I HOLD in contempt those writers who decry vivisection, ignorant as they are that animal experimentation, under proper supervision, has contributed vastly to surgical and medical knowledge. It is better to experiment on lower forms of life than on human beings; better that rabbits, cats, and rats be sacrificed for the lessening of human misery than that knowledge stand still and humanity suffer.
The vivisectionist is the real and far-sighted humanitarian, who believes that the alleviation of human pain is infinitely desirable even if it must be procured at the expense of some pain to the lower animals.
Darwin, one of the kindest and most humane of men, wrote: "I quite agree that it [vivisection] is justifiable for real investigation on physiology." And again: "It is certain that physiology can progress only by experiments on living animals."
To the maudlin sentimentalists who wallow in remonstrances against vivisection, I recommend a reading of the article, "Vivisection" in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
NO society can consider itself civilized unless it practices euthenasia. We mercifully shoot or chloroform animals which have broken a spine or which are otherwise hopelessly stricken, but we are afraid to put out of their misery those human beings who suffer from some incurable disease. It is thought nobler in our present civilization to have such persons endure a slow and agonizing death.
It has been the practice of the church to fight euthanasia on the ground that we must wait until God "calls us home".
CREMATION is the clean, quick, sanitary method for the disposal of human remains. It permit the immediate disintegration of decomposing flesh, reducing, in a short time, to ashes and gas that which, if left to itself, must slowly decay. Esthetically, a crematory ending is infinitely superior to sealing a body in a casket and allowing it slowly to rot.
Opposition to the practice is largely of a religious character, based on the belief of a bodily resurrection, or on the false and pernicious sentiment that the act of burning human remains is "disrespectful" to the deceased.
Cremation is thus opposed by the Roman Catholic Church: "She holds it unseemly (says the Catholic Encyclopedia) that the human body, once the living temple of God . . . should finally be subjected to a treatment that piety, conjugal and fraternal love, or even mere friendship seem to revolt against as inhuman." Hell fire and damnation are not revolting to this tender-hearted church, but cremation is.
A Catholic by the name of O'Hara, writing on cremation in the Brooklyn Tablet, speaks of "the harrowing ordeal of destruction of the body by fire." He apparently does not know that dead bodies do not feel.
When, in its Inquisitional days, the Catholic Church committed living bodies to the flame, it did not talk about the "harrowing ordeal" of torturing individuals by fire. The burning of heretics alive was a Christian act, and everyone in the Church from the Pope down, glorified the faggot and the stake. Why, then, should O'Hara get excited now over reducing a dead body to ashes in a modern crematorium?
The disposal of human remains by the sanitary method of cremation, instead of by dressing them up in Sunday clothes and leaving them to rot in the ground, is the difference between science on the one side and medieval vulgarism on the other. Cremation has everything in its favor against the process of slow putrefaction, for in a few hours, it reduces 97 per cent of the body's weight to gas and 3 per cent to ash.
Moreover, when have Catholics expressed any moral indignation over the "harrowing ordeal" of roasting individuals in Hell-fire forever? It is beautiful, think Catholics, for their Heavenly Father to commit his children to eternal torture, but burning a dead body racks their moral nature. They are shocked beyond measure at the thought of burning a corpse.
If the anti-cremationist, Mr. O'Hara, is deeply concerned over the way men handle dead bodies, he may test his reflexes by reading the following from the ex-priest, Joseph McCabe :--
"In the year 896 there was witnessed in Rome a scene which fitly inaugurated one hundred and fifty years of such degradation as has never fallen upon any other religious organization in history. Stephen VI became Pope, after a bloody contest of the various factions. He ordered the body of one of his predecessors, Formosus, who had been several weeks buried, to be brought to the papal palace. The stinking corpse was clothed in the pontifical garments and propped in the throne. The august representative of Christ and the Holy Ghost, the channel of God's mercy to the human race, gathered his 'cardinals' (the name was already in use) and bishops round the ghastly object, and they vented upon it a fury such as one would hardly expect savages to show to a corpse. In the end they cut three fingers from the right hand of the putrid body, and flung it into the Tiber."