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Civility and civil disobedience

The linkurl:Bioethics & Politics;http://politics.bioethics.net/ conference hosted by the Albany Medical College got off to a bang today, not a whimper. As participants trickled in, networking and finding old friends, another, uninvited group calmly filed in, parked in front of the room, and started shouting at the tops of their lungs. The protesters, around 30 or so, were from linkurl:Not Dead Yet,;http://www.notdeadyet.org/ a disability rights group that is against legalized euthanasia and oth

By | July 14, 2006

The linkurl:Bioethics & Politics;http://politics.bioethics.net/ conference hosted by the Albany Medical College got off to a bang today, not a whimper. As participants trickled in, networking and finding old friends, another, uninvited group calmly filed in, parked in front of the room, and started shouting at the tops of their lungs. The protesters, around 30 or so, were from linkurl:Not Dead Yet,;http://www.notdeadyet.org/ a disability rights group that is against legalized euthanasia and other forms of "medical killing," as they call it. The meeting hall became quickly filled with cries of ?nothing about us without us.? Members quickly distributed fliers to participants that explained they were upset that conference organizers had gathered people from both sides of the political spectrum, but failed to include advocates of the disabled. Huh? I?m all about pluralism, but the conference is about politics, and with only a day and a half at our disposal, it makes sense to focus the discussion. However, the director of the AMC?s Alden March Bioethics Institute (and The Scientist columnist), linkurl:Glenn McGee,;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/7/1/24/1/ to his credit, took the microphone and said the organizers had decided to give Not Dead Yet a chance to speak. (Glenn even managed to open with a joke: "As you can see, everything is going according to plan.") Representative Stephen Drake spoke for 10 minutes about how politics is not important to people at the front lines of hot button issues ("We live in a world where partisan lines aren?t that important"), and received as much applause as any pre-planned speaker did the rest of the day. After his speech, he and his colleagues left, and it was all very civil. The experience clued me in to the fact that bioethicists are, by the nature of their purview, adept at handling heated debates and, hopefully, finding a compromise many people can live with. If only other discussions had such a happy ending as this one.
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Comments

Avatar of: Arlene Wilson

Arlene Wilson

Posts: 1

July 18, 2006

As an activst in the protest group, I appreciate your insight on the needed addition to the democratic process. It is important to give alternative a place in the sun. It can generate necessary critical thought that will move issues forward.

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