Philosophy

Abortion Inconsistency: Incest or Rape

It is common in the anti-abortion camp to hear; “Abortion is murder, except in the case of incest or rape.

This position leads me to believe that people who claim a zygote, embryo or a fetus is a person may not truly believe what they claim. If a fetus is the same as a twenty-one year old man — murder is murder, after all — how does the way its life began reduce the moral value of it? The same argument would not be made; “It is murder to kill a twenty-one year old man, unless he was born from rape or incest.

No, even the religious moralist who repeats platitudes such as “life begins at conception” instinctively realizes the difference between a zygote and an adult human being. This is why the value of the mother’s life is placed over the value of the life of the fetus. This is why an abortion is permissible in the case of incest or rape. Because the zygote, the embryo, or the fetus is not equal to an adult human being.

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Political Questionnaires – Where Are You?

I have been playing with some of the more popular political questionnaires on the Internet. Here are some results and thoughts:

Pew Score - LibertarianThe Pew Research Center for the People & The Press has a Political Typology Quiz that groups you into one category: Staunch Conservatives, Main Street Republicans, Libertarians, Disaffecteds, Post-Moderns, New Coalition Democrats, Hard-Pressed Democrats, Solid Liberals and a final category of Bystanders.

This is a survey that seems to be focused on American partisan politics, despite its inclusion of non-partisan categories. Apparently I would be a Libertarian, along with 9% of the American population.

Libertarian Description PewI do not necessarily consider myself a libertarian per se, although I share many libertarian beliefs. I would definitely not consider myself aligned with the Libertarian Party of the United States, which I find has a very different definition of libertarianism from Joseph Déjacque’s initial use of the term as a synonym with anarchism, the small government philosophy of Milton Friedman, or the use of the term in the context of Austrian economics. Many of these individuals may be better described as pot-smoking Republicans, although they are certainly a lesser evil than the mainstream Democrat and Republican parties.

The descriptions of the Pew’s typologies reinforces some American stereotypes. The Disaffected typology is financially unstable, religious, has more children and enjoys NASCAR. Libertarians are male, affluent and tech-oriented. Staunch conservatives are old, white and oppose both same-sex marriage and abortion. The New Coalition Democrats are an even mix of white (34%), black (30%) and Latino (26%). They are strongly pro-government, pro-immigration, socially conservative and very religious.

To see this group of Democrats described as “socially conservative” or “very religious” may surprise many Americans. In the American psyche, the Republican and the Democrat parties are perceived as opposite ends of the political spectrum. We will see this is not the case when Republicans and Democrats are contrasted with political positions outside the US mainstream.

Political Compass Elections 2012

This is the popular multi-axis model known as The Political Compass. The group behind this has plotted the positions and statements of politicians around the world on two axes. The Left and Right are economic in nature. The Authoritarian and Libertarian are social in nature.

Most of the world’s politicians are right authoritarian. This is especially true for mainstream political parties such as the Republicans and Democrats in the United States. In this model they are practically twins. Most individual politicians mirror Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on The Political Compass. Politicians such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are exceptions who win very few votes in the United States, but seem to be included here for the contrast in policy.

My Political Compass

This is where I am on the Political Compass. I assume my rejection of anything state has moved me almost as far away from the authoritarian side as possible. This seems fairly accurate and reflects how I would identify myself. It is important to remember that the left and the right axes in this model are economic in nature. This is in contrast to how we usually use the terms Left and Right in most political discourse. Left/Right terminology has been replaced by the vertical Libertarian versus Authoritarian axis.

To help illustrate:

Beasts Org SurveyThis is the multi-axis model from beasts.org. Beasts.org developed this in response to The Political Compass:

Politicalcompass.org is a web site which asks a number of opinion questions of its visitors, and then places them in a two-dimensional space which is supposed to characterise their political views. Unfortunately, politicalcompass.org has a poor reputation; in particular, there is a suspicion that its questions are designed to make respondents lean towards an economically right-wing, socially liberal (“right libertarian”) position, and the two axes of variation on which results are plotted are opaque in their derivation and may not be tremendously relevant.”

These suspicions are compounded by the problem that politicalcompass.org’s methods are not open and, therefore, it is not possible to determine whether their selection of questions carries a bias which its operators are using to further their own ends.

The purpose of this site is to do a survey of this type properly and openly, so that the methods and data in use are open to inspection.

The methodology is different, but so are the axes chosen here. The Authoritarian and Libertarian axes revert partially back to the Left and Right axes, while two new measures of Pragmatism and Idealism are introduced. As per my results above, I am now the pragmatic left. Even further left, as well as less pragmatic, is the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy. Beasts.org does caution not to read too much into the labels.

Part of the utility of these measures is not to give you an objective label in a vacuum, but to compare your position to those around you. To say I am Left or Right is so vague as to be almost meaningless, but to say that I am to the left of Tony Blair and to the right of Charles Kennedy would give more information to someone unfamiliar with my political beliefs.

It is interesting to see how closely together Margaret Thatcher and Adolf Hitler are in this model.

Liberal Democratic Party SurveyHere we have a quiz from the website of the Liberal Democratic Party in Australia. From the home page it asks: Is the Liberal Democratic Party for you? Given that I am against states, my response would be no.

There I am way down in the bottom right hand corner – close to the maximum for Social Freedom and Economic Freedom. I find it odd that this would not be the default position for the entire world. After all, who doesn’t want to maximize both the social and economic freedom of all individuals?

The Nolan ChartThis next one is The Nolan Chart. David Nolan, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party of the United States, created this model. It is similar to both the chart of the Liberal Democratic Party and The Political Compass in that it uses two axes of economic freedom and personal freedom.

My results here closely mirror those of The Political Compass as well. Again I am in the center, but opposite authoritarian/statist. I think this is a very good place to be.

GotoQuiz Results

I took this quiz because it was one of the most popular that kept showing up in searches. It is the Political Spectrum Quiz from GoToQuiz.com. It gives a comparison versus the average of all others who have taken the test. I think we are starting to see a consensus here.

A final test I took was the California F-scale, which can be found at Anesi.com. This was a personality test developed by Theodor Adorno in 1947. The scale was designed to measure the degree to which an individual has an authoritarian personality or, as the F in the F-scale indicates, a tendency towards fascism. A few of the questions from the F-scale were actually incorporated into the model from The Political Compass we have seen previously. My score was a 2. According to the website, the average American score in 1947 was a 3.8.

The F-scale is still used today in research on the authoritarian personality. However, more people are familiar with Robert Altemeyer’s RWA (Right-Wing Authoritarianism) Scale, the progeny of Adorno’s F-scale.

Take a test and let me know what you think. Are you where you thought you would be? Are you close to the politician you support?

Bald Eagles

The Bald Eagle is a bird of prey native to North America. It holds the dual role of being both the national animal and the national bird of the United States of America. The Bald Eagle likes to eat fish. Its habitat is usually wetland areas: swamps, rivers, or by the ocean. Imagine someone who eats nothing but raw fish talking into your face. That is what a Bald Eagle smells like.

Bald Eagles in the Trash

Home of the majestic Bald Eagle.

This is a fascist symbol.

This is a fascist symbol.

Bald Eagles are opportunistic. When not eating other fish they prey upon small mammals, reptiles, and weaker birds. They also eat garbage. It is not uncommon to see Bald Eagles by the dozens at landfills. Bald Eagles subsist on garbage and carrion in some areas during the winter. Carrion is the dead, decaying flesh of another animal. Bald Eagles are also kleptoparasites. This means parasite by theft. They survive by stealing food from other animals.

The United States of America adopted the eagle from the Roman Republic. Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany also adopted the eagle from the Roman Republic. The Eagle Feather Law prevents Americans from owning a Bald or Golden Eagle feather, with the exception of Native Americans. The fine may be as high as $25,000.

This is also a fascist symbol.

This is also a fascist symbol.

In 1784 Benjamin Franklin wrote:

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District.”

The Bald Eagle may be the perfect symbol of the United States of America today: a bird of bad moral character, a coward, a thief, one who preys upon the weak, dwells in garbage and is easily defeated by a smaller foe.