Feature films on church and state
AAsch at aol.com
AAsch at aol.com
Fri Aug 12 12:32:02 PDT 2005
Understanding why the outcome of this Babylon 5 episode was a "disaster"
actually teaches an important point about the free exercise clause, I think.
Prof. Tushnet's analysis is almost purely utilitarian, noting that the outcome
was death either way. But, making the outcome the same either way is actually
instructive because it removes the utilitarian aspect. As the events of the
episode unfold, the doctor violates his ethics as well as the personal autonomy
and dignity of his patient and the parents. One need not share the religious
beliefs of the fictional aliens to see the difference between the events in
this episode and death with dignity as a deontological disaster.
By this analysis, by the way, I don't mean to endorse any particular
position on parents' religious rights to refuse lifesaving medical treatment for
Star Trek and Babylon 5 fan
In a message dated 8/12/2005 11:11:31 AM Pacific Standard Time,
tushnet at law.georgetown.edu writes:
I read the summary Rick directed us to, and I'm a bit puzzled. The doctor
intervened in a situation where (the summary says) "there are only two
options--surgery or death." As a result of the intervention, the alien boy's
physical life is preserved, but in the end his parents kill him because, as they
put it, "This was not our son. This was only a shell. There was nothing to do
but end the pain of the shell." What I'm puzzled about is why Rick describes
this outcome as a disaster. It turns out that the (physical) outcome was
death either way. And that death resulted from the parents' acting on their
beliefs at least as much as from the surgeon's intervention. I suppose this
might be described as a disaster if one shared the parents' religious beliefs
-- but, because they are entirely fictional, I don't see how anyone could. It
would be different if some obviously bad consequences occurred by means
other than the parents' choices. One could describe the episode, as summarized,
as about free will and determinism, or about the bad consequences of
religious fanaticism. (One thing it's not about is the bad consequences of
government intervention, because the surgeon refuses to comply with the government
representative's direction not to perform the surgery.)
Rick Duncan wrote:
_Here_ (http://www.oinc.net/B5/Enc/) by the way is a very nice summary of
Babylon 5 "The Believers" episode.
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