The Human Exceptionalist – November 2011


November 8, 2011
Introducing The Human Exceptionalist
A Monthly Newsletter of Discovery InstituteLast week—according to the experts—the 7 billionth human was born on Planet Earth.  To those who view human life as a scourge on the planet (and there are many), this simply represents another mouth to feed on a sphere of finite and diminishing resources.  Others, like Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith, see this as an opportunity—through the power of an added human mind—to solve our most difficult problems.  That is the dividing line between those who see human beings as an overpopulating animal and those, like Wesley, who argue in favor of Human Exceptionalism.  The latter—a term coined, in part, by Wesley himself—argues that all human beings possess equal moral value and dignity simply because they are human. Discovery Institute—through the excellent work of our Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith—is one of the great defenders of human life and human dignity.  As many of you know, Wesley is a regular contributor to The Weekly Standard and National Review, a frequent guest on the talk radio circuit around the country, and a blogger with international reach.

I am pleased to add to that list of accomplishments the Human Exceptionalist newsletter, a new monthly publication that will keep you apprised of important developments in this field.  The newsletter is not just a way to keep you informed, though that is certainly important.  It is also an educational tool, meant to provide you with the tools you need to defend ‘human exceptionalism’ in your homes and communities. In short, it is the “next step” in Discovery Institute’s growing work in this field, and in our efforts to combat the anti-human sentiment that is becoming so prevalent in our culture.

I hope you enjoy this debut issue.  If you wish to receive future editions take a moment to become a subscriber by following the link at the right. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments!


Steven J. Buri
Executive Director
Discovery Institute

A Note from the Author

Dear Exceptional Human:

Welcome to the first issue of The Human Exceptionalist, the Center for Human Exceptionalism’s monthly report on the many emerging threats to human dignity and equality.

Why The Human Exceptionalist now? Western Civilization, which depends on accepting the moral importance of being human, has generated greater freedom and prosperity than ever before seen in history.  Despite this, very powerful and bounteously financed ideological forces in seemingly unrelated—but actually symbiotically connected fields—such as bioethics, radical environmentalism, neo Darwinism, scientific materialism, animal rights, radical environmentalism, and futuristic transhumanism, assert with mounting vigor that being human is, morally irrelevant.

Not coincidentally, as the moral importance of human life has become increasingly marginalized, flora, fauna and—and even nature itself—are seen increasingly as possessing rights equal to those of man.  Some even go so far as to declare us to be the enemy of the planet itself!  Worse, these nihilistic views are communicated continually (and sometimes subliminally) by popular culture, in schools, at our most important universities, and by the media.

When faced with these subversive philosophies, too many people roll their eyes and say, “It can’t happen here.”  No more dangerous words were ever uttered.  As The Human Exceptionalist will show, it not only can happen here, it is happening now.

We can no longer afford to be complacent that human exceptionalism remains a self evident truth (to use Jefferson’s immortal words) and that it need not be defended. Indeed, if Western Civilization’s bounty of equality, liberty, and prosperity are to be preserved, we must renew our commitment to promoting human dignity and unique moral value as the foundation of human thriving.

The Human Exceptionalist seeks to help its readers pursue this end, both by informing readers about current anti-human trends. By presenting a monthly compendium from the intellectual “battlefield,” we hope to both inform readers about individual issues that impact directly and indirectly on human dignity—which alone would be worth the effort—but also to illustrate how, like Colorado’s quaking aspens, seemingly disparate issues actually share a common root system of anti-humanism.

The history of this century will depend on whether we continue to adhere to the belief that human life matters simply and merely because it is human. I hope you will join us as we stand proudly for the simple but profoundly important proposition; human life matters!


Wesley J. Smith
Director, Center for Human Exceptionalism
Discovery Institute



Newspaper Editorial Promotes Assisted Suicide and Health Care Rationing as a Way to Save Medical Resources in New Vermont Single Payer State Health Plan.

Essential Quote:

“Passing a law that allows physicians to help end a patient’s life under very controlled circumstances, known as “death with dignity,” is one such measure that could help (an effort was tried this pass session but postponed until next year). Another is approving some type of rationing measures, as Oregon has done, that help control health care costs.”



Animal Rights


British rock star and animal rights zealot, Morrisey, shamefully called the mass murder in Oslo as “nothing compared to what happens in McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried [Chicken] everyday.”

Essential Quote:

“We all live in a murderous world, as the events in Norway have shown with 97 dead,’ he said (when the death toll was thought to be higher). “Though that is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried S*** every day.”

Comment: This odious moral equivalency between the value of humans and animals is a core belief within animal rights advocacy.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Seeks to Personalize Animals in new Bible translation.  Insists they be referred to as “who,” rather than “that,” or “he or she” rather than “it.”



Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia


Belgian Doctors Marry Euthanasia and Organ Harvesting

Center on Human Exceptionalism co-director and senior fellow, Wesley J. Smith, warned that Jack Kevorkian’s desire to join euthanasia and organ harvesting has come true in Belgium:

Essential Quote:

“But coupling organ harvesting with mercy killing creates a strong emotional inducement to suicide, particularly for people who are culturally devalued and depressed and, indeed, who might worry that they are a burden on loved ones and society. People in such an anguished mental state could easily come to believe (or be persuaded) that asking for euthanasia and organ donation would give a meaning to their deaths that their lives could never have.’

Death in Swiss suicide Clinic Live-Streamed on Internet



A transhumanist explains at the Discover magazine blog how human exceptionalism must be abandoned in the quest for creating human immortality and a “post human species.”

Essential Quote:

“Using a scaled system based on traits like sentience, empathy, self-awareness, tool use, problem solving, social behaviors, language use, and abstract reasoning, animals (including humans) will be granted rights based on varying degrees of personhood…When African grey parrots, gorillas, and dolphins have the same rights as a human toddler, a transhuman friendly rights system will be in place.”



Human Trafficking


Georgia Holds Seminar on Human Trafficking

Essential Quote:

“The FBI recently recognized Atlanta as one of 14 cities in the nation with the highest incidences of children used in prostitution…But human trafficking is not limited to sexual slavery nor to children, although those cases can be the most disturbing, Yates said. It also takes the form of forced labor for the agriculture and restaurant industries and domestic servitude.”





Oslo Mass Murderer a Believer in the New Eugenics: Discovery Institute Fellow John West read Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s,  European Declaration of Independence and found his beliefs steeped in eugenics and scientism.

Essential Quote:

Perhaps the most blatant example of Breivik’s Social Darwinism is his endorsement of “reprogenetics,” a form of “positive” eugenics to allow human beings to take control of their evolution and produce better humans through genetic engineering. According to Breivik, “[t]he never-ending collective pursuit for scientific evolution and perfection should become the benchmark and essence of our existence.” (p. 1199)





Darwinist and founder of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Mark Bekoff decries human exceptionalism in his Animal Emotions blog at Psychology Today.

Essential Quote:

“We’re clearly neither the only conscious beings nor the sole occupants of the emotional and moral arenas in which there are also some surprising residents including honeybees, fish, and chickens. Surely we have no right to intrude wantonly into the lives of other animals or to judge them or blame them for our evil ways.”



Radical Environmentalism


Bolivia Pushes to Grant “Nature” Human-Style Rights

Equador was the first country to grant “rights” to nature.  Bolivia has now followed suit and will seek a UN treaty establishing “the rights of nature.”

Essential Quote:

“The South American country wants the UN to recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to ‘dominate and exploit’. It aims to establish 11 new rights for nature which include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.”


Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.