Monday, 24 September 2012

What do Ludwig van Beethoven, Justin Bieber and Tim Tebow have in common?

A professor in a college ethics class presented his students with a problem. He said, ‘A man has syphilis and his wife has tuberculosis.

They have had four children: one has died, the other three have what is considered to be a terminal illness.

The mother is pregnant. What do you recommend?’

After a spirited discussion, the majority of the class voted that she should abort the child.

‘Fine,’ said the professor. ‘You've just killed Beethoven.’

Pattie Mallette was sexually abused as a child and, by age 14, was already using drugs and alcohol. When her hardships became too much to bear, she attempted suicide by throwing herself in front of an oncoming truck.

Then, while staying in a psychiatric hospital during one of the darkest points of her life, she discovered God through a friend and became a Christian. This conversion, she said, gave her peace of mind.

But, after just six months, she relapsed back into bad behaviour and, at age 17, discovered she was pregnant. Because of her young age and difficult situation, many people encouraged her to end her pregnancy.

Mallette, however, insisted abortion was never an option.

Today her son Justin Bieber can sing to millions of fans and inspire them as a living example of the sanctity of human life.

She has recently told her courageous story in her new book Nowhere But Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom.

Doctors told Tim Tebow’s mother Pam to abort her son after she became ill because the pregnancy, they said, could endanger her life. Pam refused, instead asking God that she have a healthy baby. He answered her prayers with a future star football player.

Decisions to keep babies in circumstances in which many might opt for an abortion resulted in Beethoven, Justin Bieber and Tim Tebow.

Every abortion stops a beating heart. Every abortion ends a life. Every abortion robs the world of someone who could have made a real difference to the lives of others.

And every abortion robs a person of the opportunity to live life.

46 comments:

  1. Beautiful, simple, and truthful. Thank you, and keep up the good work.

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    1. There is very little truth in the Beethoven story whatsoever. It is true that Beethoven's mother died of tuberculosis - many did at the time.

      The only simplicity that I can attribute to Saunders spreading rubbish lies is the laziness that accompanies publishing this kind of tripe without a modicum of effort spent on finding out if there is any truth to it or not.

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    2. It is quite revealing that you object on grounds of historical fact. I talk from principles. A timelessly true morality.
      "Every abortion ends a life". That is true, has always been true, and always will be true. As i was saying, beautiful and simple.

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    3. What does it reveal then?

      And to what am I objecting?

      What principles? "True" morality? Goodness.

      "Every abortion ends a life"? Well, every boiled egg ends a life. You really should try and make sense of what you are writing.

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    4. "Every abortion ends a life"

      No doubt, you would have done all in your power to ensure that Hitler & Stalin lived, even if we knew what would become of them.

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    5. Boiling an egg does not end a life. Apart from the obvious species difference here is a fundamental qualitative difference between an unfertilised egg which is not a living organism and a human fetus which most definitely is.

      As for Hitler and Stalin, I would suggest not killing them but rather helping them to turn out differently. Even they had potential for good. They just made the wrong moral choices.

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    6. Taking an egg from a nest does ultimately end life. The point being that there is a little more to just saying "abortion ends life". Surely you could have worked that out.

      Yeah, no surprise that christians think they have dominion over other species.

      Your point about Hitler and Stalin. You are overlooking the fact that YOUR post about abortion uses Beethoven as some shining example as to what we miss when we perform abortions, i.e., they potential offspring could turn out wonderful (for *us*, N.B.). It's irrelevant that it's Beethoven, Stalin or Hitler which is what your reaction suggests. No need to mention Beethoven if we are capable of making good, wonderful people out of those who could be monsters.

      That is the whole gist of my responses. The Beethoven myth serves ABSOLUTELY NO PURPOSE in helping us form ethics about abortion.

      Use of it just goes to show how intellectually lazy people are when they parrot these silly examples that have been refuted time and again as being (a) meaningless and (b) false in content.

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    7. Observe how Saunders is now moving his position without actually admitting he has (once again) not understood what he is actually posting.

      Just substitute "Joe Bloggs" for Beethoven and see how the remark "Well kids, you just killed Joe Bloggs" loses impact.

      Of course, christians think Beethoven's life was worth more than Joe Bloggs'.

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    8. Stanley, Glenn (ed) (2000). The Cambridge Companion to Beethoven. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-58074-9.

      Glenn Stanley is a noted music historian and expert on the life of Ludwig von Beethoven. His research corroborates Chuck Swindoll's story.

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  2. Excellent article! Could you provide the source for your info on Beethoven? I would like to be able to link to credible sources on this subject. Thanks.

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    1. The Beethoven quote came from Charles Swindoll. This along with three other examples (John Wesley, Ethel Waters and Jesus Christ) are on this page.

      See http://www.biblecenter.com/illustrations/abortion.php

      I knew about the Beethoven example and the Bieber/Tebow story prompted me to link them.

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    2. So excellent, in fact, that it's a well known urban myth that was exposed by Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion. There is no evidence of syphilis in either parent nor was Beethoven the fifth child (he was the second).

      Then again, christians are never that interested in facts.

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    3. So, Galactor, are you saying it's ok to abort people as long as there really is syphillis in the parents? Or, that human life has no value? Richard Dawkins's book, or at least his kind of approach, will certainly have the effect of eventually destroying the valuing of life, and the promotion of the culture of death. is that OK with you?

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    4. I am saying that the "killing Beethoven" question of ethics is a myth and a poor one at that. And the "facts" surrounding it are made up. And that christians just repeat myths without checking them out first. And that christians don't think things through as it could just have easily been Hitler or Stalin instead of Beethoven.

      As regards the hypothetical scenario that the ethics "professor" poses with the question "what would you recommend?" - more questions about the circumstances would be my answer. How the students provided a recommendation at all on what they were told is beyond me.

      More to the point, I see no breakthrough in helping us with the ethics of abortion with the hypothetical scenario that we don't let Beethoven come into being instead of Hitler.

      Through the simple flow of chance (John not meeting Jane for example), there are millions of lives not coming into being, every minute of the day. Some would be Beethoven, some would be Joe Bloggs, some would be Stalin.

      Would you advise a woman with syphilis or AIDS or a congenital disease not to get pregnant? Well, quite possibly but the Beethoven myth doesn't serve us in helping give advice.

      The remark that Dawkins' approach leads to demeaning life and promoting a death culture is mendacious, unfounded rubbish by the way and unrelated to my posts and the topic at hand.

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    5. Stanley, Glenn (ed) (2000). The Cambridge Companion to Beethoven. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-58074-9.

      Glenn Stanley is a noted music historian and expert on the life of Ludwig von Beethoven. His research corroborates Chuck Swindoll's story.

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    6. I wonder what on earth David Noland is trying to say.

      The hypothetical philosophy professor puts Ludwig as the fifth child. Yet history puts him as the *second* born.

      Is Glenn - a noted music historian - corroborating Swindoll who reports that Beethoven was *fifth* in line?

      Is there any reference in the book that states that Beethoven was fifth in line?

      And how is a music scholar in a position to corroborate the philosophy "lesson" of the professor insofar as it ever took place?

      Is there any reference in the book by Glenn that reports on the philosophy lesson?

      Does David Noland think it plausible that such an exchange took place in a philosophy college lecture? We've already discussed how no self-respecting professor would overlook that his argument could use Stalin, Mao, or Hitler instead of Beethoven. We've already discussed how useless the Beethoven myth is in helping us form ethics surrounding abortion.

      I don't think David Noland is thinking very logically.

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  3. Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Christians don't seem to think very much.

    Of course, we could just as easily construct a hypothetical set of circumstances that ended up with Hitler and Stalin never being born ....

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  5. "And every abortion robs a person of the opportunity to live life. "

    This nonsense was exposed as such by Sir Peter Medawar.

    If it so important that we shouldn't rob the potential for life, we should be making sure that every fertile woman is continually pregnant, for each moment they are not, we are robbing life of another Beethoven. And now we have the drugs, we should be making them produce multiple births.

    We could produce another Mozart at the same time.

    Or another Stalin ...

    Or another Hitler ...

    Yeah! Beautifully written! Great blog!

    Great critical assessments by the readers!

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    1. You seem really passionate about the idea of Christians using critical judgment. Thank you for your concern and exortation! I will work hard to be more consistent in my assessments of stories I hear and read.

      The issue is not preventing human life from coming about, but the active destruction of human life after the life already has come about.
      No one has argued that fertile women should constantly be pregnant - that is a straw man.

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    2. Not just christians although it seems to me that that particular demograph could use a helping hand sometimes. I mean, look at how irrelevant the use of the Beethoven myth is and compare it to the above remarks as to how great and wonderful it is to have shared it!

      Where do you get the idea that human life comes about just because a sperm has penetrated an egg? Only when your mind has been befuddled with religion could you consider a blastocyst as worthy of better treatment than a living cow and not see that potential is everything that the discussion concerns.

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  6. Unfortunately Galactor is right. Peter is being intellectually lazy, using a rubbish argument like this as a basis for forming a moral decision. Either abortion is wrong, or it isn't.

    Abortion is wrong because it takes a life. It doesn't become *more* wrong if that life would have ended up as Beethoven, and *less* wrong if it had been Stalin. Blethering on about Beethoven doesn't change things.

    That the fetus *could* have grown to be Beethoven is neither here nor there - if we aborted it, we simply wouldn't have known, one way or the other, as the child wouldn't have been around.

    The Beethoven story is not only a fairytale, but a pretty silly way of trying to shore up support for the anti-abortion lobby. Check your facts next time - and don't stoop to using myths, it discredits what you're trying to say. Plus consider the illogic of what you've written - Beethoven is of no significance whatsoever when it comes to making ethical decisions about abortion. In this, I am in agreement with Galactor (are you a doctor, Galactor?).

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    1. I am not a (medical) doctor, no.

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    2. James I agree with you that abortion is wrong because it takes a life and this is the point that I make in the final two paragraphs and in many other places on this blog.

      You are also right of course that no life is worth more than any other. I am not arguing that it is.

      However many people, Galactor obviously included, do not believe that life before birth is worthy of respect. The mind of Galactor is clearly not going to change on this and this blog was not written for him.

      However there are many other people as yet undecided on the issue of abortion who will be helped by these three short stories to recognise the truth that the baby in the womb is actually a real person with potential.

      As for the authenticity of the Beethoven story I don't have a primary source. It has been around for a long time (I first heard it over 30 years ago) and I got this version from Charles Swindoll.

      Whether it is entirely accurate or not I cannot say but if you have evidence to the contrary then bring it. But if these were not the exact historical circumstances of Beethoven it does not alter the point.

      The point is that these three people were conceived in difficult family circumstances in which many today might choose an abortion.

      This blog is posted here in the hope that it will make people think about whether abortion is really the answer to hard circumstances.

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    3. "As for the authenticity of the Beethoven story ... "

      Just a cursory reading exposes how fabricated it was. Any professor of ethics/philosophy wouldn't make such a category error of not replacing Beethoven with say Stalin.

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    4. "The point is that these three people were conceived in difficult family circumstances in which many today might choose an abort"

      Why can't Saunders ever admit he is wrong and accept that the Beethoven myth just doesn't help us form ethics that surround abortion?

      Does he ever retract his posts when it is pointed out how fallacious they are?

      If the point is just that "abortion is wrong" why not just say so instead of relying on silly, refuted set-ups, long debunked.

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    5. "However many people, Galactor obviously included, do not believe that life before birth is worthy of respect. The mind of Galactor is clearly not going to change on this and this blog was not written for him."

      Yeah right, Galactor just likes to butcher children in front of their parents.

      "However there are many other people as yet undecided on the issue of abortion who will be helped by these three short stories to recognise the truth that the baby in the womb is actually a real person with potential. "

      If there are people who are as yet undecided as to what arguments are persuasive when it comes to abortion ethics, they're not going to be very impressed with the nonsense that Saunders writes.

      And it's not clear in the three stories at what stage the pregnancies were. Not that that stops Saunders using the emotive words "baby" and "real person". Why could they not have been blastocysts or clumps of cells?

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    6. My position is that human life is worthy of the utmost respect from the time of conception.

      What is your own position and how do you justify it?

      On what grounds for example would you approve of infanticide? abortion at 40 weeks? 28 weeks? 18 weeks? 12 weeks?

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    7. My position is that people who misinform and have it pointed out to them should retract what they write and apologise for having mislead people.

      I justify that on the spirit of the academic pursuit and the common decency of people to accept they were wrong and make amends.

      When would I approve of infanticide? When the infant is in utter pain and when there is no hope whatsoever that the sickness could be medically resolved and the pain releaved such that life would have any meaning although I would need to understand what moral ethicists and philosophers would have to say about the matter.

      I've already pointed out to you in the post before your reply that you keep misusing words like "infanctide". Is a two week old clump of cells an infanct?

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  7. So to be clear, Dr. Saunders: Are you saying that if a pregnant woman is faced with a life threatening medical condition that could be treated with an abortion, you will recommend that she continue with the pregnancy and pray to God that the pregnancy will proceed nomally, and she'll give birth to a back up quarterback? Would that be your medical advice to her?

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    1. Have a look at my previous blog on abortion to save the life of the mother - http://bit.ly/I7YG8P

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    2. OK, I've read it. Now will you answer my question?

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    3. It's a non-question as 98% of abortions in the UK are carried out for spurious mental health reasons and abortion to save life is not actually medically necessary - http://bit.ly/PsKxEI

      On what grounds do you believe that abortion is justified?

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    4. So you're just going to continue to avoid the question, then, are you? A very nice piece of prevarication there. If you look carefully at the statement that seems to say that abortion is "never" necessary to save the life of the mother, it uses the peculiar term "direct abortion". So what would an "indirect abortion" be? Something like the deliberate induction of labour before the fetus has reached a state of viability, which is what will usually be done if a pregnancy must be terminated in the interest of maternal health. This is clearly an abortion, and no fancy word games about "direct" vs "indirect" can change that fact.

      Anyway, I don't blame you for avoiding answering the question. After all, what alternative do you have? To answer the question honestly, and further reveal how indefensible, on both logical and moral grounds, your position is? That's the last thing you want to do.

      I, OTOH, have no problem answering your question. Except that I am not sure which of two interpretations is the correct one for your question.

      Are you asking under what circumstances I believe an abortion should be allowed? Under one circumstance, and one circumstance only: That a woman wants an abortion.

      If, OTOH, you are asking how I justify this position, that is simple: A fetus is not a person, and a woman has every bit as much a right to personal autonomy and control of her body as a man does.

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    5. Insert any particular group, blacks, Jews, gays, women, the unborn, in that last paragraph and you'll see where female solipsism leads you.

      Killing another person to save the life of yourself or a third party might be necessary, but it should never be enshrined in law as justification for killing any random person you come across.

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    6. Let's say that a person says "I don't know what would be morally right in the situation where a pregnancy was causing a woman's life to be in danger." The inability to answer this question, which would apply to less than 1% of the cases, would have no bearing on what we should think in the other 99%+ cases. There will always be difficult cases and potential exceptions with regards to every moral rule, but these few don't change the situation for the vast majority.

      I would agree with you that "a woman has every bit as much a right to personal autonomy and control of her body as a man does", of course that autonomy is limited in the same way that a man's autonomy is limited, ie, that they cannot use their autonomy to take another person's life. Just to address another potential objection, in the tragic circumstances of rape, that would again fall into the category of "hard questions" but those unfortunate circumstances -again relatively few in comparison to the vast majority of abortions- would affect the vast majority of abortions that are not due to rape or to save the woman's life. If you are willing to grant abortion only for those hard cases, and outlaw abortion in 98%+ of other circumstances, then I could understand you bringing up those objections. But since that is obviously not your position, those objections are merely distractions from your real position.

      Also, I disagree that a "fetus is not a person". To suggest this would require either that you provide some sort of recognized medical authority that would state that life does not begin at conception (I'm aware of none), or provide some sort of non-arbitrary distinction between a person and a human being (I've thus far heard no suggestion for such a distinction that I find convincing).

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    7. emmzee: "Also, I disagree that a "fetus is not a person""

      You really take the position that a six day old clump of (approximately 100) cells, not yet attached to the uterine wall (i.e., not yet attached to the mother), is a person?

      Would you ethically value those 100 cells above the life of a living, developed chimpanzee? Or cow?

      Why is the sperm and egg itself not considered "life"?

      Are you not conflating the various forms of life with one that is utterly developed?

      Do you really require ethical and medical authorities to arbitrate on this stage of pregnancy?

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    8. emmzee:

      Like Galactor, I find your request for a statement from a "recognized medical authority" that life does not begin as conception a non-sequitor. You are also trying to unfairly shift the burden of proof. Again, as Galactor points out, you are under no less obligation to support your claim that life does being with conception.

      However, since you asked for "medical authorities", I'm happy to comply:


      American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist:

      http://www.acog.org/About_ACOG/ACOG_Departments/Health_Care_for_Underserved_Women/Abortion_Resource_Guide___Advocacy

      Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

      http://www.rcog.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigning-and-opinions/statement/rcog-statement-induced-abortion-and-mental-health-revi

      and, for Peter, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

      http://www.ranzcog.edu.au/component/docman/doc_details/926-c-gyn-17-termination-of-pregnancy.html?Itemid=341

      Now, tell me, if any of these organization believed it was a medical fact that "life begins at conception", would they adopt the position that abortion is a permissable medical procedure?

      The fact that you are not convinced of this is irrelevant. You're quite free not to have an abortion is that is your wish. But no one else is obliged to wait for you to be "convinced" before making their own decision.

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  8. Duke of Earl writes: "Insert any particular group, blacks, Jews, gays, women, the unborn, in that last paragraph and you'll see where female solipsism leads you."


    "Female solipsism"? How does that term even make sense?



    "Killing another person to save the life of yourself or a third party might be necessary, but it should never be enshrined in law as justification for killing any random person you come across."


    I agree. So who's talking about killing a person? I'm talking about abortion. If you believe that is the equivalent of killing a person, then your statement makes sense. But you do understand what is meant by "begging the question", don't you?

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  9. The illustration given by the college professor was probably hypothetical - he could have used any name (like Copernicus or Galileo). The point was to make the students think about the potential in the unborn child that they were so quick to terminate due to some unfortunate circumstances. And the story is most likely not true. It isn't very likely that a professor in a secular college would try to make that point and it isn't likely that students in Christian college would vote to abort. It's all just a parable to make a point - carelessly ending the lives unborn children has unintended consequences.

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    1. So, again, why just use examples like Beethoven and Galileo, and not examples like Hitler and Stalin? If depriving us of the Waldstein sonata is an argument against abortion, then preventing the Holocaust is an example in its favour. Both argumnents are ridiculous, but only the pro-life faction actually ever makes this argument. The pro-choice contingent seems to have a better sense of what makes for a strong argument. I guess when all evidence and reason is against you,you have to use whatever arguments you can, no matter how fallacious.

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    2. "It's all just a parable to make a point"

      What point? Even if the lecture actually took place, the "parable" just demonstrates how an unpredictable future cannot be aligned with known circumstances (Beethoven was great, Hitler was bad) in forming abortion ethics.

      Christians, however, think it's a great argument and just keep uncritically publishing it.

      "Potential" is a non-argument. Worthless.

      As I wrote earlier, if potential was important, we should be making sure that all women are continually pregnant or otherwise we are missing out on potential lives.

      "Carelessly ending lives ..."

      It is only christians who keep harping on about infanticide, murder, lives, people and so on.

      Why is a clump of 100 cells, not even attached to mother to be considered "a life"?

      No person would want a child's life to be casually ended. But a clump of cells just isn't a child.

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    3. Hey Galactoid... Shut the heck up. Everyone doesn't give a rats arse what your opinions are on everything. And don't hijack someone's blog either with your smartarse mindless drivel that you believe is some sort of high brow academia. You're a no job all day blogging idiot!

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  10. A professor in a college ethics class presented his students with a problem. He said, ‘A man has syphilis and his wife has tuberculosis. James

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  11. good grief! all of you arguing about the authenticity of Beethoven *must* be men! or, if not, then you have had your conscience seared by the feminist liberalism which claims that anything a woman chooses to do to her body is not only her choice, but has no lasting emotional or spiritual effect. by focusing *only* on the validity of the Beethoven facts the entire point of the parable is missed- the fact that any fetus aborted *could have been* a genius of some sort. how do we know that the potential finder for the cure of AIDS or breast cancer or a very rare type of muscular dystrophy hasn't been aborted? we don't. *THAT* is the point this article is trying to make, not that Beethoven was or was not born second or fifth, or that his father had syphilis or not, or anything else along those lines. throwing Stalin and Hitler into the mix is only a diversionary tactic, taking focus once again off the point of the article. that Galactor and others would rather focus on the possible/probable errors in the article says a lot about them- that they would much rather be argumentative than see what the writer is actually saying.

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