Oxford’s Nazi Scientists

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In my teenage years, I was a devout fan of science fiction.  I subscribed to several science-fiction magazines, which I read from cover to cover, and belonged to a science-fiction book club.  I don’t know how many science-fiction novels and stories I devoured during that time.  Hundreds, at least, maybe thousands.

I wasn’t interested in the inane cosmic-cowboy stuff that reached its apotheosis in the Star Wars seriesNo, the stories that made me keep coming back for more were the ones that made me think, wonder, look at the world afresh, recognize connections across time and space, contemplate the nature of consciousness, and confront moral questions that I had never thought about before.  In many ways, the best science-fiction writers seemed to me to have more to say about questions of real urgency and timeliness than did some of the far more respected “literary” writers of the day.

One story that affected me in the way I’ve described was Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” about a man who uses a time machine to travel back thousands of years, inadvertently kills a butterfly, and upon returning to his own time finds everything changed – subtly, darkly – as a result of that action.  Other such stories were Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Star” and “The Nine Billion Names of God.” And Isaac Asimov’s “Nightfall.” (Weirdly, despite the fact that I read hundreds of writers during those years, it wouldn’t be until much later that I would discover, and revere, the masterly Robert Heinlein.)

But there was no writer who awed me more than Philip K. Dick – and no story that had a more powerful impact on me than Dick’s “The Pre-Persons,” which I read upon its first appearance in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October 1974, the month I turned eighteen.  The story takes place in a time in the near future when abortion is not only legal, but has been redefined in such a way that parents may “abort” their children up until age twelve.  The opening image has stayed with me ever since: a boy who is out playing in the park sees the “abortion truck” heading for some home in his neighborhood and, fearing it is coming for him, sequesters himself in some bushes until he realizes, to his relief, that the “abortion” victim in question is someone other than himself.

The story, which appeared on the heels of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, had a powerful impact not just on me but on countless other readers. Implicitly. it was making a slippery-slope argument about abortion: if it’s acceptable to kill a fetus, why not a newborn?  If not a newborn, why not a child of two, or four, or eight, or ten?  Where to draw the line?

If I had ever taken lightly the concept of abortion, Dick’s story made certain that I never would do so again.  Some readers of Dick’s story were enraged, including his fellow science-fiction writer Joanna Russ.  As Dick later recounted, “The Pre-Persons” caused him to incur “the absolute hate of Joanna Russ who wrote me the nastiest letter I’ve ever received; at one point she said she usually offered to beat up people (she didn’t use the word ‘people’) who expressed opinions such as this.”

Just now, because I was writing this piece, I did some Googling and actually managed to find Dick’s story online.  I was surprised how quickly I turned into an emotional basket case after I began re-reading it for the first time in decades.  It is just that powerful.  (I also discovered, to my surprise, that Dick’s story inspired the subplot of a 1998 episode of South Park in which Cartman’s mother looks into the possibility of having her son “aborted” in the fortieth trimester.  I’m a big South Park fan, but I missed that one.)

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  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    Bruce Bower should bring one more very appropriate Science Fiction plot (sorry for forgetting the author). In that plot the "progressive" society evolved so much, that it could make decisions also on mandatory euthanasia of elderlies (say if it is not a deja vu!). The aging protagonist ought to pass a test for sexual potency with a nurse, and the plot unfolded exactly around it…

    The progressive obfuscation begins with instilling confusing terminology by the atheistic commissars. The very usage of the terms like "medical ethics" in the field where no ethics can exist is deceitful.

    In science – and in any consistent reasoning – the parties first must acknowledge some unshakable set of axioms.

    Although scientific ethics exists (as a code of honesty in science), the social ethics does not belong to science simply because there is no source of the axioms of social ethics in the science. Instead of such axioms, the scientific commissars are trying to push the "consensus" on the perversities of the day prevailing among the sexually obsessed hedonistic atheistic crowd populating the Western universities.

    Yet neither in science nor in the fields beyond it the axioms are introduced by "democratic voting" of a spoiled crowd.

    The ethics and the moral have never belonged to science. The only source of the axioms for them had always been God – until the ungodly commissars had overtaken the science and the society at large. And here you are…

    • old white guy

      i am in favor of performing after birth abortions on people who think it is ok to kill a newborn child. abortion has proven to be just one more slip on the dowmward spiral of mankind.

    • Anamah

      There they come again!…

  • Larry

    I have been saying (sarcastically) for years now that we should call the death penalty extreme late term abortion and the bleeding heads on the left would fall right in behind it.

  • davarino

    The left have lost their collective minds. Right is wrong, wrong is right. You would think they have alzheimers

  • The Infidel

    This is beyond disgusting! How long until they make the very very tiny leap from this to (“an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to THE STATE.”) How long until the State decides that a person is no longer contributing to the state thus would not deprive the state by their death.

    How long until the neurhenburg trials can be started up again, seems we didn't do a good enough job of getting rid of the nazi's the first time.

  • Eric G

    "Giubilini and Minerva explain that for them, the word “person” signifies “an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.” "

    And in their utopia, who the h*ll would be the arbiter of whether any human possesses this capability? Misfit parents? Government bureaucrats? These UK academic pinheads could have just named their BMJ article "Tiergartenstrasse 4" and save us the time of having to read the article to understand its underlying philosophy..

  • tagalog

    So, given that in order for a newborn to be capable of attributing to her own existence some basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her, what are we going to do with the fact that new born babies almost universally cry? That they can interpret threats? How about the fact that the loss of a newborn child will result in a loss to the mother and the father, not only in the personal, psychological, sense, but also in the philosophical, existential, sense?

    Shall we now begin threatening newborn babies with the loss of life in some way in order to test their ability to make the necessary attributions? I nominate Giubilini and Minerva to the role of developers and administrators of that inquiry.

  • Brain

    Lion's abort new borns and what could even be considered toddlers. I think it's called nepotism and if crap like this is actually legalized you will see a new age of apathy, indifference, and evil possibly in the form of political nepotism.

  • Mel M

    When the pro life people predicted this kind of horror following Roe vs Wade in the USA and the Morgentaler fiasco in Canada, pro-choice harpies began frothing at the mouth, throwing hissy fits and decrying the pro-life warnings as right wing ludicrous alarmist lunacy. But the pro life people were absolutely right. Our lamestream media should be highlighting the egg on the faces of these advocates for abortion. But it won't. And, unless our academic elites manage to grow some grey matter in their brains and some human compassion in their hearts, the worst will be yet to come!

  • UCSPanther

    Abortion was originally promoted by eugenicists and racists as a way of destroying those with disabilities and as a form of "population control" for non-whites. Margaret Sanger was one of those, and she exemplified the mindset of the 1920s, when eugenics and racism was in vogue with the elite all across the political spectrum.

    Ironically though, feminists have been promoting abortion as a woman's right, but in backwards countries that do not place much value on women and where sons are preferred, it is used to murder women before they are even born. In many countries where this is practiced, this has led to demographics problems where there are way more men than women.

    • Whatsinaname

      China is an example of this and they will pay for this. Men who know they will never marry because there aren't enough women have no stake in the society. Crime, drug addiction, anti-social behavior of all sorts will result. With a shortage of women, women's rights in the workplace will decrease as they will be encouraged to stay home and let the men have the jobs. In societies where there is a shortage of women, women suffer.

      • ebonystone

        Then there's the example of Islamic countries, where men are allowed up to four wives (at one time). If 25% of the men do this, they take the entire pool of women, leaving 75% of the men with no wife at all. If some men settle for only two or three wives, then a few more men manage to get a single wife.
        In any case, a large pool of young men without any responsibilities is bad news for a society, and In Islam this pool is very large. In the West, criminals are drawn disproportionately from this pool. In Islam, they make up the man-power for jihadism.

      • KarshiKhanabad

        The Red Chinese "one child" policy has in just over one generation resulted in an estimated 100,000,000 Chinese men who will never find wives. Forget the antisocial behavior, the People's Liberation Army is funnelling millions of these lonely guys into the Chinese Bachelor Army (I sort of made that up) to give them patriotic outlet of their frustrations. Talk about power projection!

        Anyway, this is the ultimate unintended consequence of sexual inequality writ large. Wherever women are regarded as of lesser value, the results are grim. Ask any Muslimah.

    • Rhonda

      Hitler began his programs by legalizing abortion. Then he began eugenics by eliminating the elderly, and mentally ill, and handicapped. Next it was the Jews.

  • UCSPanther

    In relation to the above post, many doctors in Canada have also said that with pre-natal gender testing, they are very reluctant to tell parents of certain nationalities of the results because of the gender-preferred abortions.

  • Abisja

    Abisja. I read this article and somehow the word abomination came to mind; I vaguely know the meaning of this word and, English not being my vernacular, I looked it up on my PC dictionary: "an action which is vicious or vile; an action that arouses disgust or abhorrence" – I could add some other, not so neat adjectives, but I'll leave it at that. A society that is sinking, and sinking fast. Want another eye opener; touch this link http://www.wordfamine.com/uploads/Condition_of_America_S...

  • Abisja

    The last part of the link is : Slides.pdf

  • tagalog

    When I read the Philip K. Dick short story cited in the article, I was struck by the author's focus on the desire of the Wunderkinden of the Present Day to attack that which is defenseless, and the more defenseless, the more remorseless the attack. That thought has occurred to me over the decades since Roe v. Wade, as the world has become more and more girlified. We men have had our Stalin and our Hitler, and now the women will provide ravening beasts in THEIR image. Thus far the image is of the abortion doctor and the clinic and the hospice take the place of the camps. As they get more comfortable with their power, things will get more monstrous.

    Yes, "they will never let us go to Vancouver."

  • Hank Rearden

    This is what you get as soon as you deny that we are all God's children. These medical ethicists have missed their moment – they would have been right at home selecting people for death in Nazi concentration camps.

    The same type of thinking is going on at Princeton under Peter Singer. These universities should be told by their constituencies, "we did not hire you to do this type of work. Fire these degenerates." And the top guy at each university should also be fired.

  • Always UN-PC

    A bit late to the party? Ethicist Peter Singer (inventor of “Animal Rights”) has be arguing for this for decades.

  • Dug

    A 16 yr old girl who takes her 2 min. old son and flushes him down the toilet already understands the absurd reasoning behind telling her it's ok to kill your son when he's still attached to the umbilical cord, but murder when he's not.
    With a snip of the scissors she cuts to the heart of the abortionist's argument and its murderous logical conclusion.

  • Stuart Parsons

    We are all God's Children !!! Which God is that ? Have I missed something ? Has someone actuall got verifiable evidence for the existence of a genuine omniscient deity ? Present the evidence please ? Tell me what He, She or It is like. Do I have to build a temple, mosque, church or synagogue ? Does this god want me to love my enemy or kill all who do not believe ? Does He She or It frown on sex outside of marriage, does the omniscient one give men authority over women and encourage the beating of wives. PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE present the verifiable evidence. I want to worship He She or It….. or is it the case that this deity does not expect to be worshipped.

    • ebonystone

      Sounds like you already have a deity, and not a very pleasant one at that.

    • Jakareh

      I would tell you to take your cheap (and rather poorly written) sarcasm and go to hell, except that it's hardly necessary. You will go without being told.

    • Stephen_Brady

      " I want to worship He She or It …"

      No, you don't. Jesus could come down upon the clouds of glory, right in front of you, walk up to you, touch your forehead, and make you look like Russell Crowe, and you would spit in His face.

      Why? Because He would have changed your face from the deity you worship every morning, when you look into the mirror …

  • dirt

    What is the difference between these so called 'medical ethnics' and Islamists? While Islamists believe by killing infidels, the world will become better, the abortionists believe by killing fetus and anyone they deem unable to ‘subject of a moral right to life.’, their lives would be better off.

    The abortionists are worse because they kill people who can not defend themselves!

    And this is not a freedom of speech issue since they are acting on what they say.

  • PDK

    Liberalism prefers illusion to reality. This because achieving maturity takes hard work while inventing an illusion is easy. Armed with an illusion they can embrace reality pretening that they believe their illusion to be the truth of objective reality. When they finally do believe their illusion is reality they have crossed over, they have gone insane.
    These brave, heroic liberals who can stand right up to an unborn human or now a small child, cannot find the courage to allow for the execution of murderers who fully deserve nothing less than execution.
    As Islam attempts its quest to conquer the West it is the liberals who feign courage by standing up to their fellow citizen who is standing up to Islam and feign noblism by befriending Islam. Obviously liberal immaturitys cowardice and selfishness is a threat to our culture. They have thrown down the gauntlet, it is our Union or our culture but not both.
    I say end the Union, preserve the culture by declaring independence from liberals. Simply devide the country in half, build a wall, the outlaw liberalism.
    Liberals, can`t live with them, sure could live without them. Thank you.

  • ebonystone

    Now that the new-born are fair game, will there be any upper age limit to the infanticide? Some might put it at the development of consciousness, around the age of 5 or 6. Or a good case could be made for puberty, i,e, around 12 to 14. After all, a person that can't reproduce is not "fully" human. Like in the sci-fi story.

    • Eric G

      How about 19 or 20, when the brain's executive functions have finished developing? Or how about after a human reaches a certain IQ? Or best yet — how about how productive a human is? Then farmers and laborers would always be off limits, but pinhead academic hacks who write articles on eugenics would be fair game the rest of their lives.

  • theleastthreat

    If you can use any criteria to determine viability before or after birth, then you don't need any criteria at all. It's just killing, justified one way or another. Why couldn't anyone be put down for any reason at all? When you have to live in fear of not being able to justifiy your own existence, that is the complete absence of human rights.

  • Jakareh

    I am in favor of post-birth abortions, but rather than potential or actual personhood, the criterion should be a practical one: who is a productive citizen or might become one in the future. Those who are deemed to have no productive potential should be aborted, regardless of their will in the matter. That being the case, I can think of no one with less productive potential than medical ethicists who advocate the culling of newborns when there is already such a dire shortage of births in Western countries. Professional thinkers, which they both are, obviously should be capable of ordered thought, otherwise their carbon footprint cannot be rationally justified. For the good of society, Drs. Giubilini and Minerva should be aborted forthwith.

    • Stephen_Brady

      Include Obama and Nancy Pelosi in your list …

    • southwood

      So you're a pro-murder Nazi, right ? Same as Giublini and Minerva. Diabolical.

  • redwine123

    This horrific ideological justification for what is ostensibly murder by the left pretty much explains why there has been virtually no outrage over the infanticide of females in China, India and other countries/societies that prize male children.

  • kafir4life

    It'll be interesting once the "gay gene" is discovered. My guess is that leftists will cry foul should they start aborting fetus's with the gene. You'll be able to continue to abort females, unless there's a chance they'll be lesbians, then they'll be protected.

  • aspacia

    What a reach. Abortion has been legal for 40 or so years, and nothing like this scenario has, or probably will occur. I enjoy Sci Fi, read the masters for many years including the prolife Heinlein, Herber, le Guine, and many others, but this hypothetical slippery slope probably will not happen.