We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

For centuries, women have fought for the right to bodily autonomy. Having an abortion is a medical intervention, and women are just as entitled to it as any other treatment. But by adopting a philosophy which surrenders our medical autonomy to the state, we are hypothetically giving governments the power to ban abortions. Moreover, we are giving them the power to enforce them, if they so choose.

The rights of the individual to assess risk and prioritise the quality of their own life has been forgotten

In the past 12 months, dramatic shifts in mainstream attitudes to public health have moved us closer to this reality. The rights of the individual to assess risk and prioritise the quality of their own life has not only been forgotten — it has been scoffed at and derided, as though it never existed in the first place. The precedent set by the smallest step towards this broken philosophy is incredibly dangerous. Over the next few weeks, we must all ask ourselves what kind of world we want our children to grow up in. Do we grant them ownership of their bodies — indeed, their self, their soul, their identities? Or do we bequeath that ownership to the state? Some may argue that vaccine passports are the first step towards eradicating a disease. Rather, they are the first step towards the eradication of basic human rights.

Tom Moran

33 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • TheHat

    Crock. Of. Shit.
    ‘Having an abortion is a medical intervention’. No, it’s murder. Of a baby. And no one has that right.

    ‘What kind of a world?? Do we want our children to grow up in?’ How about one where they are allowed to survive their birth?

  • Lee Moore

    I don’t think this article is very logical.

    There’s a fundamental difference between :

    (a) choosing to help or not help an injured man you find lying in the street, and
    (b) choosing to bop or not bop a passer-by on the head

    A restriction on choice (a) would be an infringement of your liberty. A restriction on choice (b) would not.

    Blood donation is a type (a) choice, and so restriction / compulsion is a restriction of your liberty.
    Vaccination is……. well, what ?

    It can certainly be framed as a type (b) choice. If it was vaccination for bubonic plague, during an epidemic thereof, infecting someone after refusing to be vaccinated could be characterised as wilful assault. See injuns and smallpoxy blankets.

    In the real world, all sorts of voluntary human activity carries some statistical risk of harming a passer by, and whether any restriction on such activities is consistent with respecting liberty depends on the expected value of the risk. Also whether the risk of damage to passers by can justify a restriction in advance, or just an ex post facto punishment, depends on the nature of the risk and possible damage. Shooting an arrow in the air in a deserted stretch of moorland is not the same as shooting an arrow in the air in Piccadilly Circus, which in turn is not the same as shooting a thousand arrows in the air in Piccadilly Circus.

    So with COVID vaccinations, the question is – how big is the risk to third parties ? The bigger the risk, the bigger the justification. Hence the official effort to big up the risks, which are in fact rather small.

    However, the question of blood donation is different in kind, since it is type (a) and not even arguably type (b).

  • DamJoeWVM

    Vaccination is……. well, what ?

    A risk to yourself.

  • lucklucky

    There are 2 bodies and 2 individuals. Strange this guy forget that.

  • Angnezka Roberts

    No, it’s murder. Of a baby. And no one has that right.

    Very much a matter of opinion. Unlike USA, it’s not even a serious political issue in UK.

  • I agree with the sceptical tone of commenters above. The tendentious rhetoric of the quote suggests to me that eagerness to make his point overcame the writer’s historical commonsense.

    For centuries, women have …

    like men, disagreed over much and desired contrasting goals. Insofar as statistical commonalities can be observed over “centuries”, they include awareness of the danger of abortion to the mother’s life until recently, and a preference for loving one’s offspring over causing their deaths, thus making the past more nuanced than the OP quote’s opening allows.

    To a historically-reflective reader like myself, that kind of opening destroys confidence in the writer before their main contention is even reached. There is indeed something to be said about last year’s seizures of power on medical pretexts. It can be and has been better said.

  • Paul Marks

    I am generally against abortion (I say generally as we can all think of exceptions – for example the mother is in danger of death and there is only way to save her…) – because it is the killing of a person who has committed no crime, the baby. Other people take another point of view SOMETIMES including on the killing of babies after they are born, even “moderate” Democrats such as the Governor of Virginia now support what used to be called infanticide – if that is what the mother wants, or can be convinced to want.

    One way out of this mess would be for the baby to be removed without being killed – so that the mother could “remove this intruder from my body” and the child still live and develop. But medical science is not quite there yet.

    One libertarian argument being “If you found a trespasser in your house, would you not have the right to remove them – even if they were going to die outside your house? If your house – how much more your body!”. Accept that the baby did not break in to your body by some wicked choice of their own.

    Perhaps the modern attitude is a return to the morality of the Ancient Roman world – as may be “Trans” stuff is (the Emperor Hadrian had such an operation done on a boy – although he was NOT eight years old Mr Joseph Biden). In pagan Roman towns babies were discarded on rubbish heaps to be SOMETIMES eaten by rats – only Jews really made a fuss about this, and then the offshoot of the Jews known as Christians (both also objected to Gladiatorial Games – they were that anti social).

    There was also the Jewish thing about a contract for work not lasting for more than seven years – when the civilised world understood that slavery was vital and that of course people could be born slaves, without any silly Jewish nonsense about contracts of indenture. Although moderate Jews accepted Roman (and Greek) ways and had slaves. Only “fundamentalist” (as we would say today) Jews did not – the sort of people who would not go to Gladiatorial games either. And tended to go about stroking their beards and saying “there is some good stone work here, but there is some that is less good – and the streets could be better contrived”, but I am getting side tracked.

    As for vaccination – even a moderate Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard (not the “evil” Professor Harvey Risch of Yale – who dared come out in support of Early Treatment of Covid 19, thus contradicting the “narrative” that there-is-no-Early-Treatment) has said that MOST people should NOT be vaccinated.

    Unless you are in a high risk group do not get vaccinated – that is his position, and Harvard is not exactly a “right wing” place.

    And he was not even thinking of the risks of vaccines – for example messing up the immune system, making it over active or not active enough when facing future illnesses.

    But the policy is that everyone is to be vaccinated – as a form of ritual submission to “the narrative”. Jobs and so on will not be given to those not prepared to accept this.

    I went up to Corby (a town a few miles north of the town I live in) for the jab a few days ago – I took the opportunity to have a walk round the woods there. I have lived in this part of the world all my life, but I have never really explored Corby.

    So I thank the narrative for that – the woods in Corby are quite nice and it was a fine sunny day. If I die of some immune system problem next winter – well there we are. Such is the modern world. Let us hope everything turns out for the best and the vaccines cause no problems at all.

    “They not going to let you have a job anyway Paul” – well yes, but one must try.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Niall nails it April 2, 2021 at 9:55 pm.

    thus making the past more nuanced than the OP quote’s opening allows

    Is particularly important.

    I’m reminded of a comment Niall made some months ago in a Samizdata thread. In the comment, as I recall, he discussed the rights of women in marriage historically and provided evidence to support his assertion. My takeaway from that comment, which I unfortunately cannot find atm, was that modern society’s prevailing understanding of women’s rights within marriage historically is, to put it kindly, misguided and simplistic.

    Whig history is a cornerstone of the Woke religion but it does not infect only the Woke. We all must remain vigilant.

    Paul Marks,

    even “moderate” Democrats such as the Governor of Virginia now support what used to be called infanticide – if that is what the mother wants, or can be convinced to want.

    This is true and this info must be more widely spread. Alex Jones, of all people, seems to be one of the only major media personalities loudly calling attention to major politicians’ support for this heinous barbarism.

  • Paul Marks

    “for centuries women have fought for the right of bodily autonomy” – if that means most women supported abortion, I do not think it is true.

    On the contrary most woman used to regard it as a terrible crime. The past is a foreign country – people think differently there. If one had a referendum on abortion, with women only voting, in Britain or America in the 1930s the answer would not have been “yes legalise it”.

    Most woman voted to keep abortion a crime in Ireland only a few decades ago (I was alive at the time – I remember it), in the recent vote the new generation (who would not be alive if the vote had gone the other way in the previous referendum) voted for abortion.

    Contra F.A. Hayek and contra David Hume – moral traditions in a populations are not just habits or customs that evolve and stay because “that is the way we do things round here”.

    If a tradition is not alive, if people do not actively argue for it and understand the reasons for it, in every generation – then it dies.

    The Christian Churches and the conservative minded atheists stopped arguing for cultural traditions – and that was the moment those traditions started to DIE.

    In the case of some of the Churches it was more than that – they gave in to sin (and covering up sin) THEMSELVES, they raped boys and they tolerated such sodomisers (if I am allowed to use the word) in their ranks. Bodies that allowed such corruption within themselves could not effectively argue against it in the wider society.

    Ireland is dying now as most Western nations are dying – and the people who had a special trust to defend moral traditions, have a responsibility for that.

    Yes you may not have abused anyone yourself – but you turned a blind eye to priests you suspected (also ignoring what you were told), you failed in your duty. And so when the time came to save innocent babies from being killed you were not heeded – and that means it is not just the abortionists who have blood upon their hands.

    And NO it is not just a Catholic thing (certainly not) – although the weakening of internal discipline and oversight that came with Vatican II was hardly helpful.

    The central insight that EVERYONE IS A SINNER – INCLUDING PRIESTS AND MINISTERS was lost.

    We all have evil within us – terrible evil. That is why we must watch over others – and watch over OURSELVES.

    That is also the reason why governments must be limited as much as possible – for governments are just sinners as well.

    Power will be ABUSED, people can NOT be trusted with power without strict limits and oversight.

  • Eric

    If you want to bring people to your side of an issue it’s generally not a good idea to assume they take your side on a different contentious issue.

  • Paul Marks

    “Do you include yourself in the statement that we all have terrible evil within us”.

    Most certainly I do – I know what is within me, and what I am capable of.

  • Lee Moore

    One libertarian argument being “If you found a trespasser in your house, would you not have the right to remove them – even if they were going to die outside your house? If your house – how much more your body!”. Accept that the baby did not break in to your body by some wicked choice of their own.

    The famous Society of Music Lovers argument advanced by Judith Jarvis Thomson extends this “break in” idea by postulating that you wake up one morning to find a famous, but sick, violinist medically attached to you – he requires access to your organs for the next 9 months, to keep him alive. But he is not to blame – it is his friends and admirers who have hooked him up to you without your consent – and without his, for he is unconscious.

    The scenario shines a light on the issues of wicked choices, blame and consent. You have been co-opted by force. But the violinist himself is not to blame.

    But however ingenious, the scenario carefully looks past the statistically overwhelming reality. In almost all, but not all, cases, the woman seeking an abortion is not the victim of any kind of unjust assault, nor is she the unfortunate victim of a remote and unforseeable mischance. Conception is a predictable consequence of unprotected intercourse – according to the BBC (and who could disbelieve them) a single act of intercourse, occurring at a random time in the month, carries about a 5% chance of pregnancy. Even protected intercourse carries a small, but known, risk of pregnancy.

    So, most of the time, the abortee is in situ by (statistical) invitation of the mother.

    Of course many folk would decide the rights and wrongs of abortion solely by reference to the moral status of the mother and of the abortee, and without reference to any questions of consent. But in many situations we recognise that rights and responsibilities may vary according the the conduct of the parties. I have absolutely no right to demand money off you, and the State has no right to take your money from you and give it to me. Except if we agree that I should toil in your vineyard all day in return for a penny. In which case if I do the toiling, I do have a right to one of your pennies. And you have an obligation to give it to me.

  • lucklucky

    “Very much a matter of opinion. Unlike USA, it’s not even a serious political issue in UK.”

    Opinion by people that cannot be aborted.

  • Bruce Hoult

    I don’t think mass vaccinations, or penalties for those who don’t want to be vaccinated are warranted here.

    Contagious diseases are always a more difficult case for libertarians than things such as choosing to skydive or experiment with recreational drugs. COVID-19 is a serious disease, but it’s hardly polio or measles.

    Many people like to point out that COVID-19 is not much worse than the flu, as if that means we shouldn’t worry about it or do anything about it.

    I actually wonder whether the events of the past year might convince people that we tolerate the flu rather more than we should.

    Here in NZ, as I believe in a number of other countries, 2020 was the year without a flu season. In a normal year in NZ 5000 people feel poorly enough to go to the doctor, get a flu test, and it returns a positive result. 500 of them die. In winter 2020 there were *6* positive flu tests, and no deaths.

    During the winter NZ didn’t have any required social distancing. Everything was open. No one was wearing masks. What did we have? Maybe people were washing hands a bit more frequently than before. But mostly, I think, it was that people entering the country were required to be secluded for a few days to see if they got sick.

    Maybe we should adopt that permanently.

    Certainly not the expensive way it’s done at the moment, with special hotels (four and five star ones, at that) with police or army at the entrance, for everyone. People should be able to go home and isolate there for 10 days or two weeks, or for that matter drive around in a campervan as much as they want, as long as they don’t mix in crowded places. We’d need an easy way to identify new arrivals so we can avoid them, and so we can tell if they’re not cooperating and if so collect ’em up and put them in a managed situation.

    Plenty of countries have shown that it’s easy to control and eliminate COVID-19 if you just keep sick people, or people they might have infected, secluded. If you have no idea who might be infected then you need to isolate everyone for a short time. Ten days or three weeks — not more.

    It’s a logical necessity that if people actually do this then the virus had no way to pass to a new host and very soon there is no virus.

    If “lockdowns don’t work” it’s not because the virus is somehow teleporting from house to house or city to city. It’s because people are not, in fact, staying home.

    If individuals demonstrate that they won’t stay home when sick, or when they might have been exposed, then maybe throw ’em in jail and vaccinate them while they are there.

    But not everyone, on threat of not being able to travel or be employed otherwise.

  • ShepU

    Vaccination with what? The mRNA injections do not prevent infection or transmission. Says it on the tin. J

  • Shlomo Maistre

    My takeaway from that comment, which I unfortunately cannot find atm, was that modern society’s prevailing understanding of women’s rights within marriage historically is, to put it kindly, misguided and simplistic.

    Found it.

    https://www.samizdata.net/2021/03/eureka/#comment-809918

    Great comment from Niall.

  • Paul Marks

    Lee Moore sums it up – as does lucklucky And Erik makes excellent tactical point.

    The Republic of Ireland in 1983 voted by over two thirds against abortion – in 2018 the people, many of them only alive because of the vote of 1983, voted two thirds for abortion.

    That is a Cultural Revolution in one generation – the old Ireland is dead and gone, and I mourn for it. “How can you mourn for it – you are an Unionist, they were your opponents and your own Grandfather was their enemy” – its complicated, a person can respect their opponents, even their enemies, indeed admire them.

    As for the “New Ireland” with its deputy Prime Minister, who was Prime Minister during the abortion campaign of 2018, who violated his own Covid 19 regulations (with other men) in a public park in sight of the young. No I do not respect or admire this new culture. It is doomed, and no one will mourn it when it finally dies.

    “And the rest of the West” – the “New Culture” does not work, and it dominates most Western countries. Societies were the state is “all in all” (as Edmund Burke put it), where family, church, voluntary associations…… all count for NOTHING (only the state counting for anything), do not work.

    Capitalism is based on Civil Society – but the vast international Corporations want to destroy Civil Society, hence their support for such things as the sexual mutilation of children and the general “Woke” (Frankfurt School of Marxism) agenda – even though destroying society must also destroy the Corporations themselves.

    The “ESG” (environment, social justice and governance) Agenda is destructive to the core – and it is backed by the government and Credit Bubble banks (themselves dependent on the Federal Reserve) that at least the American Corporations depend on.

    “And you trust these vast Corporations on medical matters?” – of course not. For example, they knew that Early Treatment of Covid 19 with a Combination of long standing medications would have saved most of the people who have died – yet they said nothing.

    A “Corporation” is, in truth, just a group of people – and these people, at least in high management, have not shown good character. Perhaps their “education” is to blame, or perhaps it is the structure of a Corporation where people who make decisions do not really own the “means of production” they control, or perhaps it is a bit of both. Perhaps it is simper than all that – perhaps the Corporate types are just no good.

  • Paul Marks

    I have just seen that Niall has made made some excellent observations.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    The mRNA injections do not prevent infection or transmission.

    Source?

    Says it on the tin.

    What does “tin” mean?

  • Shlomo Maistre, thanks for finding my comment, thus saving me the trouble of doing so. Being grateful for this, I am reluctant to cavil at anything you wrote above, but even whigs deserve justice:

    Whig history is a cornerstone of the Woke religion

    Perhaps long ago it was a stepping stone, but today myth history is the cornerstone of the Woke religion – actual whig history would be far too limiting. The list of statues to be toppled and western cultural achievements to be first despised, then denied and finally lied about in silence includes a lot of whigs and/or whig-praised deeds – and when it comes to ‘islamophobia’, arguably the Victorian whigs were even less woke than the Victorian tories. 🙂

  • Snorri Godhi

    There’s a fundamental difference between :

    (a) choosing to help or not help an injured man you find lying in the street, and
    (b) choosing to bop or not bop a passer-by on the head

    In most cases, yes, there is a fundamental difference.
    (Although i claim that somebody who chooses not to help in (a) is still a murderer, unless there are sound reasons to choose not to help.)

    But what about Chappaquiddick?
    That does not fit neatly into either (a) or (b).

  • Lee Moore

    But what about Chappaquiddick? That does not fit neatly into either (a) or (b)

    True. I was simply framing compulsory blood donation and compulsory vaccination, following Tom Moran’s piece. Chappaquiddick is intermediate between (a) and (b) but I think even Robert Nozick at his most otherwordly would place it very near to (b). Because while you may not have deliberately bopped her on the head, O Lion of the Senate {barf}, you were responsible for her being trapped in a car underwater. So you’re not an innocent passer-by, you are a reckless doggone tortfeasor. So it’s on you to fish her out, or at least call for help.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Niall,

    Whig history is a cornerstone of the Woke religion

    Perhaps long ago it was a stepping stone, but today myth history is the cornerstone of the Woke religion – actual whig history would be far too limiting. The list of statues to be toppled and western cultural achievements to be first despised, then denied and finally lied about in silence includes a lot of whigs and/or whig-praised deeds

    I think that Whig history is a type of what you are calling myth history. I think that whig history thoroughly informs the Woke. In fact, maybe the Woke believe in whig history more than any other group of people ever, frankly! What the Woke are doing to statues and western cultural achievements is just what happens when Whig history faces no real pushback, imo.

    – and when it comes to ‘islamophobia’, arguably the Victorian whigs were even less woke than the Victorian tories.

    Well, maybe. There’s a lot of angles/aspects of this comparison.

  • Paul Marks

    This word “Whig”.

    People like the socialist philosopher Bertrand Russell (and he was a socialist – he opposed private property in the means of production) used it to mean anyone in support of “progress” (he even described himself as a Whig).

    There is a long tradition of doing this – Edmund Burke called them the “New Whigs”, the people who supported the mass robbery of the French Revolution because it was supposed to produce “progress”.

    But the actual Whigs, such as Sir John Holt (Chief Justice 1689 to 1710) were about protecting liberty and property (different aspects of the same thing) from the state and from private criminals.

    Edmund Burke called them “The Old Whigs”.

    “Whig History” is the history of someone like President Woodrow Wilson who sees change as “progress” even if (indeed ESPECIALLY if) it means a bigger and more interventionist government.

    Someone like Sir John Holt would have shot Woodrow Wilson in the face.

  • Paul Marks

    Bruce Hoult – the virus can travel 30 feet, and it can stay active on surfaces for hours. Even if you keep people in prison and supply them in boxes – it is still going to spread.

    “Perhaps we should do this PERMANENTLY” (my stress) in relation to locking people up to see if they have diseases.

    Let us NOT do that – let us NOT do any of this stuff.

  • Paul Marks

    The common interpretation of Edmund Burke is that he supported “change” as long as it was “gradual and peaceful” – this interpretation is WRONG.

    Edmund Burke supported change if it meant more private property style liberty (for example his campaign against the Penal Laws in Ireland, or his campaign against the “Engrossing and Forstalling” laws in England – the laws against wholesalers “hoarding” and so on) and he opposed change if it meant robbery (such as the French Revolution – most of whose victims were quite ordinary people, via its paper money and so on), or such things as the proposed welfare schemes of the 1790s in Britain (what ended up as the Speenhamland system – a “basic income” style measure).

    It was not the “speed” of change, or whether it was peaceful or not that was the big thing for Burke – it was whether the change meant more or less liberty for the subject, whether it furthered the cause of the private property (both in the secure possession of the civil USE of material things, not people, by reasoning minds – people are reasoning minds, they therefore can be rightfully owned by others) liberty – or whether it harmed that.

    It may not be popular to point the above out (I was hated in academia – which is why I am not there), but it is truth.

    “But Paul that makes Edmund Burke sound like an Old Whig”.

    That is exactly what he was.

  • Paul Marks

    It is not the speed of change that mattered to Edmund Burke, it was the DIRECTION of change.

    The sort of policies pushed by, for example, Prime Minister Disraeli, or by the present Prime Minister, are the opposite of what Edmund Burke wanted.

    The efforts of Benjamin Disraeli and others to cite Edmund Burke in support of their DIRECTION of policy were and are either deeply ignorant, or incredibly dishonest.

    When President Nixon cited Disraeli “Conservative men, Liberal measures” he showed that he did not understand what the word “conservative” meant, or what the word “liberal” meant.

    I believe that Disraeli did understand what these words mean – but he deliberately misused both words.

  • There is an interesting, scholarly, feminist polemic called “We Have Always Fought”. It is more a matter of fight fighting than bodily autonomy fighting, but that is also worth reading about. It’s not a direct answer to the abortion issue, but it speaks to fighting.

    https://aidanmoher.com/blog/featured-article/2013/05/we-have-always-fought-challenging-the-women-cattle-and-slaves-narrative-by-kameron-hurley/

    I’m more studied in the Viking era, but there are enough examples of female leadership there to examine. We are aware of Leif Eiriksson, of course, who tried to settle the New World. We hear little about his sister Freydis Eiriksdatter, who also tried a settlement. She was quite the firebrand. She was hardly the earliest Norse settler-woman; Aud the deep-minded gathered and commanded one of the early settlement voyages to Iceland. And if you prefer firebrands to settlers, you need look no further than Hallgerd Long-legs.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Lee Moore: See injuns and smallpoxy blankets.
    Never happened. Please do not repeat a favorite calumny of the Woke Left.

    Lee Moore: …you were responsible for her being trapped in a car underwater… So it’s on you to fish her out, or at least call for help.
    The best explanation I’ve heard is that Kopechne was passed out drunk in the back seat of the car when Kennedy and another woman (whose purse was found in the car) drove off for monkey business. The car went off the bridge, Kennedy and the other woman got out, Kennedy’s crew started covering up his drunken antics – and several hours later, realized that Kopechne must be in the car. This explains why the cover story was such a clumsy mess.
    Because to be fair, I don’t think the Kennedy gang were so callous that they would consciously leave someone to die – and I’m sure they would see that a death would raise a minor stumble into a PR calamity.

  • We hear little about his sister Freydis Eiriksdottir, who also tried a settlement. (Ellen, April 4, 2021 at 4:37 pm)

    I had certainly heard of her. She led the last trip to Vinland and it may be the ‘sailing directions’ to Vinland died with her and that explains why, though Markland continued to be visited by the Greenland vikings, Vinland never was thereafter.

    If one seeks historical evidence of sexual equality in hands-on ruthlessness, Freydis will certainly serve. It appears she persuaded two other ships to accompany her own on her Vinland voyage and assist her lumber collection, etc., then slaughtered them and took all the profits for herself and her crew. (It does not seem a permanent settlement was ever intended, rather a seasonal visit to gather valuable resources.)

    With such a father (he ended up so far west because “every few years, prudence or the local law would dictate a change of venue”), you could say she was just a chip off the old block. But her brother returned from his visit to Vinland with a more honourable reputation. Historians speculate that the Vinland route was lost because she alone knew the sailing directions but other captains feared to learn them by sailing with her.

    Of course, the history that survives from Greenland is sparse, even in this better-documented period of its history. If someone claimed that the record’s attribution to her of equal will and ferocity, and ‘superior’ treachery, was not just, but instead reflected that even chroniclers from the more female-empowering viking society would criticise a female for what they would have treated more lightly or been less suspicious of in a male, one could not resolve the question by consulting other records. Something caused the Greenlanders to lose the way or the will to Vinland. Freydis, in the records, comes across as a woman you would not want to turn your back on – but their sparseness leaves much scope for speculation.

    My family comes from north-east Scotland so I probably descend from Celts with some viking admixture. Both the Celts’ own legends and the occasional Roman record notes a greater willingness of Celts than others to put women in the battle line. However it was thought wrong to require this of a pregnant woman – the legend of Macha the horsewoman, which prefaces the Ulsterian “Cattle raid of Quelgny” (or Cuailgne – or ‘Cooley’), as the judgement of Paris prefaces the Iliad, speaks to this – so if anything it rather tells against any idea of fighting for the right to terminate one’s offspring rather than to protect them from enemies.

    The early Romans, of course, gave the pater familias such power over his offspring that he could legally kill them at his discretion. Roman society is – justly – seen as unusually cruel for its time, and was so seen in its own time, even by some Romans.

  • Rich Rostrom (April 5, 2021 at 1:11 am), +1 and -1.

    On the one hand, I believe you are correct that a mid-1700s British officer’s idea of giving smallpox-infected blankets to hostile Indians was never acted on – at least in part because fellow officers found it distasteful – and he was relieved of command. (It is a propaganda commonplace to turn a suggestion, that for moral and/or other reasons was never enacted, into a deed.)

    On the other hand, it is a conspiracy theory commonplace to complicate a simple story, sometimes (not coincidentally) conveniently mitigating its guilt. Kennedy knowingly left Mary Kopechne to drown after the accident – there was no ‘forgetting’ involved. The PC reporting establishment that covered for him never forgot that he had to be a reliable US-liberal thereafter in order to have a career.

  • Lee Moore

    https://www.history.com/news/colonists-native-americans-smallpox-blankets

    This article suggests it was attempted at least once.

  • Paul Marks

    Lee Moore – the article starts out by talking of the “horrifying violence of the warfare by the Colonisers” against “Native Americans” (the Indian tribes) – but makes no mention of the “horrifying violence” of the warfare of the Indian Tribes against “colonisers” (including those who were born in the land and whose parents had also been born there) and against EACH OTHER (long before any Europeans were involved).

    Nor was this conflict really about race – after all even in the 19th century (when racial ideas were bubbling up) the main enemy of Andrew Jackson was a white man (who had taken up Indian Tribal ways), and Jackson essentially adopted an Indian and sent him to Harvard – where he (yes) died of sickens.

    Even the infamous (and rightly INFAMOUS) “Trial of Tears” was a political dispute – under the doctrine that someone could not be a member a tribe and American citizen (or rather the citizen of an American State) AT THE SAME TIME. So if someone insisted they were a member of a Tribe – they had, under this view, to get out (as they were loyal to another government).

    It was not till the 1920s that it was FULLY decided that someone could be a member of a Tribe and a United States citizen at-the-same-time – with the first member of an Indian tribe elected to be Vice President of the United States in 1928.

    “Native American” is a term that obscures all this (I suspect deliberately) – if people object to the word “Indian” than “tribesman” may be used. It was not what colour someone was that mattered – it was what they were loyal to. There was even an episode of the television series “The High Chaparral” that hinted at this. In the episode it turns out that the fair skinned, blond haired, blue eyed young man is the Apache – and the “red skin” young man with dark hair and dark eyes who is the American.

    Many Americans always had Indian ancestry – as the old saying used to be “the American Eagle look did not come from mating with birds”.

    As you may know Sir – from taking a hard look at someone such as Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas, or the present Governor of South Dakota.

    James Garner and some other once well known actors had the same look – for the same reason.