The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Just Because We Can Does Not Mean We Should

Posted on | December 15, 2011 | 2 Comments

by Smitty

Title lifted from the wonderfully titled Apophenia, which has an interesting definition. That post on Danah Boyd’s blog begins:

Learning to moderate desires and balance consequences is a sign of maturity. I could eat only chocolate for all of my meals, but it doesn’t mean that I should. If I choose to do so anyhow, I might be forced to face consequences that I will not like. “Just because I can doesn’t mean I should” is a decision dilemma and it doesn’t just apply to personal decisions.

Read the whole thing, which has to do with the software consequences of social networking, concluding:

Just because people can profile, stereotype, and label people doesn’t mean that they should. Just because people can surveil those around them doesn’t mean that they should. Just because parents can stalk their children doesn’t mean that they should. So why on earth do we believe that just because technology can expose people means that it should?

Via Anna Marie Hoffman at The College Conservative, a similar question is raised about a program I will not watch called “Sperm Donor”.

Essentially, programs like “Sperm Donor” are normalizing the unethical effects of the sperm donor industry and are continually perpetuating the moral decay of our society. By restructuring the traditional family unit and the two-parent heterosexual model, the sperm donor industry is purposefully changing America’s definition of a stable society and thus is ultimately hurting the children conceived from such a system.

However, there is hope that the abuses of the sperm donor industry will halt. Recently, The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network released a film called Anonymous Father’s Day, which features adults searching for their biological fathers and calling for the end of the very system that conceived them.

Hoffman includes this video:

That’s a trailer for a documentary called Anonymous Father’s Day.

In the trailer, one woman asks “Should we be conceiving children in the first place who will be deliberately denied the ability to know, and be known by, their father?” Another woman states that she wants “…her children to know where they came from.” Such statements convey both the unethical and emotionally damaging nature of anonymous sperm donations.

The practice of anonymous sperm donors, and children fathered by them, is certainly legal and has a market. That would lead one to conclude that it is ethical, rather than unethical. In other words I’d say ethical means ‘not illegal’.

But is it moral? (My, admittedly non-standard, ethical/moral distinction is covered here.) That is, does anyone think that the Almighty is pleased, and/or glorified by people thumbing their noses at the clear, simple, obvious, form-follows-function beauty of:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Gen 2:24

There is vast capacity to use modern technology to tinker about with the natural order of things. I’d like to fall short of a sweeping judgement here, in the space of a blog post. It’s possible that there may exist a really good case for why using an anonymous sperm donor is not immoral. But it seems that protecting the father’s (or the mother’s in the case of an egg donor) privacy at the expense of dropping a sizable existential dilemma on the offspring is immoral. That is, the biological parents (i.e. DNA providers) are doing to the child emotionally what the government is doing economically: casting debts upon them without any sort of dialogue. A variation on taxation without representation, if you will. Progressivism seems to be about finding the least vocal victim.


2 Responses to “Just Because We Can Does Not Mean We Should

  1. RSS Ronald Reagan
    December 15th, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    This was an extremely thought-provoking post.  Thanks.  Your best line (IMO):  “Progressivism seems to be about finding the least vocal victim.”

  2. Is it moral for a woman to conceive a child from an anonymous sperm donor? « Wintery Knight
    December 15th, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    […] Here’s a video that shows how children are hurt when they are denied a relationship with their biological father: (H/T Stacy McCain) […]