Euthanasia – 4 myths

1) The choice myth

Euthanasia advocates seem to believe that referring to “choice” always clinches the argument.  They appear to assume that choice can only be good.  I agree that choice is better than coercion, but this doesn’t mean choice is necessarily and always a boon.

Have you seen the movie Sophie’s Choice?  The pivotal scene involves the guards at a Nazi concentration camp tormenting a woman by saying they’re going to kill one of her two children and demanding that she choose which.  If she doesn’t choose, they’ll kill both.  Is this choice a boon?

Even in more mundane situations, a choice can actually be burdensome: one is required to make a decision, which requires thought.  Depending on the topic, that thought may be accompanied by strong emotion.  Some choice decisions are really difficult: we call some of them dilemmas: we often prefer to avoid them and don’t like them being imposed on us.

Euthanasia advocates entirely overlook the great majority of terminally ill patients who are eligible for euthanasia but who might prefer not to think about it.  (I say “great majority” because a part of the euthanasia sales pitch is that it will result in very few deaths.)  Once the euthanasia topic pervades the hospital, it will be the elephant in every room.  We will in no time reach a point where patients who wish to live will have to say so.  The “have to” will not be a legal obligation, but a social-familial one: they will feel expected to have thought about it and to have “reached a position”.

The End of Life Choice Act will impose this terrible burden on a large number of people who are already more than sufficiently burdened.

2) The dignity myth

Another magic word relied on by euthanasia advocates is “dignity”.  They tell us that people have a right to “die with dignity” and that this justifies euthanasia.

I agree that a controlled death (predictable, painless, surrounded by family etc) is desirable – far more convenient and less unpleasant than waiting and risking being alone when the time comes.  I can easily imagine preferring it.

However, I don’t agree that a controlled death is more “dignified” than an uncontrolled one, any more than I think any other exertion of control (in any context) is more dignified than allowing events to unfold.

For a start, our desire for control, while understandable, is often not realistic.  A lot of energy and resources are often wasted on it.

In addition, the desire for control is often more like a need – a need that can become seriously dysfunctional, such as in the cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder and extreme perfectionism.

In any case, I simply don’t see how the desire/need for a controlled death is more “dignified” than the patience, forbearance and endurance involved in submitting to circumstance.  It may be a preferable death, in all sorts of ways, but not more dignified.

3) The “My life, my death, my choice” myth

This rather indignant insistence on personal autonomy wants to be conclusive in the euthanasia debate, but it only relates to euthanasia where the patient takes their own life.  As we all know, suicide is already legal, so this bumper-sticker seems redundant to me.

It may be that people who use this argument do so in the hope that it will somehow apply to the other scenario where a patient who is unable to self-administer the lethal drug arranges for someone else to do it.  However, it doesn’t apply there.

The patient is in the midst of a personal tragedy and we should sympathise with all people so afflicted.  However, it is that patient’s tragedy and I believe we are not supposed to drag other people into our personal tragedies, and we should especially not do this if we wish to proudly proclaim our autonomy at the same time.

Far from being independent or autonomous, this patient brings another person into their death and turns that other person into a killer.  Although the other person provides a formal legal consent, turning someone into a killer will profoundly change them.  “Please kill me” is asking a lot and the blithe and cocky “My life, my death, my choice” trivialises this.

I suppose the fundamental problem with “My life, my death, my choice” slogan (and also the “My body, my choice” of abortion advocacy) is the utter self-absorption embedded in it.  This is no more impressive than the adolescent “Me, me, me”, and we should not expect any good to result from adults appropriating that sentiment and giving it legal authority.

4) The compassion myth

This myth falls over with the others.

It makes perfect sense to feel compassion for any human who is suffering – whether they are suffering from poverty, exclusion, fear, grief, helplessness, worthlessness, despair, physical pain or, really, anything else that hurts them.

I don’t think this idea is controversial and I’m confident that people on both sides of the euthanasia discussion fully appreciate it.  So, when euthanasia advocates claim compassion for their side only, they are just being morally conceited.

Compassion is not just felt, valued and practised by everyone (or, should be), it is also felt and practised for the benefit of everyone, not just for some.  If it is selective, it really stops being good.  After all, compassion is not the only virtue, but is part of a package of virtues that includes justice.  Selective compassion is unjust.

It can be seen from the choice myth that euthanasia advocates’ compassion is extremely selective: they seek a choice which is a benefit for a small number and a terrible burden for a far greater number.

Their narrow moral focus becomes even more apparent in their “Me, me, me” slogan.  They give no consideration whatever to the fact that, in many cases, a human being who has never killed, and indeed who has vowed to “Do no harm”, is turned into a killer for their sake.  This is ruthless selfishness, not compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas

The period between 24 December and 1 January is now commonly described as “the holiday period” (or similar).  I get that, but I’ve also noticed that an increasing number of people don’t seem to know what Christmas even means anymore – to Christians, I mean.

Christmas is not easy to explain, as it is part of a vast epic.  Christians typically believe:

  • God kept creating until He created a being (human) who is capable of returning the compliment of loving.
  • The proud defiance in the Eden story (whether or not it occurred as told) is found in every human heart: essentially, “No-one’s the boss of me!”
  • This defiance resulted in our residing in a world which, while magnificent, is hazardous. (Of course, we are ourselves the greatest hazard.)
  • God is aggrieved by this separation from us and is strongly motivated to reconcile. After various endeavours at reconciling, including an exclusive relationship with the people of Israel (standing in for humanity), it emerged that something quite radical was required.

The point of the Gospel expedition emerges at Easter, but its radical nature is apparent immediately, with the Creator of the cosmos submitting to be born as a human child.  The solution required a new stand-in for humanity – one who could manage the task.  The stand-in had to be human, but only God could perform the task: Jesus Christ is both.

The Gospel expedition is for all humanity, as can be seen in the location of the Nativity and in those who were there: Jews representing continuity with the epic; Roman occupation and the 3 visiting Kings representing everyone else; the Kings representing the powerful, the shepherds representing the poor.

While Jesus’ overlordship is recognised in the homage of the visiting Kings, his position was precarious at the outset – conceived out of wedlock, born in something less than a human dwelling in a subjugated land, and already the object of an assassination plot (courtesy of King Herod).  Still, the expedition is underway.

Yet, Christmas is a positive time, in the same sense that the Friday of Easter is “Good”, and because it’s about –

  • the hope one feels on hearing the first sounds of rescue (the cavalry, the choppers, the police or ambulance siren, your parents’ car pulling into the driveway);
  • grateful wonder that, as we can’t earn or strive our way to God, God has come to us;
  • the reaffirmation of the astonishing value of being human;
  • the value of family and expressing love (eg in gift-giving).

The celebration of family in “the holiday period” in secular society is wonderful and extremely important, but it barely scratches the surface of Christmas.

______________________________________________________

 

 

 

Diversity vs Justice

I seldom hear anyone talking about “social justice” anymore.  I used to hear it a lot.  What I hear instead is “diversity” –  though seemingly from the same people.

These people seem to have decided on “diversity” as the new theme of their mission.  I’ve also noticed that, while justice was something these people used to “seek”, diversity is being “celebrated”.

The switch from seeking to celebrating made better sense to me once I realised that the focus of this movement has significantly narrowed.

When they were called SJWs (“social justice warriors”), they pursued justice for a wide range of people who are on the receiving end of systemic injustice, or even systemic disrespect.  The people for whom justice was pursued included the poor, the disabled and chronically ill, people with mental illness, Māori and Pasifika, the elderly, women, LGBTIQ folk, refugees and immigrants of colour.  Apart from women, these groups are all minorities.

When the movement switched from pursuing justice to celebrating diversity – and the SJWs became “progressives” – most of these groups were left behind.  The diversity being celebrated is diversity of gender, sexual orientation and race (especially colour). 

That’s it, though I should mention two other relevant developments (one quite recent):

  • There is a very strong (and difficult to explain) peripheral sponsorship of Muslims, especially if they are refugees and immigrants. They’re usually non-white, of course.  They are also as stridently anti-Christian as their sponsors, so that may be a part of the explanation.  The inclusion of this group is strange, because “progressives” tend to be atheist or agnostic.  Also strange because, if Muslims were to become influential, it would be at the expense of atheists, LGBTIQ folk and assertive feminists.  Still, there it is.
  • There is a more recent but fast-developing focus on young people as a worthy victim group – victims of climatic neglect, I suppose.

Selection process

I’ve been wondering how a “victim group” gets to be shortlisted for sponsorship by “progressives” and welcomed aboard the Weeping Juggernaut.  This is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Feminism, LGBTIQ and, in New Zealand, Māori have very large, well-funded and assertive lobbies. The race component is propped up by Pasifika and, more recently, by Muslim refugees and immigrants who are mostly people of colour.
  2. These groups (apart from recent arrivals) are already on the same page, ideologically – completely on board with the identity politics that venerates them.
  3. The identifying attributes of these groups are positive (in the case of women and Māori) or are at least promoted as positive (in the case of LGBTIQ).

Criteria ##1 & 2 make the work of advancing the causes of these groups much easier. 

Criterion #3 is the most interesting, I think, and seems responsible for the intentional discarding of the groups left behind.

The discarded groups don’t have these advantages.  Some don’t have strong lobbies, but even those who do tend to fail on criteria ##2 & 3.  If they caught up on #2, by spending some time being indoctrinated at a university, they might subscribe to the ideology, but they’d still fail on #3.

While it existed, the Deaf Pride movement in the US claimed criterion #3, just as LGBTIQ does, but generally the discarded groups struggle to market themselves in a positive way.  They rely on a little sympathy or compassion to motivate the correction of systemic injustice.  In this, they display honesty and common sense, while LGBTIQ rely on pride and rebranding.

Some groups have had their noses rubbed into the fact that they’ve been discarded.  The elderly are a good example: nowadays, I only hear about the “dignity” of the elderly (and also the very sick) in the context of euthanasia.  The recently outed “OK boomer” is further evidence of the broad-based contempt for the elderly.  I expect this will get worse now that the Juggernaut seems to be taking on the very young as the latest victim group: “Out with the old and in with the new” will apply to the elderly directly. 

I would suggest that criterion #3 was designed to exclude the groups that have been left behind.  The reason – marketing.  Put another way, you have to look good on a Diversity Pride March.

The criteria for admission onto the Weeping Juggernaut have taken the Left a very long way from the social justice they used to pursue.  It seems, in fact, that an ethos has been replaced by an aesthetic.

_____________________________________________

Munchausen by Proxy – on a grand scale

One of the characteristics of the Weeping Juggernaut that bothers me most is its ruthlessly pragmatic refusal to treat the human hurt that fuels it.

This Juggernaut would not exist if there were not a great many people who were hurt – through being marginalised, or “kept down”, or worse.  Not all hurt groups are involved, the Juggernaut is selective.  Those involved are women, LGBTIQ folk and people of colour (especially Māori and Pasifika, in New Zealand).

There may be some debate about just how much hurt there is, and about how recent it is, but we all know there is some.  However much there is, this article is about what happens to that real hurt.

Usually, if you know someone who is hurt, you do what you can to help them – by helping them directly or finding help for them, including help in the form of therapy.  And you might take the trouble to remind them that there is more to them, and their life, than the hurt that has happened to them.  Remind them of the water in the half-filled glass.

A therapist would do the same.  From my own experience of receiving therapy for stress or depression, it is common for the therapist to say, “I cannot change the circumstances that have caused this stress or depression (though we can talk about what it is best for you to do), but I can help you to better manage the hurt itself so you are less affected by it or not affected for quite so long”.  Nowadays, this is called focusing on “resilience”.

By contrast, some of those advocates and champions who claim to act in the interests of women, LGBTIQ folk and Māori and Pasifika do nothing to ameliorate the hurt these people have suffered – and nothing to build their resilience.  On the contrary, they keep it alive and fresh, reminding these people that they are victims – not merely that they have been victimised, but that they are victims, that “victim” is who they are.  “Who” goes deep and implies “forever”.

This nurturing message looks and sounds like real concern and empathy.  But that’s just packaging: the content of this nurture is the very opposite of therapy.  In fact, it is so perverse and so damaging, that it reminds me of the condition known as Munchausen by Proxy:

a mental illness and a form of child abuse.  The caretaker of a child, most often a mother, either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.

This is a key characteristic of the operation of the Weeping Juggernaut in New Zealand and much of the modern West, except that it is happening on a grand scale. The other difference is, the people who provide this perverse nurture for their victim groups are not insane: their actions are premeditated, cool and deliberate.  Strategic, in the sense that they know this is one of the means to achieving their ends.

Unfortunately, exploiting people for power is not unusual.  Exploiting “your own” for gain is less common – and it is worse, in the sense that the exploitation relies on betrayal.

This strategy is, par excellence, pragmatism – in my opinion, the worst possible character flaw.  This is the character of those who operate Weeping Juggernaut.

When people who preach a good end are prepared to use toxic and harmful means to achieve it, it makes good sense to question whether the end is as good as they claim.

______________________________________

Sex is always epic

Lizzie Marvelly was discussing pornography in the Weekend Herald on 5 October:

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12273223

Urging good quality sex education as an important step in ameliorating the impact of pornography, she bemoaned the current state of that curriculum:

While some students are learning about consent, healthy relationships, and the unreality of pornography, others are learning the bare basics about sperm fertilising ova.

She stumbled across the truth and didn’t notice.  Yes, sperm fertilizing ova is the “bare basics”.  In fact, that’s what sex is – the mundane seed of the stupendous human epic.

I find it strange to read someone who identifies “bare basics” and then treats them as trivial – like “only the bare basics”

A teaching module that claims to be about sex (eg “healthy sexual relationships” between school kids), but ignores what sex is, is misleading.  Respectful relationships are extremely important, but they’re not really “sexual” relationships if they happen without any regard to what sex is:  they are a safe mimicry of a sexual relationship.

Similarly, a sex-ed curriculum is a misnomer if it ignores what sex is.  It makes sense to talk about things in addition to the bare basics – most obviously, pleasure and love (as sex is such a wonderful bonding agent).  But, pleasure and love supplement the bare basics, they are not a substitute.  If the bare basics are set aside, the curriculum is no longer about sex.

There’s no time here to list all the problems with porn:  suffice to say I can’t think of anything to say in favour of it.  Before you get to the unrealism, dehumanisation and violence, though, the initial problem with porn is that it isn’t sex.  It just looks like sex from a distance.

Kids need to know what sex is – its bare basics and its wonderful supplementary features.  And they need to learn to keep a safe distance from mimicry – whether pleasant (as it often is) or toxic (like porn).

___________________________________

“White” what?

A recent Dominion Post / Stuff editorial informs us that a “white supremacist” group has been causing alarm at Auckland University by putting up posters.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/116293520/when-free-speech-on-campus-goes-too-far

It might be true, the group terrorising the campus with posters might be a white supremacist group.  “Might be”, that’s the news.  “Might be”, because the group is not named, so it is impossible for the reader to check.  What does the reader do – trust the editor?

There was a time when I would have considered trusting a news editor.  Not anymore.

We live in era of maliciously false labelling, a practice employed widely in the media – certainly in Stuff and the Dominion Post.  The most common mislabelling is the label “hate speech”, which is attached to anyone who disagrees with “progressive” dogma.

However, “white supremacist” is another label used in the same way.  It is attached not only to actual supremacists (who believe the “white race” is superior to others) but also to people who are simply worried that the white race faces extinction.  Their worry or fear may or may not be fanciful: that’s worth discussing, perhaps some facts could calm them down.  On the other hand, the facts might justify their sense of alarm.

These white worriers may not be dangerous.  Or they may be.  It depends on what they say and do.  But they are not supremacist.  Some might also be supremacist.  But, some are not, they’re just afraid.

Another popular falsehood is that racial supremacism is always “white”.  It is clearly not true.

Consider, for example, the Nation of Islam in the US.  (I should hasten to say that this is not a mainstream Muslim organisation.)  They seriously teach that the evil white race was created artificially (by close breeding) a few thousand years ago, on an island in the Aegean.  They mean it.

I think we whites (I’m afraid I am one) also have a little Neanderthal in us (https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/neanderthal-ancestry-in-europeans-unchanged-for-last-45-000-years-65364).  I suppose that’s as good a basis as any for working up a supremacist theory at our expense: time will tell.

Anyway, this kind of editorial is a part of the near-constant propagandising we are subjected to by Stuff.

_____________________________________

Out with the old ….

Thomas Coughlan recommends lowering the voting age to 16:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/116233379/let-teenagers-vote-it-wont-change-a-thing

One of his principal arguments is that we needn’t panic about possible upheaval:

History tells us that mass enfranchisement would be unlikely to change the make-up of Parliament. 

The enfranchisement of women saw more than twice as many people vote in the 1893 election as in the 1890 election, yet the margin between the main two parties shifted by less than 2 per cent

True, but that was because women (and their opinions) vary.  Even if some voted with (or against) their husbands, their votes varied because their husbands varied.

By contrast, 16- to 18-year olds are a cohort that has been indoctrinated in “progressive” ideology at school:  they are a voting-block in waiting.

Addressing the issue of competence to vote, Coughlan gets a little nasty, saying:

The strongest argument for keeping the voting age at 18 is that it is an age at which young people reach an arbitrary level of mental competence required for voting. 

It’s a fair argument – no-one would suggest giving toddlers the vote – but at the same time, we also don’t look at stripping the vote from the elderly.

This is an occasion when one makes an argument by saying one isn’t making it.  It still gets mentioned and does its work.  Like when a judge directs a jury to “ignore what counsel just said”.  Crafty, effective, hardly admirable.

This kind of insinuated insult to elderly folk is intrinsic to the “progressive” revolution:  out with the old, in with the new.  The elderly used to be considered by social justice advocates, but the phenomenon we used to call “political correctness” is not about justice:  justice is for everyone, but this movement is highly selective.

Being young is one of the characteristics you need to be gathered up in the new limited “inclusiveness”:  I guess you have to look good in a Diversity Pride March.

_____________________________________