If we accept the principle that universal human rights are worth embracing, then all human life must be included within this ideal. That's what "universal" means. Human rights begin when human life begins and ends with life's natural conclusion. Anything else is either ignorance or sophistry and bigotry." -- Mark Davis Pickup
Saturday, May 30, 2009
One night on the Michael Coren Show
The Michael Coren Show on Canada's CTS television network airs three times a week across the nation. It's a panel talk show covering various subjects ranging from current affairs to religion. I like the Michael Coren show: It's a guarantee of lively debate with a slightly intellectual but not snooty quality.
The casual viewer can not tell whether Coreh is right or left on the political spectrum. Michael Coren has both left and right, liberal and conservative representation on his panels. He's demanding but fair with his guests and demands fair and thoughtful responses and is quick to challenge pat answers, slogans or Newspeak. For example, last evening his conservative guest was columnist and author Clare Hoy. The liberal guest was Marianne Meed Ward. The token representation from western Canada was broadcaster Rob Brackenridge.
One story they covered was out of Swaziland. Member of Parliament, Timothy Myeni, for a solution to the AIDS epidemic in his country: compulsory HIV testing of the population. HIV-positive people with receive a tattoo on their buttocks.
Marianne Meed Ward objected to the idea. At one point she used the phrase "sex trade
workers." Michael Coren interrupted her liberal diatribe with something to this effect:
MC: "You mean whores?"
MC: "Why do to try to dignify prostitution? Dignify the person but but the activity."
Well done Michael.
My view of the Swaziland proposal is one of support for the MP's idea. Desperate measures are sometimes required for desperate times. HIV has made these are desperate times for Swaziland (and other African countries). It's a reasonable requirement to save a population threatened by the AIDS epidemic. If the choice is privacy versus public health of life threatening disease, I side with public health. My only concern was placing a tattoo on the buttocks of an HIV-positive individual may not give a prospective sexual partner enough warning. A tattoo should be placed discreetly in view such as the palm of the hand or in the scalp.
Mr. Coren then changed the topic to the recent assisted suicide in the state of Washington of a woman suffering from pancreatic cancer. Predictably, Marianne Meed tried to defend assisted suicide with the outdated argument of dying people living in a drug induced stupor from pain medications. Obviously she had not done adequate research or she did the research and did not like what she found. It doesn't play well for euthanasia supporters.
After the show ended, I sent Email to Michael Coren saying that
Marianne Meed Ward made a weak case for assisted suicide in musing that pain management causes confusion. Not necessary.
If pain medications are properly administered by medical professionals with current and up-to-date understanding of pain management medications and techniques -- complete pain relief can be achieved without the loss of lucidity or confusion to the patient.
Ward (and Rob Brackenridge) tried to reverse the argument for assisted suicide by asserting the state does not have a right to force people to live. (?) Talk about confusion! Ward and Brackenridge did not even have medication to blame!
The point is this: The state must never support suicide or assisting suicide. Legalized assisted suicide, such as in the states of Oregon and Washington, are striking deviations from Anglo-American historical legal traditions and law. I spoke about this in my previous blog. For more than 7 hundred years common law has discouraged or punished assisting suicide.
Because Canada no longer punishes people who attempt suicide is not an an endorsement of it. It simply acknowledges that prosecution an inappropriate response to a suicidal person. They need psychologically help not prison. Ward alluded to the argument of a disabled person who can not kill themselves. So what! If Canada does not support suicide, why would they support assisted suicide.
I said to Michael Coren in my email: "I have suffered from aggressive multiple sclerosis for more than 25 years. My condition has degenerated significantly since you interviewed me in 1995. I am now triplegic and in a full electric wheelchair. My brain and CNS are riddled with lesions; only my left arm remains unaffected by MS."
"I do not need a community or society that assists me in my suicide. I need a society that holds up my value even when I cease to believe in it. And I have an obligation to the Common Good not to seek assistance or support of my suicide. For me to ask that society or other people to assist me in my suicide would be to support the notion that there is such a thing as a life unworthy to be lived. The ramifications of accepting that notion would have a detrimental effect on others with disabilities, the incurably ill, those who have sunk beneath the waves of depression or circumstances, ... and posterity."
I told Mr. Coren that it is better to live in my state of degenerative disease and disability that to compromise my own humanity (or my responsibility to humanity) for the sake of my personal relief.
Contrary to the popular slogan it's NOT all about me. Autonomy is a myth.