If You're Not a Feminist, Then You're a Bigot
Gloria Allred: I'm not sure how \r\ndifferent they are actually because I've been practicing 35 years. I \r\nmean, as a feminist I believe the legal, social, and political economic \r\nequality for women with men. I often say if you're not a feminist then \r\nyou're a bigot. I mean, there is nothing in between. It's like being \r\npregnant: you either are pregnant or you're not. What else is there? \r\nThere is no in between.
So either you are for first class \r\ncitizenship—that means you're a feminist—or you're for second class \r\ncitizenship for women, which means to me you're a bigot or you're in \r\nsupport of insubordination or women instead of full equality, full \r\npartnership for women in each and every aspect of life. So feminism is \r\nabout improving the condition in the status of women and vindicating \r\ntheir rights.
Conservatives usually say, "Look how far you've \r\ncome, looking to back to where you are now. Isn't that great progress?" \r\n But as a progressive person I don't look to see where we're come from. \r\n I look to where we should be. And so no I don't think we've come far \r\nenough, because I'm judging by the gold standard and that is equality. \r\nAnd we should be at the level of equality political, economically, \r\nlegally, emotionally, socially. We're not there. And so we still have a\r\n long, long way to go. And we need more activism.
Legally, \r\npolitically, in the streets, everywhere, to make this happen. As I say \r\nno one ever gave us our rights, including the right to vote. We had to \r\nfight to win it.
Question: Do you think we will "get \r\nthere" in the next 50 years?
Gloria Allred: Well I \r\ndon't think there's revolution, I do think it's evolution. But it's not\r\n going to happen unless women stand up and demand it. It's as simple as\r\n that, because no one gives up power without a struggle. And there is a\r\n huge struggle going on for power and for control over women's lives. \r\nSo I would like to think that both my daughter and my granddaughter will\r\n enjoy equality in their lifetimes. I'm sure that I will not in my \r\nlifetime, but it's not going to happen unless women demand it. Unless \r\nour daughters say: "This is what we have a right to and we are going to \r\nforce the rights we have. And we are going to demand more rights. And \r\nwe're not going to be satisfied until we win those rights."
That's\r\n how change is won and there are just so many women and girls around the\r\n world who do not yet enjoy that equal educational opportunity. Some of\r\n them can't get any educational opportunity at all... do not enjoy \r\nemployment opportunity, do not... I mean, they are just living desperate\r\n lives. And some of them are being trafficked as sex slaves and \r\nexploited in sweat shops. Some of them are literally prisoners in their\r\n own home. We have so much more work to do. The work really has just \r\nbegun.
Recorded on June 9, 2010
Interviewed by David \r\nHirschman
Unless you're for first class citizenship for women, you're "in support of the subordination of women," says the attorney.
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.
- Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
- They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
- The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.
The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction. Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle?
But like any good science fiction, it's only a matter of time before some manner of it seeps into our reality. This week's Nature published the findings of researchers who managed to restore function to pigs' brains that were clinically dead. At least, what we once thought of as dead.
What's dead may never die, it seems
The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called BrainEx. BrainEx is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls.
BrainEx pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions. The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs.
The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if BrainEx can have sustained the brains longer. "It is conceivable we are just preventing the inevitable, and the brain won't be able to recover," said Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and the lead researcher.
As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal.
The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions.
"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.
An ethical gray matter
Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.
The BrainEx solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra cautious, the researchers also monitored the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic should they have seen signs of consciousness.
Even so, the research signals a massive debate to come regarding medical ethics and our definition of death.
Most countries define death, clinically speaking, as the irreversible loss of brain or circulatory function. This definition was already at odds with some folk- and value-centric understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse clinical death with artificial perfusion?
"This is wild," Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. "If ever there was an issue that merited big public deliberation on the ethics of science and medicine, this is one."
One possible consequence involves organ donations. Some European countries require emergency responders to use a process that preserves organs when they cannot resuscitate a person. They continue to pump blood throughout the body, but use a "thoracic aortic occlusion balloon" to prevent that blood from reaching the brain.
The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes readily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if BrainEx were to become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.
"There's a potential conflict here between the interests of potential donors — who might not even be donors — and people who are waiting for organs," he said.
It will be a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question relates to how such experiments harm animal subjects.
Ethical review boards evaluate research protocols and can reject any that causes undue pain, suffering, or distress. Since dead animals feel no pain, suffer no trauma, they are typically approved as subjects. But how do such boards make a judgement regarding the suffering of a "cellularly active" brain? The distress of a partially alive brain?
The dilemma is unprecedented.
Setting new boundaries
Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is, of course, Frankenstein. As Farahany told National Geographic: "It is definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it is restoring cellular function where we previously thought impossible. But to have Frankenstein, you need some degree of consciousness, some 'there' there. [The researchers] did not recover any form of consciousness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that possibility."
She's right. The researchers undertook their research for the betterment of humanity, and we may one day reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. The ethical questions, however, remain as unsettling as the stories they remind us of.
Some back story
A Dunbar Correlation
Professor Dunbar's response:
Friendship, kinship and limitations
Gray matter matters
There is an eclectic list of reasons why compassion may collapse, irrespective of sheer numbers:
In the end
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