Sunday, October 30, 2005

Leon Kass, living fossil reburied

Leon Kass, as I remember him from decades ago, was always a serious man. Unfortunately he is also a serious joke. Serious as in harmful. Joke as in without serious intellecutal content but entertaining and amusing to the Far Right.

Kass is a bioethicist who until recently headed Bush's Council on Bioethics. As Chris Mooney observed at American Prospect when his appointment was announced four years ago:
It's probably a lucky thing for Leon Kass, the conservative University of Chicago ethics philosopher appointed to head George W. Bush's new Council on Bioethics, that his position doesn't require Senate confirmation. Last April, the neocon Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer effused that Kass should be named surgeon general, a post that does require confirmation, but that might have backfired: Kass has a paper trail that would put any quotation-hunting opposition researcher in hack heaven. Virginia Postrel, editor-at-large of Reason magazine, has already bloodied Kass considerably by drawing attention to a passage from his 1985 book Toward a More Natural Science in which Kass complains about "our dissection of cadavers." Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Postrel observed: "This isn't about the 21st century. It's about the 16th."
Kass stepped down as Chair of the President's Council on Bioethics October 1, but remains a member. He was replaced by the 85 year old former president of Catholic University and bioethicist, Edmund Pellegrino (WaPo).

Kass was awarded "wanker of the day" status by Atrios after this devastating critique by Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon , where she puts a stake through the heart of his intellectual pretensions. Not healthy reading if you have a tendency to high blood pressure, but as thorough job of destruction as you are likely to find.