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Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Bill Fleming

Can't really tell from your overview here, KB. Are you saying that you agree with the "personhood" amendment and would like to see it pass?

Ken Blanchard

I am saying that all human beings are created equal.

Bill Fleming

What does that mean? Define "human being" and "created" and "equal" please. I think I understand what you mean by the rest of the words.


Bill, I could not tell from your post. Just when do you believe that joining of an egg and a sperm achieves "personhood"? Isn't it interesting that in 26 states, if a woman two months pregnant is coming home from the doctor's office and is hit by a drunk driver that driver is guilty of murder or manslaughter while if another woman two months pregnant is on the way to an abortion clinic and the same thing happens, the driver might get a thank you note because the driver saved the woman the costs of an abortion?

Bill Fleming

We can start here on the first one, if you like. From Wikipedia subject "Human Being":

"Humans have a highly developed brain and are capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection, and problem solving. This mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage that frees the hands for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other living species on Earth. Other higher-level thought processes of humans, such as self-awareness, rationality, and sapience,[7][8][9] are considered to be defining features of what constitutes a "person".[10][11]"

Bill Fleming

DuggerSD, yes that is interesting.

Bill Fleming

I'm more interested in a rational discussion, however.

Bill Fleming

Dugger's question "Just when do you believe that joining of an egg and a sperm achieves "personhood"?" doesn't make sense.

Perhaps he means, "Just when does a group of developing human cells achieve personhood?" but I'll let him clarify.

Bill Fleming

I suppose I could hazard a guess at answering duggerSD's implicit question about the car wreck and drunk driver phenomenologically by saying that the status of the fetuses/embroyos involved has to do with the intention of their creator (co-creator?), from which, after all, the natural rights are derived, as (presumably) KB's position implies.

But that would be pure speculation on my part, not knowing the disposition and/or intention of the woman who is the hypothetical victim in the hypothetical car accident. There is insufficient data in the example to make any definite conclusion.


So Ohio rejected any limits on collective bargaining? Who is going to pay the bill when it comes due for these health and retirement plans that they get essentially free? Those same people will be in the streets rioting that their benefits are being cut, when they weren't fiscally responsible in the first place. Just think Greece et al. These are the same people that think this will all come from Obama's "stash" and they show the same intelligence as that particular lady. I'm just going to sit back and watch.


Bill, thanks for your um clarification. Oh, wait, there was none. What I am seeing by your wiki definition is that a person is not a person until he/she can stand upright, be rational, have an understanding of self. By that definition, it would be OK to kill an infant.
You like to try to trap people into saying something they do not mean, but you do not have the guts to answer a simple question. Last I checked, when a human sperm joins with a human egg, it begins to create a new human being. Yes, after that, it becomes a mass of human cells, forming a baby. It makes plenty of sense to normal people. I can see why you do not think it makes sense. But the bottom line is you do not want to answer the question. Or perhaps it is because like many questions, you just do not want to answer it because then you have to defend a position. It is pretty easy to throw attacks when you have nothing to defend. Man, what a "hero" of the left!

Donald Pay

I think the lesson in this is for both parties. The war on the middle class, whether waged by Republicans or Democrats, is going to be met with resistance, and corporate money isn't going to turn the tide.

Interesting take on eminent domain, given your slavish support for a private foreign company's trampling on private property rights in South Dakota.

Bill Fleming

I've not said it's okay to kill anything. I'm simply asking for a definition of terms. Same as the people in Mississippi were doing. And it seems they did not concur with your definition.

Bill Fleming

My question, put another way, is does a fertilized human ovum "equal" a fully formed (created) human being. Implicit in my question is the suggestion that the "creation" is a biological process that occurs over time.

Bill Fleming

I will submit that the single celled organism that results when an ovum is fertilized is a fundamentally different kind of cell than any you have in your body, duggerSD.

It is, by nature and function entirely different than any cells your body possesses.

You, as a person couldn't do what it can do no matter how hard you tried.

In other words, if that cell is a person, you yourself are not, since you yourself don't possess any such cells in either form or function. The two beings, hence are not equal because one is incomplete in its creation and the other, not.


Bill, I never said you said it was OK to kill that infant. I just said by that definition that infant was not a person, so it would not be murder to kill it. So, do you agree with the definition you offered?
In 26 states, if a person kills a an unborn child "in the womb at any stage of its development" that person can be found guilty of murder or manslaughter. This includes SD, by the way. Most of these laws use the phrase mentioned earlier. It appears 26 states agree with the idea of at the point of fertilization, it is a human. But what I find interesting is you have still not told me when you consider that whatever you want to call it a person. I know it is a question that is very difficult for someone who wants to throw verbal firebombs, but it is a legitimate question. Why are you afraid? If I could hear you, I would be hearing a lot of wind, but no substance.


Sorry, I fail to see how MS Measure 31 is a victory for "Libertarians and conservatives"... Seems kinda like something the OWS folks would agree with.

From the link you provided:

"Measure 31 would effectively ban economic development takings by forbidding most condemnations that transfer land to private parties during the first ten years after condemnation. Economic development condemnations are often used by powerful interest groups to acquire land for themselves at the expense of the poor and politically weak. In Mississippi, recent condemnations have transferred land to big auto firms such as Nissan and Toyota. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and others claim that these takings are needed to promote economic growth. In reality, economic development condemnations often destroy far more economic value than they create, by wiping out homes, small businesses and schools."

Bill Fleming

I don't recall any proposed legislation that says it would be murder to destroy a fertilized human egg, duggerSD.

Do you think there should be such a law?

I think that's what the people in Mississippi realized. If we declare that a fertilized egg is a person, we'll have to consider the destruction of every fertilized egg as manslaughter at a minimum, and presumably some form of murder if there was premeditation.

One of the things birth control pills do is prevent fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterine wall. Also, zygotes sometimes attach to the fallopian tubes and have to be removed. And of course, sometimes (as when people practice the rhythm method of birth control) the fertilized eggs are expelled naturally when the uterine lining clenses itself at menses. This is not even taking into account in vitro fertilization techniques and stem cell research. It is a very difficult problem, legally speaking. A whole lot of murdering going on.

All that said, I don't know when a human being becomes a person. That's why I'm asking for a definition. It's not a rhetorical question.

Spiritually speaking, my orientation is that the whole cosmos is a living, conscious entity and that we are all expressions of it. In other words people don't really have life as much as life has people. So the question has always been a difficult one for me.

Bill Fleming

p.s. duggerSD, it is human before the point of fertilization as far as I'm concerned. As far as I know the only way to make a human zygote is to combine living human gametes. Or, I guess to maybe just make a clone. Either way, it's human regardless. The human part is not the issue, nor is the "life" part, at least not as far as I'm concerned.

It's the "person part".

Should we assign every fertilized egg a social security number?

What if we miss one?

How can we insure equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

The mind boggles.

This is where ideology meets reality, DuggerSD.

Fortunately, your plumbing is such that these issues are only an armchair, back-seat-driver, popcorn-eating observer in the life creation process, so you are welcome to believe anything you please as long as you don't presume to force your opinions on the real players on the field.

Bottom line: If mom says you're in the game, your in.
And if she says you ain't you aint.
That's the way it the real game goes, it seems (to me anyway).


And again, you do not answer the basic question. Many people might say they do not know when "life", "personhood" or whatever word you want to use, but in their world view, they have an opinion. You like to throw the verbal assaults, but don't want to have anything you are pinned down to. So go ahead and do your rope-a-dope, but everyone else sees your timidity on this.
BTW, here is one example of codified law:
"S.C. Code Ann § 16-3-1083 provides that a person who commits a violent crime that causes the death of, or injury to, a child in utero is guilty of a separate offense and that the person must be punished as if the death or injury occurred to the unborn child's mother. The law also provides that the person must be punished for murder or attempted murder if the person intentionally killed or attempted to kill the unborn child. The law defines "unborn child" as a child in utero, and "child in utero" or "child who is in utero" as a member of the species homo sapiens, at any state of development, who is carried in the womb. The law does not apply to conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which such consent is implied by law, or to a person for any medical treatment of the pregnant woman or her unborn child.
You will note it is any state of development carried in a womb. That is about as close to a fertilized egg as we can get.
Now, I will agree that if a person who is one day pregnant and someone kills that baby being guilty of murder might be a stretch, but I was only pointing out the law.

Bill Fleming

I have given you my opinion, DuggerSD, you're just not listening. Personhood is determined by society, starting with the immediate family, primarily the mother. It's not a clinical "fact." it is a social gesture of recognition by other people. A function of human intention. Mothers are the first persons to allow a new person to exist, typicallys before any egg of hers is ever fertilized. "Personhood" is a meme.

The state of Mississippi has determined, that for legal purposes a fertilized egg is not a person. My guess it that's how most Americans feel about the matter. My guess is that you don't. Your distress over whether or not I have an opinion on the matter is entertaining, but of no consequence one way or the other.

Bill Fleming


Some background for DuggerSD, because I've heard he is an educator.

"He said that at the test is very universal. Many studies show that the results are similar in all the corners of the earth. The way the kids draw the person determines at what mental developmental stage they are at. You can pretty much test for intelligence with a simple drawing."


And again, Bill, you do not answer the question. Yes, society answers the question, but why are you afraid to answer it? When do YOU believe that whatever it is you want to call the thing growing in the womb of a woman is a person? I understand your reluctance. You have no real values. If you had any courage, you would answer the question. But you don't. Your excerpt has nothing to do with the question.

Bill Fleming

I'm not afraid to answer it DuggerSD. I have answered it. You just don't seem to like the answer.

I think there are three thresholds a human being has to cross in order to become a person. First, a mother has to decide to allow and participate in the formation of it inside her body because she wants to assist in bringing a new person into the world. (She thus co-creates with nature on her own volition as an act of free will.)

The second is that the human being has to sense (perceive) himself/herself as being separate from his/her creator/mother. (That's the relevance of the children's drawings article I provided.)

Somewhere in between those two events, society at large has to recognize the new form as being a separate person with natural, human and legal, civil rights.

For my part, I am comfortable, as a member of society, recognizing a person as a person at the same moment the mother/creator does. As per my note above, that can — and frequently does — happen before any egg of hers is ever fertilized.

Beyond that, I am simply a member of society and my opinion only really matters in the aggregate.

I will say however, as I said above, that I do not think a person becomes a person at fertilization for the empirical, scientific reasons I have provided. In this regard, if perhaps for somewhat different reasons, I agree with the majority of the people of Mississippi, and, I suspect with the majority of people on the planet.

If that answer is not to your liking, duggerSD, I'm sorry you have a problem with it.

But it is, after all, your problem, not mine.

Ken Blanchard

No, Bill, personhood (if you mean the legal concept) is not determined by society and least of all by the mother. A mother cannot decide that her three year old is not a person. For better or worse, personhood has been defined by the courts. The Supremes determined that the unborn was not a legal person in Roe v. Wade, jus as they determined that Africans were not persons under federal law in Dred Scott.

Ken Blanchard

Dave: you seem to have no idea what libertarians and conservatives believe. Both have been very opposed to the Kelo decision, which is what this Mississippi bill was all about.

Donald: I believe that the Federal Government and the states should have the power of eminent domain. Do you disagree? At the federal level, highways, canals, and pipelines seem just the kind of thing it is designed for.

Taking peoples houses away and giving them to developers to build hotels in a spirit of "if you build it, they will come" is rather something else.

Bill Fleming

No, I do not necessarily mean legal concept, KB.

But to your point, what is a SCOTUS decision other than a form of social agreement? (Unless of course you don't believe that our government and "We the People" are one and the same.) l maintain that a Government serves by consent of the governed.

Also that "personhood" is an idea, not a biological fact. Were it otherwise, there would be no need to vote on it.

Nor would you have written this: "So in these United States, all human beings enjoy unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, so long as said human beings have skulls on this side of the birth canal. All are created equal, with qualifications on the "all"."

Bill Fleming

...followers of this exchange may want to note both KB and DiiggerSD's refusal to define their terms, and instead, merely cite artifacts of law even as they seem to support it on the one hand (Dugger's traffic accident construct) and bemoan it on the other (KB's comparing Roe v Wade to legal slavery.) For all DuggerSD's whining that I am being vague here, I submit that I am the only one who has made a phenomenological, ontological, epistemological attempt to define "person," "Human Being," "created," and "equal" based on empirical evidence. That said, I understand their need to keep their arguments vague, emotional, accusatory, passive aggressive and elusive. They do it for the simple fact that if they are forced to become rational, their arguments vanish in a puff of smoke.

We all want to believe that "all human beings are created equal." But until we are willing to define our terms, such statements mean precisely nothing. So, once again KB and DuggerSD, define "human being" and "created" and "equal" please. If we can agree on the definitions, we can perhaps make progress on the entire argument.

While were at it we should also define "person" since that word seems to be causing us fits on multiple fronts. i.e. if corporations are legally "people" with constitutional rights, should it be illegal to dissolve one?


Bill, according to your "daffynition", a newborn baby is not a person. "The second is that the human being has to sense (perceive) himself/herself as being separate from his/her creator/mother." A newborn baby according to people I have listened to and know what they are talking about, sees its mother as part of himself/herself. Therefore, according to what you define, the baby is not a person, therefore the mother can do whatever she wants with it, including drown it. And according to your daffynition, "a mother has to decide to allow and participate in the formation of it inside her body" you believe a woman can have that baby killed up to the point of delivery as well.

Bill Fleming

I'm always surprised at dugger's assumption that everybody is out to kill everybody else and that the only thing stopping them is... well... I don't know what.

I think he is perhaps pathologically paranoid in this regard.

I have not once said it was alright with me for anyone to kill anything.

Not once.

Bill Fleming

DuggerSD, if you will re-read my explanation, you will see that in cases where the mother refuses to accept the personhood of her infant, society intervenes on behalf of the child. Conversely, prior to the child's perception of itself as an individual person, it is his/her family, society at large or the legal and other governmental systems that make the distinction on the child's behalf.

Any other interpretation of what I have written is either a function of your illiteracy, stupidity, insanity, intellectual dishonesty or some combination thereof.

Bill Fleming

If Dugger's problem is simply ignorance, perhaps this will serve to enlighten him. I do have to say, though, that if I have to continue providing him with a basic education, even as he earns his living by supposedly being an educator, I'm going to have to start charging him tuition.


Bill Fleming

...I provide the Maslow chart to help DuggerSD decide whether he is in fact meeting his needs, or just kneading his meat.


I'll stand by my assessment and say that there is some common ground between the 99%, libertarians, and old school conservatives. But the modern "conservative" is no doubt sitting on the fence on this one...

Ken Blanchard

Bill: I hold, with Lincoln, that the Dred Scott decision was wrong because Africans are in fact real persons, whether or not the Court recognized the fact. When legal personhood does not match moral, natural personhood, then the law is an ass.

You seem to believe that that personhood is entirely a collective fiction. Apparently, we can define it any way we want. The Jews? The Irish? Women? Six of one and half a dozen of the other. Perhaps you are right, and the end of slavery, the Civil Rights revolution, women voting, are not examples of real progress but mere changes in fashionable ideas. I am sticking with Lincoln.

Bill Fleming

Yes, it seems to me, Ken that there are those who would define personhood any way they want, even to the point of saying corporations and zygotes are persons. And to do so legally would make law an ass. I think we agree.

Bill Fleming

“It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers.”
— Abraham Lincoln, Speech on Reconstruction, April 11, 1865.


"I go for all sharing the privileges of the government, who assist in bearing its burdens. Consequently I go for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage, who pay taxes or bear arms, (by no means excluding females.)"
— Abraham Lincoln, to the editor of the Sangamon Journal, 1836.

I'm as big a fan of Lincoln as anyone. Even so, even he was subject to the social memes and the zeitgeist of his times.

Bill Fleming

Reality check:

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