Tuesday 23 August 2022

Conservatives, condoms and chocolate

The BBC news website is reporting that free condoms will be distributed to delegates at their forthcoming annual conference: Tory conference: LGBT group unveils politics-themed condoms

This quotation cited in the BBC report makes one wonder, firstly, why "a good time" is assumed to be defined only in terms of sexual activity; and, secondly, how many conference attendees will really believe that the distribution of free condoms really reflects conservative values. 

"We all know people like a good time at conferences, and we're here to help ensure that happens safely."

It is also a point for reflection that the LGBT+ Conservatives have chosen to make their impact at conference with a highly sexualised messaging. Again, does such a highly sexualised presentation reflect genuinely conservative values that might be held by LGBT+ people in the Conservative party?

Whilst the BBC report suggests a humorous intent, one wonders about the political and social maturity of that particular sense of humour.

I am reminded of the incident at Corpus Christi College in the late 1970's, recorded at Fr Tim Finigan's blog: Contraceptives and Chocolate. This occurred when a motion was proposed to install a condom machine in the undergraduate student common room.

Paul Haffner was there at the time so it must have been my first year (1977-8). He lobbied the Catholics at the College to turn out to support an amendment he was intending to propose. There were not all that many of us but a couple of hearties from the Officer Training Corps ensured that we were not entirely overwhelmed.

Paul's moment came and he announced with his very careful and laboured enunciation "I should like to propose an amendment." This was duly noted and he was invited to make his proposition. With similar dramatic effect, he said "That the motion should be amended by replacing the word 'contraceptives' with the word 'chocolate'." This brought the house down and his amendment (and the amended motion) were carried on a wave of enthusiasm.

Now, I wonder .... will Jacob Rees-Mogg organise a campaign for the distribution of free chocolate bars at the Tory party conference, in order to counter the distribution of free condoms?

On a more serious note, I recall reading C P Snow's novel The Corridors of Power in my much younger years and taking away from it the message that, if nuclear disarmament was to be achieved in the UK, it would occur when Conservative politics came to support it. The politics of the left would always be insufficient to achieve it. Likewise, I think what we have seen in the field of LGBT issues is that, when Conservative politics gave way it made possible the "ideological colonisation" of which Pope Francis regularly speaks.

Sunday 7 August 2022

Archie Battersbee

 I have not been able to follow the events of the Archie Battersbee case as they unfolded. I have also been very aware that the case might have involved specific circumstances, not known to the general public, that would affect a judgement of the outcome of the legal case.

A reliable source of comment is the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, who have three posts on their website about the case (linked here in reverse time order): Press Release on the Passing Away of Archie Battersbee A Comment on the Latest High Court Judgement on Archie BattersbeePress Statement on Archie Battersbee – “Very Likely Dead” is not Dead Enough. I think it is worth reading carefully all three of their posts.

There are some aspects of the case that as highlighted by the Anscombe Bioethics Centre that have a wider significance. One is the role of parents as the responsible agents of the best interests of their children.

The Centre has commented frequently that English law habitually fails to recognise the responsibilities and rights of the parents in cases relating to the medical treatment and care of children. This is shown in the present case by the appointment of a guardian to represent the interests of Archie, as though the parents are less well-qualified to represent his interests. Decision-making should not be taken from the parents unless and until they have been shown to be unreasonable and a threat to their child. They remain the people who know their child best.

 Another aspect reflects how a widespread societal perception can be too readily applied by judicial decision, whether or not it is reflected in the specific instance.

If Archie has no hope of recovery, then it seems prima facie reasonable for the hospital to seek to withdraw intensive care (if ordinary treatment and basic care are still provided). The practical conclusion of this judgement may well be defensible. However, the speculation that such withdrawal is what Archie “might have wanted”, and the claim that remaining on intensive care “compromises Archie’s dignity”, involve projections of views or feelings onto him in a way that is both unwarranted and ethically deeply problematic.

It is possible to see here how a widespread societal acceptance of a view about the circumstances of dying can affect, by way of legal decision, the care of those who do not share that view.