May 31, 2011

Let's talk about morality.

America has a strong consensus about a lot things even as we are divided on others:



What surprises you the most here? Are you surprised that 80% of Americans say suicide is morally wrong? I've often had to struggle with commenters on this blog when I have taken the firm position that suicide is murder, but I think America mostly agrees with me. There is generally an outpouring of sympathy when someone commits suicide. Why don't we express our moral opprobrium toward the self-murderer? I think it's because that person is gone, and we feel sorry for those who are left behind. They are the victims.

Doctor-assisted suicide is an important subcategory of suicide, and the Gallup report says that it "emerges as the most controversial cultural issue in Gallup's 2011 Values and Beliefs poll." But what is notable is that support for assisted suicide has been dropping and has reached its lowest level of support in 8 years.

99 comments:

mccullough said...

I'm surprised that sex between unmarried adults doesn't garner the same acceptability percentage as divorce.

Fred4Pres said...

Suicide is almost always tragic and not the right decision, with the exception of end of life decisions due to fatal diseases (and in that regard people may disagree but are willing to defer to the person in that situation).

Here is an interesting factoid--of the dozen or so people who have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived, everyone of them interviewed said their first thought was this was a bad idea...their second thought was wow it is a long way down.

The Drill SGT said...

So killing yourself is very wrong, but getting a doctors help makes it less wrong? by a large delta?

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm surprised that sex between unmarried adults doesn't garner the same acceptability percentage as divorce."

People assume lying is involved. It isn't always.

The Drill SGT said...

Fred said...Here is an interesting factoid--of the dozen or so people who have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived, everyone of them interviewed said their first thought was this was a bad idea

while I believe them, there is a one sided bias to the results. Those that survive are incentivized to say it was wrong when they face their families or authorities who may want to medicate them

Ann Althouse said...

"So killing yourself is very wrong, but getting a doctors help makes it less wrong? by a large delta?"

Yes, because the people in that category are not giving up on life -- not rejecting the gift of life -- they are just accepting inevitability and trying to get some control. The days that are discarded in the process are seen as very bad days, with no good days on the other side of them.

cubanbob said...

I find it strange that people find it morally wrong to clone animals but ok to harvest stem cells from embryos.

rhhardin said...

It seems like a survey of busybodies to me.

Coleridge writes somewhere that moral hypotheticals are deadening to the moral sense.

I think that's right.

Coldstream said...

I'm intrigued by the near mirror difference in Cloning animals and Embryonic Stem cell research.

Cloning a frog...not acceptable.
Mucking around with human cells...ok.

chickenlittle said...

Cloning a frog...not acceptable.
Mucking around with human cells...ok.


PETA has gained ground.

Note that the anti-fur people are gaining ground too (where's Peter?)

The Drill SGT said...

wow 38%, we could save a lot of money on drugs (and on healthcare overall) if the Feds required that all prescriptions filled with Federal funds had a label on the bottle that says: small loveable mammals and likely also sapient primates were abused to test this drug, you evil rotten person.

Course that might either shorten the lives of many liberal voters or cause them to got into psychotic spasms

Lucien said...

The idea that about twice as many people view embryonic stem cell research as morally acceptable as view animal cloning that way seems surprising. It's the gap that seems hard to explain, unless you want to attribute a lot of attitude to sci-fi type stories about cloning, rather than the real, rather dry practice of it.

The disapproval rate for suicide is surprising too. So many people seem ready to accept the idea that suicide can be legally caused by the acts of another, e.g., by "bullying" or invasion of privacy, that you would think they would lose the idea that the decision itself is one made by a morally independent agent and deserving of opprobrium.

RuyDiaz said...

What surprises you the most here? Are you surprised that 80% of Americans say suicide is morally wrong?

I'm surprised by that. Thinking about it, I supposse that people misunderstand those who attempt or succeed in committing suicide. It is usually a result of distorted perception turning into despair.

For the vast majority of suicides, I don't see a moral issue at all. They reached a life crisis, and didn't receive the help they needed. A tragedy, not a crime--and a very avoidable tragedy at that.

traditionalguy said...

Adultery is the least acceptable act according to the poll. It may be that adultery is a betrayal, and that can be the most painful of all wounds.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I've often had to struggle with commenters on this blog when I have taken the firm position that suicide is murder, but I think America mostly agrees with me.

Not agreeing with you that suicide equals murder, does not mean that people do agree with you about suicide=murder when they say that suicide is morally wrong.

Those are not the same things.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What I mean is that you can think that suicide is a morally wrong thing while not thinking that suicide is the same thing as murder, which is also morally wrong.

traditionalguy said...

OK Ruy...perhaps people see suicide as adultery with the Death Angel. Leaving your loved ones behind to join Death causes almost as much pain as if you committed adultery.

RuyDiaz said...

What I mean is that you can think that suicide is a morally wrong thing while not thinking that suicide is the same thing as murder, which is also morally wrong.

DBQ;

Don't fret about it, your first post was clear--and you made an excellent point.

Fred4Pres said...

The Drill Sgt, you are right by the one sided bias of surviving a suicide attempt. That would skew the results. Of those bridge survivors, one went back and did it again (this time "successfully" at least as far as acheiving the presumed intended result). But I think most people recognize the despiration that drives someone to suicide is usually not a good idea to actually act upon.

chickenlittle said...

What I mean is that you can think that suicide is a morally wrong thing while not thinking that suicide is the same thing as murder, which is also morally wrong.

Grammatically speaking, the verb is the same for the two acts--only the object of the verb differs. This is evident in other languages. e.g., German.

Perhaps morality differs depending on the language?

I know the meaning of the Lord's Prayer depends on language and translation.

chickenlittle said...

I know the meaning of the Lord's Prayer depends on language and translation.

Not the whole prayer--just the part about trespasses, guilt, and debt.

Pogo said...

Give the left as few more decades in charge of the media, the government, and schools, and the rest of the questions will be split 50-50.

There's no logic operating, just the fag-ends of Judeo-Christian civilization swinging weakly against a PC-New Age-diversity-statist coalition.

People want to look good for questioners, and these are PC answers down the line.

Meanwhile, there are wild teenagers fighting on the beaches on the East coast.

As Walter Russell Mead said of California:
"Let there be no mistake: when you produce so many criminals that you can’t afford to lock them up, you are a failed state. Virtually every important civil institution in society has to fail to get you to this point. Your homes and houses of worship are failing to build law abiding citizens, much less responsible and informed voters."

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Facinating. I'm intrigued by the difference between suicide and assisted suicide, too (FWIW, Professor, I at least lean towards agreement with you on the whole "self-murder" thing." Interesting that affairs are seen as so strongly morally wrong, yet they are so commonplace. Surprised to see as much positivity towards homosexual relations as there was.

Highly saddened about the amount of positivity towards having a baby outside of marriage (although I wonder if it could be an "alternatives" issue- I would say it's wrong to get pregnant outside of marriage, or at least outside of a relationship that is leading towards marriage. But, if that ship's sailed, obviously (yes, I'm gonna go with obviously there), having the baby is the only morally acceptable choice. (I'd be willing to go on to argue that, baby being a given and absent a truely extraordinary support system, it's morally wrong to raise a child outside of marriage when giving the child up for adoption is an option. But I"m hardcore like that.))

- Lyssa

Blue@9 said...

The laughable numbers on porn render this entire survey suspect

RuyDiaz said...

The laughable numbers on porn render this entire survey suspect.

Yeah, I saw that. Did the survey cover the moral acceptability of lying to posters?

lyssalovelyredhead said...

The laughable numbers on porn render this entire survey suspect

Oh, I meant to comment on the porn, too. What's up with that? FWIW, I actually do have some moral concerns about porn and porn use, but I almost always don't dare express this, it's generally such an unpopular expression.

- Lyssa

ironrailsironweights said...

I see they didn't ask about the one issue that interests me the most. Which is just as well; given that up to 90% of adult women actually engage in that practice, public support must be almost 100%. God damn it.

Peter

HT said...

I've often had to struggle with commenters on this blog when I have taken the firm position that suicide is murder,

Link?

Synova said...

I won't say it's surprising, but I think that the most striking set of moral questions are the cloning ones.

Only 12% of people think it's okay to clone humans.

Only 32% think it's acceptable to clone an animal.

But 62% think it's okay to make a human embryo and harvest the stem cells for research.

What is the basis for the first two? And if anyone can explain why whatever reason the first two are wrong doesn't also apply to the third without experiencing a logical aneurysm, it will be the first time anyone has.

I know why the numbers are as they are. Cloning animals is "wrong" because it might help us understand how to clone humans. And cloning humans is wrong because if we accept the product of laboratories as human beings, which the existence of a human clone would require, it will destroy the moral pretense that allows us to use human life as a disposable medical resource.

And people do so want to continue that moral pretense.

RuyDiaz said...

Which is just as well; given that up to 90% of adult women actually engage in that practice...

Driving? Nothing else comes to mind.

ironrailsironweights said...

The idea that about twice as many people view embryonic stem cell research as morally acceptable as view animal cloning that way seems surprising. It's the gap that seems hard to explain, unless you want to attribute a lot of attitude to sci-fi type stories about cloning, rather than the real, rather dry practice of it.

That's probably it. My guess is that many people think of animal cloning in sci-fi/horror terms, not really understanding what it means.

Peter

edutcher said...

Color me just a tad skeptical.

A lot of these results are what various Democrat pressure groups would like them to be and Gallup has been in the tank for this Administration on many of them.

I'll wait for Rasmussen.

ironrailsironweights said...

Which is just as well; given that up to 90% of adult women actually engage in that practice...

Driving? Nothing else comes to mind.

Spend a half-hour or so perusing Voyeurweb or Guess Her Muff or Image Fap or You Porn and you'll know that it is not driving :)

Peter

chickenlittle said...

ironrailsironweights said...
I see they didn't ask about the one issue that interests me the most.

Thanks for shaving points off the credibility of the poll.

RuyDiaz said...

Only 12% of people think it's okay to clone humans.

Only 32% think it's acceptable to clone an animal.

But 62% think it's okay to make a human embryo and harvest the stem cells for research.


I think in the first two cases, the 'ick' factor is engaged, but not in the third case.

They see the cloned human as human (or human-like), and the cloned animal as animal (or animal-like), but they see the human embryo as a thing.

rhhardin said...

Not the whole prayer--just the part about trespasses, guilt, and debt.

Also the part about preferred stock.

Duncan said...

Adultery continues to decline in acceptance from peak (though still low) 1970 levels. Proof that opinions can move in a trad direction.

. said...

What's laughable about the pornography numbers? Too high or too low? And why would the survey subject lie only on that issue?

Pornography is a destructive enterprise from every side, from the producer to the actor to the purchaser and viewer. I'm glad to see that it is accepted by far fewer people than the self-appointed gatekeepers of cultural mores would have us believe, and somewhat surprised that Althouse readers who are able to spot the distorting hand of hollyweird in other areas can't see it in this one.

Synova said...

Hm... I'm talking about the difference in the numbers that are the people who aren't in the 38% who probably disapprove of all three.

RuyDiaz said...

Spend a half-hour or so perusing Voyeurweb...

Voyeurweb? What kind of people practice voyeurism on Arachnids? I thought only Naturalists did that.

Confusing.

Jose_K said...

Cloning animals other than people morally unaceptable? Agrre in full withn cubanbob
Suicide=murder?It is a personal decition so morality has nothing to do with.

Kansas City said...

Once again, Ann finds very interesting stuff.

I'm not too surprised as to many of the results (and "morally wrong" is not a well defined term), but I thought the most interesting part relates to abortion. In America, where 51% of people consider abortion morally wrong, we have laws that allow abortion for any reason whatsover. There is nothing else in the survey that is tolerate by American society with a more than 50% morally wrong score.

I'm not sure about the answer for that seeming conflict, but I think in part is that the media have hidden what Roe v. Wade and its progency actually mean in terms of the right an abortion.

My guess is about half the people who say they supoprt Roe think that it has some significant restrictions on abortion. I also think many Americans, perhaps most, would be surprised to learn that a woman can abort a baby for any personal reason, no matter how trivial or morally bankrupt, such as the desire to go on a vacation, desire to look good in a bathing suit, the desire not to have a baby of one sex or the other, the fact that she does not think she will be able to pick up guys if she is pregnant, the desire not to have to buy new clothes, the desire to make money as a postitute, etc.

RuyDiaz said...

Hm... I'm talking about the difference in the numbers that are the people who aren't in the 38% who probably disapprove of all three.

Yes, I was trying to find an explanation that would account for the difference. (Though the numbers are probably not as neat as you imagine.)

chickenlittle said...

Voyeurweb? What kind of people practice voyeurism on Arachnids?

The same people all into silk?

RuyDiaz said...

What's laughable about the pornography numbers?

If the surveys/studies of pornography use are accurate, then there is a huge number of people who use pornography and disapprove of it.

Synova said...

"My guess is that many people think of animal cloning in sci-fi/horror terms, not really understanding what it means."

My guess is that the people who find cloning squicky because they think of it in sci-fi/horror terms wouldn't lower themselves to read or watch tripe like that.

Because people who do, understand what it means. Science fiction has been examining the question since the golden age.

Pogo said...

"there is a huge number of people who [INSERT VICE HERE] and disapprove of it."

Humans were ever thus.
But there is nevertheless utility in hypocrisy.

Kansas City said...

I also was surprised by the doctor assisted suicide, but the number that consider it morally acceptable apparently went down. I think it is acceptable because of respect for doctors and experience in seeing old family members and friends allowed to die. Technically, that is not doctor assisted suicide, but it is pretty close and people find themselves in a position where they have no realistic choice other than to accept it.

On porn, one can think it morally wrong but still watch it.

andinista said...

Somebody is dead by deed. The victims are dependents and co-dependents: their lives are changed. (I can make this statement because AA says suicide is murder, all deeds that cause life extinction are then included.)

The dead person is not a victim: that person no longer provides for the (co)dependents.

All deeds that result in the creation of (co)dependent victims are murder or its lesser manslaughter.

You see where this morality is going? Your life does not belong to you. It belongs to others. You are a slave.

We were "endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights ... Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". But if suicide equals murder: when you are unable to pursue happiness, and your Liberty is curtailed, to be endowed with life is not an unconditional gift.

"You are all dead men. We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well, and live."

RuyDiaz said...

Humans were ever thus.
But there is nevertheless utility in hypocrisy.


Yes, but still funny. And we fundamentally agree--as far as human failings go, hypocrisy is a minor one.

bearing said...

"Interesting that affairs are seen as so strongly morally wrong, yet they are so commonplace."

I think it's unsurprising if you swap it around. Affairs are so commonplace that many people have first-hand experience with the pain and suffering that can be their consequence. This is not true about many other things in the list.

Blue@9 said...

What's laughable about the pornography numbers?

If the surveys/studies of pornography use are accurate, then there is a huge number of people who use pornography and disapprove of it.


Yeah, no wonder people are so dysfunctional. "That is some sick, evil stuff. Excuse me while I, uh, go to the restroom... yeah."

Same with divorce and adultery. The actual percentage of people committing adultery is huge, both men and women.

Blue@9 said...

Synova:

I would imagine that it has to do with the notion of a singular "soul" that occupies a particular body constructed from a particular set of DNA. I think it's deeply disconcerting to think of the same person being born again at a later time. It messes with the belief that we're unique butterflies. "Is the clone exactly like me? Does it think like me? Does it have a different "soul" even if it's a separate being?"

By comparison, killing fetuses or even masses of adults is not as difficult to grapple with. Killing is in the realm of experience, but clones are not. (re: animals, I imagine the numbers would change if you asked if it's okay to clone insects or ugly animals. I'm guessing the numbers plummet because people are thinking of family pets-- also bestowed "souls" by their owners.)

andinista said...

There's something messed up with this survey. Either that, or there's something messed up with American morals. Cloning and stem cells are outliers: they are inconsistent with the rest of the answers.

e.g, it's OK to torture animals and kill them for furs, but not OK to clone them. But OK to harvest embryos for their cell lines to do anything with, except re-start a new embryo.

It's almost like rationally ignorant people have been implanted with random ideas (except they're not random, these ideas have campaigns behind them).

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Spend a half-hour or so perusing Voyeurweb or Guess Her Muff or Image Fap or You Porn . . .


Pssst, Peter, let me let you in on a little secret: women who post pictures of their vaginas on the internet are not representative of women as a whole.

Seeing Red said...

Dr./State assisted suicide - red pill or blue?


When that really kicks in, it'll be interesting 2 C the #s.

As to embryonic stem cells - there's really no point, very little advances by them, majority is by adult stem cells.

Blue@9 said...

Final note about abortion: Do the numbers mean anything? I would think they're too correlated with political leanings since it's perhaps the most explosive and divisive issue on the list.

Things like suicide or adultery aren't left/right issues (maybe death penalty, but it's not nearly as controversial as it was in the 70s). I would think there are large numbers of people who don't think very critically about the morality of abortion because there's such easy partisan slotting of positions.

If you were raised a left-wing Democrat, indoctrinated the whole way, wouldn't you be reflexively pro-choice, even if you never gave the issue any serious thought? Same goes for the Right. Predetermined beliefs, by proxy. Ersatz morality, worthless numbers.

Synova said...

Blue "I would imagine that it has to do with the notion of a singular "soul" that occupies a particular body constructed from a particular set of DNA. I think it's deeply disconcerting to think of the same person being born again at a later time. It messes with the belief that we're unique butterflies. "Is the clone exactly like me? Does it think like me? Does it have a different "soul" even if it's a separate being?""

"Clones are telepathic because they share souls" is vintage 1950s sci-fi.

"Same person born at a later time", see _Cyteen_ circa 1988. (And the answer was, "No, no matter how hard you try.")

"Unique Butterflies" see... your identical twin.

If anyone was going to write any of those ideas into a story today they'd have to publish it as literary fiction because science fiction would laugh at you. I'm not saying that people don't think of those issues those ways, only that the answers to those questions aren't complicated. They are *simple*.

mccullough said...

Just because people think something is immoral, doesn't mean they think it should be illegal.

deborah said...

lol rh

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that my biggest surprise was adultery. It is, apparently, much more prevalent than it is acceptable. Even if you figured that the person cheating should find it acceptable, you likely wouldn't get to this low of a number, just counting cheaters.

Polygamy is also an interesting subject. Could its low acceptability be somehow connected to the fact that the only polygamists we see are either fundamentalist splinter Mormons, esp. along the AZ/UT border, and Muslims. And, this country has been attacked by militant Muslims, like the late departed OBL, who apparently had three, somewhat feuding, wives living with him at the time of his demise.

I, for one, see little difference between polygamy and same sex marriage. After all, polygamy has a much longer and deeper history in different cultures around the world (and is even mentioned in Judeao-Christian scripture).

Jason (the commenter) said...

Homosexuality is tied with wearing fur. There goes the idea we get our morality from Hollywood!

bagoh20 said...

"What surprises you the most here?

How easliy we do what we consider immoral.

The Drill SGT said...

, for one, see little difference between polygamy and same sex marriage. After all, polygamy has a much longer and deeper history in different cultures around the world (and is even mentioned in Judeao-Christian scripture).

Both the Old testament and the Koran allow Brother's to make wives of their brother's widow.

The original social security program.

ricpic said...

Failure is now morally acceptable, with a vengeance.

ricpic said...

Failure to maintain the old patriarchal code that is. Yes, what a burden that old patriarchal code was. And so oppressive. How much freer we are now as we circle the drain.

ironrailsironweights said...

Pssst, Peter, let me let you in on a little secret: women who post pictures of their vaginas on the internet are not representative of women as a whole.

That's not necessarily the case with respect to Voyeurweb, as many of the women on that site do not show their faces in the pictures. It's not hard to imagine "normal," non-skank women being willing to pose for pictures of that sort.

One thing I keep meaning to do but never actually doing is comparing the face/no-face photos on Voyeurweb to see if there's any difference in shaving practices.

Peter

Peano said...

I've often had to struggle with commenters on this blog when I have taken the firm position that suicide is murder, but I think America mostly agrees with me.

A majority says that suicide is "morally wrong." That hardly means they're agreeing with you that suicide is "murder." Perhaps in your system of blonde logic, but not otherwise.

WV: tyring

Tyring, indeed.

The Crack Emcee said...

lyssalovelyredhead,

Pssst, Peter, let me let you in on a little secret: women who post pictures of their vaginas on the internet are not representative of women as a whole.

Pssst, lyssa, let me let you in on a little secret:

They might as well be.

phx said...

Pssst, Peter, let me let you in on a little secret: women who post pictures of their vaginas on the internet are not representative of women as a whole.

...Nevermind, it's disgraceful that I even thought it.

HT said...

The Drill SGT said...

Both the Old testament and the Koran allow Brother's to make wives of their brother's widow.

The original social security program.

5/31/11 8:25 PM

____

And in certain southern states, the gov used to appoint the widow of an elected official in the cabinet if he happened to die.

reader_iam said...

Does the divorce figure strike anyone else as a bit odd, given everything else? It strikes me as 1) the single most self-serving bit in the lot and 2) the biggest blind-spot.

Interesting, the whole thing, yet only surprising in a couple of instances.

JHapp said...

The Gallop article is titled
"Doctor-Assisted Suicide Is Moral Issue Dividing Americans Most" which is odd as I believe people see this issue as morally wrong but complicated. Perhaps it becomes a mental coin flip. What is important is that our laws parallel morality but freedom trumps. A utopia without murders, abortions, porn, ... driving over the speed limit is "moral fiction".

The Crack Emcee said...

ricpic,

Failure is now morally acceptable, with a vengeance.

Now, now. Chill out. Calm down. Treat it like it's normal and life-enhancing. That's the advice I've been getting.

RuyD,

As far as human failings go, hypocrisy is a minor one.

If you say so, homie:

“[Arnold Schwarzenegger] is a mentor to a lot of men, but the thing that they’re mentoring is the macho, the muscles. But what makes Arnold Arnold is the balance. He knows and practices sensitivity.”

-- Oprah Winfrey, the "moral force" of America.

I have to admit, I'm missing her show already,....

Renee said...

Divorce....

It doesn't mention fault or no-fault though, I think that would change the numbers. I thought there was some poll around there, that said people thought it was too easy to divorce.

Divorce depresses me, I hate weddings now because of too many amicable divorces. Give me back my Saturday and my emotional investment hoping you do well, if you aren't both serious about marriage. It's suppose to be a special day, because it's supposedly a special relationship.

Skyler said...

Saying suicide is morally wrong is a far cry from saying suicide is murder. It's morally wrong to throw trash on the ground, but we don't put such people in jail (except in Alice's Restaurant).

Also, there is a matter of mens rea. Most suicides are from depression or other mental illness, though not all. Mental illness takes much of the moral blame away, such people are to be pitied and helped.

Skyler said...

Wow, just read Ann's comment, "Yes, because the people in that category are not giving up on life -- not rejecting the gift of life -- they are just accepting inevitability and trying to get some control. The days that are discarded in the process are seen as very bad days, with no good days on the other side of them."

This is the most bass ackwards twist I've ever seen. Those who know what they're doing are not morally to blame, but those who are sick are? Wow, wow, wow. I couldn't disagree more and I question the logic behind it.

The Crack Emcee said...

Renee and Skyler,

They know not what they do or say - not really - and especially to others.

Everybody's just "talking," y'know?

John Lynch said...

There's no escaping morality. We just argue about whose morality we will use.

themightypuck said...

"What surprises you the most here?

How easliy we do what we consider immoral.
-----------------------------

I think it is more about what people are willing to say is immoral than what they actually consider immoral.

Revenant said...

66% of Americans think pornography is morally wrong.

The other 30% are looking at Internet porn right now.

Synova said...

Wow, that quote from Oprah about Arnold was moronic. No surprise there, of course.

And really... I *got* a subscription to Muscle and Fitness once. What sort of moron uses the term "mentoring" in that context? Oh, right. Oprah. And every bad thing I ever heard about Arnold's "sensitivity" was from his own mouth. No secret to anyone.

But then I knew that Oprah was a complete MORON (and not in a good AOSHQ sort of way) when she gushed over the wonderfulness of Bridges of Madison County. Before that she seemed mostly harmless. But seriously, Bridges? Deep. End. She went right off it.

Lets glorify adultery and get everyone to view us as a moral leader. That's a trick.

Synova said...

For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

Romans 7:15 (I think)

The idea that the mere understanding that something is immoral will magically determine behavior is similar to the idea that love will magically make you faithful.

No effort required.

J said...

WTF!

Look at abortion vs pornography.

'Dead babies? Sure, no problem, kill those bastards. Titties? No! Those are evil!'

More people believe it is acceptable to purposefully kill some form of human life than to see the naked human form.

Unreal.

mrs whatsit said...

Suicide is certainly not just a personal decision, as one poster suggested - unless the person who commits suicide is truly alone in the world. (And even then, you should hear what ER nurses and doctors have to say about the psychic costs of having to patch up the ones who try it and fail.) The person who commits suicide inflicts irreparable, devastating harm on many others -- spouse, lover, parents, children, friends. The teenager who hears a shot and finds her father bleeding to death in the basement will never heal, never return to the person she was before, never fully stop hurting -- though the father's misery is over. It's profoundly selfish and cowardly to escape one's own pain by transferring it to others. What could be more immoral than that?

But it's hard to evaluate suicide as a moral choice, because the sickness that drives most suicides keeps them from knowing the harm they're causing. The demons in the head of the father who shot himself made him believe he was so worthless that his daughter would be better off without him. His choice to get out the gun isn't really comparable to the scientist's free, rational decision whether to harvest stem cells from an embryo.

Rick said...

The substance of life’s value surely includes as a primary component our ability to live it as we wish, to pursue what we decide is important to us and otherwise determine the narrative of our own lives.

Who's life is it yours or the person in question?

Erik said...

"I find it strange that people find it morally wrong to clone animals but ok to harvest stem cells from embryos."

This one threw me for a loop as well, especially considering the moral opposition to abortion on the list as well. I can only imagine that people don't quite understand what is involved in stem-cell harvesting.

In any case, some of these are hard to come down on because there are positions in between. While I would never engage in polygamy, if all parties consent, I don't imagine it's morally wrong. Unwise, perhaps, but not immoral. The same goes for physician-assisted suicide. There are a lot of inherent contradictions in the list, but there always are because very few people have spent time formulating a comprehensive and consistent philosophical perspective on these things. The declare their beliefs piecemeal, and don't worry about consistency.

Mickey said...

Twice as many people think it's morally wrong to clone an animal than it is to research on human embryos. That's a big WTF for me.

Also, two times more acceptable to have sex with a woman outside of marriage than it is for me to look at a picture of a naked woman. Okay!

Anglelyne said...

Bruce Hayden: I, for one, see little difference between polygamy and same sex marriage.

Then you've either thought about it more deeply than anybody, or haven't thought about it much at all. Marriage structure has an enormous effect on social structure and behavior. (Same-sex marriage, no big deal. Legal arguments for same-sex marriage that set precedents for allowing polygamy, huge big deal.)

After all, polygamy has a much longer and deeper history in different cultures around the world.

Well, yeah. So we have a lot of data to think about on polygamy (or rather, polygyny) vs. monogamy. Not seeing the parallel.

Maddad said...

I don't really understand why Dr assisted suicide is more acceptable than regular suicide. Is it because of the mess? Is it because of the money? Is it because an authority figure is giving permission for the suicide? Is it because dealing with severely ill people is exhausting and time consuming and people just want it over with? It just makes me wonder because everyone that I know that has been unfortunate enough to lose someone from suicide has been really, really angry at the suicide.

TW:deders. Not polite, but accurate. I guess.

Mickey said...

About suicide, though. I feel we should have more condemnation for the acts the self-murderer committed leading up their final decision. Typically there would have been a long pattern of self-destructive behavior preceding.

This is quite a grim thing for me to say, but I'm willing to bet that some children would be better off, if they were taken out of class one day and told that their abusive parent just committed suicide. Not all roses, of course, but maybe a bit better off.

What do you think is more morally acceptable, Ann? A lifetime of self-destructive behavior or a single act of self-destruction? Which is on the whole more damaging to the people surrounding that person?

I consider suicide self-murder as well, but sometimes the one murdered isn't innocent. Doesn't make it right, but it sure doesn't make it worse.

Peano said...

mrs. whatsit said ... The person who commits suicide inflicts irreparable, devastating harm on many others -- spouse, lover, parents, children, friends. The teenager who hears a shot and finds her father bleeding to death in the basement will never heal,...
---
In some cases that’s true, but those are contingencies that don't speak to the question at issue: Is suicide, as such (i.e., by definition), murder? Is it even morally wrong in every case? Killing another person isn't wrong in every case, let alone murder. Why should we think that killing oneself is wrong and murderous in every case?

These are the hard questions. Althorse glosses over them by fiat: She simply asserts that suicide is murder, and that is that. She offers no argument, defines no terms, considers none of the obvious objections that can be raised against her assertion. Now she’s gone a step further by equating "Suicide is morally wrong" with "Suicide is murder" -- again with no argument.

Do you not see a problem here? Althorse is a law professor. She knows full well that she is making unsupported pronouncements on a very complex issue. Why do you suppose someone trained in the law would make such witless pronouncements?

That's not a rhetorical question. It's one worth considering. Is she trolling because she gets some kind of weird charge out of stirring up controversy? Does she harbor buried emotions about suicide that drive her to go on her “Suicide is murder” crusade? I don’t know, but those are certainly possible explanations. Something ain't kosher here, that's for sure.

Joe said...

In polls like this, I suspect people are answering what they think their moral stance should be and/or they are given binary choices, not what it actually is. And in many cases, they don't have a stance.

For me, adultery is morally wrong. Divorce isn't moral or immoral; it just is. Same with gambling, wearing fur, animal cloning, etc.

Joe said...

I don't really understand why Dr assisted suicide is more acceptable than regular suicide

The presumption, rightly or wrongly, is that a doctor wouldn't be involved if there wasn't some compelling underlying medical cause and that the doctor is simply hastening what would be a painful death.

Sigivald said...

I'm amazed that nearly 2/3 of Americans think cloning animals is immoral.

I can't even grasp the reasoning there, unless it's a misreported slippery-slope argument to the idea that cloning people is immoral.

(And even that isn't one I get intuitively, and I suspect much distaste for the idea is based on ideas about it gained from completely inaccurate fiction...)

Peter said...

"I think it's because that person is gone, and we feel sorry for those who are left behind. They are the victims."

-Indeed, most of us recognize that suicide can be, and often is, a hostile act intended to hurt the survivors.

Alex said...

What about economic morality? Social security, welfare, Medicare, food stamps, WIC, national health care are ALL indicators of a moral nation.

Peano said...

One more comment on what is probably a (blessedly) moribund thread:

Althorse says: I've often had to struggle with commenters on this blog when I have taken the firm position that suicide is murder ....

Ain't it hell when you have to "struggle" to maintain your "firm position"? O! the humanity!

The "firm position" is the bald assertion that suicide is murder. The "struggles" are the parrot-like repetition of her one-note samba: "Suicide is murder! Suicide is murder!" (She's like Gomer Pyle catching Barney Fife in an illegal U-turn: "Citizen's arrest! Citizen's arrest!")

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