No exceptions, no justifications. I'm engaged in defending against those calling for paying for human organs and other tissues. Thank you for being so explicit and uncompromising.
2010-01-08 12:24 am (UTC)
what brought this up?
Is one of your literary characters taking a stance opposite your own? I'm interested in what brought up the question.
Also, out of morbid curiosity, what's your working definition of 'torture' ?
2010-01-08 12:46 am (UTC)
Re: what brought this up?
The LJ Writer's Block topic for today: "Are there any political issues, such as abortion or capital punishment, that are so fundamental to your core values that you could not respect and/or trust someone who held a contrary view?"
I rarely answer these, but today I did, because the two mentioned do not have the same resonance for me: I strongly favor reproductive choice, but I can respect some of its opponents (not all--it's an individual thing); I'm strongly ambivalent about capital punishment but consider it less morally reprehensible than torture, and there are people on both sides of the situation whom I can respect.
Not going to get into a discussion of what is and isn't torture. There are good working definitions out there already.
2010-01-08 12:57 am (UTC)
Re: what brought this up?
Ah. I found the writer's block prompt page now, hadn't realized it existed before.
your answer makes sense.
Of course, in order for our moral stance against torture and those who use it to be effective in actually stopping torture, we would also need standards for how to ostracize people who practice it, and how aggressively to investigate allegations of torture which would not normally be in our jurisdiction.
2010-01-08 03:35 am (UTC)
Re: what brought this up?
Yeah, I have similar ambivalence about capital punishment and abortion, but I cannot see any way that torture is acceptable. It isn't even successful, besides being all sorts of morally and ethically wrong.
2010-01-08 12:35 am (UTC)
I have a friend of a friend who's LJ (patrissimo
) I follow who posts a number of interesting and challenging things. He's been going through the process of IVF/Surrogacy for the last year or so recently posted (on his FB) this link justifying baby selling
. The essayist essentially argues that if you are selling a baby from bad situation into a less worse situation it is morally justifiable.
It is an argument that bothers me but I find I have to agree with him provided there are some important caveats such as:
1. Transparency of the process (i.e. open adoption) so the child can eventually reach back and connect with their biological family should he or she so choose.
2. That the purchaser has full parental responsibility for the welfare of the child and will live in an environment that is able to investigate and enforce that responsibility.
3. The purchase price is high enough that it can make a real difference in the life of the family selling the child.
2010-01-08 12:43 am (UTC)
Re: Human Trafficking
Ok, he's made a case for why SELLING your own child is morally/ethically acceptable. Not sure I agree with him, but he HAS made a case.
but if that post lists his ENTIRE thought process on the issue, then his logic is incomplete: He has not yet made a case for why BUYING a child would be moral/ethical. The considerations from the OTHER end are very different, and I don't think he's thought it through.
2010-01-08 01:03 am (UTC)
Re: Human Trafficking
As long as you're not condemning adoption in toto (because giving up a child for adoption--without money changing hands even--can materially improve the life of the person giving up the child, who otherwise is forced into worse poverty) then I pretty much agree.
Why, for instance, is it more ethical to buy a child to save them from poverty and help the family than to help the family directly, without taking the child away?
There are multiple angles from which to look at this, and it's not simple in any direction, IMO. There's the child: where will the child best thrive? Not all children thrive in their biological family even without poverty as a contributing factor. Parents may be unable/unwilling to cope with a child with certain special needs, for example. There's the family: how will the family best thrive? Is this child the "final straw" for some reason (which may or may not be poverty) or is there some cultural/social reason why this child will do better or worse with the biological family or elsewhere. Is there a biological family at all? (If the answer appears to be no, there is, or should be, concern that this is not a true answer and the child was abducted.) There's the person with money who either a) wants a child or b) wants to help poor children in that area or c) wants to help that particular child for which there appear to be no alternatives.
True orphans of war have a small chance of survival in refugee camps or hiding out in the bush. Children who have been abducted or sold when too young to know their own identity may be impossible to trace (especially in war-torn areas) and again have a smaller chance of survival if not adopted. But every effort should (in my view) be made to find the biological parents and--if they truly do not want the child--obtain legal custody without paying for the child.
Some people want a child so badly that they focus on their own wants and needs--and to some degree on the most obvious of the child's needs ("He/she will have a better home with us than in that slum...")--but do not seem to grasp that "I want this" means "I should have this without regard to other considerations." Some of these people believe so strongly in their innate superiority as parents--both in their culture (privileged) and in themselves as individuals, that they are unwilling to consider any other viewpoint.
Speaking as an adoptive parent myself--I went through the pain of infertility, knowing we couldn't have biological children--and also through years of not getting a child from the adoption agency. But it would not have made buying a child right, in my view. We did end up with a private adoption (birth mother did not want to go through an agency--her choice) but if we had not, I still would not have gone the other route.
2010-01-08 01:54 am (UTC)
Re: Human Trafficking
I have no problems with adoptions as such, only with adoption-for-profit.
My original post was in regards to the link provided, not the reasons listed in these comments by litch.
I posted a longer response in the comments section of the article he linked, but at least one of my points applies equally well to Litch's comments, and I'll summarize it here:
If a mother offers to sell a child, what exactly is she selling? If she's getting rid of a Duty and/or liability in regards to her child, then SHE ought to be PAYING to be RELEASED from it. Or, if unable to pay, she should simply surrender it to a court for jurisdiction, as in bankruptcy.
If she's selling the RIGHT TO GOVERN the child's life, then in order to be salable, that must be a benefit to her. But if SHE benefits from governing her child, how does the CHILD benefit from LETTING her? In order for there to a be contract between mother and child, there must be a MUTUAL benefit. That means the CHILD's interest in the terms of the contract and it's sale must be considered.
But, the Child can't legally consent to any changes in the contract,and certainly couldn't have negotiated a right-to-resell clause to the contract prior to being born.
Someone has to represent the legal interests of the child in this matter.
Normally, any such legal negotations on behalf of the child would be undertaken by the child's legal guardian, but that's MOM, and for her to represent the potentially disparate interests of both herself AND her child would be unethical. Especially when she stands to profit from placing her interests above her ward's.
2010-01-08 04:19 am (UTC)
Re: Human Trafficking
Don't use ALL CAPS, please. A less strident form of accent would be *like this*.
I think here you're ignoring another side of the situation, and also placing an unfair burden on the (often uneducated, illiterate, and very poor) parent. Parents have given up children in many situations when they could not care for them--sometimes they've been forced to by authorities, sometimes it's been voluntary. Consider the person who cannot afford food for all the family. All the children are hungry all the time, malnourished and on the edge of starvation...and someone comes along and says "I'll give you X money--" (enough to feed the rest for a month, perhaps) "--if you'll sell me this child. And this child will go be adopted by a wealthy family, have a chance to go to school, never be hungry again."
You cannot reasonably claim that the parent who agrees to this--believing the buyer is honest and the child will in fact have a better life--is "placing her interest about her child's." (Or "his" child, since the parent making the decision may be the father.) That parent might consider *not* selling the child--because the parent loves the child and doesn't want to give the child up--is the selfish, self-indulgent decision, because then that child, as well as the others, will go hungry, lack any opportunity for schooling, a good job, etc. And of course the traffickers use exactly that argument, that guilt trip.
Families in extreme poverty face horrible choices that none of us have to face (or very rarely, usually in medical situations): which child will die? Which child gets an extra bite of food? Do you privilege the newborn or the two year old or the three year old? Families that can support all their children--feed them, clothe them, get them some schooling--are not the ones selling them.
Traffickers (and their customers) are the ones who drive the system, not parents (with some exceptions, but in general, no.) The ultimate adopter is not usually the person in contact with the biological parents--they are customers of traffickers, whether they realize it or not. Traffickers may abduct children (parents don't get anything in that case) or may scoop up real orphans or displaced children (for example, in a war zone) and sell those children. Those who seek children to adopt--those most frantic to get a child *now*--are easy marks for traffickers posing as legitimate placement agencies. In a number of cases, it's been shown that children were not sold by their families at all--in some cases they were abducted; in others, they were separated from their families in a disaster, placed in orphanages by aid agencies, and adopted from there.
It's also important to keep in mind that although in the US children do have some legal rights, that is not true in all countries (any more than women have legal rights in all countries.)
2010-01-08 04:37 am (UTC)
Re: Human Trafficking
Sorry about the caps.
I actually have several arguments against paid adoption, depending on the scenario in which it takes place. My last post was originally part of a response to the article previously linked (http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2010/01/baby-selling_wh.html)
I apologize if I failed to adjust correctly for the different context in this thread when i summarized my response on the linked website.
this was the entirety of my response to that article. Excerpts from the original article are italicized and in quotes.
Reply to each of your points:
"1. If you reasonably expect that your baby will be better-off - for example because you're on the edge of starvation - then selling your baby is a tragic but morally admirable sacrifice. "
-if you reasonably expect that your baby will be better off, why do you need to be PAID to transfer your child to adoptive parents? shouldn't your parental responsibility MANDATE that you transfer the child, possibly even PAYING for the child's better life?
it would seem that in this scenario, the payment would only be neccessary to entice you to act AGAINST your own ethics.
"2. If you reasonably expect that your baby will be worse off, but still have a life worth living, and you desperately need the money (for example to feed your other kids), it might not be admirable to sell your baby, but it's understandable and morally acceptable."
-this would mean that a parent has the authority to sacrifice a innocent child to better provide for the remainder. DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS don't have that right when dealing with their citizens, why should parents when dealing with their children?
and if the justification is to better provide for as many children as possible, would the parent not do better to give ALL their children to a BETTER life, rather then sacrificing one so the rest can have a slightly-less-worse life?
"3. If you reasonably expect that your baby will be worse off, but still have a life worth living, and you don't desperately need the money, then it's probably morally wrong. If I knew someone in these circumstances, I would try to convince them to keep their baby. However, it's easy to come up with hypotheticals that leave me less than certain. Suppose a woman who doesn't like kids deliberately gets pregnant purely in order to sell the babies to farmers who need extra help. The babies have moderately unhappy childhoods, but as a whole their lives are worth living. If the mom said, "I'm doing a lot more good for my kids than if I were childless. If voluntary childlessness isn't morally wrong, why is my approach?," I'd have to admit that she's got a point."
-if creating intelligent life to be sold for a profit is not ethically wrong, what about BUYING said life?
What, exactly, is the farmer purchasing? if he's purchasing labor, he's in violation of child labor laws, slavery laws, and possibly indentured servitude laws: You cannot legally sell the right to demand uncompensated work from an individual.
If the farmer is purchasing the DUTY to care for a child, then the mother should be paying the FARMER, not the other way around.
If he's purchasing the right to be a parent of a specific individual, that raises the question of how the MOTHER came into possession of such a right, and what the inherent terms of that right is.
If the Mother has the right to possess power over her child, and if that right is a BENEFIT to the mother, which is has to be in order for anyone to be interested in buying it...
Then there has to be a MUTUAL benefit in the mother-child contract. how does the child benefit from the existence of the mother's rights?
The child isn't legally able to consent to a change in contract terms yet, and certainly couldn't have negotiated a right-to-resell clause to the contract prior to being born.
Normally, any such legal negotations on behalf of the child would be undertaken by the child's legal guardian, but that's MOM, and for her to represent the potentially disparate interests of both herself AND her child would be unethical. Especially when she stands to profit from placing here interests above her ward's.
2010-01-08 04:45 am (UTC)
Re: Human Trafficking
Oops- Forgot to log in to Livejournal when i switched computers. That last post was mistakenly posted as anonymous.
**and** I forgot to edit out the caps when I copy-pasted that response from the linked article.
My belated apologies. I'll do better in the future.
2010-01-08 01:12 am (UTC)
Re: Human Trafficking
I don't agree. Give your baby up, if you want...don't sell your baby. Try to find the best place for the child--not the highest price for the child.
Too many children are sold into prostitution (regardless of what the parents are told)--and though your #2
caveat might cover some of that, I don't think it would save all the children involved. The situation might be different in a situation where you're dealing not with the family, but with someone who has already purchased the child and where you have no legal way to free the child from slavery. But that's a very slippery slope. Once the procurer realizes that there's a market of good-hearted people...he/she is more likely to buy more children from more parents (telling them lies along the way) and all you're doing is enriching the evil middleman...because the money you pay him does not end up with the child's parents and siblings. And when children become a commodity, it's bad for every child in that culture, except the few who land in good homes (not every adoptive home is a good home, especially for foreign-born children.) It's also bad for the adoptive parents, who "paid for" that child and are easily led to think of the child as their property, not their gift from God.
The desire for a child is not the same thing as the desire to help a poor family or a poor child...but it's easy to fool yourself if you're dealing with infertility and especially if you're in a culture where having children gives legitimacy (some religious groups are very strongly this way--if you aren't fertile, you're supposed to adopt.) Been there myself, but never to the point of changing what I felt to be the ethical standard.
I agree and I love the way you say this. I wish there was a greater public outcry about the US use of torture, and I'm disappointed in Obama's weak handling of the Bush admin's vile and illegal treatment of prisoners.
Re: "selling" children, money is coercive. It alters the power allocation in a relationship. A person is not doing something voluntarily if they are getting paid to do, especially a very poor person.
Since our host prefers not to discuss the definition of torture, I'll decline to discuss whether or not Bush's cabinet violated such a definition.
and DISCUSSING torture is hard enough. The legal process for prosecuting alleged torture in that situation would be... very nearly Byzantine. and much harder to discuss amicably outside a courtroom.
if Obama still doesn't have a solid set of solutions for the legal and Military complexities of Guantanamo detainees, It's hard to expect him to have a solid stance on his predecessor's actions there.
I'm not certain what the rules are about complex politic discussions, So I'll end my response there.
If you had been around here in 2003 and at various times since, you would have seen my multiple posts on the Bush Administration and torture.
Like a number of other veterans posting at about the same time, I vehemently denounced Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the whole bloody lot of them for their intentional support for torture and violation of the Geneva Conventions. Not to mention writing both Texas Senators (useless) and my Congressman (useless) and writing letters to the local papers.
You want to know the rules for political discussion in this LJ...here are some. 1) Disclose: introduce yourself and your background for taking part in a discussion. I don't know you (since LJ handles aren't necessarily real names and yours isn't); I don't know your experience, your education, etc. 2) Avoid emotive verbiage when possible: that includes ALL CAPS, exclamation points. 3) Avoid imputing motive to other members of the community: it's OK to ask why they hold a position, but not to assume you know why and attack that presumed motive. 4) Respect the other people here. We have a fairly solid community of people who don't always agree, but who don't trash each other. Be calm, be logical, be fair. 5) This is my space, that I paid for, and I make the rules here. So if I say "Stop" or "End of discussion" that's it.
Now--you haven't yet introduced yourself--you just charged in here asking questions as if you had a right to answers. (Do you answer every question a stranger throws at you? I don't.) And then you went on to making policy statements as if you had Authority here (er...no.) You're still a stranger. How are we supposed to know your opinions are worth spit?
If you want to be part of this community, it's time to go back to square one. Who are you? Where are you? What are your interests? Can you bake bread, ride a horse, kill your own meat, grow your own vegetables, build a fence, repair a tractor, deliver a baby, comfort the dying? Any or all of those? Anything else? What's your occupation? What's your experience? And so on. And you might well spend some time reading this LJ to find out what this group is like--not just me. We have some very intelligent, very interesting people here...maybe this group is what you'd enjoy (and maybe we'd enjoy you) and maybe not.
It was Abu Ghraib and the issue of torture that caused me to leave the Republican party. It goes completely against the values I was taught as both a believing Christian and as an American. I believe that someone who supports torture is headed to a very hot destination in the hereafter. And my experiences in the Balkans in the nineties only reinforced that view. What I find appalling is that people who should know better are using this as a patriotism test; if you're against torture and abuse then you obviously must be soft on terrorism (I have no problem with executing terrorists found guilty in a duly constituted court of law). Much the same as believing in the Constitution and the rule of law means that you are soft on crime. Plus it's a manhood contest; real men break the law and torture and act just like their enemy in order to win.
My belief is that torture is treason, as in the conflict against the terrorists all it has done is helped their recruiting tremendously, i.e. given aid and comfort to the enemy.
Edited at 2010-01-08 03:36 am (UTC)
2010-01-08 03:59 am (UTC)
The Bush administration made a lot of stupid mistakes about detainee interrogation and due process, but Abu Ghraib, specifically, does not appear to have been initiated by senior officials, and was duly investigated and punished when discovered.
Personally, I'm far more distressed by BOTH parties failure to handle the entire range of these issues properly in the LEGISLATURE.
Both the democrats and the republicans have had ample opportunity to propose a comprehensive bill defining the legal status and methods for dealing with detainees of all types. Both parties have had the opportunity to propose these bills when they were the majority party with an excellent chance of passing it, and when they were a minority party making a principled protest.
Neither party has done so. Neither Obama nor Bush asked for them to do so. And the Various court decisions on relevant questions have been... largely unhelpful. Which I can't really blame them for, as they've been working in what is very nearly a legal vacuum.
It's days like this that I wish for some sort of consensus third party: "We don't care what your political views are, but you must be certified as both ethical and competent" Membership in this party is not exclusive: you can be a republican and/or democrat at the same time.
Anonymous posters should identify themselves.
I am seriously considering disabling all anonymous posts, so it's time for those among you with a legitimate reason to be "anonymous" to at least sign your posts. Every time.
Factually, you are wrong about Abu Ghraib...the investigation was undertaken to find a scapegoat and cover the butts of those high in the chain of command...by those whose butts could have been at risk. It was clear at the time to anyone with significant military experience that the rot went all the way to the White House (else why would the Attorney General have been asked to pronounce on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions?) The White House knew. Rumsfeld knew. Whether the orders went down via Blackwater and the CIA or through complicit military officers (my bet's on the former) it came from above.
2010-01-08 05:07 am (UTC)
Anonymous Comments are now disabled. This is unfortunate for those who aren't LJ users--sorry, but I'm too busy to put them to screening and then have to screen them. I already screen comments on my other blogs.
People have told me to do this before, but I preferred (most of the time) to allow open commenting. However, particularly during discussions that are likely to become heated, *everyone* must be clearly identified to everyone else. I have deleted one anonymous comment (before changing the settings to exclude them all) and if I allow open commenting again, anonymous posts will always be screened, and deleted if they do not identify the writer.
I agree 100% with your original post.