Monday, August 03, 2009

"Sleepwalking into barbarism"

...is Melanie Phillips' take on the news that three-quarters of the populace favour allowing doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives, and that six in ten want to be able to help the dying commit suicide without fear of prosecution.

Naturally, Melanie isn't keen on the idea. Can't say I blame the woman for her objections to euthanasia myself, since I imagine she has a far more real and personal phobia of being strapped down and injected with powerful sedatives than most people do.*

This being the Mail's website rather than the Spectator's, Melanie has to tone it down a little - more a hint and a nudge about how the populace are being manipulated into making bad decisions, rather than the usual accusatory explosions. Undiluted, primal Mel would be speaking in tongues and seeing black helicopters packed with socialist doctors descending with murderous intent upon sleepy English villages.

At the Mail, it seems, you can go a little Forrest Gump, but you never go full-retard. You go full-retard, you go home empty-handed and anyway, you'd be stepping on the commenters' toes.

What's odd is that it seems to be an issue that flips switches for entirely sane and reasonable people. Splintered Sunrise has misgivings because, as best I can tell, it finds favour with people like Polly Toynbee, while Jamie K.'s objections seem to be based on Health-Naziesque disturbances he feels in The Force.

If euthanasia inspires that reaction in them, I shudder to think what the hacks will make of it. I can almost taste yet another dumbass wedge issue here, ripe for exploitation by nutsacks and freaks. Within three seconds of any clarification on assisted suicide being issued, every reactionary headbanger in the land is going to be hallucinating hospital wards filled with British Mengeles. A Technorati search for "socialist euthanasia" should return a representative example.

Well, I guess one man's mercy is another man's murder, and there's no need to rehash the well-thumbed arguments for and against. All I'm going to say is that I can barely deal with a nasty hangover; that if I - John Frum forbid - wound up with some heinous terminal illness, I wouldn't be able to see how a shitload of apologetic coppers throwing the book at Mrs. Rodent for helping me onto a plane would be a sane or sensible use of anyone's time.

On this issue, I've got far more headspace for the opinions of people like Margo MacDonald, Debbie Purdy and Terry Pratchett. After all, what's an interesting theoretical question for us is a rather more pressing issue for them.

*Well, not that I actually favour this kind of treatment for Melanie. After all, drugs are expensive, while cricket bats are very cheap.

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