There really is an intellectually vapid piece over at "Liberal" Conspiracy by Justin McKeating from Chicken Yoghurt on the subject of organ donation. It doesn't actually constitute an argument in favour but simply calls anyone on the Right that has issues with the philosophical consequences of so-called "presumed consent", sanctimonious, selfish, pig-headed and self-contradictory. According to Justin,
"Needless to say most of the umbrage is coming from the Right. They might as well be saying 'Gordon Brown can pry my liver from my cold dead hand' for all the sense they're making. They bang on about the 'murder' of foetuses by the 'abortion industry' but are seemingly willing to stand by and let walking, talking people die because their politics have been offended."Hmmmm... I am on the Right; I don't agree with presumed consent; but I'm also not anti-abortion and did, in fact, take the piss out of the phrase "abortion industry" by cracking a gag about factory production lines and knitting needles. Justin's argument couldn't, just possibly, be a straw man could it? Or perhaps it would be fairer to note that he's banging on making no sense? Or should I just say he's talking bollocks, that's much fairer.
The founder and contributer to "Liberal" Conspiracy seems to have swallowed Justin's argument hook line and sinker as well. I'm not sure whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, but Sunny Hudal says,
But Justin's basic point still stands - why does the right suddenly find choice abhorrent when it comes to abortion... but in this case can't stop falling over themselves to display their libertarian credentials?No it doesn't stand at all because off the top of my head I can think of a number of people on the Right who's views disprove the rather weak argument that Justin is making. Justin then goes on to the miss the point spectacularly about property rights and ownership.
'It strikes at our relationship with the state,' they say. Well get this: You can't have a relationship with the state when you're dead. You can't assert ownership over your own corpse. Why? Because. You. Are. Dead.Who said that that it strikes at our relationship with the state when we're dead? Only a complete idiot would say that, or someone constructing another straw man perhaps which wouldn't make them an idiot but would make them foolish. The relationship in question is actually between living individuals and the state because "presumed consent" takes the starting point that all human beings are to be owned by the state unless otherwise stated. That is a major shift in the relationship of the individual and the state because it shifts liberty and ownership in favour of the state from individual as a default position.
Of course, some others might make even weaker points than Justin in support of him. Take for example Bob Piper. Putting aside the usual crap at the beginning that says those against the idea are "right-wing loonies", he says,
"What seems to have slipped past the minds of the sanctimonious right is that the phrase 'opt-out' gives those who are alive and care about these things, an opportunity to.... errm, how shall I put it.... opt-out."He'll be reading Vogon poetry to us next, just after he tells us that "all the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it's too late to start making a fuss about it now".
OK, so quoting Hitchhikers might seem odd, but that is the fundamental of Bob's argument really. He's saying that because there is an "opt-out" that we should all be happy. But what if you haven't had the opportunity to do it? What if you get run over on your 18th birthday? In fact, the assumption that an opt-out is sufficient "choice" is another example of how the relationship between living individuals and the state will switch it's default starting point.
Back to Justin though, there is the final piece of crappy argument. That being that those who opposed 'presume consent' want to let people who need organs die. If in doubt throw in a nice bit of emtional nonsense and essentially call any political argument against equivalent to murder by-proxy. Sounds like the same logically weak argument pro-lifers give doesn't it? But Justin is not being 'self-contradictory' oh no! The thing is there are ways in which to improve organ donation rates without having to shift our liberty over ourselves into a new default position that places ownership with the state from the moment of our birth. For a start healthcare professionals could be more pro-active in encouraging people to fill out donor cards rather than leaving them on the desk for people to notice.
As I have said before, if people were asked whenever they went into hospital if they were willing to be a donor as a simple signing in question then, if polling on organ donation willingness is correct, you would see an increase in available donors. The problem is not that the 'opt-in' doesn't work, it's that no one asks the question until the worst possible time to the distraught next-of-kin. Stop presuming, start asking.
Update: Unfortunately, due to the limitation of my phone I was not able to write this bit this morning. Should you be wondering why the word Liberal is in quote when I say "Liberal Conspiracy" it is because the argument that Justin et al is claiming is right wing is actually the classical liberal one. Unlike their argument which isn't.