Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From despair and death to life and hope

Tonight Sky TV screened the assisted suicide of Craig Ewert, 59, a motor neurone disease sufferer. Millions of viewers saw Ewart sitting in the blandly domestic surroundings of the Swiss Dignitas clinic and being handed a cocktail of lethal drugs. He gently guided the straw into his mouth and sucking purposefully on it, surrendered himself to the night. He chose to depart accompanied by the sombre strains of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Ewert may have considered the manner of his death tranquil and dignified but to this viewer it seemed, with all the cold certainty of its outcome, as terrifying as an execution.

Ewart's very public suicide was not just a personal choice. By agreeing to its being televised he wanted it to make it a public event, even after the fact, to accelerate the campaign to legalise assisted suicide in the UK. He may or may not have succeeded in that aim; many politicians, including Gordon Brown, it emerged today, remain profoundly uneasy with assisted suicide. But inevitably he succeeded in making his death the subject of the national conversation. It led front pages and news bulletins and commentators have proffered their opinions thoughout the day.

Easily the most impressive of them was disability rights activist and stand up comedian, Liz Carr, who appeared on Newsnight and cutting through all the emotional hooplah, fearlessly declared that, yes, assisted suicide is wrong, threatens the disabled and should be prosecuted.
Liz Carr is a tiny woman who looks physically fragile but she spoke with a passionate conviction which animated her diminutive frame. If terminally ill people want to commit suicide that tells her something's wrong with society, not their lives, she insisted.

Liz Carr grasped the fundamental point about this debate; that there is no such thing as a life not worth living. She was urgent, compelling and in all her liberated vigour, the perfect counterpoint to poor, imprisoned Craig Ewart. Tonight British television deliberately screened a man's death but it also showcased a star. She's alive, radical and thrustingly optimistic. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the future. I give you Liz Carr.


Blogger Voltaire's Priest said...

So the control over when and how their own lives should belong to the state? Niiice...

12/12/2008 5:30 PM  
Blogger Voltaire's Priest said...

Or rather, "control over when and how their lives end should belong to the state?" was what I woz meaning.

12/12/2008 5:31 PM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/13/2008 1:01 PM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

Er, no VP.

The state no more controls when we die than it does when we copulate.

Try again.

12/13/2008 1:02 PM  
Blogger Voltaire's Priest said...

Actually it does, if religious-political lobby groups have it set the laws by which all people have to abide.

You see, it's like with abortion. Just because it's legal doesn't mean one has to do it, whereas under your preferred system of religious governance via tame parliamentarians, everyone would have to obey your rules. State-enforced religion, see?

12/13/2008 1:52 PM  
Blogger Merseymike said...

Totally disagree.

If I was in Craig Ewart's position, I too would agree that life is not worth living. Others may disagree.

The choice should be that of the individual - and no-one else. If religionists wish to continue with their personal suffering and believe that is their way forward, then that should be respected as their choice. The same should be the case for those who see such suffering as unacceptable - they should also have their choice.

The main problem here is the idea that life is 'sacred'. nothing is sacred, as there is no spiritual dimension or god other than in the minds of those who choose to believe in one. Again, such a moral code should not be imposed upon those who choose not to believe in imaginary friends or the teachings of organisations who believe in them

If people wish to do so - that's fine. But I don't happen to like christianity or its god or its warped idea of morality, so see no reason to follow its erroneous ideas.

12/13/2008 5:59 PM  
Blogger neprimerimye said...

Oh, I suspect that Red Maria (sic) would like the state to control when we die. But only assuming the state is controlled by her own weirdo church.

12/16/2008 4:20 PM  
Blogger Oli said...

I suppose that if this all comes down to state control over who is allowed to kill who, or help x kill themselves, the state laws into murders should also be investigated...

12/19/2008 10:29 AM  
Blogger Voltaire's Priest said...

Actually Oli, that staggeringly honest statement is very revealing of the real roots of your and RM's stance on this, which is that you think suicide is a sin, right?

Incidentally perhaps the film's informative value would have been enhanced by footage of people in the final stages of terminal illness writhing in pain, babbling delusionally or losing control of their bodily functions? They could have counterposed this with footage of a priest wibbling on about the evils of euthanasia. After all this is the consequence of the avoidance of sin which you guys seem to eager for the government to enforce, so it's only fair that the public should get to see the truth.

Somebody making a free choice to end their own life is manifestly not the same thing as "murder". Their life should be theirs to control, not the state's.

12/20/2008 5:05 AM  
Blogger Merseymike said...

In any case, sin is a Christian religionist social construction. I don't think it exists as an objective reality.

12/23/2008 7:40 AM  

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