Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"My life is not yours to take; our lives are not yours to take" - in which I share some information.

There are times when you find information; there are times when information finds you.  I had that experience lately and I was pleasantly surprised when someone was able to find information for me.

Peter Singer, a professor of philosophy at Princeton – always annoying alliteration – went on public record as saying that

I don’t want my tax dollars going to pay for disabled children

Those are his public words, said on NPR at the end of April 2015.

Those were his public words.

He also said we should consider children not human after birth so we can dispose of them if they are not perfect.  I am paraphrasing his words here.  Those are his public words.

There has recently been a storm of controversy about his issues and statements, and this has been shown by a petition circulating calling for his ouster from Princeton, where he is a tenured professor.

Oh well.  It must be nice in these fractious times that someone has job security, even if they choose to be a public prat.

He is a professor of ethics.  He is also a published writer who is considered a pioneer in the field of animal rights.

A rat is a pig is a dog.  A boy can be considered less than a rat, pig or dog in Singer’s view.
However, disabled human infants do not contribute to the overall happiness of humanity in his view.  Except there’s a problem.

His view is limiting the human happiness among the disabled population.   This is because he has consistently devalued the disabled human experience.  Except that human beings, just as animals, can be disabled.

It is their personhood, their ability to think that sets humans apart.  Except Singer devalues humans who do not have personhood because they are dependent and cannot think.

Like human – sorry almost human – infants without disability, perhaps?

Like disabled humans who despite their being able to think and speak and emote, lower the happiness quotient of a room by going into it when Singer is there, perhaps?

So if we can ascribe humanity to one group, say infants with disability, can I then ethically say by demonstration I don’t want my tax dollars paying for elderly professors emeriti from certain universities?  Or would this be too offensive to the good professor?

Would such a characterization reduce his happiness quotient?  Too bad.

He doesn’t care about the happiness quotient of disabled infants – or their families – so right back at him.

Here’s an interesting question of ethics for Singer, though.

What would happen if I found his public information online publicly and then shared it publicly?  Would that be ethical?

What if I did it in the name of democracy, suggesting that he should be able to take the public heat?

What if, in the name of free speech, I decided to publicize his information?

Would that increase his happiness, or decrease it?

If you were to google Peter Singer Princeton Address – I think that was the search term I used – you would find a result with the following web pointer:


This is found on google, which is a public website.

When I followed the link I found the following information, when I looked at faculty:

Peter Singer (on leave Spring 2015)
Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values
Phone (609) 258-2202
Fax (609) 258-1285
Email psinger@princeton.edu
Website http://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/
Location Room 203, 5 Ivy Lane

So there you have it. This is publicly accessible information, requiring no additional passwords.  It just takes diligence. (And an un-named friend who helped me find the information – to which I give a hearty and well deserved thank you.)

So we have Peter singers email:
psinger@Princeton.edu (or EDU)

If I were going to, I’d send him an email, along the lines of,

Hello.

I understand that you ascribe humanity to disabled infants.  That might be alright for the ivory tower, and I’m glad you get paid to do that, but I disagree with you.  I know disabled humans and they are no less human than I am.

I also understand that you don’t want your tax dollars going to disabled infants, and that’s too bad.  I don’t want my tax dollars going to elderly ex-professors.  I hope that doesn’t make you unhappy.

In a democracy, I have a right and an obligation to speak up against inhumanity where I find it.
You may consider that I have done that right now, by sending this email.
Resign your position NOW.

Thank you.

...and Peter Singer’s phone number:

609-258-2202

If I were going to call him, I would leave a short message like: I’m a human and I disapprove of your message.  Resign now. Thank you.

...and Peter Singer’s fax number:

609-258-1285

If I were ‘evil’ I would suggest faxing black construction paper at high resolution overnight. If.

That’s not all.  The head of the department also has an email, and I would suggest sending her an email.

Her address is:

predebb@Princeton.EDU

I would suggest an email along the lines of

I disagree with Peter Singer.  I don’t think he should have a professorship, given that he is bigoted against disabled people.  Make him resign now, given that he has shown himself to be discriminatory against disabled human beings on many occasions.

Thank you.

Now, I do not advocate sending threatening emails or saying anything that would be construed as threatening.  Having the public and the disabled public disliking you because of your views and then responding to you as a result is a lesson in democracy.

It is also a lesson in the ethics of the public.  And the public should express outrage to Singer about his views; he has been on his soapbox long enough.  Time for him to step down.
I also do not advocate sending his email to people who might be unable to control their tendencies.  I would say that if you want to note the email and send something yourself, or an email to a couple of friends, then, as long as you understand not to threaten, and that those you send the email to also understand not to threaten.

I say this because, despite his views, Singer is human and has inherent humanity, as opposed to those who are disabled and infants.  Or disabled infants.  We are not going to repay him in his own money.

We are going to say that he should resign, and that he should be ashamed of his views.
We are not going to threaten; we will simply express our opinion of his misguided, eugenic and outdated notions of the value of humanity, which are apparently rooted in the 19th Century with Dalton and Darwin and Spencer.

We are going to say that he is wrong, categorically, and that despite his views, he still has social value that we cannot and will not take away, even if he thinks we should be free so to do.


We in the ‘real’ world are better than his views.  It’s time for us to prove it.  We may not get him to resign, but he now has no excuse for not knowing that he has increased our collective unhappiness.  He should, if he is consistent in his philosophy, put that to rights.

Human lives are at stake: yours and mine.  We can't let a philosophy professor dictate our future.

My life is not yours to take. Our lives are not yours to take.  We are human, regardless of what you try to say, Mr. Singer.

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