Thursday, May 28, 2009

Facts and figures: on Australian popular support for the death penalty

An article in Tuesday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph on a new Australian Institute of Criminology (A.I.C.) report contained an interesting statistic on the level of Australians’ support for the death penalty. Here is the relevant excerpt from an on-line version of that Telegraph article:

Support for the death penalty continues to fall, with backing falling to 40 per cent, well down from more than 60 per cent two decades ago.
I was surprised to read that support was so low, given that I read in The Sydney Morning Herald a while ago that

even in Australia a 2005 poll in The Bulletin showed majority support for capital punishment
A fall of at least twenty per cent. in a mere four years seems improbable, though not entirely implausible—perhaps the sentencing of the Bali Nine led to much of the decrease.

I would be interested to see precisely how the survey question was put to respondents, though. (The A.I.C. report is available on-line but my attempts to download it have failed.) I can’t imagine sixty per cent. of Australians opposing the death penalty in all possible circumstances, when even a Catholica commenter like Mr. Kevin Latta can say that

If the civil authorities decided to introduce capital punishment for sex offenders, I would not be a protestor, but that is not going to happen.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop, Confessor, A.D. 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

N.S.W. Government to abandon the latest proposal for same-sex adoption legislation? Don’t get your hopes up, I’m afraid

Here’s an interesting Sydney Morning Herald article by Mr. Andrew Clennell, that paper’s State political editor, from yesterday:

THE Premier, Nathan Rees, is set to dump plans to legalise gay adoption as part of a deal with MP Fred Nile to secure his vote on key legislation in the upper house, Labor sources say.

Mr Nile met the Premier two weeks ago and lobbied for the dumping of plans to legalise adoption by same-sex couples
- something the gay community has been fighting for for years.

It was reported two years ago that legislation to allow same-sex couples to adopt was not far away after discussions involving the NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos.

Last year the Community Services Minister, Linda Burney, sent the proposal to a parliamentary inquiry, which is due to report soon.

Mr Rees is said by some to have spoken last year about how he would be prepared to take on the likes of the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, on the bill. But now sources say he is backing down. Mr Nile denies he would be part of any "deal" but confirmed discussing the matter with Mr Rees a fortnight ago in the Premier's office at Parliament House.

"I don't know anything officially but we'd be very pleased if it's off the agenda," Mr Nile said.

"I obviously don't support it. We have had a few discussions over the past few months. I have got no guarantee but I am hoping it [dropping the proposal] will occur."

The co-convener of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Emily Gray, said gay adoption legislation had already been introduced in Western Australia and there had been other gay law reforms here, so holding up gay adoption legislation would be a case of "politics over equality".

"NSW guaranteed de facto status to same-sex couples in 1999. Last June the Government introduced laws recognising lesbian mothers. We would say the one thing that remains in the way of equality in NSW for same-sex couples and their families is the … adoption laws," Ms Gray said.

Passing the legislation was mostly about benefiting existing couples, she said.

For example, a woman may have a child through artificial insemination and meet a lesbian partner when the child was very young but, under present arrangements, the other woman would not be able to adopt the baby as a parent.

Mr Nile said he had also asked the Premier to agree to 12 private member's bills, including "Nicole's law" - a proposal by Mr Nile to name all pedophiles on an internet site, similar to the infamous "Megan's law" in the United States.

He denied the passage of government bills was discussed.

"I have never made a deal in my life," Mr Nile said.

A Greens MP, Lee Rhiannon, said she had wanted to introduce her own private member's bill two years ago that would have given the green light to gay adoption, but the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby had believed they would be successful with the Government.

"[Mr] Rees should respect the role of the Legislative Council to debate and vote on bills on their merit, rather than do backroom deals with [Mr] Nile," Ms Rhiannon said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rees said: "The Premier doesn't comment on private meetings but regarding the issue, he has heard a range of views and there's currently a parliamentary inquiry in the upper house [on the matter]."
(my emphasis)
(Interesting how Ms Gray receives the opportunity to regale us with her pro-gay-adoption spiel, but it seems that Mr. Nile doesn’t get to advance his side of the debate any further than “I obviously don't support it.” And the particularly interesting thing about Ms Gray’s spiel is how she appears to shoot herself in the foot by dwelling on the ‘equality’ implications rather than the implications for child welfare, when it is the latter which, as the Inquiry stressed, are supposed to be the focus of the discussion. And I liked the bit where the article says

Passing the legislation was mostly about benefiting existing couples, she said.
So true—it certainly ain’t about benefiting the children involved.)

As pleasing as the prospect of the abandonment of the proposed same-sex adoption laws is, I think it’s too soon to get our hopes up; the fact that “sources say [the Premier] is backing down” doesn’t seem like much to go on (yet that’s the only real substance of this report), and as the article points out, the official Inquiry hasn’t even presented its findings yet. I can’t imagine Mr. Rees defying an Inquiry report that’s favourable to the proposal (and a favourable report is, of course, probably what we’ll get), and given that I see no reason not to take Mr. Nile at his word when he says that he has “never made a deal in [his] life”, I can’t imagine Mr. Rees getting a benefit from the abandonment of the proposal that would exceed the cost to him of defying a pro-proposal Inquiry decision.

And as the Sodomites’ League gleefully points out, failing to extend same-sex adoption laws would leave glaring anomalies like the arbitrary restriction of same-sex adoption to female couples formed before the child’s birth, and legal adoption by single sodomites but not pairs of the buggers, and pairs of buggers being legally able to function as de facto ‘co-parents’ but not de jure ones (not that they could ever be de jure parents anyway), so even if this particular proposal doesn't go to Parliament, we’re sure to end up with something like it in the more distant future. Sheer voter apathy means that eventually these degenerates will receive their latest ticket to the social acceptance that they crave so desperately.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Bede the Venerable, Confessor, Doctor of the Church, A.D. 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ms Horin, in passing, on fatherhood

In her Sydney Morning Herald column last Saturday, Ms Adele Horin wrote about the experiences of boys growing up after the feminist revolution, and I was surprised to read, in her second-last paragraph, what I’ve highlighted here in bold type:

But encouraging sensitivity and empathy in boys, and the softness every mother knows is at their core, is essential if men and women are to enjoy happy partnerships at work and home. I can't offer a prescription. I know fathers are integral through example and instruction. Anti-bullying and anti-homophobic policies, and playground policing are important. I know schools should extend their guest list of male role models beyond sporting heroes.
(my emphasis)
I was surprised to read this (for reasons which I’ll explain in a moment), and decided to record it for future reference because Ms Horin is sure to contradict herself on this point sooner or later. Because is Ms Horin not a supporter of same-sex parenting? And if so, then how does she expect boys being raised by ‘two mums’ (though really, same-sex parenting not only destroys the parenting role of the excluded sex, but also destroys the maternal or paternal role of the members of the same-sex couple by turning them into androgynous ‘co-parents’, so it’s absurd to speak of ‘two mums’ or ‘two dads’) to receive the kind of “example and instruction” in which she recognises fathers as “integral”? And presumably there will be symmetry for the case of ‘two dads’ raising a girl. And it’s interesting also how the particular attritubutes that Ms Horin focuses on here, namely “sensitivity and empathy”, are ones which, conventionally, one might suppose a mother would be able to foster. But of course, as Ms Horin implicitly recognises, a mother might be able to teach her son sensitivity and empathy, but she can’t very well teach him how to exhibit those characteristics in the manner befitting a man.

Now if confronted with this huge difficulty, Ms Horin might try to wriggle out of by saying something like ‘er, well, I suppose the ‘two mums’ will have to bring in male friends as role models’. But having recognised the necessity of the opposite sex, why would she then deny a child the kind of stable and enduring first-hand exposure to the opposite sex that only married mother-father parents can offer? Can a string of ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ with no avowed commitment to the child and no ongoing day-to-day domestic contact with him or her ever replace a father or a mother, respectively? Of course not.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Gregory VII, Pope, Confessor, A.D. 2009

Ms Horin on sexual ethics and sex education

I’m getting round to this a bit late, but I thought that I’d better say something about Ms Adele Horin’s Sydney Morning Herald column of two Saturdays ago, especially since it seems to have gone unchallenged in the Herald’s letters pages of the days afterwards. In this opinion piece she discussed what she identified as the thitherto unmentioned aspect of public discourse on the N.R.L. ‘bunning’ scandal. What is that neglected dimension, you wonder? Until reading Ms Horin’s article I thought that the neglected dimension of the whole tawdry debate was sin—in particular, that in all the legalistic discussion over whether or not consent was given, little consideration was given to whether or not the act might have been intrinsically evil, evil regardless of consent (and where this possibility was raised it was usually dismissed, though Mrs. Devine had a good article from two Thursdays ago, redressing the imbalance). But it would seem that I was quite mistaken; silly me: you see, the missing dimension is actually pleasure. And so in an article containing much that was incredible (so much so that I wondered at several points whether Ms Horin was parodying her own libertarian inclinations), one reads the following particularly remarkable suggestion, which I’ve highlighted in bold type:

… if the aim of mutual sexual pleasure cannot be a legal standard, surely we can work towards making it a social norm. It's time to give pleasure its due, in our school sex education programs and in public discussion, in homes and in cheap hotels, and in whatever exotic or sleazy locale sex takes place.

Though it seems inordinately difficult for some men to get to the first hurdle and understand the concept of consent, that should not deter us for having higher expectations of men: that pleasuring a woman should also be uppermost in their mind, not simply using her.

School education programs, where they exist, generally do a good job on biology, on contraception, on disease and on relationships, and even on understanding the importance of consent. Condoms are rolled over fake penises. A terror of AIDS and STDs is drilled into young minds. But when I once asked an educator whether sexual pleasure was discussed in class, especially girls' pleasure, she looked aghast. It would be too controversial for Australia, though not, apparently for schools in Europe. But this is where a conversation about sexual pleasure has to start - in schools. Consent should not be the start and end point of a boy's sex education. This approach is selling girls short. […]
(my emphasis, and please do read the whole article in case you fear I might be taking her out of context)
So there you have it: as if parents shirking their duty (a duty which I and, if I recall correctly, Church teaching regard as virtually inalienable) to educate their own children in conjugal matters is not bad enough, Ms Horin wants to go that one step further and immerse youngsters—or should that be drown them—completely in hedonism (as if our culture hasn’t already saturated them with it by the time that they reach high school) by imparting that education from a pleasure-attentive perspective. Thus we see the last traces of a natural-law understanding of sexual ethics expunged and replaced with crude preference utilitarianism. (Unfortunately Ms Horin seems not to be sophisticated enough a preference utilitarian to recognise that the correct word for someone of her school of thought to be using is ‘preference’, not ‘pleasure’—because some people, namely sadists and masochists, prefer pain to pleasure, especially in these matters. No doubt the ‘BDSM’ crowd is deeply offended at Ms Horin’s hedonormative, algophobic bigotry!)

I see this article of Ms Horin’s as a sort of small milestone for Australian culture. I have seen this sort of thing advocated in mainstream newspaper letters pages, but until Ms Horin’s article I had never seen a mainstream media commentator advance such indecent suggestions. But that’s Ms Horin for you, ever the ‘early adopter’. What a sicko.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Gregory VII, Pope, Confessor, A.D. 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Request to readers (urgent): please visit and read the following post from MgS:

My dear readers, I’m asking you this little favour because MgS has posted (without warning me) a rejoinder to my “A Herald letter on “trans” matters” post in which she rages against me for “not just misquoting [her], but deliberately misunderstanding what [she wrote]” and my “intellectual dishonesty and typically circular reasoning”, and I fear that she will edit or remove the post once she receives the comment (which I’ll provide in just a moment) that I submitted, and I would like some witnesses to corroborate my version of events. You see, not only does MgS fail to prove that I have misquoted or misunderstood her, but, hilariously, she even reinforces the very point that I am supposed to have misquoted and misunderstood! And so I suspect that, if she receives my comment but does not read this post (if she reads this post she won’t fulfill my prediction, so as not to lose face), she will delete at least the following portion of her pathetic, self-defeating attempt at a smack-down because it only reinforces my point about G.I.D. and feelings (N.B. this time the quotation is her own words, and a full paragraph, so she can’t accuse me of misrepresentation):

Clinical delusion is quite distinct from the symptoms that are descriptive of delusion. Particularly key is recognizing that transsexuals are usually very, very aware of the reality of their situation. They fully understand that their biology is at odds with their emotional sense of themselves.
So there we have it: ‘feelings’, “emotional sense of themselves”, call it what you will, but whatever it is, it doesn’t justify the destruction of an entire system—and a perfectly healthy system at that—of the body. I must warn you though, my readers: as one might expect from a gutter-, nay sewer-level secularist such as MgS there is a foul-mouthed, indecent-looking YouTube link embedded at the end of her post, so make sure to avoid it. (Nice to be perfectly clear about what sort of a person you are though, MgS.)

Now here is the comment that I submitted to her just before writing this post:


It would've been fair, courteous of you to let me know that you were going to write this so that I could respond (as I've done for you in the past, even when you've blocked me from the combox) but, as I've said on another occasion, I know to expect neither fairness (a metaphysical concept) nor courtesy (too bourgeois, I suppose) from you.

"... not just misquoting me, but deliberately misunderstanding what I write"

I didn't misquote you (as it says in the very quotation you provide!, it is a quotation, not your own words), and it is utterly preposterous of you to accuse me of misunderstanding you (let alone deliberately so), because as you say--in your own words this time--in this latest post,

"They fully understand that their biology is at odds with their emotional sense of themselves."
(my emphasis)


"his intellectual dishonesty and typically circular reasoning"

Hilarious!!!! All you have done in this new post is to reinforce the point I made in my own post! And where, precisely, is the dishonesty and circular reasoning?!

(Obviously I don't expect you to publish this comment--I know how delicate your ego is--but you're always welcome to comment at my own blog, and, as always, uncensored.)
[Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval.]


On the plus side, though, she links directly to my blog, and she now has a “Cardinal Pole” blog post category label! I’m famous!!!!!!! (I little suggestion though, MgS: you might want to change the label to “Cardinal Pole (Australian blogger)” just in case you happen to blog about the real Cardinal Pole one day.)

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church, A.D. 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Beware the Tridentine Fundamentalists! Plus more from Mr. Coyne

Mr. Brian Coyne writes that

The [Ecclesiastical] leadership seem not just resigned to the unwelcome possibility of the Church becoming some kind of remnant of Tridentine Fundamentalists, they seem to want to positively encourage that outcome out of some sense of belief that only the Tridentine Fundamentalists can recognise "truth" and are capable of discerning the will of God.
(his emphasis,
Just who are these Tridentine Fundamentalists, though? Does the term signify Traditionalists alone, or does it apply to Catholics who would identify as ‘conservative’ or ‘orthodox’ but not Traditional? Whoever ever we/they are, it’s a relief to know that our/their security threat status has been downgraded from its previous level:

My honest belief is NOT that the Church is going to become a remnant. I honestly expect there is going to be an enormous showdown somewhere down the track. Yes, there still will be a remnant there that will never let go of the Tridentine/Vatican I mindset, and like Islamic terrorists they eventually resort to chucking bombs in an endeavour to get their way. I don't doubt that that mindset is even shared by very high officials within Catholicism today. I don't believe Christ's promise of the longevity of the institution is vested with that segment of humanity though.
(comment by Mr. Coyne with my emphasis added,

The only real question that remains to be answered is when a few from within your ranks actually become so stressed out to the point of following the behaviours of the Mumbai 10 believing that such behaviour is totally moral and "God's Will".
(comment by Mr. Coyne,
It’s interesting also how Mr. Coyne characterises his opponents as being driven by a desire to turn back the clock; interesting, because there appears to be a fair bit of nostalgia motivating Mr. Coyne’s vision for the Church (or I suppose in the definite-article-eschewing parlance of Mr. Coyne and those of his ilk that would be ‘vision for Church’):

In the members' forum a suggestion was made a few days ago for compiling some kind of public list of Home Mass or House Church groups around the country. In my own response I suggested that Home Masses today are probably rarer than they ever were simply because of the shortage of priests and they already being stretched providing Masses for parish-sized groups. If one happened to be friendly with a particular priest one might occasionally be able to get him to celebrate a home Mass. Back in the 1970s and 1980s in the Hawthorn Parish I can remember Home Masses being celebrated quite regularly — usually as part of the Lenten cycle — and we often had small home liturgies in a more ecumenical setting. All that seems part of history now but does induce some nostalgia in me because I do carry this sense that it was probably the most vibrant period of my whole experience of institutional Catholicism and, I suppose in a sense, the entire rest of my life in the institution was an effort to try and re-capture the sense of excitement that we'd experienced over that

It's even more interesting, though, how Mr. Coyne’s pathos-laced reflections would seem to suggest that his world-view, or at least Church-view, as it were, evolved differently to the way he usually describes it. Often Mr. Coyne will begin his blog comments by saying something like

Not too many years ago I would have shared the general ethos of what you guys are on about at Coo-ees from the Cloister. Today I basically reject your agenda and methodology for the simple reason that I do not believe it leads to resurrection, paradise or whatever you guys believe is the ultimate objective of our religious beliefs.
and Mr. Coyne, now in his sixties, says that he identified as ‘conservative’ up to about the age of forty-five, or in the 1990s:

I basically followed "the faith of my father" and had a conservative outlook politically and theologically.
How to resolve the apparent contradiction between this asserted period of conservatism and his participation in Home Masses during the same time?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Stanislaus, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009

A Herald letter on “trans” matters

Here is the text of an interesting letter from one Max Blair of Kelvin Grove, Queensland, published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald under the title “Stereotypes reinforce male-female confusion”:

Richard Hill (Letters, May 6) tries to draw a comparison between homosexuality and gender dysphoria, accusing critics of sex realignment surgery for young people of a prejudice similar to homophobia. But his letter suggests he has his own prejudices.

Mr Hill says gender identity is "a persistent and innate psychological condition". This essentialist idea of the psychological "female" and "male" is not only sexist, it is the subject of harsh criticism in scientific circles because it pathologises gender in much the same way that eugenicists and racists pathologise race.

Gender dysphoria is discontent with one's biological gender. This has nothing to do with "females" in male bodies and "males" in female bodies. There is no such phenomenon because what is "female" and what is "male" are cultural inventions.

People with this condition are discontented with the cultural experience of their biological gender. Boys don't want to be "boys" (for example, aggressive) and girls don't want to be "girls" (e.g. subordinate). Children with gender dysphoria have been conditioned to accept gender stereotypes as gospel. To subject these children to sex realignment surgery only reinforces sexist ideas about what it means to be male and female.

Were indigenous children seeking to change their race because of discontent with the colour of their skin, it would be seen as eugenic madness to accommodate their will. Mr Hill asks: "Why should any children have to hate their body longer than necessary?" Why should children have to hate their body at all?


I reproduce this letter here because it’s interesting to hear from someone from the ‘gender as a social construct’ crowd who opposes so-called ‘sex change surgery’ (or, as it is increasingly called, ‘gender affirmation surgery’—destroying the gender in order to affirm it?). So I share Ms Blair’s conclusion, but not, of course, the premise. What I find particularly interesting about Ms Blair’s letter is that she expresses well the thought that had occurred to me after my discussion with transgender defenders at this blog last year: if gender is just a construct, then why do something as drastic as destroying a perfectly healthy system of the body in order to live up to the expectations, whether one’s own or those of others, associated with a mere construct? Given the great advances made in social gender equality (to use the language of feminist propaganda), what does it even mean for someone of one sex to live as a member of the other sex? Indeed, one might have expected to hear regular rebukes from the feminists in the ‘gender studies’ crowd (I’m only familiar with a couple such rebukes; in addition to Ms Blair’s objection, the self-styled “feminazi” blogger has challenged the transgender agenda on the basis that it contradicts feminist theory).

So what really is the rationale for not treating gender dysphoria/gender identity disorder as a mental illness? In a nutshell it’s this, apparently, judging by MgS’s approving quotation of it:

In Schizophrenia, there may rarely be delusions of belonging to the other sex. Insistence by a person with Gender Identity Disorder that he or she is of the other sex is not considered a delusion, because what is invariably meant is that the person feels like a member of the other sex rather than truly believes that he or she is a member of the other sex.
(her bold type and italics,

MgS highlights the part before the comma, but it’s the part after the comma that I find remarkable: G.I.D. is not a delusion because its sufferers feeeeeeeeel, not think, that they belong to the opposite sex. Got it.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Stanislaus, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Two lives remembered, how many thousand destroyed and forgotten?

The Sydney Daily Telegraph had an interesting front cover last Friday, juxtaposing the funeral of Mr. Richard Pratt with the funeral of a prematurely-born baby, called Nicholas, whose body was discovered in rubbish at a garbage processing facility. The front page was taken up with a large photograph of Mr. Pratt’s eldest son and widow, with a photo of a lone pallbearer setting down baby Nicholas’s tragically small coffin in the page’s bottom-right hand corner. The headline, in the centre of the page, was “A life remembered” in large type, with “… [sic] and one almost forgotten” just below it, beneath which were two small segments of text side by side, the one on the left headlined “MELBOURNE: 11am” (the time and place of Mr. Pratt’s funeral), and the one on the right headlined “SYDNEY: 11am”, the text beneath which read as follows:

COFFINS shouldn’t be made this small.
It took just 14 minutes and a congregation of 40 strangers to farewell baby Nicholas at Rookwood Cemetery yesterday.
The infant, who was born up to a month premature, was discovered at a western Sydney tip on February 11.
His family has never come forward and his grave will be marked simply: “Baby Nicholas, mother unknown”.
(my emphasis)
But I could not help but be struck by how the two characteristics that give baby Nicholas’s tragic story its full potency and poignancy—that he died before he was even old enough to be born, and the obscenely disrespectful manner of disposal of his body—are precisely the characteristics that one expects with unborn babies killed by abortion. The accompanying story on page nine only reinforced this impression for me:

… Coffins shouldn’t be made this small. Funerals shouldn’t last just 14 minutes.
But for the baby who was born with no one to love him, there was no alternative.
He had no ties to the community, no achievements to list, not even a name.
(my emphasis)
Could this not describe equally well any one of the untold tens of thousands of babies slaughtered each year in Australia before they could enter the community, be named and have some chance at achieving something in life? The article mentioned some of those who attended the funeral:

… There was pallbearer Warren Pepper from Heritage Funerals, who cradled the tiny blue coffin in his arms. Grandfather Henry Roach, 73, who traveled from the Central Coast because “you couldn’t walk out on a little fella like that”. …
(my emphasis)
But is that not what we as a society have done, and on a grand scale, by turning a blind eye to, or even endorsing, abortion? The story continued:

… For weeks the NSW Coroner’s Office has fielded calls from members of the public wanting to pay for the baby’s funeral.
But spokesman John Merrick said yesterday that option had been ruled out in favour of a taxpayer-funded service.
“We felt as though it was the state’s responsibility and the responsibility of every man, woman and child living in NSW to bury this baby,” Mr Merrick said.
Mark those words: “We felt as though it was the state’s responsibility and the responsibility of every man, woman and child living in NSW to bury this baby,” and remember them when, inevitably, New South Wales decides to follow the path of Victoria and other jurisdictions around the West in legalising, and requiring conscientious objectors to participate in, the murder of babies even older than poor baby Nicholas, i.e. legalised abortion all the way up to nine months. Will New South Wales discharge its responsibility to its future victims—not to mention the present ones—and give them a decent burial? Did Victoria provide taxpayer-funded burials, or any kind of respectful disposal of the remains, for the forty-seven babies whose birth was induced prematurely and who were then left to die (despite being older than the so-called viability point) in 2005 alone (see here)? Did it provide a decent burial for the body of a baby who was diagnosed with dwarfism and killed when not much younger than Nicholas (see here)?

The Telegraph even had a brief editorial on baby Nicholas’s story:

Deep sadness

THE story of baby Nicholas, the baby boy who died without knowing his parents or a single happy moment on this earth, is the most heartbreaking we've published this year.
Even more heartbreaking: somewhere, in tortured secrecy, this tragic child's mother mourns for her little son.
Sydney mourns for both of them.
Does Sydney mourn all the thousands of unborn babies whom it kills each year, who don’t get to know their parents—who were presumably rejected by them, in fact—and who don’t enjoy a single happy moment on this earth either? Does it even think of them? Not much, it seems; of the forty-five comments posted at a modified on-line version of the main story, none pointed out explicitly this strange contradiction, though a couple alluded to it.

So why is it that the smaller a born baby is, the more tragic is his or her death, but if we are talking about an unborn baby, even one identical in all other respects, whose death is willed then the tragic dimension vanishes? I’m afraid the familiar ‘clump of cells’ line is hardly satisfactory; if we’re going to be materialists then we are all just clumps of cells. And one wonders what mothers who have suffered through miscarriages make of this line. No more convincing is the line of argument, advanced by the likes of MgS, that ignores completely the characteristics of the unborn baby and confers an unrestricted power of life and death on the expecting mother by reason of the dependence of the baby on her; the logical extension of this line of argument is that as long as a child is dependent on someone else, his or her carers have a power of life and death over him or her. (MgS tries to get round this problem by arguing that the duty of care can be transferred after the baby is born, but it’s a pretty basic principle of justice that when a duty is transferred, so too are the corresponding rights, so the proposed solution is a false one.) This line of argument belongs, of course, to the school of thought according to which abortion is just a matter of ‘private morality’ which is no longer contested in mainstream public discourse. So if the matter is settled with the present status quo, why the need not only to legalise abortion (rather than just de-criminalise it) but even promote it and conscript conscientious objectors into it, and why the outpouring of public, mainstream grief for a baby who, in most respects, differs from abortion victims not in kind but only by degree (and even then, not by much)? Then there are those who will concede that every abortion is a tragedy, yet don’t seemed terribly fussed about doing anything to prevent them. Every fatal car accident, for instance, is a tragedy, so we do what we can to avoid them and punish dangerous drivers. Why not the same with abortion?

And then there is the second dimension of the tragedy of baby Nicholas’s short life: the shockingly undignified disposal of his remains, consigned to the rubbish. Yet I cannot imagine there being any significant difference between this callous treatment and the manner in which the hospital system disposes of abortion victims’ respective corpses.

It is a sick society that refuses to resolve, or even acknowledge, these contradictions.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
7.V.2009 A.D.