Truth Through Combat

Intelligent Design

Here’s the latest legal battle over evolution and intelligent design: http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/09/23/life.evolution.reut/index.html.

Filed under: Bioethics, Uncategorized

Trippy Head Portraits

I mentioned this painting in one or two classes the other day. It’s
haunting, to say the least:


Here’s another crazy head portrait with a similar feel, this time by
Francis Bacon:

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch

This is IMDB.com’s page on the film:

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The Plays of Aristophanes

Here are some links to Aristophanes’ surviving comedies. I mentioned
two plays in class today (9/19) — “The Clouds,” in which Aristophanes
pokes fun at philosophy’s hero, and “The Lysistrata,” featuring a sex
strike by the women of Athens.

The Clouds: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristophanes/clouds.html

The Lysistrata: http://eawc.evansville.edu/anthology/lysistrata.htm


Filed under: Philosophy

Cigarette Taxes

I wanted to get exact figures on cig taxes across the nation. First, a breakdown of state taxes. You’ll notice that NY State ranks eighth in the nation with a tax of 1.50 per pack. NC ranks 50th, with a tax of 05 per pack. Link: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/cigarett.html.

A quick web search shows that as of early 2004, the federal cigarette tax was at .39.

I have not been able to find out if Erie County or any cities are allowed to tack on taxes on top of the state tax.

Filed under: Bioethics, Uncategorized

Physician Codes of Ethics

There are several competing codes of ethics within medicine right now.
The traditional code was the Hippocratic Oath, now approximately 2400
years old. It has been revised several times, and other codes have been
introduced as well.

You can find several of these different codes here:

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Nursing Code of Ethics

This is the current version of the code (by the American Nursing
Association). It outlines the ethical duties of nurses:


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Pharmacists’s Rights to Refuse Prescriptions

We briefly talked about this during class on 9/12. The issue concerns the right of a pharmacist to refuse filling a specific prescription on ethical grounds. Since some pharmacists object to abortion, they do not want to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives (ECs).

Emergency contraceptives (sometimes called morning-after pills) are methods of preventing pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse (voluntary or involuntary).  They should usually be taken within five days of the unprotected act, and they work by either preventing the implantation of the fertilized egg or sometimes preventing fertilization altogether.

Pharmacists claim a right of religious freedom in their refusal to sell ECs. The State of Illinois believes that pharmacists who sell any contraceptives should be required to sell ECs as well.

Filed under: Bioethics, Uncategorized

Patient Privacy

As some of you who already work in the medical field may be aware, the federal government has recently implemented new laws concerning the sharing of patient information. The rules impose additional obligations on health care providers (this means everyone who works in the medical field: nurses, doctors, insurance providers, billing staff, assistants, x-ray techs, etc.).

It’s important for those who work in the field to know the rules. The University of Miami has put together some excellent primers summarizing these rules. They can be found at the following site:

I especially recommend the following modules:

Filed under: Bioethics, Uncategorized

"Master Butcher"–The Case of Armin Meiwes

We discussed the case briefly last week, at least in a couple of the classes. I will warn you, however: this is not light reading. If you are disgusted by textual descriptions of body mutilation, you may want to stop now.

Scroll down for text.









Pervscan.com summarizes the case as follows (see http://www.pervscan.com/2003/12/14/the-cannibal-video/):

“‘Slice the thing off now.’ After placing his penis on a kitchen table, computer expert Bernd-Jergen Brandes issued that unthinkable command to German cannibal Armin Meiwes. A home video made by Meiwes, 42, detailed the sickening events that followed on March 10, 2001. The cannibal chopped at the organ, but failed to sever it. Writhing in pain, Brandes, 43, demanded that Meiwes get a sharper knife. He did — and completed the unspeakable act. Meiwes bandaged the wound with towels and Brandes sat upright in a chair, his eyes glazed over. Meiwes began cooking the severed penis — sautéing it with garlic, salt and pepper. Brandes had his rare. ‘We had agreed to eat it half and half, but he was getting faint and couldn’t wait for his half to be cooked through,’ the cannibal said. ‘So he tried to eat it more or less raw and of course, it was too tough. He was furious…’ [Later] Brandes managed to recover some strength. ‘He got out and said, ‘If I survive until the morning, let’s have my testicles for breakfast,’’ Meiwes said. The computer expert did not survive until morning.” — New York Post (US)

PervScan has already featured this case once, but as the trial has progressed an interesting question has emerged: Is cannibalism sexual? Was this particular case of cannibalism sexually motivated? In court, the prosecution is arguing that Miewes is guilty of murder “for sexual satisfaction,” a crime which carries a life sentence. But is the prosecution only arguing this because Germany happens to have no law against cannibalism proper? Or was the act really motivated by sex?

On one hand, since Miewes ate the man’s penis first, you would think it must have had something to do with sex. He could have eaten an ear or a toe just as easily. On the other hand, he did end up eating the ear and the toe and about sixty pounds of flesh which he managed to store in his freezer. How was that sexual? What’s more, there is no claim whatsoever that anybody orgasmed, jerked off, raped a cadaver. What kind of sexual act is it if neither murderer nor victim climaxed?

Miewes, the cannibal, seems pretty articulate in his statements to the court, and he keeps insisting that the cannibalism had nothing to do with sex. To the contrary, he continually portrays the act as one of incredible intimacy: he compares “internalizing” his victim to Communion; the video itself ends on a note of intimacy, with Miewes cradling his victim’s head and apologizing to him; and Miewes also claims that his victim disappointed him by not wanting to get better acquainted before the killing, which amounts to saying that the cannibal wanted a bit of spiritual as well as physical intimacy with his victim.

All of which makes you wonder: was the cannibalism motivated by a perversion not of sex but of love?

Posted on December 14th, 2003 at 8:26 pm
Here are some links:

In April 2005, Meiwes’ conviction on manslaughter charges was overturned. Prosecutors are attempting to re-try him on murder charges.

The central issue here–once we get past the incredibly graphic details–concerns the conflict between personal autonomy and social order. It appears that the acts in question were perfectly consensual: both parties agreed. However, many societies in the past have banned suicide and similar acts of self-mutilation. Therefore, this is a case where personal rights to autonomy and liberty clash with social demands for order.

But what is the nature of that demand for order? Some nations permit euthanasia in the case of individuals who are terminally ill or suffering a degree of pain that interferes with their life plan. Should such laws be extended to cover suicide in itself, even when it doesn’t come as a reaction to pain or illness? To what extent should societies restrict the personal freedom to end one’s life? Isn’t such a freedom central to the life plans of some individuals, and therefore a central element of freedom?

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