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Peter Singer: No, Cass Sunstein Isn’t My Disciple

I reported last week that Cass Sunstein, the Harvard Law School professor whose nomination to run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is in Senate limbo, would be the next target of Glenn Beck and the rest of the anti-”czars” crusade. On July 22, Beck hosted David Martosko of the Center for Consumer Freedom to explain that Sunstein was actually a radical animal rights activist.

A partial transcript:

MARTOSKO: He is a philosopher in the mold of Peter Singer.

BECK: Hang on just a second. Peter Singer, America, in case you don’t know who Peter Singer is — Peter Singer is the guy, he is the chair of ethics at Princeton University. He believes — he first came out and said, “You can abort a baby 20 days after birth.” Then he came out and apologized because there was some outcry on that one, and he said, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have put a number on it because actually a baby isn’t really human until it can realize that there’s a tomorrow. So, up until two years, two years of age, you can abort a child. OK.

MARTOSKO: OK.

BECK: So, he’s a friend of Peter Singer’s.

MARTOSKO: Yes. He is a — he is a disciple of Singer’s. I mean, Singer is in favor of infanticide and this whole idea of quality adjusted life years.

BECK: Yes.

So I asked Peter Singer about this. His response:

It’s absurd. Cass Sunstein has developed his own views on this issue. You might as well say that Glenn Beck is a disciple of Lyndon LaRouche because they agree on opposing the public health care option. (Incidentally, Glenn Beck’s characterization of my views in that clip is also a grotesque distortion.)

My “work” with Cass Sunstein on these issues consists, in its entirety, in my attending a one-day workshop at the University of Chicago some years ago on a proposal to label animal products so that consumers could know more about how the animals were treated. If I recall correctly, the workshop was co-hosted by Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum.

He also once reprinted an essay of mine in a book that he co-edited with Nussbaum.

That’s it.

I talked to Martosko, too, and will have more about all of this later. [UPDATE: The Singer quote has been revised to correct a small error from our original conversation.]

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