Peter Singer: always good for shock value


When controversy erupts, some people dive below the parapet and some people stand up and shoot back. Whatever you think of his views, Peter Singer at least defends his consistently. Last week, the Princeton bioethicist appeared on an Australian TV show which throws hardball questions at a panel of local luminaries.

Inevitably his two most controversial stands were brought up: infanticide and bestiality. After years of criticism, he still sees nothing wrong with either of them. It probably helped that he was speaking to a sympathetic audience which applauded the former and laughed uproariously at the latter.

Professor Singer sighed that he was not championing bestiality as a lifestyle choice in the notorious book review he published in 2001; he was merely expressing his view that there is nothing wrong with it. He felt gratified that many people subsequently read the review and were relieved to find a justification for something which they had previously regarded as a “terrible moral evil”.

As Professor Singer pointed out, this video clip would not have appeared on mainstream American television. It is rather coarse. For the full transcript, see Q&A, June 14.


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