Profile In Heroism: Dr. Leon R. Kass

This Memorial Day in addition to thanking our troops, thank the soldiers who are fighting just as hard with a great deal less glory in the cultural war.  Today our blog salutes Dr. Leon R. Kass the founding director of the President’s Council on Bio-Ethics and the architect of the President’s ban on stem cell research.

Kass has also come out against other important issues of the day such as the “shallow and frivolous” lives of the Greek gods.  Kass takes a stand against the modern conception of freedom. There is a “mortal danger,” he writes, in the notion “that a person has a right over his body, a right that allows him to do whatever he wants to do with it.” He is troubled by cosmetic surgery, by gender reassignment, by invitro fertilization, and by women who postpone motherhood or choose to remain single in their twenties.

When bio-ethics can sometimes be above the average person’s head Dr. Kass extends his expertise to the mundane to give the President and the rest of us a clearer idea of where we as a society are living unethically:

“Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone–a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive. … Eating on the street–even when undertaken, say, because one is between appointments and has no other time to eat–displays [a] lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly. … Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. … This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if we feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior”

It takes a great deal of guts to come out against something as popular as ice cream, but Dr. Kass does not back down.  It is clear to see with advice like this where Bush’s own splendid ethical record comes from.  Dr. Kass continues to be an unsung hero in the culture war.

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