Gorsuch And The Evangelium Mortis
A law-professor reader writes:
Did you see today’s NYT editorial on Gorsuch (Neil Gorsuch, the Nominee for a Stolen Seat)? Setting aside the silliness of the claim that the Senate had a constitutional obligation to give Garland an up-or-down vote (the overwhelming consensus of Con Law scholars is that the Senate can exercise the advise and consent power however it chooses, as that’s kind of the point. You know, separation of powers and all that), but did you catch the Times’ choice of quote?
Not that it should surprise anyone by now, but in yet another example of the utter tone-deaf, morally bankrupt nature of the left (and the NYT editorial board), the only quote they pull from all of Gorsuch’s writing and judicial opinions — and presumably the most shocking and worrisome quote they could find to make the case that he is dangerous to our “rights” — is the following:
While Judge Gorsuch’s views on abortion are not known, he has written extensively about assisted suicide and euthanasia. In his book on the topic, he wrote that “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”
Alas—let us all clutch our pearls! This man rejects “the intentional taking of human life by private persons.” Paging Peter Singer.
In all seriousness, I am still trying to get my head around the fact that, to the NYT Editorial Board, the view that “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong” is prima facie evidence of a dangerous moral worldview. And yes, I get that it would foreclose euthanasia, a pet of the left, but still, is this really the fat, ripe target that the NYT thinks it is?
Seems to me it shows all one needs to know about the utter bankruptcy of the left’s moral vision at this stage in Western politics that this is the quotation they chose to persuade the reader of Gorsuch’s extreme conservatism.
The reader is correct. For the Times editorial board and the people for whom it speaks, not even life itself has precedence over individual autonomy. Notice that the editorial doesn’t even attempt to argue the point; its authors simply assume that Gorsuch’s statement is obviously beyond the pale. Utterly chilling — and also clarifying.
Consider these words of Pope Saint John Paul II, from his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life):
All this explains, at least in part, how the value of life can today undergo a kind of “eclipse”, even though conscience does not cease to point to it as a sacred and inviolable value, as is evident in the tendency to disguise certain crimes against life in its early or final stages by using innocuous medical terms which distract attention from the fact that what is involved is the right to life of an actual human person.
In fact, while the climate of widespread moral uncertainty can in some way be explained by the multiplicity and gravity of today’s social problems, and these can sometimes mitigate the subjective responsibility of individuals, it is no less true that we are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a veritable structure of sin. This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable “culture of death”. This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favoured tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of “conspiracy against life” is unleashed. This conspiracy involves not only individuals in their personal, family or group relationships, but goes far beyond, to the point of damaging and distorting, at the international level, relations between peoples and States.
On a more general level, there exists in contemporary culture a certain Promethean attitude which leads people to think that they can control life and death by taking the decisions about them into their own hands. What really happens in this case is that the individual is overcome and crushed by a death deprived of any prospect of meaning or hope. We see a tragic expression of all this in the spread of euthanasia-disguised and surreptitious, or practised openly and even legally. As well as for reasons of a misguided pity at the sight of the patient’s suffering, euthanasia is sometimes justified by the utilitarian motive of avoiding costs which bring no return and which weigh heavily on society. Thus it is proposed to eliminate malformed babies, the severely handicapped, the disabled, the elderly, especially when they are not self-sufficient, and the terminally ill. Nor can we remain silent in the face of other more furtive, but no less serious and real, forms of euthanasia. These could occur for example when, in order to increase the availability of organs for transplants, organs are removed without respecting objective and adequate criteria which verify the death of the donor.
The New York Times editorial board brings to its readers the evangelium mortem — the gospel of death. Said God to the Hebrews, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” These are the stakes. As I said, this editorial is clarifying.
UPDATE: I’m informed by Latin-speaking readers that it should be “mortis” not “mortem”. I have made the change. Live by Google Translate, die by Google Translate…