American Spectator has a regular blog series called Among the Intellectualioids. Check out the picture of who the intellectualoids are — grubby-looking, beret-wearing, bad-hair eggheads. Wait… is that Satan on the far left?
In the series' recent installment, Christopher Orlet argues in "The End of Evil" that a new intellectualiod menace is looming: the view that there is no evil. Simon Baron-Cohen holds that the actions we deem evil are most often the consequence of a particular mental disorder characterized by an empathy deficiency. Orlet glosses the view:
The Cambridge don finds the whole idea of evil unhelpful. What's more, it is simplistic and unscientific. It smacks of the Bible and ancient superstitions. And it tells us nothing. Why is one evil? Again, it comes down to the inability to empathize or to identify with others.
To this end, Baron-Cohen has devised six degrees of empathy. His empathy spectrum would award a six to someone like Bill Clinton, who claimed to be able to feel the pain of an entire nation, and a zero to the husband who honestly answers his wife's query about whether her jeans makes her butt look big. At the peak of the bell curve stands your Average Empathy Joe who tears up at Schindler's List, but remains dry-eyed if not slightly nauseous during the Titanic.
Note, by the way, the first couple sentences should be read with a mocking tone: This Cambridge don believes these things. (Modus Tonens alert) All the examples of the variety of scores are Orlet's of course. Especially the one about the jeans. Actually, it seems the whole selection should be read with a mocking tone.
Here's Orlet finally stating the view (and this time without detectable tone):
Baron-Cohen fingers our hormones, genes, and neglectful mothers as causes for empathy deficiency. One example: his research indicates the more testosterone you are exposed to in the womb, the less empathy you will have.
Ah, but once Orlet states the view, he then identifies the real program behind it (and the broader commitment trying to understand why people do horrible things):
Naturally, if the problem is largely genetic and hormonal, as Baron-Cohen argues, it can be eradicated through gene/hormone therapy, thus setting the stage for an edenic future where Israelis and Palestinians group hug and your co-workers do not steal your bologna sandwiches from the lunchroom fridge.
Baron-Cohen's agenda is plain. Close the prisons and admit criminals to hospitals where ObamaCare can work its magic. After all, "no one is responsible for his own genes."
The slippery slope to Obamacare playing the role of prison warden. First, the view is out to explain why people do things that are evil, not just wrong. The objective is to give an account not of how someone could make a moral error, one that any of us could make (for example, stealing bubble gum). No. Rather, the objective is to account for moral transgressions that we cannot think our way into, ones that are not normal, run of the mill moral errors. We aren't just shocked at the acts, we are puzzled by the persons who commit those acts. Calling those persons 'evil' is fine, but it (as Orlet sarcastically notes) does not explain anything. Nor does it make it such that the punishments we give these people can have any effect other than inflict suffering on them. Only if one is a pure retributivist about punishment would one not be interested in understanding why people are or do evil.
Second, nothing introduces a slippery slope argument better than phrases like "Their agenda is plain…" or "You know where that leads…". But Obamacare is about medial coverage for people who haven't got it. Once the state takes a person into custody for committing a crime, the state is responsible for that person's care. If the medical evidence is that the person suffers from a psychological illness, shouldn't it be treated?