Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:03 am UTC

But it's a state law allowing this practice, yes? And no, you cannot freely practice your religion "as you believe it" in all instances. There are restrictions. The Mormons have had issues with this pretty recently, and of course you've got the old standby of "if my religion is based on virgin sacrifice, do I get to sacrifice all the virgins I want?"
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Aperfectring » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:16 am UTC

22/7 wrote:And no, you cannot freely practice your religion "as you believe it" in all instances.
I agree that this is the case. That is the reason why I generally (though not always) put "freedom of religion" in quotes. Because it is NOT an absolute. However, it is still the case that "freedom of religion" is the reason for the law being written the way it is, and therefore is still the reason why these parents aren't being prosecuted. Your quote is also the reason for the rest of my previous post about my belief that the level at which we currently draw the line for "freedom of religion" in the US being just about correct. There are still horrible offenses which happen in both directions, but they are about even on both sides (in my exposure).

22/7 wrote:There are restrictions. The Mormons have had issues with this pretty recently, and of course you've got the old standby of "if my religion is based on virgin sacrifice, do I get to sacrifice all the virgins I want?"
No, that is why we actually do draw a line. That line is often drawn to exclude those of a minority opinion (pagan religions which believe in human sacrifice, or in less extreme cases, atheist and Islam), however that is the discussion for another thread. We do have to draw a line, but that line IS in how much "freedom of religion" we allow. It is not a black and white issue. You (based on my interpretation of recent posts in this thread) are arguing for less "freedom of religion", and I am arguing for more.

EDIT: Actually, I am arguing that we are about the correct level. Alcohol is not my debating friend.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby schmiggen » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:26 am UTC

22/7 wrote:But it's a state law allowing this practice, yes? And no, you cannot freely practice your religion "as you believe it" in all instances. There are restrictions. The Mormons have had issues with this pretty recently, and of course you've got the old standby of "if my religion is based on virgin sacrifice, do I get to sacrifice all the virgins I want?"

Exactly.

When your religious practice puts another person in danger, it is not protected by the general "freedom of religion" idea. Under the law, it is the duty of parents to preserve/promote the well-being of their children, and when they are found to be criminally neglecting this duty (via direct neglect or abuse or whatever), their children are taken away (or some corrective action is taken).

To defend these parents' legal "right" to do what they did is to make a choice of religious freedom over the quality/existence of a child's life. I understand valuing freedom of religion in general, but I can't empathize with valuing that over life itself.

We don't have to change the level of freedom of religion at all. We just have to recognize that this case is not one in which actions are justified by this "freedom."

If these parents still believe that praying will suffice in a similar situation, it seems guaranteed that they would be equally negligent in a future situation with another child, so in my opinion they should be declared unfit to be parents.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Aperfectring » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:38 am UTC

schmiggen wrote:Exactly.

When your religious practice puts another person in danger, it is not protected by the general "freedom of religion" idea. Under the law, it is the duty of parents to preserve/promote the well-being of their children, and when they are found to be criminally neglecting this duty (via direct neglect or abuse or whatever), their children are taken away (or some corrective action is taken).

To defend these parents' legal "right" to do what they did is to make a choice of religious freedom over the quality/existence of a child's life. I understand valuing freedom of religion in general, but I can't empathize with valuing that over life itself.

We don't have to change the level of freedom of religion at all. We just have to recognize that this case is not one in which actions are justified by this "freedom."

If these parents still believe that praying will suffice in a similar situation, it seems guaranteed that they would be equally negligent in a future situation with another child, so in my opinion they should be declared unfit to be parents.

I am specifically addressing the 4th paragraph. The current level of "freedom of religion" grants that the parents have the choice to refuse medical treatment for their children based on their religious belief. To change this IS reducing their freedom to practice their religion as they view it. Drawing a line IS a valid thing to do in a society, especially one as diverse as the US is today. Moving the line of what is acceptable or not ALSO moves the line of how much "freedom of religion" we offer. By removing the right of these parents to choose, we would essentially be outlawing their religion.

In case it isn't clear, I am an atheist. I am fighting this fight mostly because I want "freedom of religion", or more specificly freedom FROM religion, for myself. Our rights are there specificly to protect the actions that are objectionable, not to protect the actions no one objects to.

These parents, if put into a similar situation again, most likely WILL do the same thing with a future child. I would condemn them, mock them, and hate them even more then. I would STILL fight for their right to do so UNDER CURRENT LAW. If that law were to change, I may argue against the change of law for abridging their rights, but I would NOT argue that they were behaving legally. In my opinion these people were acting immorally. My opinion is not the law.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Princess Marzipan » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:53 am UTC

Freedom of religion has always (in the US) been limited by the remaining inability to infringe on others' rights.

In this case, the parents are exercising the child's rights in her place. She could legally have chosen to deny treatment on religious grounds. They made that decision for her.

It sucks. It really does.

I would not be against changing such laws to include exceptions in the case of life or death medical situations, but then you end up with needing to determine where to draw THAT line...

We should be thanking them for clearing the gene pool this little bit.

(Note that there are points here on which I disagree WITH BELIAL, so you KNOW it's a wicked fucked up totally gray area thing.)
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby schmiggen » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:59 am UTC

Aperfectring wrote:I am specifically addressing the 4th paragraph. The current level of "freedom of religion" grants that the parents have the choice to refuse medical treatment for their children based on their religious belief. To change this IS reducing their freedom to practice their religion as they view it. Drawing a line IS a valid thing to do in a society, especially one as diverse as the US is today. Moving the line of what is acceptable or not ALSO moves the line of how much "freedom of religion" we offer. By removing the right of these parents to choose, we would essentially be outlawing their religion.

In case it isn't clear, I am an atheist. I am fighting this fight mostly because I want "freedom of religion", or more specificly freedom FROM religion, for myself. Our rights are there specificly to protect the actions that are objectionable, not to protect the actions no one objects to.

These parents, if put into a similar situation again, most likely WILL do the same thing with a future child. I would condemn them, mock them, and hate them even more then. I would STILL fight for their right to do so UNDER CURRENT LAW. If that law were to change, I may argue against the change of law for abridging their rights, but I would NOT argue that they were behaving legally. In my opinion these people were acting immorally. My opinion is not the law.

I would say we probably agree in principle on how things should be.

However, the parents didn't quite refuse medical treatment, specifically. (As I understand it -- correct me if I'm wrong -- )Their religion doesn't prohibit the possible treatment, but rather led them to simply not seek it. It is not that the government should have been able to force treatment of some kind on their children, but that they should have better explored the options available to them, which would be completely acceptable under their religion. So I am not convinced that they were exercising their freedom of religion in acting as they did, even though it was their religion that led them to their actions. Does that make sense?
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Aperfectring » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:49 am UTC

schmiggen wrote:
Aperfectring wrote:I am specifically addressing the 4th paragraph. The current level of "freedom of religion" grants that the parents have the choice to refuse medical treatment for their children based on their religious belief. To change this IS reducing their freedom to practice their religion as they view it. Drawing a line IS a valid thing to do in a society, especially one as diverse as the US is today. Moving the line of what is acceptable or not ALSO moves the line of how much "freedom of religion" we offer. By removing the right of these parents to choose, we would essentially be outlawing their religion.

In case it isn't clear, I am an atheist. I am fighting this fight mostly because I want "freedom of religion", or more specificly freedom FROM religion, for myself. Our rights are there specificly to protect the actions that are objectionable, not to protect the actions no one objects to.

These parents, if put into a similar situation again, most likely WILL do the same thing with a future child. I would condemn them, mock them, and hate them even more then. I would STILL fight for their right to do so UNDER CURRENT LAW. If that law were to change, I may argue against the change of law for abridging their rights, but I would NOT argue that they were behaving legally. In my opinion these people were acting immorally. My opinion is not the law.

I would say we probably agree in principle on how things should be.

However, the parents didn't quite refuse medical treatment, specifically. (As I understand it -- correct me if I'm wrong -- )Their religion doesn't prohibit the possible treatment, but rather led them to simply not seek it. It is not that the government should have been able to force treatment of some kind on their children, but that they should have better explored the options available to them, which would be completely acceptable under their religion. So I am not convinced that they were exercising their freedom of religion in acting as they did, even though it was their religion that led them to their actions. Does that make sense?
I'm sure in a more sober state it would make more sense, but I think I can grasp the basic idea here. The couple themselves are not explicitly exercising their right. However, since their actions were religiously motivated, they are still covered under the same exceptions as if they were explicitly exercising their right. If this is the case, and the religion these parents subscribe to is wishy-washy on whether or not to submit to medical treatment, then I would say external (with respect to the government) action should be taken to influence the religion. Protest groups, outsiders, and other members of the religion should persuade that religion to firm up their stance on what is acceptable refusal of medical treatment, and what is not. In my opinion, it is not the place of the government to take the action, because doing so could be viewed as endorsement or condemnation of that specific religion (depending on point of view). The state/government has done, and is doing, all it can do within the law how it is currently written, and within the US Constitution as it is currently interpreted. It is up to individuals, and independent groups to pressure religions to change their out-dated practices. This action rarely works, but at least can make individuals feel better.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Random832 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:00 am UTC

Aperfectring wrote:
22/7 wrote:There are restrictions. The Mormons have had issues with this pretty recently, and of course you've got the old standby of "if my religion is based on virgin sacrifice, do I get to sacrifice all the virgins I want?"
No, that is why we actually do draw a line. That line is often drawn to exclude those of a minority opinion


These parents hold a minority opinion - that being that seeking medical treatment is not allowed.

The only difference is that they call themselves Christians.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby schmiggen » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:38 am UTC

Aperfectring wrote:I'm sure in a more sober state it would make more sense, but I think I can grasp the basic idea here. The couple themselves are not explicitly exercising their right. However, since their actions were religiously motivated, they are still covered under the same exceptions as if they were explicitly exercising their right. If this is the case, and the religion these parents subscribe to is wishy-washy on whether or not to submit to medical treatment, then I would say external (with respect to the government) action should be taken to influence the religion. Protest groups, outsiders, and other members of the religion should persuade that religion to firm up their stance on what is acceptable refusal of medical treatment, and what is not. In my opinion, it is not the place of the government to take the action, because doing so could be viewed as endorsement or condemnation of that specific religion (depending on point of view). The state/government has done, and is doing, all it can do within the law how it is currently written, and within the US Constitution as it is currently interpreted. It is up to individuals, and independent groups to pressure religions to change their out-dated practices. This action rarely works, but at least can make individuals feel better.


What is acceptable as being influenced by your religion? If I believed wholeheartedly that it was the will of God that I should not feed my children once they turned 7, is that acceptable? If not, does it become my right to do this if I pray that they will survive, somehow, without my aid?

What is to prevent someone from claiming any negligence at all was in fact religious devotion, hope that their diety would intervene? And if someone did claim this, but you thought they were lying, on what basis would you punish them and not these parents? This religious devotion actually caused harm to another person, and it was just as deadly harm as slitting the child's throat. Religious beliefs do not grant the right to slit throats, and they do not grant the right to allow the death of someone even if that was unintentional. Manslaughter is a punished crime, not simply a societal taboo, and although there may be technical legal ways in which this is different, I don't see how there could be many.

I don't know the law as it is written/interpreted perfectly, though... so I guess this could be covered somewhere. It would be interesting to see.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Silas » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:05 am UTC

If you stop feeding your kids when they turn seven, Social Services will take them away. When you protested in court, the governments lawyer would argue that, since no reasonable person could believe that starving children is good for them (a claim the judge is unlikely to reject), your actions are damning evidence that either (a) you are intellectually incompetent to make decisions or (b) you are acting with negligent or reckless disregard to your children's well-being.

It's fundamentally different from choosing alternative medicine (including faith-healing), because the law concedes that reasonable people sometimes believe that alternative medicines are better and/or more effective than hospital medicine. Without the unreasonableness of refusing medical care, there's no presumptive grounds to find incompetence or negligence.

Why is choosing not to seek traditional Western medicine considered a reasonable decisions Historical reasons; some, but not all, of the proving examples have to do with religion, and that's where the religious aspect of this whole issue ends. What if these parents had insisted on herbal Chinese medicine instead of insulin shots, and the girl died? I'd bet twenty dollars that they couldn't be prosecuted, for the same reason these parents can't be, and religion would have had nothing to do with that case.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:00 am UTC

I think you have it, but on the other hand that that law is still morally wrong.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby schmiggen » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:13 pm UTC

silas wrote:since no reasonable person could believe that starving children is good for them (a claim the judge is unlikely to reject), your actions are damning evidence that either

Is this not an equivalently strong argument to "no reasonable person could believe that praying alone could cure a normally terminal illness"?

I mean, seriously, if that worked, why don't more people pray and get healed? Is it really reasonable to believe that any more than it is reasonable to believe that starving children could be good for them? There's no good reason to believe either.

If praying is seriously considered under law to just be an "alternative medicine" (is faith-healing really among these?), I am disgusted more than I already was by this entire situation. If these parents had insisted on some random herbal Chinese medicine instead, without good reason to think it would work, IMO the law shouldn't excuse them either (like any random thing you decide to inject/do to your children: you better have a damned-good reason for having thought it would be good for them if it happens to lead to their deaths). If they were legitimately tricked into thinking it would work, that would clearly excuse them, but we aren't saying that they were tricked into their religious beliefs, here, are we? They just drew bad conclusions from them.

(Reasonable people can be religious, but not all religiously-held beliefs are reasonable. All I'm trying to say here is I don't think I'm merely holding a grudge against religion in general, and not trying to get into that argument. :/)
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Silas » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:11 pm UTC

schmiggen wrote:
silas wrote:since no reasonable person could believe that starving children is good for them (a claim the judge is unlikely to reject), your actions are damning evidence that either

Is this not an equivalently strong argument to "no reasonable person could believe that praying alone could cure a normally terminal illness"?

I mean, seriously, if that worked, why don't more people pray and get healed? Is it really reasonable to believe that any more than it is reasonable to believe that starving children could be good for them? There's no good reason to believe either.


The courts apparently disagree. Again, there are historical and otherwise indirect reasons for it. Here, I think (see my sig) it comes down to the courts' insistence that they're unqualified to arbitrate conflicting belief systems when otherwise-reasonable* people disagree (of course, there are exceptions to this, too). Evidently, no otherwise-reasonable people have turned up who think it's a good idea to starve their kids.

*it has to be otherwise-reasonable, or else disagreeing with the court on a single issue would prove you were unreasonable. It's susceptible to type II errors when testing the "this premise is reasonable" hypothesis, but isn't that the side the courts are supposed to err on?

(Reasonable people can be religious, but not all religiously-held beliefs are reasonable. All I'm trying to say here is I don't think I'm merely holding a grudge against religion in general, and not trying to get into that argument. :/)


Ah, but can you ever be fully aware of your own motivations? I submit that you cannot, and even in hindsight, your perception is clouded by psychology.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:22 pm UTC

schmiggen wrote:What is to prevent someone from claiming any negligence at all was in fact religious devotion, hope that their diety would intervene? And if someone did claim this, but you thought they were lying, on what basis would you punish them and not these parents? This religious devotion actually caused harm to another person, and it was just as deadly harm as slitting the child's throat. Religious beliefs do not grant the right to slit throats, and they do not grant the right to allow the death of someone even if that was unintentional. Manslaughter is a punished crime, not simply a societal taboo, and although there may be technical legal ways in which this is different, I don't see how there could be many.
Except that slitting someone's throat is very, very different from allowing someone to die of natural causes, and you know that. They are not the same thing at all.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Princess Marzipan » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:49 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Except that slitting someone's throat is very, very different from allowing someone to die of natural causes, and you know that. They are not the same thing at all.


I read this in the tone of voice of Nick Swardson's bit about using swear words around old people.

"We don't use those words around Grandma. You know that."
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:52 pm UTC

Not familiar with the reference, but it bugs me when people draw retarded conclusions based on absurd premises that they know to be false (like comparing refusing medical treatment and slitting someone's throat).
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Malice » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:35 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Not familiar with the reference, but it bugs me when people draw retarded conclusions based on absurd premises that they know to be false (like comparing refusing medical treatment and slitting someone's throat).


Um, the comparison is totally valid. Slitting someone's throat is willfully causing them to die, ie., murder, ie., a crime which should be punished even if the will to commit it is motivated by religion. Causing them to refuse medical treatment is causing them to die without intending, ie,. manslaughter, ie., a crime which should be punished even if the benevolent intent is motivated by religion.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Princess Marzipan » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:56 pm UTC

It is possible to commit both acts with a similar motivation. That motivation appears to be quite inapplicable to this case.

Either way, they are still worlds different. Stop pretending otherwise.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:59 pm UTC

Well, there's probably an alternative medicine style out there that practices bleeding...
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby schmiggen » Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:36 pm UTC

Don't think of throat slitting as intentional, then. The only important difference is the perceived gruesomeness of the image. Both led to death, and both led to suffering. Compare or contrast the levels of suffering if you want, I guess.

Stop acting like the distinction, which is clearly there, is relevant, which it is clearly not. Two different things will never be the same, but they can be analogous, which is all I am saying. If there is an important distinction that you think IS relevant that I missed, please point it out, instead of saying I'm stupid for making the analogy. (Btw, affordably treatable terminal illness != natural causes)

I'm willing to completely drop this, only not just because you say so.

@Silas: I don't think I disagree with you; the way the law will actually handle the situation isn't ambiguous, particularly because it has apparently already finished doing so. Whether or not that is acceptable as a standard does not, it seems to me, depend on whether it did or will happen. What you say about type 2 error being the way to go is strangely persuasive to me. It's odd that I didn't frame it that way, I guess.

I hate how pitiful it feels that in order to prevent inordinate control by power we must allow such insanity as this. I feel so cynical right now. Not sure why, but I don't want to be cynical... or maybe I don't want to have to be cynical to be realistic.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Malice » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:17 pm UTC

Nougatrocity wrote:It is possible to commit both acts with a similar motivation. That motivation appears to be quite inapplicable to this case.

Either way, they are still worlds different. Stop pretending otherwise.


Um. That is what I said, only in different words?

My point was that murder and manslaughter can be committed with religious motivations, and that those motivations are basically unrelated to the level of punishment for the crime. Murder and manslaughter are indeed different, but both should be punished regardless of the motivation. This is a case of manslaughter--the parents were criminally negligent. Now, they might have a case for insanity (not because they believed in God, but because of their conclusions about what God would do for them), but it seems to me that they are legally liable in some way for the death of their child.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:27 pm UTC

schmiggen wrote:I hate how pitiful it feels that in order to prevent inordinate control by power we must allow such insanity as this.


Of course it's my opinion that it isn't necessary
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:08 pm UTC

schmiggen wrote:Stop acting like the distinction, which is clearly there, is relevant, which it is clearly not.
The distinction is absolutely relevant. On the one hand I'm allowing someone to die without stepping in, on the other I'm slitting someone's throat. That's different. I'm actively killing them. Saying that there is no relevant distinction is ridiculous. The difference between the two is the difference between a decision and an action. Here's an example. I get pissed off at a guy for, whatever, cutting me off in traffic. I decide that I'm going to follow and kill this guy. I cannot be arrested. I follow him and at some point get sidetracked for whatever reason, and don't actually kill him. I still cannot be arrested. Now let's say I actually track the guy down and kill him. The difference here is that on the one hand, I've made a decision and on the other I've acted.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Malice » Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:12 am UTC

22/7 wrote:
schmiggen wrote:Stop acting like the distinction, which is clearly there, is relevant, which it is clearly not.
The distinction is absolutely relevant. On the one hand I'm allowing someone to die without stepping in, on the other I'm slitting someone's throat. That's different. I'm actively killing them. Saying that there is no relevant distinction is ridiculous. The difference between the two is the difference between a decision and an action. Here's an example. I get pissed off at a guy for, whatever, cutting me off in traffic. I decide that I'm going to follow and kill this guy. I cannot be arrested. I follow him and at some point get sidetracked for whatever reason, and don't actually kill him. I still cannot be arrested. Now let's say I actually track the guy down and kill him. The difference here is that on the one hand, I've made a decision and on the other I've acted.


The problem with your analogy is the different result. Of course you shouldn't be held accountable for the decision to kill someone if nothing actually happens.

A more apt analogy would be:
In one situation, you get angry at some guy, and you decide to run him down in your car, and you do so, and he dies. Murder.
In another situation, you decide not to run him down, and to go drink heavily instead. Then you get behind the wheel, and as luck would have it, you kill him anyway. Manslaughter.

The situations are exactly applicable. Drinking and driving is as much a dereliction of duty to society as not treating your child's easily curable illness is a dereliction of your duty as a parent. Neither requires a conscious decision to kill, just a conscious decision to be reckless--the drunk who assumes they can drive safely, the parent who assumes a miracle will save their child from their stupidity. Both decisions are, themselves, punishable, and become very serious crimes (manslaughter) when they result in someone's death.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Aperfectring » Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:24 am UTC

Another important key here is that the right of any patient to refuse treatment and not be deemed incompetent is widely approved of. These parents exercised this right. As legal guardians of their daughter, they are deemed to be legally competent, and in charge of her legal/medical decisions. They made a medical decision based on their views of the world. It would be no different, legally, for them to have refused the treatment for themselves, or for them to refuse the treatment for their daughter. Just because some (including myself) may see their actions as being a very stupid move, that doesn't mean that they were incompetent to make the decision.

The "right to slit someone's throat" which is being implied above is NOT widely approved of. It is generally held as a very despicable thing to do, hence it is illegal.

If anyone want what these parents did treated as a crime, then they need to propose a law, and get support for it.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby ansuzmannaz » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:25 am UTC

Aperfectring wrote:Another important key here is that the right of any patient to refuse treatment and not be deemed incompetent is widely approved of. These parents exercised this right. As legal guardians of their daughter, they are deemed to be legally competent, and in charge of her legal/medical decisions. They made a medical decision based on their views of the world. It would be no different, legally, for them to have refused the treatment for themselves, or for them to refuse the treatment for their daughter.


Maybe legally there is no difference, but in reality there is. Children are not extensions of their parents, but independent and vulnerable beings in and of themselves. That is what makes parenthood such a great responsibility: you're not just looking after your own well-being, you're looking out for that of another life, one that has yet to be able to make decisions for itself. And we must ask whether this young woman, if she were cognizant of all the facts and had the capability to decide rationally for herself, would have chosen prayer over medical care. Or would she have instead made the rational decision and accepted treatment? The problem is that she never had the chance to decide that for herself because her parents displayed vast incompetence in dealing with the situation.

I say they were incompetent because "competence" implies that one is successful at what one is trying to accomplish. It implies an understanding of the situation at hand, the practiced capability of coming to understand such situations when they are beyond experience, and being able to react in a rational and effective manner. It is common knowledge that a sick child, especially one that is sick on the order of weeks without showing signs of improvement, needs medical treatment. The parents of the child in question not only acted in defiance of common sense, they acted with willful ignorance. That betrays not only a misunderstanding of circumstances necessary to display competence, but willful self-deception that casts any notion of capability by the roadside.

Perhaps the law disagrees with me. Perhaps the law is wrong. What is generally approved of or not is not always a good indicator of what is right. After all, a doctor is generally considered competent to treat his patients. But if he were to pray to Yahweh instead of performing surgery, he would be sued for malpractice and possibly even incarcerated for neglect. I don't see why parents should be exempt from legal consequence, in an age where medical treatment is readily available and medical knowledge is open to the public, for attempting faith-healing in place of medical treatment.

If anyone want what these parents did treated as a crime, then they need to propose a law, and get support for it.


I don't think anyone who's arguing the criminality of the parents' behavior would disagree. The point is that it should be treated as a crime, and legal tradition is not a fitting precedent in deciding that question.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Aperfectring » Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:52 am UTC

ansuzmannaz wrote:
Aperfectring wrote:Another important key here is that the right of any patient to refuse treatment and not be deemed incompetent is widely approved of. These parents exercised this right. As legal guardians of their daughter, they are deemed to be legally competent, and in charge of her legal/medical decisions. They made a medical decision based on their views of the world. It would be no different, legally, for them to have refused the treatment for themselves, or for them to refuse the treatment for their daughter.


Maybe legally there is no difference, but in reality there is. Children are not extensions of their parents, but independent and vulnerable beings in and of themselves. That is what makes parenthood such a great responsibility: you're not just looking after your own well-being, you're looking out for that of another life, one that has yet to be able to make decisions for itself. And we must ask whether this young woman, if she were cognizant of all the facts and had the capability to decide rationally for herself, would have chosen prayer over medical care. Or would she have instead made the rational decision and accepted treatment? The problem is that she never had the chance to decide that for herself because her parents displayed vast incompetence in dealing with the situation.
The legal sense is ALL that matters here. Chances are likely that if this girl was given the choice, she would choose the same path as her parents. She may possibly have chosen a different path, but in most cases children that age still follow the faith/religion their parents do.

ansuzmannaz wrote:I say they were incompetent because "competence" implies that one is successful at what one is trying to accomplish. It implies an understanding of the situation at hand, the practiced capability of coming to understand such situations when they are beyond experience, and being able to react in a rational and effective manner. It is common knowledge that a sick child, especially one that is sick on the order of weeks without showing signs of improvement, needs medical treatment. The parents of the child in question not only acted in defiance of common sense, they acted with willful ignorance. That betrays not only a misunderstanding of circumstances necessary to display competence, but willful self-deception that casts any notion of capability by the roadside.
Remember that according to the beliefs these parents hold, that if their daughter had the medical treatment, and died, her soul could burn in hell for eternity. In their mind, they would rather have their daughter suffer for a few days/weeks/months than have her suffer for eternity. There is no reasoning with parents such as these. They (and others like them) will continue to do the same thing, because it is their eternal soul they are worried about, not their life here on Earth.

ansuzmannaz wrote:Perhaps the law disagrees with me. Perhaps the law is wrong. What is generally approved of or not is not always a good indicator of what is right.
The law DOES disagree with you (in this case). The law may very well be wrong, but it is VERY unlikely that any unpopular law will get passed, and if it does, it is even more unlikely that it will stay in effect. Especially when it comes to religion, because people tend to react badly when others tell them they can't practice theirs. When popular opinion is not a good indicator of what is right, and you want a law changed to be against that opinion, your two hopes are to change the popular opinion (slow, and sometimes not plausible), or gather enough of a voting majority to change it anyway (usually gets rolled back fairly quickly).

ansuzmannaz wrote:I don't see why parents should be exempt from legal consequence, in an age where medical treatment is readily available and medical knowledge is open to the public, for attempting faith-healing in place of medical treatment.

If anyone want what these parents did treated as a crime, then they need to propose a law, and get support for it.

I don't think anyone who's arguing the criminality of the parents' behavior would disagree. The point is that it should be treated as a crime, and legal tradition is not a fitting precedent in deciding that question.
Then do something about it. You can look to see if your local community or state has a law like this, and petition to have that law changed if it does. The current law disagrees with your stance, so there is NOTHING that can be done to these parents. Even if the law was changed today, they cannot be tried for an act committed before the law took effect.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:58 am UTC

Malice wrote:
22/7 wrote:
schmiggen wrote:Stop acting like the distinction, which is clearly there, is relevant, which it is clearly not.
The distinction is absolutely relevant. On the one hand I'm allowing someone to die without stepping in, on the other I'm slitting someone's throat. That's different. I'm actively killing them. Saying that there is no relevant distinction is ridiculous. The difference between the two is the difference between a decision and an action. Here's an example. I get pissed off at a guy for, whatever, cutting me off in traffic. I decide that I'm going to follow and kill this guy. I cannot be arrested. I follow him and at some point get sidetracked for whatever reason, and don't actually kill him. I still cannot be arrested. Now let's say I actually track the guy down and kill him. The difference here is that on the one hand, I've made a decision and on the other I've acted.


The problem with your analogy is the different result. Of course you shouldn't be held accountable for the decision to kill someone if nothing actually happens.

A more apt analogy would be:
In one situation, you get angry at some guy, and you decide to run him down in your car, and you do so, and he dies. Murder.
In another situation, you decide not to run him down, and to go drink heavily instead. Then you get behind the wheel, and as luck would have it, you kill him anyway. Manslaughter.

The situations are exactly applicable. Drinking and driving is as much a dereliction of duty to society as not treating your child's easily curable illness is a dereliction of your duty as a parent. Neither requires a conscious decision to kill, just a conscious decision to be reckless--the drunk who assumes they can drive safely, the parent who assumes a miracle will save their child from their stupidity. Both decisions are, themselves, punishable, and become very serious crimes (manslaughter) when they result in someone's death.

In short, no. The difference is between a decision being made and an action being taken. You cannot be arrested for your decisions, you can be arrested for your actions. The drunk driver in your example can be arrested because he actually took the action of driving home after drinking, not because he made the decision to drive home drunk.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby AvalonXQ » Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:28 am UTC

So, it comes down to the fact that the state should make sure that kids are properly taken care of, regardless of what sort of crap their parents believe.
You can go on a hunger strike; that doesn't mean you can starve your kid.
You can do something really dangerous and get banged up; that doesn't mean you can submit your kid to the same sort of danger.
You can decline medical treatment; that doesn't mean you can decline it on behalf of your kid.
This has nothing to do with religion -- it's about the simple fact that our kids are NOT our property. They're individuals, and the state should take responsibility for stepping in when kids are going to DIE. The reason WHY you think you're going to kill that kid is irrelevant to me; you're going to kill her, and I want the government to stop you.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby John E. » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:28 pm UTC

LilPixie wrote:I'm sure the parents are not celebrating and having cake, but rather are probably broken hearted and in disbelief/shock/existential crisis. I'm sure (having been brought up in a very religious place where people do believe this kind of thing too quickly/readily) they loved the girl and are disappointed at themselves, at their Bible study, at their life style, and at what they chose to believe. They may say that it was God's will, but I have a feeling they will be crying themselves to sleep for a very long time due to this bad choice they made; for a very long time.



I sure hope so - maybe they'll make a better freaking decision next time.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Amnesiasoft » Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:11 pm UTC

You know, I was thinking, this is a freedom of religion issue. Not because of anything even close to involving the Bill of Rights, but because people will say it is. If the majority of people decide something it's "true," even if it isn't logical, it's "true."
Last edited by Amnesiasoft on Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:06 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:24 pm UTC

Your logic is eight different kinds of flawed.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:25 pm UTC

Not if everyone says it isn't.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:35 pm UTC

Well, I suppose if you go along with the entire analogy and say that we have therefore also changed the definition of "truth" to "whatever people agree truth to be", then it's fine. However, if we're still working on the definition of truth that we have right now, then no, it doesn't matter what "everyone" or "the majority" thinks/believes it to be.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Random832 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:53 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Well, I suppose if you go along with the entire analogy and say that we have therefore also changed the definition of "truth" to "whatever people agree truth to be", then it's fine. However, if we're still working on the definition of truth that we have right now, then no, it doesn't matter what "everyone" or "the majority" thinks/believes it to be.


So you don't think that whether something's an issue depends on whether people make an issue of it, nor does what kind of issue it is depend on how people perceive it?

Issues are not a matter of absolute truth.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:05 pm UTC

I'm having a very hard time following you here, Random. Could you try to rephrase that or... I don't know, something?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Random832 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:15 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:I'm having a very hard time following you here, Random. Could you try to rephrase that or... I don't know, something?


There isn't anything that inherently makes anything an issue of freedom of religion. Things become issues because people choose to see them as issues. Issues are "freedom of religion issues" if they attract people who are for or against freedom of religion to the sides of the issue. This cannot be generalized beyond what is an issue or what issues are what kinds of issues, and trying to put it in terms of the truth being a popular vote is a straw man, since there is no "objective truth" about what is an issue of freedom of religion.

In other words, yes, the truth is related to what everyone thinks, when we are talking about the truth about what everyone thinks.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:24 pm UTC

Sorry, no. Again, assuming we're working off of our current definition of truth, then it doesn't matter what someone thinks the issue is. A good example of this is computer code. If there is an error and the programmer is trying to fix it, it doesn't matter what the programmer thinks the issue is (the reason the program isn't running), what matters is the actual reason that the program isn't running. You can bring in a hundred programmers who all agree with his faulty diagnosis, but that won't make it any more true.
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby Amnesiasoft » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:06 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Your logic is eight different kinds of flawed.

Sorry, forgot to put quotes around the word truth in there. Was a little busy fighting my wireless network at the same time.

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Re: Girl dies as parents pray for healing of treatable illness.

Postby 22/7 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:09 pm UTC

Again, if you're working off of some definition of "true" or "truth" that we don't currently have, then that's fine. But not with the definition we currently have.
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
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