When people inquire as to what kind of work I do, I reply, "bioethical research." Their usual reaction is another perplexed, often tacit question: "What in the world is that?"
How can one define ethical research, or is there such a thing to begin with? For most, if not all, of our current horde of "bioethicists" and their hastily contrived hospital ethics committees, that kind of research boils down to hair-splitting pedantry over clichés arbitrarily consecrated into sacred maxims--- In short, no talk of anything smacking of taboo or threatening to "rock the societal boat."
For me, real bioethical research does nothing but rock the boat, and, better yet, capsizes it. So you might easily guess what my answer is to the query of this book's title---emphatically not taboo! That is the only sure way to really honest morality. As a result of my own unbridled bioethical experience, I now practice obitiatry and patholysis according to very strict, truly ethical self-imposed guidelines---when permitted to do so by an ethically debilitated society and an even more debilitated medical guild hopelessly enamored of the irrational taboos concocted by hopelessly misguided (and cruel) secular legislation dictated by purely fictive theological fantasy.
Circumstances have made me an arch "taboo-buster"as an unlikely crusader to do only what is irrefutably right and profoundly important. By definition (in Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary) the word "taboo" is derived from the Tongan "tabu," and used as a noun, adjective, and verb. "Among primitive tribes it denoted a sacred prohibition put upon certain people, things or acts which makes them untouchable, unmentionable; as the highly developed system or practice of such prohibitions; or any social prohibition or restriction that results from convention or tradition." As Abraham Lincoln put it, "A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes." O.W.Holmes, Jr., came to the same conclusion: "Pretty much all law consists in forbidding people to do some things they want to do." Political scientist Jeremy Bentham's agreement was even terser: "Every law is an infraction of liberty." There is no doubt that taboos are ideal tools of enslavement, reinforced with the invincible coercive power of our tyrannically dictatorial supreme court.
For me it boils down to a lifelong commitment to destroy the ultimately murky mystical basis of taboos that foster the man-made laws shackling the influence of humanity's natural and entirely secular moral existence in this world ruled by that often implacable "hanging judge" called Nature. As a physician I feel uniquely privileged in being able and qualified to promulgate and mollify some of the harshest "injunctions" passed by that judge onto us pathetically puerile creatures stumbling through a short, totally desultory, and bewildering respite from, and ultimately back to, a dreaded immemorial extinction.
Professionally I can live better with myself during that short respite in thus contributing to the restoration of a little of the sheen to Hippocrates' once noble caduceus, to chip away a bit of the ugly patina encrusted on it in the morass of hypocrisy excreted by his wayward scions.
My "taboo-busting" rampage began in 1958 and unexpectedly progressed through a checkered, somewhat improvised medical career into involuntary retirement---a propitious form of complete independence during which I realized from the beginning that such "taboo" activity in this meretricious society would ultimately lead to a period of imprisonment. And that experience surprisingly proved to be exceptionally fortuitous for the propagation of my "crusade" in behalf of that much more rational secular morality.
The various medical taboos I attacked have been assembled here in the form of an anthology of my articles grouped into parts as related controversial taboos in the following pages. I hope that you find them interesting, somewhat instructive, and especially thought-provoking and worthwhile.