Recently I have begun participating actively on Mahalo Answers. I’ve been extremely impressed with the service so far. In addition to other benefits, it’s providing a lot of new material for my blog, which I had let fall into disuse.
@JasonCalacanis recently posted this question, offering a $100 tip for Best Answer:
“Is it ethical for a doctor to cut off the limb of a person who suffers from apotemnophilia if they demand it?
Ethical question of the day: Is it ethical for a doctor to cut off the limb of a person who suffers from apotemnophilia if they demand it?
What if the doctor knows the person will self amputate if the don’t do the procedure?”
The following was my Answer:
“Not only would it be ethical, but it would be enlightened, as well. It would indicate this doctor had a deeper understanding of “health” than most in the allopathic medical field.
It is not the place of society to determine who receives sexual fulfillment, for issues that relate to their choices made of their own person. The core issue here, as I see it is a misconception that relates not just to issues of apotemnophellia, but to society at large.
I believe you are not a person, rather you “have a person”. It is not the place of government or a society to interfere in the management of that person under your will. The right to pursue ones will, and to make whatever choices one desires about that which is in their possession must remain sacrosanct. We have toiled too long under one repressive system or another that subverts our freedom “for our own good”. To allow any instance in which a government has authority over a free person, is to invite tyranny.
Those of us who wish to remain in the care of the state, like orphaned children, clinging to the leg of our institutional daddy, may do so. Those of us who are capable of, and demand the right of sovereignty, must remain sovereign. Abdicating the responsibility of the care of my person, would violate all my core beliefs and principals, legal, and religious.
We should all understand the dangers of repressing the individual for the good of the individual. It’s a slippery slope, that we’ve went skiing off of quite often throughout history. I refute and reject the right of any other to lay claim to my person. My parents may have registered my name on a birth certificate, but that does not make me the property of government. I might hold a citizenship that represents an agreement I never was a party to, bestowed at birth for the interest of the state, but I do not confuse that with an obligation to the state, or a recognition of claim over my person.
Society has fallen short it it’s quest at “keeping the herd healthy” many times. I am not chattel property. I manage my own affairs, and society respects my ability to do so. The horrors performed by the “medical establishment”, particularly psychiatry, which has a past even psychiatrists recognize as horrific, should be a lesson we remember well. Not too long ago, it was “good health” and “good science” to stab through a person’s eye with an icepick, and destroy a segment of the brain. They called that a “lobotomy”. We as a society tolerated millions of deaths, forced sterilizations, mutilations, and torture, all done by the state in the name of protecting us from ourselves. It seems clear enough to me, that it is from the state, from the mob and from junk science we need protection from.
Neither us, nor the state, have the right to impose our wills upon another. We must respect, and protect their right to follow their will. The ultimate harm would come from thinking in our arrogance, that we can wrestle away control of another’s destiny, for their own benefit, and that to do so would be the “lesser evil”. In fact, there can be no evil greater.
That being said, just as a person has the right to mutilate their person for whatever reason they decide, a person should have the right to refuse to perform the action on their behalf, if such a thing is not in accordance with their will. If two individuals are willing, it is not the place of society to act as a barrier, and disrupt the freedom of other beings. Those who believe it is, have no freedom, and serve by choice. We can come to an arrangement with these people. We do not attempt to impose freedom upon them, and respect their servitude, and they do not impose servitude upon us, and respect our freedom. We must cherish even above the body, our freedom to choose it’s purpose and form.
Such freedom comes with responsibility, and it is not for everyone. As distasteful as some of the more authoritarian of us believe freedom is, the few who are free, find the servitude that most accept and promote for their selves. We need to have mutual respect and recognition that the spirit of truth manifests differently for every individual, and not seeking to impose our wills upon others, no matter the pretext.
Advancement for humanity, as a people, comes never from the masses. These are the naysayers. These are the apathetic, the easily beguiled, concerned more with the direction of “the wind” than their own lives. They do not participate on the stage of life, as it is, but watch from the sidelines, and occasionally jeer or applaud the actors. We so often like to think we know a person better than themselves, or we know what is in their best interest. Well, we don’t! Just because we’ve make mistakes in the management of our affairs, does not mean we should project that incompetence upon every one else, just because we do not like to feel inferior. I have never understood how we, in this society, just continue to “not get it”, when it comes to personal liberty. If a person has not the freedom even over the body they inhabit than what freedom could they possibly possess in such a society?
This is not something revolutionary or extreme… this is the very foundation that liberty must be built upon. “
Libertarian Party – http://www.lp.org/platform
Critical history of psychiatry – http://books.google.com/books?id=hYdLS6qyTwUC&printsec=toc&dq=history+of+psychiatry+death+lobotomy&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0
The Public Defender – http://www.tpuc.org/node/240
Magna Carta – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta
Afterwards, another user posted a lengthy response to this question, and enabled me to go into even more depth. The result is here:
(the user’s response can be viewed from the link up top)
“Pescina, I’ve already done enough work on this, do you really need to make me do more? :p j/k
I do consider imposing one’s ethics upon those who are unwilling to embrace them to be unenlightened. I hope this doesn’t seem ironic… my position is not to argue a new definition of ethics, but to argue against the morality of others being mandated in a way that affects personal liberty with ones own body. In that sense, I think the recognition of one’s right to have a surgical procedure that alters the function or appearance of ones body is enlightened. Functionality is a relative thing. To believe a person would be less functional due to the removal of a limb, is presumptive. I’d argue they would be more functional, if that limb is an affront to them for whatever reason. I believe Jesus would agree with me, given the statement in Matthew, “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” Somehow this position seems to have little support among Christians, however. My point in the quote, though, is to demonstrate that the idea there is more to one’s wellbeing than the physical is not an unusual concept. It is not for us to determine what is in the best interest of the individual. Such a matter must be decided by the individual. It is hard for those of us who are able to feel sexually gratified without the need for amputation to understand or appreciate the perspective of someone who does not have that luxury. I merely try and empathize with the position that must put one in, and recognize that I, nor anyone else, have a right to subvert another’s freedom because it makes me uncomfortable, or seems incomprehensible.
I am not trying to imply only those who think as I do are entitled to sovereignty. Sovereignty, in my view, is a right by nature of existence. The only way to lose it is through abdication. I do believe many people have freely and voluntary yielded their sovereignty in the interest of dependency upon government or society in general. This, I think, may seem unfortunate, but I respect their choice, for it is theirs to make.
Oppression is the last thing I would promote. In fact, it is my primary opposition. I believe, above all, we must respect the rights of the individual to make choices which affect their destiny, whether we agree with them personally or not. Not all of us are meant to follow the same path, so imposing one’s own morality on what one wishes to do with their body, their time, their energy, is not appropriate. We can, of course, choose whether or not to be associated with them or enable them, but to restrict them, is to insult their nature, and to presume ours is superior.
I think you’re looking at that sentence about two individuals I gave, as an example, out of context. I probably should have worded that better. I do not support the exploitation of an individual for the gain of another. The interactions of one person with another should always be guided by the consent of both involved. A child, incapable of consent, should never be victimized for the gain of another. That would not be representational of freedom to me, but rather of coercion. It would represent the same callous disregard for the will of another being, and selfishness, that would cause an institution or a person to believe they can decide one someone’s behalf, in opposition to that person’s choice.
You say you do not oppose self-mutilation except where it would lead to the possibility of the state being responsible for that person’s survival. That seems reasonable at it’s face, since none of us would care to finance the existence of others who, by their own choice, have opted out of society. I don’t believe we should bear that obligation. At the same time, it presumes the individual will be less functional due to a missing limb, and overlooks the psychological trauma they endure from being seen as just another cog in the wheel, just another worker ant, just another sheep to be fleeced. My interest can never be what is good for a system that seeks to operate off of the constructive servitude of the masses, when those masses do not serve by choice.
To tell someone they, for example, can not have their arm amputated because they might not consume as much, or expend as much of their energy in service to consumerism, is a frightening lack of regard for their rights. People are more than simply “human resources” to be protected, not out of altruism, but because their ability to work in service to society is valued. And yet, this is precisely the mentality we see from government, which is meant to be in service to the people, rather than the other way around. Somehow we have forgotten who we are, and have been turned against one another. We impose ourselves on others, and believe since we abdicate our rights for the good of productivity, others should do the same. I am opposed to that very notion, but in addition, would wager an individual would likely be more productive, even lacking a limb, if they felt at peace with themselves. That is not something which should be in anyone’s interest to oppose. People can serve only voluntarily. That service should be recognized as their gift, not an obligation. Those who decide not to serve, must not be compelled to, but must also risk the dangers associated with their freedom, and not expect to survive on the charity of others. On that point, I think we agree.
I am not a Nihilist, and not overly familiar with Nietszche, except to say that I think it represents another side of the same coin, rather than a true alternative. The Nihilist demanding I assert God is dead, would be just as distasteful to me, as the someone demanding I worship their deity. I believe there absolutely is a purpose to life, I simply believe that purpose is for the individual to manifest their greatness by following their true will, rather than the wills of others.
I don’t see a contradiction. I do not believe some people are better, I merely believe all people are different, and that this should be embraced, rather than suppressed in a desire for conformity. All spectrums are necessary… I respect the right of every individual to choose the nature and degree of freedom they decide for themselves. I would be just as quick to support someone’s right to lose a limb, as I would be for them to keep a limb. Isn’t it funny how the very same people who argue against an individual’s right to sever a limb, often preside over institutions that would ignore an individual’s right to keep a limb, under other circumstances. Until we can establish that our bodies belong to us, not to the state, and not to society, we possess no further freedom than the livestock we consume. Like them, we have our masters, and our masters keep us… and not for our benefit.
I am opposed to involuntary servitude in all it’s forms, and do not assert society has a better claim over my body than I do. For that reason, I am sympathetic to their cause. Their body is their body. I would never imagine I knew better what should be done with it than they themselves do.
EDIT: When I stated the notion about advancement not coming from the masses, I used a rather poor choice of words, and just now realized what you were saying. You are right that the masses contribute to the advancement of humanity. That was a foolish thing of me to state, and I think I see where you were coming from. What I meant to say, but articulated very poorly, was advancement is not initiated by the masses. You are quite right in that the masses provide a support structure for implementation. The masses are the tablet that the law is chiseled into, and every bit as necessary. A play would never be successful without an audience. You have an excellent mind, and I really appreciate your response. It’s helped me to think this through in a much more complete manner than I had previously. 🙂 I’ll probably be cursed for the long reply, and should have blogged it and then provided a link in retrospect. I didn’t mean to go into such length on here. Your feedback was very valuable to me, and I’d love to discuss this further with you. “