Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bush, Ice Cream, Ethics and the Authoritarian Elites

The President's Council on Bioethics former chair, Leon Kass, was small potatoes amid the reported stories of misconduct and corruption within the Bush administration. The fact that he didn’t break any laws might even be a plus, except for his bizaar world view as the one person in charge of scientific medical advances not reliant on God’s gift of miracle making.

Ice cream part one:

“Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of
eating, like licking an ice cream cone
--a catlike activity that has been made
acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in
public is offensive. I fear I may by this remark lose the sympathy of many
reader, people who will condescendingly regard as quaint or even priggish the
view that eating in the street is for dogs…and in many quarters complete
shamelessness is treated as proof of genuine liberation from the allegedly
arbitrary constraints of manners. To cite one small example: yawning with
uncovered mouth
. Not just the uneducated rustic but children of the cultural
elite are now regularly seen yawning openly in public (not so much brazenly or
forgetfully as indifferently and "naturally"), unaware that it is an embarrassment to human self-command to be caught in the grip of involuntary bodily movements…But eating on the street -even when undertaken, say, because
one is between appointments and has no other time to eat -- displays in fact
precisely such lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly.
Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using
his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. This doglike
feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where,
even if WE feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful
behavior.”– Leon Kass, The Hungry Soul, pp. 148-149. University of Chicago
Press, 1994, 1999,

Who is this Leon Kass, Wikipedia offers this short bio:

Leon Kass, best known as a leader in the effort to stop human embryonic stem cell
and cloning research as former chair of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2002–2005.[1]Kass places "special value on the natural human cycle of birth, procreation and death", and views death as a "necessary and desirable end". As such, he has opposed most kinds of interference in the reproductive process—including birth control—as well as all deliberate efforts to increase human longevity.

In his essay, “The End of Courtship" he sees as obstacles to a lasting marriage,
feminism. Kass treats modesty in women as a very important element of sexual
morality. "The supreme virtue of the virtuous woman was modesty, a form of
sexual self-control. Kass argues that when women behave with modesty, they are
better able to achieve their own "genuine longings and best interests," and that
female modesty also helps men to control lustful desires in favor of love and
"real intimacy." Kass attacks the use of birth control technology, and states that any woman's destiny is motherhood. The essay contains one explicit reference to homosexuality, as one of the "sexual abominations of Leviticus—incest, homosexuality, and bestiality". A footnote also mentions aging bachelors and their "self-indulgent" ways.

This is just another example of the conservative mindset, whether extreme or moderate, that is festering below the surface in what I believe to be a failed ideology. It breeds a new group of zealot elites, fast tracks them into the circles of power, and hands authoritarian power to control the wayward masses; Us.

Ice Cream part Two: Mark Russell writes:

“The dairy lobby holds an annual ice cream party for Congress, but under the new
lobbying restrictions, attendees will get no more than a single scoop. This
should end any doubt as to whether they are serious about ethics. Congress'
acceptance of the ban on double-scoop cones is every bit as praiseworthy as
President Bush's giving up of golf for the duration of the war. And they say we
Americans are not willing to sacrifice.”

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