? It would either become illegal to leer at someone on the street corner or to complain when someone leers at you!

Thanks again for reading my blog and leaving a comment.

Don

Anonymous said...

Having read your blog for a few months now I think that you are one of the best ranters alive today. Have you ever considered sitting in front of a webcam and putting one or two of your rants up on YouTube? Not having actually met you, it would be interesting to watch your facial expressions and hear you raise and lower your voice while you are ranting and raving. Or maybe do you write in a more involved and emotional manner than you actually talk?

Anonymous Reader

Don Bergquist said...

Dear Anonymous Reader,

Many thanks for your kind words and thanks for your assessment of my ranting. It may be best if I answer your questions in reverse order.

No, I write pretty much the same way that I speak. Driven by my passions, when I believe something is wrong, misguided, or just plain stupid, I feel an impulse to speak up. But then, I also believe the opposite should be true as well. I try and speak-up when I see something good or noteworthy.

I cannot tell you the number of hotel desk clerks, wait staff, and other service people I have caught off guard when I have asked them if I may please speak with their supervisor. It always seemed a surprise when I express my sincere admiration and gratitude at the way the person has gone above and beyond to deliver excellent service. Why more people don't compliment others is a mystery to me.

I know that I have a lot of friends and relatives who read my blog and you will have to take their word for it that I am about to give an accurate account. (Anyone who knows me well and wants to comment is encouraged to do so…)

When I am involved in a passionate discourse it shows. The pitch of my voice modulates with the intensity of the passion. Some day I am going to see something so intensely stupid and so personally offensive to me that when I rant about it to my friends, windows will crack a block away. My facial expressions, which are already somewhat animated, change a bit in intensity and frequency.

I have never even considered doing a video blog. With my degrees and my background in Broadcasting and Computers, you might think it would be a perfect fit, but I've never been in the industry to be in front of the camera, I have always more wanted to be the power behind the screen; the person making those people say what they do; the mystery man in the shadows. It may be less glamorous, but it is a much more powerful position.

And as I am sure you will have discovered by now, having read my blog... I'm in this as a power trip! (Hmmm... maybe I should to a video blog – sarcasm would come across more clearly when you see me scrunch-up my brow and bight my lip while giving a cock-eyed wink!)

Again, Anonymous Reader, thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment.

Don

CathyW said...

Anonymous Reader said: "Or maybe do you write in a more involved and emotional manner than you actually talk?", which totally made me laugh. Believe me Anonymous, he speaks just like he writes!

Don Bergquist said...

LOL!

Thanks for the testament, Cathy! I'm taking that as a compliment, but admit freely that it is open to debate whether my style (written, verbal, or otherwise) is really something to be proud of!

Have a great day and thanks for reading and commenting on my blog!

Don