Kathleen Gilbert

Scrooge, our favorite population controller

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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December 23, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Every time December 25 rolls around, I’ve made it a tradition to watch A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. It’s such a great film. Unfortunately, it never fails to remind me of work.

This is because (as readers may remember) Charles Dickens cast Scrooge as the population control everyman: “If they would rather die, they’d better do it, and decrease the surplus population,” he says of the impoverished masses herded into prisons and workhouses.

Whether it’s for the “green” crusade or some other guess at the common good, top ethicists today have embraced Scrooge’s insight that there’s a shortcut to achieving that good: do away with the people who aren’t benefiting from it. Voila!

Scrooge makes a fine population controller because they are the very definition of Scrooge. It’s just that these days, when such characters show up in the flesh instead of a film, society’s anti-Scrooge alarm - a repulsion towards those who say others should do us a favor by not existing - sadly fails to go off. 

As Scrooge later beholds the ailing Tiny Tim, the Ghost of Christmas Present reminds him that according to his own theory, the little boy’s death would mark one step in the right direction. But the message doesn’t really hit home until Scrooge is prompted to consider leading by personal example with his own death. Now that, as other characters observe, the old man had never seen coming.

This is the plague that nearly all population misers must have in common: a ho-hum attitude toward their own end. Some probably have floating in the backs of their minds a soothing idea of slipping into a restful nothingness, while others may have more pessimistic or optimistic ideas, but they are just that: ideas. Especially in this world of near-miraculous health care, we run the risk of death remaining largely in the realm of theory. 

This isn’t healthy.

Not to get too depressing, but this is important: please, let’s not pretend death is anything short of a total disaster. Except on a supernatural level, death and life are pure enemies. The problem with death is that it’s impossible to represent it; it is nothing and absurdity. True appreciation is thus left to experience: life left to itself can lose its sense of its own throbbing energy, its own insatiable greed for more and more life. But nearness to the void provokes the most violent of natural instincts, the craving to be. 

We’d be better off getting in touch with this instinct again; it gives us insight into the problem with eliminating the “surplus population,” that is, with eliminating people. When someone else dies, a person vanishes. But if I die, everything else vanishes too, and that’s what is so terrible.

This is in fact accurate. Without people things are only things, or even less than things. Scrooge’s gold is a collection of atoms with seventy-nine protons that signify nothing more than those of compost. Trees and animals live and decay lacking the capacity to know their own beauty and poetry, and thus with no one aware, there is no beauty or poetry at all. The world, a huge mass of particles occasionally engaging in chemical reactions, would just be: and in the end, may as well not be. 

So the story of Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t the story of a man learning that people are worth more than money, but that worth means people.  People can’t be weighed in the scales because they are the scale. That’s exactly why we all love A Christmas Carol, and why population misers are wrong.

Whether conservative or liberal, green or not, stories that tell this tale are the ones we like best. Stories that tell the reverse are not stories at all.

In September we encountered a non-story like this in the extreme. James Jay Lee, the Discovery Channel gunman, met an absurd end as he held hostages while demanding that the network air programming to help us stop “breeding any more disgusting human babies.”

Lee was so alienated from the true common good that he thought people were not only not its purpose, but a hindrance to it. Who was the protagonist of his story? How could there be a happy ending? It’s hard to say, given that he himself was a member of that “filthy” race - and had strapped bombs to his own body.

This is where we come to the point, the one Lee sadly missed and that Scrooge nearly did. Death truly is the wrong ending to any story, for it steals both people and the meaning they endow - and had it not been for Christmas, all of human history would have been just such a non-story. 

Our frightful encounter teaches us just how great a rescue God pulled off by the birth of a tiny, impoverished child on Christmas Day. Death, the total disaster, has been forced into service as the gateway to life. Christ’s coming is another of those stories we like best, so much so that even modern secularists can’t quite seem to let it go: this one tells how the human soul will never vanish but can hope to conquer even death itself. 

It’s been a hard year: as we look on, people seem to go on finding ever more and more ways to suppress life. Steeping in these reports too long can be unhealthy, and make us forget the way things really are. To detox, find a comfortable spot on Christmas Day and listen to a story that ushers back to center stage the two things that really belong there: life, and the Child who made it abundant forever.


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

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By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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