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In San Francisco, Watch Where You Step

David Klinghoffer


We try to keep the conversation decorous here at ENV but the story from San Francisco is relevant to our concerns — namely the intersection of science and culture — and sadly, it could not be any more elemental. Ahead of Super Bowl 50 and the Christmas shopping season, SF’s Mayor Ed Lee says he’s dead set on clearing homeless “campers” from the streets of the city. It’s not just the inconvenience of tents sprawled in the center of sidewalks of that stylish and affluent city — it’s the sanitary problem involved in what sounds like rampant public defecation.

Our Wesley Smith frequently ventures into the city, and he reflects on the subject in a powerful essay at First Things, putting it in the context of Dostoevsky’s observation that “Man can get used to anything, the beast.” Wesley recalls how the 1972 film Cabaret presented abortion as a symbol of ultimate capitulation to decadence. We’ve come a long a way since then, not for the good: “Fifty years later, it is shocking how unshocking the movie’s salacious scenes have become; yesterday’s depravity has become today’s norm.”

Not only San Francisco has this problem. New York is considering decriminalizing public urination, something we observe here in the heart of the Seattle business district as well.

But here’s the point. If dogs do it, and the pigeons just on the other side of my office window, why not human beings? If we are just another species of animal, offered up by an evolutionary process that attaches no significance to what makes us exceptional, then animal behavior hardly deserves censure.

Image credit: Joe Mabel (Photo by Joe Mabel) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.