Most Americans are now morally illiterate—incapable of engaging in serious moral analysis. Exhibit A in favor of this proposition is the frequency with which the rhetorical challenge, "Who's to say what's right or wrong?" is used to shut down moral discussion--and then met with confused silence by the question's victim. The first chapter of this book provides a succinct and convincing reply to that challenge. Subsequent chapters analyze other comments designed to avoid serious moral reflection--statements like the following: "It's just entertainment," "Ethics is really personal," "I gotta be me," "Be true to what you believe." The substitution of the term "value" for "virtue" and the modern redefinition of the term "hypocrisy" are additional linguistic shell games that have contributed to Americans' inability and unwillingness to engage in meaningful moral discourse. The former change makes possible the morality-negating declaration that one is "entitled to his own values," while the latter disposes of the no-longer-popular aphorism, "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice gives to virtue." A concluding chapter explains "What went wrong?" and points an accusing finger at the electronic traveling salesmen who replaced the moral guides who provided most of our ethical instruction prior to the advent of mass electronic communication. This changing of the moral guard is an immensely important and little-discussed cultural event that substituted advertisers, celebrities, and media movers and shakers for the ministers, parents, and persons of character who traditionally provided the lion's share of moral messaging in actual communities. The philosophical roots of our nation's moral illiteracy are also discussed briefly in this work, but these comments do not by any stretch of the imagination constitute a ponderous philosophical lecture. On the other hand, individuals who find moral discourse quite distasteful, will find the contents of this book hard to swallow.
Sunday, February 05, 2017
Not since Hannah Arendt’s portrait of Adolf Eichmann has there been a more provocative analysis of evil as that provided in Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer’s work detailing the crimes, trial, and personality of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, “
Most Prolific Serial Killer.”
“Banality” was the word Arendt chose for Eichmann’s bureaucratic officiousness in the Third Reich’s Ministry of Death. That term, however, hardly fits the acts of a self-assured abortionist who regularly snipped the spinal cords of babies born alive, kept infants’ feet as trophies, ran an illegal prescription drug mill, and hired assistants who were totally unqualified to perform medical duties in a filthy, ramshackle facility. What’s surprising about Gosnell, however, is that his greed and macabre callousness existed alongside an often cheerful disposition that accompanied various acts of charity. Consequently, Gosnell had a good reputation among most of the poor community he both served and exploited.
Additionally, the authors’ prison interview with Gosnell gives the impression of a self-confident individual with at least moderate intellectual and artistic talent -- a man with a positive outlook on the future who enjoyed traveling abroad, namedropping (a friend of slain late-term abortionist, George Tiller), and playing Chopin on the piano. Nevertheless, Gosnell clearly overestimated his professional and intellectual abilities as indicated by his desire to represent himself in the trial at which he was ultimately found guilty on three counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison -- a sentence the doctor is confident will one day be overturned.
The term “banality” does comport, however, with the lassitude and indifference displayed by Pennsylvania’s abortion-oversight bureaucracy -- whose officials were all too willing to forego inspections, let gross violations slide, and dismiss even complaints associated with the deaths of two women Gosnell treated. Pennsylvania’s pro-choice Republican governor, Tom Ridge, comes in for special criticism by the authors for his “hands-off” policy vis-à-vis facility inspections -- though they also note that the state’s bureaucratic malfeasance extended well beyond Ridge’s tenure.
Accordingly, Gosnell’s late-term abortion house of horrors was exposed not by folks charged with the responsibility of making abortions “safe,” but rather by a cop investigating the source of some illegal prescription drugs. The unsanitary conditions in Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society
clinic -- e.g. cat feces, urine stench, milk jugs stuffed with aborted baby parts -- raised enough concerns to begin a probe of Gosnell’s “official” practice.
The death of another patient opened additional investigatory doors. This immigrant from
(mislabeled “the Indian woman” by Gosnell) had the misfortune of being heavily
anesthetized by one of Gosnell’s unqualified assistants who took orders over
the phone from the absent doctor. Lies
told by Gosnell and his staff about the treatment of Karnamaya Mongar didn’t deflect
Detective Jim Wood and district attorneys from finally attempting to determine
how far Gosnell had gone beyond the illegal distribution of prescription drugs.
Eventually the prosecution brought seven murder charges against Gosnell for killing live babies plus another charge for Mongar’s death. Though the practice of “snipping” the spinal cords of late-term babies was common at Gosnell’s clinic, the prosecution required clear evidence that infants long since deceased had actually been alive before being murdered. However, since there was no other logical reason for utilizing this unusual procedure on aborted fetuses, the authors estimate that Gosnell, who specialized in late-term abortions, killed “hundreds” and possibly “thousands” of live babies over the decades.
McElhinney and McAleer’s work provides an extensive account of Gosnell’s defense, presented by one of the state’s premier attorneys, Jack McMahon. McMahon’s cross examination of a prosecution witness who occasionally performed legal abortions at a prestigious hospital contains some of the most damning testimony in the book. The defense lawyer argued skillfully that there is precious little difference between what Gosnell is accused of doing to live babies at his poor community facility and the legal approach to a live fetus (i.e. baby) after an attempted abortion in an upscale hospital. In the halting words of a respected female physician, they would “just keep it warm you know. It will eventually pass.”
The book also highlights other legal absurdities. In Pennsylvania, for example, it is legal to abort a fetus at 23 weeks and 6 days, even a minute before day 7, but it is a crime to carry out the same abortion a minute later -- a distinction akin to legally sucking the brain out of a baby a few inches before it exits the womb or illegally snipping its spinal cord moments later. Ironically, Gosnell, who regularly manipulated ultrasound data to fit abortions within the state’s legal limit, appears to have believed Pennsylvania permitted abortions up to 24 and a half weeks, as his incomplete and often inaccurate records regularly noted the age of late-term fetuses as 24.5 weeks.
Given the brutal nature of late-term abortions, it’s hardly surprising that our pro-choice national press devoted minimal time to Gosnell’s trial. After all, wall-to-wall coverage would doubtless raise profound questions about the morality of abortion and especially late-term abortions -- as it did with Gosnell’s pro-choice jury and the book’s once pro-choice author, Ann McElhinney. Only a prominent USA Today editorial penned by The Daily Beast’s Kirsten Powers prodded mainstream journalists into providing slightly more coverage.
This gripping and detailed book about Gosnell is a further attempt by McElhinny and McAleer to remedy that widespread media blackout. In the near future the same husband-wife team will release a feature-length film to further publicize the largely suppressed truth about “
Most Prolific Serial Killer.”
When one considers what this book reveals about the gruesome details, moral incoherence, and institutional trappings surrounding late-term abortions, it becomes easier to see how an arrogant, controlling doctor like Kermit Gosnell could continue for decades cheerfully snipping live babies’ spinal cords and committing medical malpractice on a grand scale. After all, Gosnell is precisely the type of person who would be drawn to such a macabre specialty, all the while deeming his den of depravity a service to the community.
Abortion and the Banality of Evil
By Richard Kirk
Not since Hannah Arendt’s portrait of Adolf Eichmann has there been a more provocative analysis of evil as that provided in Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer’s [work] detailing the crimes, trial, and personality of Dr. Kermit Gosnell ...
Friday, January 13, 2017
I have long thought that the widespread practice of abortion (c.50 million since 1973, and over a million a year currently) is the "original sin" at the heart of America's moral depravity. The upcoming book and movie about abortionist Kermit Gosnell exposes in gruesome detail the largely unspoken and unseen reality of this depravity.
The following material is from BREITBART:
Gosnell — who has been called America’s “most prolific serial killer” — operated what the 300-page grand jury report later called a “baby charnel house,” in which he regularly killed babies born alive at his clinic, which itself was staffed with inexperienced nurses and littered with blood-stained furniture and the remains of fetuses stored in basement freezers. Gosnell was later convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and hundreds of lesser charges, and in 2013 was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
But before the film comes out, McAleer and McElhinny will release Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer, through Regnery Publishing on January 24. The book details the investigation that ultimately brought Gosnell down, and also examines the mainstream media’s reluctance to cover the story due to its subject matter.
In this exclusive excerpt from the forthcoming book, McElhinney describe how she came to investigate Gosnell’s story and why it changed her thoughts about the practice of abortion forever.
"I never trusted or liked pro-life activists. Even at college I thought them too earnest and too religious. I thought the shocking images they showed were manipulative. I distinctly remember my argument: a heart transplant is gross to look at, too. I don’t want to look at pictures of that, and heart transplants are brilliant. So back off, prolifers with your scary pictures. I also didn’t trust the provenance of the pictures; I was sure they had been photo shopped.
If the anti-abortion position was so strong, it should be able to argue without resorting to emotionally manipulating its audience with fraudulent horror pictures.
Once you have this mentality, it’s very easy to completely dismiss pro-life activists. And the universities of the world are teeming with young people just like that young person I once was.
Fast forward to April 2013 and Kermit Gosnell’s trial in Philadelphia, when everything changed.
Nothing in the intervening years had shaken my feelings on the subject.
But the images shown in the courtroom were not from activists, they were from police detectives and medical examiners and workers at the 3801 Lancaster Ave clinic. The expert testimony describing “good” abortions was from OB/GYNs who had been performing abortions for thirty years. The witnesses swore an oath to tell the truth and to present the evidence, and they did, under pain of penalty for perjury.
What they said and the pictures they showed changed me. I am not the same person I was.
Abortion arguments from pro-abortion advocates tend to avoid any actual talk of how an abortion is done and what exactly it is that is being aborted. I know a lot about both now.
I now know that what is aborted is a person, with little hands and nails and a face that from the earliest times has expression. The humanity in all the pictures is unmistakable, the pictures of the babies that were shown as evidence in the Gosnell trial—first, second, and third trimester babies, in all their innocence and perfection.
I also know that in a proper, legal abortion babies are poisoned in their mother’s womb by injecting a needle filled with potassium chloride into the baby’s heart. Then the baby is suctioned out in pieces. If the baby is bigger, forceps are used to pull it out in pieces— an arm, a leg, the head often torn from the torso. If the head is too big to pull out, the abortionist makes a hole in the base of the skull and the brain is sucked out to collapse the skull so the head can come easily. That’s how it’s done when it’s done well.
Reading the testimony and sifting through the evidence in the case in the research for this book and for writing the script of the movie has been brutal. I have wept at my computer. I have said the Our Father sitting at my desk. I am no holy roller—I hadn’t prayed in years—but at times when I was confronted with the worst of this story I didn’t know what else to do.
I have had a profound sense of the presence of evil in the actions of Gosnell and his staff and their complete lack of conscience. Most disturbing of all is the banality of the evil; in the clinic they joked and laughed amidst the carnage.
I am absolutely certain that the dead babies spoken of in court were unique people whom the world will now never know. I hope this book and the movie go some way to mark the fact that they lived and in their short lives made a difference. Time will tell. This story can change hearts and minds; it has mine.
I can’t reconcile the certainty of the babies’ humanity with the fact that killing babies in the womb at these same ages is perfectly legal in many parts of the U.S. Kirsten Powers put it eloquently: “Regardless of such quibbles, about whether Gosnell was killing the infants one second after they left the womb instead of partially inside or completely inside the womb—as in a routine late-term abortion—is merely a matter of geography. That one is murder and the other is a legal procedure is morally irreconcilable.”
The jurors had to listen to the stories of the lives and deaths of Baby Boy A Abrams (29.4 weeks), whose photograph is on the Internet; Baby Boy B (twenty-eight weeks), whose frozen remains were found in the clinic—the medical examiner’s photograph of him with his neck slit is online—Baby C, who breathed for twenty minutes before Lynda Williams “snipped” his life; Baby D, who was delivered in a toilet and tried to swim to safety before Adrienne Moton slit his windpipe; Baby E, who cried before Dr. Gosnell cut his neck; and Baby F, who moved his leg up to his chest before he was killed. They saw pictures of the forty-seven dead babies discovered at the clinic the night of the raid, their remains stuffed into old milk cartons and kitty litter containers.
These babies sent Gosnell to prison. But more than that, they are the most eloquent evidence we have ever had of the reality of abortion.
The media have tried to ignore their stories.
We will not."
"Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer," is due out January 24 from Regnery Publishing.