Friday, October 9, 2009

On Figs, Baloney, Consistency and Post-Modernism.

In a post on the 6th at FirstThings, Wesley J. Smith gets riled by the case in Connecticut, brought by two doctors, that challenges the constitutionality of assisted suicide. It's a post about definitions.

He calls inconsistent the efforts by advocates to, by court or by legislation, legalize assisted suicide. (See my little bit earlier today about majority rule and minority rights.) Then he gets damn wacky with talk of euphemisms, gobbledygook, and post-modernism.

By conflating suicide and assisted suicide (and claiming that depression is the cause and hospice is the answer, see other posts), Smith fails to address the real cause behind the movement to legalize aid in dying: personal choice. Who owns suffering? Not the patient, according to Smith, because personal suffering is, well, just narrative.

(Incidentally, Smith is all for condemning democratic vote when it doesn't serve his purposes.)

The assisted suicide movement doesn’t give a fig about consistency. If people attack legalized suicide, they pound the podium and assert that we must respect state’s rights. But when states refuse to legalize assisted suicide–as in Montana–they file lawsuits hoping an activist judge will find a heretofore unheard of “right” to assisted suicide.

It’s really not hard: Suicide is knowingly taking action to kill yourself, in this case, taking an overdose of drugs with the intent to die. Assisted suicide is providing the means or otherwise assisting that action, in this case, prescribing sufficient drugs to kill the patient in the knowledge that suicide is the patient’s intent. It isn’t prescribing drugs for a legitimate medical purpose, such as treating pain.

“Aid in dying” is just a gobbledygook euphemistic advocacy term that pretends terminally ill people can’t commit suicide. In other words, it is postmodernism run amok in that it would disregard facts and sacrifice accurate definitions on the altar of personal narrative. So, if I give someone dying of cancer a gun, load it, cock it, and help them point it at their head knowing they will pull the trigger, I have only aided in their dying? That’s nuts. People like Tucker will say, but that’s violent, so it is suicide. Baloney. The principle doesn’t change if a doctor is prescribing a poisonous overdose or I am helping someone shoot themselves.

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