The Human Exceptionalist- March 2012

March 1, 2012

The Human Exceptionalist – March 2012

The morality of the 21st century will depend on how we respond to this simple but profound question: Does every human life have equal moral value simply and merely because it is human? Answer yes, and we have a chance of achieving universal human rights. Answer no, and it means we are merely another animal in the forest.

–       Wesley J. Smith


Dear Exceptional Human:

Evil, I have heard it said, can be defined as treating any human being as an object.  If so, the struggle to maintain human exceptionalism as the foundational value of society is properly viewed as existential struggle, if not between good and evil, than certainly between right and wrong.

The stories reported in this edition of The Human Exceptionalist illustrates why we at the Discovery Institute are so committed to the cause.  For example, a bill has been proposed in the Maryland Legislature that would allow surrogate decision makers to “donate” the organs of patients diagnosed to be in a persistent vegetative state (erroneous, medical studies show, about 40% of the time).  I know some people will say, “What if it is the patient’s child” or some such. But we can’t do it! We can’t treat incompetent patients as objects for the benefit of others. Such a proposal would objectify these helpless people and reduce them to so many organ farms.

Meanwhile, Canada has a growing problem with sex selection abortion. I am not quite sure why some view abortion for convenience as okay, but as a means choose the gender of one’s child as a terrible “feticide,” but surely we see in this practice a form of objectification of children to serve parental desires rather than as a recipient of their unconditional love.

Human objectification leads to a throw-away-some-humans culture. For example, a recent report published by the official Dutch euthanasia oversight committee shows how far euthanasia has moved the Netherlands away from human exceptionalist attitudes.  For example, the committee approved the euthanasia of an elderly woman with macular degeneration and sporadic incontinence. Note that the committee determined that suffering the see as justifying medicalized killing need not be caused by a serious medical condition!

We also have stories of decadent cannibalism—which some have called a hoax—but does it matter?  Meanwhile, Santa Monica has granted legal rights to “nature,” that could be construed as akin to a right to life.

And finally, I have presented an example of the continuing attempt to redefine human exceptionalism in such a way that no one could support it, e.g. as a philosophy that disregards the value of everything outside the human realm. But of course, that is 180 degrees off kilter. Human exceptionalism actually holds that animals and the environment are of ethical concern and that we–as the only duties-bearing creatures in the known universe–have very serious ethical responsibilities toward animals. Hence, animal welfare laws. Hello?

The cause of human exceptionalism is the cause of human equality and world prosperity. If you would like to help us proactively expose and engage the anti-humanist agenda, we would appreciate it.  Just hit the “Donate” link.  Oh, and if you run across any stories that you think should be reported here, please let me know at

Thanks a lot,

Wesley J. Smith
Co-Director, Center for Human Exceptionalism





Canadian Medical Association Journal Editorializes to Prevent Sex Selection “Feticide”

Essential Quote:

Female feticide happens in India and China by the millions, but it also happens in North America in numbers large enough to distort the male to female ratio in some ethnic groups. Should female feticide in Canada be ignored because it is a small problem localized to minority ethnic groups? No. Small numbers cannot be ignored when the issue is about discrimination against women in its most extreme form. This evil devalues women. How can it be curbed? The solution is to postpone the disclosure of medically irrelevant information to women until after about 30 weeks of pregnancy.


Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia


Dutch Review Committee Approves Euthanasia of Elderly Woman with Macular Degeneration

Essential Quote:

The committee must therefore decide whether the patient’s suffering was caused by a medically recognised condition. In this connection it notes that, under the existing due care criteria, suffering that is unbearable with no prospect of improvement must be largely due to a medically recognised condition. However, there is no requirement that this should be a serious condition.


HB 449 Introduced in Maryland to Permit Organ Harvesting from Unconscious Patients

Essential Quote:

This subsection applies only to a patient who has been certified…to be in a persistent vegetative state.

(3) A person authorized to make health care decisions for another under this section may authorize the donation of a nonvital organ if the donation is based on: I) A determination by the surrogate that the donation is consistent with the patient’s relevant religious and moral beliefs and personal values.




Santa Monica City Council Adopts “Nature Rights”

Essential Quote:

Santa Monica’s City Council voted on Tuesday to recognize the rights of natural communities to exist. The resolution, drafted by the Task Force on the Environment, calls for Santa Monica to “recognize the rights of people, natural communities, and ecosystems to exist, regenerate and flourish,” according to City Staff.


Human Exceptionalism


Straw Man Definition Used to “Debunk” Human Exceptionalism

Essential Quote:

In the first chapter [of Ethics and Animals], [Lori] Gruen identifies and analyzes a philosophical view she refers to as “human exceptionalism” — the view that human beings are the only beings deserving of ethical concern, and that humans have no ethical responsibilities to non-human animals.

Societal Decay

Men Purport to Eat Each Other’s Flesh on Dutch Television

Essential Quote:

Two young presenters, Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno, razor-sharp suits, ties and all, each had a small piece of his flesh surgically removed, Mr Storm from his buttock, Mr Zeno, paradoxically, from his belly. A professional chef, the Dutch answer to Gordon Ramsay, then fried the delectable morsels in sunflower oil (recommended by the medical profession as a healthy alternative to butter), but, disappointingly, without any salt and pepper. The two cannibals then had a candle-lit supper on camera, all in the best possible taste, joyously comparing notes on the flavour of each other’s meat.


A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy

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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.