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"What effect must it have on a nation if it learns no foreign languages? Probably much the same as that which a total withdrawal from society has upon an individual."
--G.C. Lichtenberg



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Tuesday, March 22, 2005
 
"What a terrible thing it is to lose one's mind. Or to not have a mind. What a terrible waste that is."

Matthew Yglesias' fascinating thought experiment, in which his higher brain function is nefariously swapped with that of Terri Schiavo, inspires me to take a new perspective on the pro-life mind.

Their religion tells you that your true worth is in your soul, that your body is only the source of sinful impulses that should be resisted, that your body is evil. When your body has finally broken and died, the important bit, the only bit that is actually you, goes to heaven or is punished eternally.

Isn't it interesting, then, that they spend so much of their time defending the dignity of the part that isn't important? They go on and on about the dignity of the unborn fetus (which, in nearly all of the cases that animate them doesn't even have a cerebral cortex), and they go on and on about the goggle-eyed ragdoll that is Terri Schiavo. Although people with functioning cortices die in their millions around the world for preventable reasons, this crowd gets itself whipped up over empty shells.

Maybe, as their actions to preserve Schiavo would seem to suggest, the soul is released from the body the latter dies. Wouldn't it be tragic for her if the world worked in accordance with their theology? Her soul, still in its mortal state, would be still alive, chained to that useless body, unable to express itself or even sense the world around her. If they're right, I can't think of any nonsadistic reason they might have for wanting her to persist in this state.