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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Those evil white middle class males

So, I had a look at my Twitter feed just now. Someone whom I know and like has a Tweet complaining about politicians who wax lyrical regarding freedom of choice until it comes to rights to choose abortion or voluntary euthanasia. Fine, I appreciate that sentiment. There are, in fact, too many people (some with political power) who are all for freedom until it comes to some of the most important freedoms of all: the freedoms to make major decisions about our own lives, such as whether to go on living with a debilitating, terminal disease, or whether to continue with a pregnancy and become a mother.

So far, so good. I agree.

But then someone whom I don't know, but who has a male name, has retweeted this with an additional message: "Freedom of choice as defined by white middle class males."

Jesus Christ on a hamburger bun! Not every damn thing has to be about identity politics and standpoint theory. I'm sure that there are plenty of people who are not white, or not middle class, or not male, or not any of them, who are opposed to abortion and euthanasia. Indeed, it is very often women who are most vocal in opposing euthanasia and (especially) abortion. Opposition to euthanasia and abortion is not about race, gender, or social class. Very often, it is based on ignorance or a lack of imagination. Often, too, it is based on religious morality.

Likewise, plenty of people who happen to be white, male, and from the middle class are fully supportive of choice in these areas. For a start, I am supportive of it, and last time I looked I was white and male. Despite my working class origins, I also count as middle class these days: I'm educated, and I've managed over the years to accumulate some screw-you money. I know many white, middle class men who have the same views on these topics. I'm confident that any properly conducted survey would show much support for abortion and euthanasia from my demographic, as well as much opposition from others.

Can we please just - at least some of the damn time - address issues in detail and on their merits?  I have done so here, with euthanasia, and I have done in the past with abortion, stem-cell research, and other crucial issues in human bioethics. Our detours from reasoned argument are damaging to the culture of discussion in the public square. It's way past time to get back on the main road.

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