Monday, June 16, 2008


My in box continues to grow with news that is worthy of comment. It's reassuring in a funny way to know that the planet is not getting any saner.

Did you know that while Jehovah's Witnesses can receive a new organ, they can't get a transfusion during the operation? True story. I live in London, Ontario, and I used to work for the Canadian Liver Foundation. I learned while there that JWs come from all over Canada to receive liver transplants at London Health Sciences Centre because the docs here can do it fast enough so that the patient won't bleed to death. Obviously, this puts them at greater risk, so while a JW gets an organ and takes a stupid chance, some other bastard dies of hepatitis. So chew on that, and then put your moral outrage aside for a minute.

I've often wondered about quirky religious prohibitions. Jews and Muslims can't eat pork or shellfish, or rabbits or camels (not that I'd want to eat camels, either). Mennonites can use a butter churn or a horse and buggy, but not metal nails or bicycles. Catholics can't take the pill. Hindus aren't supposed to kill anything but widows. Some of the wackier Baptists can't dance. (Know why Baptists can't have sex standing up? They might accidentally dance.) And JW's can't have transfusions.

So check this out:
Court upholds seizure of surviving sextuplets

VANCOUVER–A B.C. court says a child's right to life trumps a parent's charter right to guide their medical treatment in the case of four sextuplets taken from their Jehovah's Witness parents.

B.C. Supreme Chief Justice Donald Brenner has ruled that the seizure of the four surviving infants for blood transfusions, contrary to their parents' religious beliefs, was medically necessary to either save the children's lives or keep them from harm.

That's right, the B.C. courts have infringed upon a couple's right to let their children die. I'm impressed.

Some of you may wonder how a parent could let this happen. It happened in Wisconsin not that long ago. We often hear stories of parents killing children because god said so (one happened here in London a couple years ago). Abraham and Isaac is another good example. Another is Jephthah and his daughter. Apparently, god's a big fan of the dead kid. But people now cry foul: god would never ask such a thing. Never.

But he did. And he does, often. Abraham was a hero because he was about to kill his kid. What makes that dude in London any different, besides four thousand years?

Just that. Four thousand years. So maybe taking the Bible at face value is a bad idea in other areas of endeavour.

But about these quirky beliefs. You have to wonder why they hold onto them in spite of such astonishing evidence. God really wants you to bleed to death? God really says that condoms are a sin? God really cares if you cut your hair? God really wants menstruating women to be ostracised, and then to kill some birds?


I heard an explanation of the JW tansfusion thing that makes a twisted sort of sense. There're obviously religious rules against cannibalism. And when you're unconscious, they feed you with an IV: a needle in your arm. You can take nourishment directly into your bloodstream. So, getting blood put into your bloodstream is like drinking blood, whereas getting a kidney has been okay since the eighties.

I don't think this is what Dawkins means when he says that religion is child abuse.

But this is as clear a case as you can get.

Normally, we let shit like this slide, because it's a religious belief, and they're entitled to it. And adults are. Absolutely. You wanna bleed to death? Great, go nuts. Walk into the parking lot and slit your fucking throat. Just get off that operating table and let some sane guy have that liver.

So you have to wonder if the parents even want those kids back now. Aren't they tainted? Cannibals? Damned?

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