Secularism no guarantee of neutrality

LETTER

Re: Is NZ really a secular state? September 2 column.

Secularism does not guarantee neutrality, and where can a neutral person be found when the issue is life or death? However, the impartiality with which Simon O’Connor chaired the Parliamentary Health Select Committee has not been questioned by his colleagues, and his honesty in publicly stating his own position is praiseworthy.

The implied collusion of Roman Catholic Members of Parliament and ensuing diatribe against the Vatican as bigoted, evil, hypocritical, stupid, ignorant and sadistic constitutes denegration of character and discrimination on the grounds of religion. Much of the content is of no relevance to euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The writer’s reference to “scientifically literate” people needs to be tempered by Mike Fuller’s quote: “to people who believe like Paul Feyerabend that science is ‘just another ideology’, the common belief that science is a neutral and objective body of knowledge is an indication of just how great an ideological grip it has on people’s minds.” Feyerabend was concerned that science could become a totalitarian force when misapplied.

Dignity is the state or quality of being worthy of respect, regardless of circumstances, and remains until the end of life because life itself is worthy of respect. Sadism is deriving pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering or humiliation on others. The quotations from John Roughan and Mother Teresa do not fit this definition, but the actions of Nieis Hoegel, who intentionally brought about cardiac arrest in about 90 patients because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them, were sadistic. It is therefore irrational to suggest a dichotomy of intent for Right to Life.

Accuracy, fairness and balance are hard to detect from Martin Hanson. In contrast Simon O’Connor has encouraged every citizen to download and read the select committee report which gives both sides of the most comprehensive New Zealand investigation undertaken, in which 80 percent of over 21,000 submissions opposed changing the law — for selfless humanitarian reasons.

Everyone has a belief system or ideology. Our legal foundation in New Zealand is in the 10 Commandments, truths which we reject at our peril. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wisely said “the battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man”.

Janice Nihoniho, Nelson

Re: Is NZ really a secular state? September 2 column.

Secularism does not guarantee neutrality, and where can a neutral person be found when the issue is life or death? However, the impartiality with which Simon O’Connor chaired the Parliamentary Health Select Committee has not been questioned by his colleagues, and his honesty in publicly stating his own position is praiseworthy.

The implied collusion of Roman Catholic Members of Parliament and ensuing diatribe against the Vatican as bigoted, evil, hypocritical, stupid, ignorant and sadistic constitutes denegration of character and discrimination on the grounds of religion. Much of the content is of no relevance to euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The writer’s reference to “scientifically literate” people needs to be tempered by Mike Fuller’s quote: “to people who believe like Paul Feyerabend that science is ‘just another ideology’, the common belief that science is a neutral and objective body of knowledge is an indication of just how great an ideological grip it has on people’s minds.” Feyerabend was concerned that science could become a totalitarian force when misapplied.

Dignity is the state or quality of being worthy of respect, regardless of circumstances, and remains until the end of life because life itself is worthy of respect. Sadism is deriving pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering or humiliation on others. The quotations from John Roughan and Mother Teresa do not fit this definition, but the actions of Nieis Hoegel, who intentionally brought about cardiac arrest in about 90 patients because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them, were sadistic. It is therefore irrational to suggest a dichotomy of intent for Right to Life.

Accuracy, fairness and balance are hard to detect from Martin Hanson. In contrast Simon O’Connor has encouraged every citizen to download and read the select committee report which gives both sides of the most comprehensive New Zealand investigation undertaken, in which 80 percent of over 21,000 submissions opposed changing the law — for selfless humanitarian reasons.

Everyone has a belief system or ideology. Our legal foundation in New Zealand is in the 10 Commandments, truths which we reject at our peril. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wisely said “the battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man”.

Janice Nihoniho, Nelson

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Martin Hanson - 2 months ago
I am sorry that Ms Nihoniho seems to have difficulty in coming to terms with history, but my criticisms of the Vatican are based on historical fact. If she thinks that the rape of thousands of children is not evil, that is her entitlement. If she thinks that taking 350 years to admit that Galileo was right and that a succession of Popes were wrong is not a sign of stupidity, that is also her entitlement. If she thinks that contrary to scientific evidence, using condoms actually increases the spread of HIV, she is entitled to agree with Pope Benedict. I'll not flog this theme further, as decent and intelligent people will get my point.
And while I agree that "sadism" usually implies deriving pleasure in the suffering of others, Catholic literature is full of references to suffering as being a "gift from God", so it's fair to say that "sadistic" requires only a small elasticity of its meaning.
Ms Nihoniho further weakens her case by her manifest lack of understanding of what science is. Like most people, she seems to think that it is a body of knowledge. It is not. It is a process; a way of investigating how the world works based on evidence derived from observation and experiment. It is true that much of the knowledge so gained has been put to evil use, but this is the result of the moral failings of people who make use of such knowledge. Science is morally neutral; humans are not.
Her final point that our legal foundation in New Zealand is in the 10 Commandments would require more words than I have at my disposal. With the editor's discretion, I hope to deal with that in a further column.

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