You can get an idea of what a deep thinker Peter Berkowitz is from this excerpt:
Mr. Ponnuru insists that the embryo's unique genetic structure creates a bright line separating a "party of life" from a "party of death," that the right to abortion is indistinguishable from a license to infanticide. (On this last point, as Mr. Ponnuru notes, the famously extreme Princeton ethicist Peter Singer agrees, while defending both.) But bright lines do not always exist--in law, ethics or politics. That doesn't mean that lines cannot be drawn; they can indeed, carefully, responsibly and defensibly. But they may be neither brightly obvious nor rigidly predictable. They may even shift over time, affected by the kind of debate to which Mr. Ponnuru has made such a forceful contribution.One can see why Mr. Berkowitz is not a huge fan of logical lines. But at least he's mildly sympathetic. Well, maybe. But whatever--Mr. Derbyshire's sympathies can be inferred from the title of his piece: "A Frigid and Pitiless Dogma." Why avail oneself of reason when sensationalism will do? His first sentence:
Can Right to Life (hereinafter RTL) fairly be called a cult?Happily, he allows as how we don't actually have a "Führerprinzip" here in the pro-life movement, but that does not take the edge off of our committment to "a structure of perfect logical integrity." If sensationalism won't do the job, there's always condescension:
With polemical skills and intellectual firepower of this order, it is possible that RTL might break out from its natural habitat in student chapters of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception to attain real influence in the land.Well, he's a writer, not a thinker. We must be patient with him. When he thinks of the so-called "Party of Death", he is moved by compassion:
I see a woman who, having missed her period and found herself pregnant, has an abortion, comes home, downs a stiff drink, and gets on with her life. With her life. Here I meet a man whose loved wife has gone, never to return, yet her personless body still twitches and grunts randomly on its plastic sheet, defying years of care and therapy. Let her go, everyone begs him, and his own conscience cries; and at last he does, whichever way the law will permit. Here I find a couple who want a lively, healthy child, but who know their genes carry dark possibilities of a lifetime’s misery and an early death. They permit multiple embryos to be created, select the one free from the dread traits, and give over the rest to the use of science, or authorize their destruction.Nothing wrong with his moral sentiments, but one does wonder where this idea that subjective experience ought to dictate the rules by which everyone else ought to live their lives. The irony, of course, is that folks such as Derbyshire appear to think that they are the ones who are being reasonable, and that it is the "pro-life cult" that is trying to "legislate morality". But just insofar as folks like Derbyshire are willing to let folks be killed simply because they "see a woman" who wants an abortion--well, the mind boggles. If one has a mind: it is not so clear that everyone does these days, at least not a functioning one.
There are some who appear to think that laws against abortion are somehow an interfering with someone else's life ("with her life"), rather than a protection of an innocent human's life. It's almost as if they would argue that laws against slavery are an interference with property-holders' lives ("with their lives") rather than a protection of oppressed humans' lives. And the only explanation that they can come up with for why they think this, is that this is how "it appears" to them, this is what "seems best"--to whom? To them. In short, we must conform to their way of viewing the world rather than to our own, and yet we are somehow the ones who want to legislate morality. There is no appeal to the harm principle or any other rational criterion to get them off the hook: even the bogus appeal to "liberty" falls flat insofar as their way of viewing the world sacrifices the lives of innocent humans who never get to enjoy any of this alleged "liberty" that comes from letting people do whatever they like.
This kind of anti-intellectualism is not at all uncommon these days, but it is a little more perplexing when it comes from those who like to pose as intellectuals. You'd think they would at least be able to put on a good show.