Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sceptr'd Isle ... of Death

Sounds like a trashy paperback from the 1940s, dunnit?

Benedict VXI will be in Britain shortly, a fact which provokes Edmund Adamus, Director of Pastoral Affairs for the [Papist] Diocese of Westminster to remark that "England ... is the geopolitical epicenter of the culture of death ...."

"Culture of death" is standard theocon jargon. John Paul II used it in Evangelium Vitae, more or less precisely as Republicans have used it ever since: as a poetic-sounding dismissal of abortion, euthanasia, birth-control, and stem-cell research. (The Pope, of course, included unjust war on his list death-culture list; there is scant evidence of copycat politicians doing likewise).

In our opinion, the phrase is little more than cant. People who support, for example, legalizing of assisted suicide aren't "pro-death." They are anti-pointless-suffering. To call the medical researchers who want to exploit embryonic stem cells "a culture of death" is just stupid and insulting.

But back to Edmund Adamus. Let's say for the moment we did accept the dubious construct of a "culture of death" which is diametrically opposed on all points to a culture of life. So how would Britain qualify as its "geographic epicenter"?

Not on abortion. The world's highest rates (map here) are in Greenland, followed by the formerly Communist world -- China, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary. Not euthanasia, either. Assisting with suicide? British law can put you in jail for 14 years; Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands will let you slide. (As will Oregon and Estonia). Nor stem cells. British law does indeed permit most forms of experimentation -- but so do (list here) the laws of Australia, Japan, Singapore, Israel, South Africa and of course China. As to unjust wars to which the Pope has expressly registered his objection, yes, Britain was indeed the second-largest part of Bush Jr.'s Iraq coalition, after the United States. But Britain certainly didn't initiate the war, and its MNF contribution was dwarfed by that of the US.

So far as these things go, then, England is unremarkable. We know it stings, for Brits and especially for Anglophiles, but there you have it. Just one more biggish island, with bad weather and good curry, no more obsessed with death than any other. Except when the RSC does Hamlet, we suppose.

And for the record, we are reasonably certain that England's manufacturing industry is governed by far stricter (and therefore more life-promoting) health and safety rules than that of, say, China. Indeed, were one to push the point, one might extend a finger toward, say, the Sudan, or Sierra Leone, with long track records of brutal violence emerging from ethno-religious conflict and struggles for power. Or to Saudi Arabia, which by combining a oppressive and hypicritical ruling class with state support for Wahhabist Islam has bequeathed Al Qaeda to the world. If you really want to see a culture of death, Mr. Adamus, there's your ticket.

But no. The diocesan Director of Pastoral Affairs (which sounds a bit raunchy, now we think of it) doesn't seem to think that the real geographic epicenter of the death-culture might be in whatever whatever central Asian cave has given bin Laden refuge, nor in a government whose economic policies poison babies and drive their employees to suicide, nor in the attempted extermination of whole peoples by their neighbors. He'd rather whine about a few sick people who would rather die than live in excruciating pain, or a young woman who doesn't want the baby conceived in rape. And why? because his head is stuck in the 1980s (and if you want to know where the 1980s are these days, the answer is unprintable, but we'll give you a hint: the sun doesn't shine there).

We have three pieces of advice for Mr. Adamus. The first, which we suspect he has already heard from his bishop, is to keep his yap shut. The second is to get out more. See the world. Read a freakin' newspaper. And the third is to, as we used to say in the 80s, get a life.

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