Sunday, July 23, 2006

The stem cell veto and liberal blindness

Bush has finally used his veto power, to veto federal funding for stem cell research. He did the right thing, albeit for the wrong reason. Personally, I'm more interested in the response to hisactions.

The response to Bush's veto of federally funded stem cell research has been interesting, and not just because this is the first good thing Bush has done in God-only-knows how long. It's remarkable how many people have condemned Bush for "pushing his morality" on others when, at least at this point, he has done nothing more than refuse to fund stem-cell research with tax money. What do supporters of federal funding think forcing taxpayers who disapprove of stem-cell research to pay for it is, if not forcing your morality on others?

(Nitpicker's Note: In some sense, of course, any law constitutes an imposition of morality, even if it's just a law that protects basic rights- laws against murder and rape and theft and so forth. Even self-defense counts as "imposing morality" in this sense. For the purposes of this post I am using the term "imposing morality" in its more popular sense- that is, imposing what is usually thought of as private morality, rather than principles of public morality or justice like J.S. Mill's harm principle. Julian Sanchez explains it better than I could.)

This sort of thing is part of the reason I still usually find liberals more irritating than conservatives, despite conservatism's manifest failings: conservatives are self-aware, for lack of a better term, in a way liberals typically aren't. When conservatives try to put religious propaganda into schools, or regulate people's sex lives, or censor expression on TV that they don't like, they generally know that they're forcing their private morals and beliefs onto other people. Hell, they're proud of it.

When liberals do the same thing- when they try to force people to pay for scientific research or art they find immoral, or take away people's economic liberties and right of free association to create the social outcomes liberals want, or try to censor expression they don't like on publicly funded college campuses, or try to force pro-life taxpayers to pay for abortions-they are simply oblivious to what they're doing, even as they rail against conservatives for "pushing their morality" on people.

In the case of the stem-cell veto, this has led many of them to completely invert who is and who isn't forcing their morality on others. When their attempts to force their moral beliefs on others are thwarted- as has just happened with Bush's veto- they accuse the other side of being the ones imposing their beliefs. If I put a lock on my front door to keep thieves out, I suppose these people would condemn me for my lack of respect for the local burglar's property rights.

Good God, I actually defended Bush. I need a shower.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have to say, I've been coming around (in circles) on the whole left-right thing my whole life.
It's a trap really. They're all bad.
But I do respect conservatives more in that sense that they know what they're doing, you can argue(or at least agree to disagree) with them in that sense.
However that puts them even more on the hook. The foolish left (well, the rank-and-file anyway) often have their hearts in the right place, if not their minds.