Tuesday, September 27th | 2 Tishri 5783

January 31, 2012 3:59 pm

God Protect Us…from the “Ethics” of Professor Peter Singer

avatar by Moshe Averick

U.S. Naval Personnel with group of dolphins. Photo: wiki commons.

Sometimes you just don’t know whether to laugh or weep. Such is the confusion engendered by reading the “ethical” pronouncements of Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University:

“For the U.S. Navy to put dolphins in harm’s way in the Persian Gulf is a form of speciest enslavement we should be ending.”(The Guardian, 1/19/2012)

This was Singer’s reaction to an announcement by the U.S. Navy that they had trained dolphins to detect mines and would use these “dolphin brigades” to help prevent Iran from blocking the flow of oil tankers through the Straits of Hormuz. Singer is outraged:

“To believe that, because they [dolphins] are members of a different species, we can ignore or discount their interest is speciesism, a form of prejudice against beings who are not “us” that is akin to racism and sexism.”

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He points out that “it is possible for the dolphins to set off the mines and die in the resulting explosions” and that they could become “targets for the Iranians to destroy if they can…even conscripts have some basic rights. The dolphins have none.” We are also informed that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed suit in federal court in San Diego, petitioning the court to declare that the five killer whales at Sea World are being held as slaves in violation of their 13th amendment rights. Singer writes that “a similar case might be made against the U.S. Navy for its use of dolphins.” (I understand that Sea World filed a countersuit asking that those representatives of PETA should be declared wards of the state due to insanity.)

The Navy clearly feels that dolphin “commandos” can be very effective tools in a conflict with Iran and ostensibly the use of dolphins would lower the risk of human casualties. In fact, the detection of one mine could potentially save the lives of hundreds of sailors. The unspoken part of Singers essay is that he prefers that human beings die in a war rather than dolphins. It beggars the abilities of the human intellect to understand how, in a world where atomic bombs in the hands of Iranian Islamic fanatics endangers all mankind, Singers feels that our primary concern should be the well being of a group of dolphins. Those of us who aren’t privileged enough to inhabit the never-never land of the Princeton University campus –  a place where philosophers like Singer are protected from dangerous encounters with reality by academic tenure – understand that to protect animals at the cost of human life is so perversely and disgustingly immoral that it is beyond  discussion.

Singer has also stated that “there is no sharp distinction between the fetus and the newborn baby” (ergo, if abortion is ethical, so is killing newborns), that “I don’t have intrinsic moral taboos,” that it is not “unethical” to euthanize sufferers from dementia, and that severely retarded babies could be put to death “if it was in the best interest of the baby and the family as a whole.”

What do all these “ethical” positions have in common? What is the conceptual underpinning that drives the philosophy of Peter Singer? The answer of course is obvious: Human life has no inherent value. It is worth as much or as little as we want it to be worth. Please don’t misunderstand; there is a logic to this madness. In an atheistic/materialistic world where life emerged from a prebiotic swamp through a series of lucky flukes; where all life is nothing more than a genetic variation of the first bacterium, what could possibly be the basis for assigning inherent value to human beings? There is no clearer articulation of this self-apparent truth than the one put forth by Sigmund Freud: “The moment a man questions the meaning and value of life he is sick, since objectively neither has any existence.” Once there is no objective value to life, “ethical” philosophers like Singer are free to make up any subjective system of values that pleases them…and they do! Newborn babies and old people can be “mercifully” killed for the benefit of all, hundreds of sailors can go to a fiery death after their ship is blown up by an Iranian mine, but Peter Singer sleeps soundly at Princeton University after a pleasant evening spent watching reruns of “Flipper.”

This man has been entrusted with teaching our children moral and ethical principles at a prestigious institution of  higher learning. The confusion I mentioned at the beginning of this article has cleared up. We should all be weeping.

If you wish to be notified when Rabbi Averick’s new columns appear, send an email to [email protected] and simply write the word Subscribe in the subject bar.  Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website. .

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