“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” This quote from the American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favourite ripostes whenever I have my back to the wall. Nonetheless, inconsistent application of principles is definitely something that irks me in other people.
As, for instance, in the Australian state of Tasmania where the premier and deputy premier have released a long report on legalised euthanasia. They insist that there is no “sound evidence” of potential elder abuse. However, rates of child abuse are nearly 60% higher there than in other Australian states. Isn’t that a bit inconsistent? The kind of people who abuse children probably won’t mind abusing grannies.
And in the Australian state of Queensland (sorry about the focus on Down Under for readers elsewhere), the police union has argued that pregnant women who abuse alcohol should be forced to live in safe houses. "Those [unborn] children also deserve a right to full life and health and should not be disadvantaged simply because of the actions or inaction of their birth mother,” said Union president Ian Leavers.
Obviously this is a controversial issue, but I can’t understand how one can both defend access to legal abortion and lock up women who might harm their children.
On a more positive note, there is a story below from Colorado. Lawyers have been defending a Catholic hospital in a tragic lawsuit by referring to a law which said that foetuses have no rights. After being carpeted by the local Catholic bishops, they have recanted and have admitted that their defence was “morally wrong”. They will no longer cite this law in an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Three cheers for consistency!