Tag Archive | ethics

Personal Ethics and Twitter

The last couple of weeks I’ve been spending most of my time either 1) working or 2) trying to console a colicky baby.  Talk about a tight schedule.

Speaking of babies…

I had an interesting debate this week on abortion over Twitter.  I know this person, or at least have met him a few times in person, so it’s not a situation where either of us are arguing with a stranger on the other side of a screen.  Even though we don’t know each other too well.

First, an observation about these type of discussions on Twitter.  I will go on with the person ad nauseam.  In every instance that I have debated the other person always ends first with something to the effect of “this isn’t something I wish to continue on Twitter.”   I never attack the person.  I stick to the topic and use, to the best of my ability, logic and reason.  The other person catches on that this isn’t a name calling contest and in every instance realizes that they are engaged in a civil debate.  However, civil debate on hot topics is something the medium of Twitter does not easily facilitate.

To paraphrase Neil Postman, You can’t use smoke signals to discuss quantum theory.

In other words, the medium is too small for the message.  One hundred and forty characters at a time to small, in this case.

At any rate, I’ve noticed people typically are quick to whip out witty sayings to one-up their opponent.  But when logic and reason are brought in they eventually bail.  (For the record, my conversation this week went on longer than most, but more on that tomorrow.)  I don’t think this is because they are necessarily ill-equipped to debate with logic, though that may be the case for some.  Instead, I think they begin to feel the weight of the subject and feebleness of the medium, albeit unconsciously.

This is a huge liability of Twitter and one that requires personal intellectual honesty to handle nobly.  I never make statements that I’m not willing to back up or engage in a lengthy discussion over, even if I have to take it to email.

And neither should you.


BBC News Shows Its Hand on the Value of the Unborn

I was listening to NPR the other night when the BBC news came on to report about the defeat of the Mississippi “Personhood amendment”.  The announcer said that the law in effect would outlaw abortion and went on to add “even in cases of rape or incest.”

First of all, I understand the point.  Those are extremely hard circumstances to deal with as the victim or family of a victim.  But the fact that he had to explicitly say that betrays a confused philosophy of the unborn on the side of the news agency.  By virtue of even saying it, it implies the unborn is not valuable.

Just like we don’t kill infants and toddlers who were concieved through such unfortunate circumstances, if the unborn is a human being then it is equally unjust to kill them because they remind us of those circumstances.  In other words, we don’t kill children for the crimes of their fathers.

I know the objection: “But a woman shouldn’t have to bear that burden since it was forced upon her against her will!”  But here again, like the objections I’ve already mentioned, this finds a moral difficulty and tries to remedy it by setting the unborn’s value to zero.  But that doesn’t tell us anything about the unborn.  It avoids the question entirely.  And if that answer is wrong, it is catastrophically wrong.  The question is, is a child already in the world?

And that can only be answered by looking at the child and what he/she is, not by looking at the circumstances of their origins.