Wednesday, May 28, 2014

News roundup from Monday: from the Toronto Star, a commentary.

It’s baaack. 
Okay, so that’s a little dramatic.  I saw a few articles in the papers today, Monday May 26 which seemed apropos of what we are having happen in the rest of the world lately.  I saw a piece a few days ago which came across my facebook feed outlining how Denmark was aiming to be ‘Down syndrome free’ by 2016.  This will apparently be accomplished by prenatal testing and elimination of those ‘diagnosed’ as having down syndrome in utero.  From my understanding, this has upset a lot of people but has yet to be denounced in the popular mind.
In another development, Quebec’s leadership, in the guise of the Liberal party there, has decided to re-introduce the thought to be defunct Bill 52 as their own.  I am sure they will claim it as their own until the problems arise; then they will claim they were following the will of the people and it wasn’t their original idea.  Or something like that.  Remember, this bill is re-introduced by a party whose national leader has said no thanks to those who are pro-life being involved in any official capacity in the Party.
In the Toronto Star newspaper, for May 26, 2014, there was the first in a series of articles on how we die.  The article features a prominent picture of a now deceased euthanasia enthusiast, who has one eye cosmetically taped open for the photo.  I say cosmetically because there is some speculation that this person’s video was doctored to make him look worse off than he was.  There is also some question of manipulation at the end of life after the fact: the widow of this person has apparently said that he died well, and then said that he died in agony.  We cannot be sure which was correct.
Having said that, the article talks about palliative care, dying processes and – euthanasia.   That sets up a later talk on killing the dying for later in the week, I am sure.
From the article:
‘The euthanasia enthusiast referred to earlier is on record as saying he does not want to die in pain.  I suggest that if one is in a palliative ward, or on a palliative track, then it is unethical for those looking after you – usually described as a calling – to leave you in pain or suffering without trying to relieve that suffering at all.  This is not mentioned in the article.’
Interestingly, it is also said in the article,
‘Dr Louis Hugo Franescutti, President of the Canadian Medical Association and an emergency room physician at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, says the CMA’s town-hall initiative is a response to recent high profile court cases on doctor assisted death.’ (Given that these cases are not outlined, it is left to us readers to figure out which cases these are – blogger) 
Franescutti says it was clear at each of the town halls that people want to have frank discussions about the issue.  That is a bit spurious, given the rhetoric that has been piling up about the issue for the last year or so.  So we want frank discussions, but will those discussions include child euthanasia in Belgium?  Problems in Belgium as a result?  The prospect of elder abuse legalized through death?  The devaluation of medical care?  The harvesting of the organs of those euthanized?

In the same Toronto star newspaper for May 26, 2014, there was an article in the first section outlining a great breakthrough for autism and autism researchers.  It was trumpeted as great, even though it was a statistical study; so was it real-world?  We don’t know but consider from the article:
‘The new research, published in the journal Nature Genetics, suggests that autism begins to develop in the womb.  It will help clinicians diagnose ASD earlier – hugely important, since autism is easier to treat the earlier it is caught.’
This is not ever made explicitly clear, but it seems as though there is now a prenatal ‘test’ available which will tell prospective parents that their child might be on the autism spectrum.  Given that I have outlined how in Canada that there is no more money in the community for disabled children – a quote from McIver’s book After the Error, p. 13 or so, it is clear that this testing will lead to gross exaggeration fo the problems, and allow the health system an easy out in terms of weeding out those who are on the spectrum in utero.  Sorry that should have read might be on the spectrum: this was apparently a statistic study done from the Hospital for Sick Children.
From the article:
‘Kathryn Roeder, a statistical geneticist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who was not involved in the study, called it a ‘tremendous stride forward’ saying she planned to distribute it as soon as she could.’
So in other words, this test will become widely available, although it is not ‘commercialized’ yet and even though it might play into the hands of those who wish to improve the race by eliminating autism at the source: in utero as Down syndrome will be eliminated in Denmark.  It is truly a great leap forward for humanity when we think that we can weed out undesirables and save money in utero. 
From the article:
‘The formula is not predictive enough that it could prove an unborn baby has autism, but it could help clinicians diagnose autism earlier in childhood, allowing important interventions to start early in life, when they are most effective.’
The trouble is that the tests will be used to eliminate those who are autistic – even though the test is not ‘predictive’ enough.  Doesn’t matter: parents will be told worst case scenario and offered an easy out.  Of course, it will be posted as a ‘right’ for them...but the rights of those who are different will be completely ignored.
Remember these stories come at a time when the social context is a chattering about assisted suicide; it also comes at a time when we hear more often in the news about autistic kids being murdered by a parent.  This also comes at a time when patients have fewer and fewer rights and options in the face of ‘medical care’. 
So it is interesting that this should be; it is also interesting that these two articles are bookended in the same section of the Toronto Star.  So we can see the propaganda machine is running again, and the answer to it is a ever-alert critical viewpoint on the issues, coupled with a firm statement that human life, if so important as to sanction killing it, should be protected against killing.
So in other words, the test is being rushed out even though it is not good enough to predict.  What precisely then will this test measure and what will be done with it and to those who are tested through it?  This is a real-world question, given that we seem to be wanting nothing more than the elimination of disability and therefore difference in humanity.  Of course, no one has asked the autism community in this article but then, conventional wisdom says you don’t do that when you have a predetermined social goal in mind.
[Source: ‘Tremendous step forward in autism research’, Toronto Star, May 26, 2014, P A3]

Here’s what worries me: we have this sense of magical thinking about the issues.  It’s like all we 

need do is legalize abortion and killing of the dying and disabled and every other social problem 

will fall into line thereafter.  History says otherwise: just ask those killed in Germany in the 

1930s.  If you can...

Friday, May 23, 2014

News roundup and current events Post #65

Dedicated to all who served, whether in Canada or the US: thank you.  This blog post is dedicated to my friend Adrienne Mabley's late uncle Doug Jones, who served in the Korean conflict in the Navy...thank you for your service sir...

I studied sociology in college in the late 80s early 90s.  What stood out was how you can watch for trends over time, and how information can add up to a larger picture.  I want to share newspaper articles I collected and comment on them in a larger narrative of how much we value, or devalue human life. 

The first story is about a blind man who was attacked and robbed in a public park, not far from where my wife used to live.  The man was diabetic, and the person who assaulted him (allegedly) is on camera (allegedly) doing so.  This person has been apprehended.  So it’s fair game to attack someone with a disability, and sadly, this is not the only example I can give of this sort of attack.
[SOURCE: ‘Blind Arrogance’, Toronto Sun, Shawn Jeffords, Sat May 10, 2014, p4]

Updating this story, the person who allegedly assaulted the man has been apprehended and arrested.  The victim was on record as saying he might have been watched and targeted before the attack.  The man was 19 years old and he apparently attacked others over a number of days.  It is clear that safeguards of community were not enough to stop this person; they had to be caught and stopped.
[SOURCE: ‘Arrest in robbery of blind man’, Toronto Sun, Chris Doucette, May 17, 2014, p. 16]

In other news, there was an article about Madi Vanstone, who has Cystic Fibrosis.  The medication, Kalydeco, has all but cured her illness.  It costs her family 60K per year.  The Ontario government has twice refused to fund it through OHIP.  Madi Vanstone has gone to the Premiere of Ontario – two times.  The medication apparently costs upward of 300K per year.  This young girl has been abandoned due to cost, and this is not the only example of such medical abandonment.
[SOURCE: ‘Grits pass buck on life-saver’, Toronto Sun, Christina Blizzard, May 18, 2014, p.4-5]

As another example, I saw an article about the Veterans’ Administration scandal in the US.  I know calling it a scandal is probably an understatement; the tweets I have seen on the issue use stronger language.  And I don’t blame those involved.  There is no reason why one of the wealthiest nations in the world cannot help its veterans when they have retired, but it seems that the leadership has found ways to do just that.

According to the Toronto Sun article, the Veterans’ Administration failed those for whom it was supposed to care.  I am sure to those veterans affected, failure is an understatement.  According to the article, ‘…40 veterans died while on the waiting lists at a VA hospital in Phoenix and suggestions administrators developed a secret system to hide treatment delays.’ [Italics added by the blogger].  So not only has there been apparent foot-dragging, but there has been deliberate misinformation to the veterans and their families who are waiting for care.

This is unacceptable.

The government is apparently waiting for a report due in August before they act.  In the meantime the overall administrator is apparently ‘…mad as hell…’  I hope he’s mad enough to do something constructive.  Further in the article, ‘Sixty-two ‘very angry people’ spoke at a recent town hall the American Legion held in Phoenix – a hospital that sees more than 70,000 patients a year.’

The national leader of the American Legion, Dan Dellinger, is on record as saying, ‘Is it giving the veterans the health care they deserve?  No.  Not when you’re talking about a veteran losing his life waiting for health care.’
That should be the jumping off point for reform and action; let us hope so.  Apparently, as well according to the article, the situation is being inspected, audited and there is question of possible criminal charges.

This is only the start.  This will not solve the problem if that problem is woven into the fabric of health care for veterans.  Nothing less than concerted effort at reform is needed, both in the US and in Canada.  If the outcome is that people are dying waiting for care thinking they are on list A but they are really on list B, then that is fraud and negligence, pure and simple.  And our veterans on both sides of the border deserve much better.  We all should be angry at this treatment.  Not just because veterans who fought for their country are being abused, but because it points back to us, who might also be next.  Let me be clear: it’s not about me, it’s about justice and positive action for those who served.  Period.
[SOURCE: ‘US Vets Sick to Death’, Toronto Sun, Jessica Murphy, May 18, 2014, p.22]

An article in the Toronto Star says of veterans’ issues: ‘…Canadian experts in military policy caution that the stateside furor may be a mere preview of the plight Canadian soldiers face as they navigate the bureaucratic maze looking for help.’  Let us surely hope not; but let us learn from what we see south of the border, and let us support where we are able.  Either side of the border, our veterans deserve better.
[SOURCE: ‘Care of veterans hits a brick wall’, Toronto Star, Mitch Potter, May 21, 2014, p. A2]

These examples show that those who are sick, disadvantaged or needy are not cared for.  Certainly, we could decry their lack of progress, but a 12 year old girl has little recourse when she is chronically ill.  Her disease is not her fault.  The Veterans in the US and Canada served their country when asked, or chose to serve their country freely.  Disabled people should not be victimized in public in broad daylight.

Six weeks ago, I started exercising again.  I used to work out in 2012 when I was diagnosed diabetic.  My wife and I try to eat a ‘diabetic friendly’ diet.  I have been doing my workout again, and increasing the exercises I do.  My wife calls the workout regime ‘Brutal’.  And that’s a quote.  But the point is, I have the equipment and I certainly have the time.  So I do what I can…

The scary part is that a doctor might look at me as diabetic and write me off, because there are more diabetics out there and I might cost the health care system too much money.  That is a very real possibility.  And it is one that keeps me awake at night.

The point is, these stories add up to an ideological framework which a priori (before the fact) decides some life is not going to be worth living and some is worth keeping alive.  Except that the life-gap – that divide between worthy and not  worthy is growing.  And the pool of those considered worthy of life is shrinking invisibly.

I say invisibly because of the hidden stories we never hear.  Like one that came across my fb feed last week.  It was about a woman whose sister was put on a palliative track because she was having cardiac distress.  And she was in her fifties.  Did I mention the woman fought with the doctors for her sister’s care?  The woman’s sister had Down syndrome.  Her sister got care, and is now doing well, three months later.  Versus the doctor who wanted the patient out of the way and assumed such.

This, my reading friends, is what we disabled and vulnerable are up against.  It is what the veterans are up against.  It is an invisible war, fought away from the public view.  A war in which we are at a decided disadvantage, and one which we have no choice but in which to engage.  All because the ethic of our times says that ‘I wouldn’t want to live like that…they must not want to live like that either.’  That must change; we must have protected care for the disabled and chronically ill.  The euthanasia enthusiasts don’t speak for me.  Nor should you let them speak for you.

The time for positive action is right now.  A little while later is going to be too late.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Now Doug Ford's at it.

Blog Post, May 19, 2014

Recently, Rob Ford’s brother, Doug Ford, went on public record as saying that a group residential home for those with mental health and developmental issues should not be in his neighbourhood.  According to the CTV evening news on May 18, 2014, he was quoted as saying ‘…the home has lowered local property values…’  Neighbours have said that there are emergency vehicles at the home on a regular basis.

I was part of a team that helped open a place called Harrison House in Lindsay, Ontario in the late 1990s.  We found ourselves opposite ratepayers who were insistent that it not be in their neighbourhood.  The locals used the phrase ‘inmates’ to describe people with schizophrenia who were going to be residents in the place.  After a fight which lasted over the summer, the place was finally allowed to open.

The neighbours saw it as a defeat, no doubt.  But this raises a point: the stigma against those who are different by nature is still alive and well, some twenty or so years later.  Even worse, that attitude that those with developmental delays are not welcome in the community is still strong, even in those who are supposed to be our leaders.

I understand that we have prejudice, and that everyone carries their attitudes with them wherever they go, but we would expect a community leader such as Doug Ford to be a little more flexible when it came to community issues.  He is after all a City Councillor for Toronto.  And given that his brother has addiction issues, apparently, you would think that he would be a little more understanding.

The trouble is not that Ford has said these things against those with disabilities.  The trouble is not that we now have a pressure point against those with disabilities in our communities.  The trouble is that when you think of the overall attitudes toward those with disabilities, this set of statements tells us that there is an undercurrent of disdain against those who are different.

My own ‘stepfather’ – I use the term in quotes because he did not raise me – tried to have me locked up for being crazy in 2005, according to my mother.  I was working nights.  I was seeing a counsellor to help me cope with severe depression.  I was saving money and, all things considered at the time, doing well.  My stepfather didn’t think so: I was to be ‘locked up for being crazy’ so my mother said.

We found out after my mother died in 2006 that he might have been abusive toward her while she was undergoing chemotherapy.  I certainly know he didn’t like me and I had others who observed us ‘interacting’ saying so.  So that prejudice against – in whatever form it arrives – is still strong and going well, sadly.  This is something that no-one in the euthanasia enthusiasts’ camp seems to consider.

No-one seems to ask if there is an underlying prejudice at work in our society.  We saw that prejudice at work in Germany in the early 20th century.  I have also heard stories from the native community about that ongoing prejudice at work in their community now.  We have also seen that prejudice at work against those who are different – consider the young people who have killed themselves over bullying.

We can do better than this.  Unfortunately, no-one seems to have an overall big picture in mind of where we could be.  We are all our own little communities, all clamouring at the same time for some scrap of attention, funding and help.  This is why we must work for a larger community.  I know my limits; I am looking for work, coping with diabetes and volunteering.  So I am good with what I am doing.

But I can keep up to date with the issues that are happening elsewhere.  Like the way there are problems – an understatement, certainly – in the Veterans’ Administration in the US.  Like the way there are problems with how our veterans are treated in Canada.  Like the problems we have with those who are disabled and different in both nations. 

I recently got a tweet through my feed from Justin Trudeau.  He is leader of the Liberal Party here in Canada.  He has been working to create a following before the next election; one way is by promising legalization of marijuana.  I can’t see how that can possibly go wrong.  I simply tweeted back: ‘You don’t want me.  I’m prolife and anti-euthanasia.  I think for myself and I don’t smoke dope.  Have a nice day.’

You have to know your limitations and your boundaries.  Once you know those and are comfortable, you can create the base from which you can work toward goals you think are worthwhile.  This is why the most important thing in our age is to be critical of what we see, read and watch.  It’s about our intellectual survival, as well as our community survival.

Doug Ford does not know his boundaries. He simply sees things in terms of us versus them in community.  And he is supposed to be a leader.  This is why I can’t take politics seriously.  But certainly, we can do better as a community, given the limited leadership choices we seem to have.  As a community, we can and must do better at strengthening each other.  Human lives are at stake.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Armed Forces Day, 2014: a call for action.

Let me begin by saying thank you to veterans, whether in Canada, the US or Britain.  Thank you for your service.  I couldn’t serve because of health: diabetic with a heart condition and eyesight problems.  So I read military history when I was a teenager and learned the history so I could at least keep the stories alive.

I said I hadn’t posted anything in a while to a friend and they asked why.  The truth is that I have been busy with leading two seminars and trying to find work, as well as taking an online course.  In addition, I am trying to keep up with the current events.  Briefly: Rob Ford is in rehab in Chicago or Bracebridge.  One or the other.  It’s interesting, now that he has gone from the local Toronto scene, things seem to have settled down.  You have to wonder if this is determined by someone else.  As well, we are in the middle of election season in Ontario.  We also have the temporary foreign worker debacle and the Senate scandals ongoing in Canada.  So it’s been busy…

Then we had the day to commemorate the Canadian Afghanistan veterans but it was the fact that the governor general was not in sight anywhere that raised eyebrows.  When something like that goes on in Ottawa, the GG is there to stand in as the Queen’s representative.  Prime Minister Harper was there, but I think that was a PR public ops ploy.  I have been reading in outline some of the issues that have plagued Canadian veterans in the last two or so months of my reading: Veterans Affairs offices being closed; suicides of veterans who have mental health issues; members of the military being ‘retired’ before their pensions come due among others that I can recall seeing in the news. 

This is wrong.

To my mind, if you served Canada in the military, you deserve better from us when you get back.  If we are going to be that patriotic when members of CF go off to put their lives on the line, we could at least be that loyal when they return.  I know that in casual conversations I have heard when I am out that these issues are on the minds of Canadians.  It’s too bad they don’t seem to be on the minds of those who serve our civil society…

I have to say right now that my knowledge of these issues is sketchy at best.  That’s my fault: I have had a lot of other issues on the front burner.  And I know there are groups like Military Minds, which work to help veterans in distress and who need support.  I admire those people who help, and wish I could do more.  It’s too bad the government isn’t on side with them, apparently.

In other news, I have been getting twitter followers at an astounding rate.  I have connected with US veterans who have outlined some of the issues they faced, like delays in medication from the Veterans’ Administration; like the head of their Administration being called up to explain himself and apparently not making a good showing of it; and like there being a ‘list’ and a list of who is next in line in the Veterans Administration to get help and who has to wait.  This is a case of a dual sets of books to be sure: the VA showed one set to the public and veterans and kept the ‘real’ one to themselves.  And people died because of it.

People are dying while these political shell games are being played.  And they are dying so quietly that no-one sees this as a crisis.  On May 16 there was a March on Washington; veterans and their supporters converged on the Capitol to protest their treatment or lack of it at the hands of the Veterans Administration.

And so they should.  Like I said, if you have served your country, you should expect to get supported when you return.  You should not have to wait for health care; you should not find your (in Canada) Veterans Affairs office closed, forcing you to drive from London to Windsor; you should not have to wait two months for medications that you need and have been prescribed; you should not have to go to those responsible for helping you cap-in-hand begging for help.

Except that this is what has happened already.  And if it can happen to people as admired and respected as veterans who put their lives in harm’s way, how much more will it happen to those of us who have not rendered such a service?

Exactly.  And that’s why we need to stand together in protest and action.

I don’t claim to understand politics; especially American politics: I leave that to the experts.  I won’t make any claims to great understanding of the issues in detail.  However, I know how to spot something wrong when I see it.  And the way we are treating those who served our respective nations – is wrong.

Sadly, it is not surprising.  We have had an erosion of the value of others in our culture ever since the early 1980s when newly fledged biomedical ethicists decided to cull and toss certain human life forms which were considered beneath them.  It started with the terminally ill; then it was infants and the chronically ill; now it’s the pre-born being eliminated.  So I hate to write this but we are seeing a logical extension of the ethic of destruction.  Too bad no-one thought to ask if biomedical ethicists should…

I won’t go there.  We can do better, not just for our veterans but for others who are in need of a little more care, respect and consideration.  If we get enough will and a groundswell of popular support, let us hope that we can make a difference.

Like I said, I don’t make any great claims to understanding the issues.  I will, however, ask that if you are reading this and you served, and you agree, re-post this to help get the word out.  One twitter post I saw said as follows: the fewer veterans there are alive, the more money the government saves.  I am paraphrasing.  (That twitter post was a protest, not an approval, by the way).  That is an example of a philosophical viewpoint known as utilitarianism; everything has a value and when that thing’s value is finished, it is worthless.  We also have a word for it in the life ethics circles: futilitarianism.  This is the inherent idea that there is futility embedded in everything we do, so in some ways by deciding before the fact to act on it by eliminating the problem, we are somehow virtuous.


If there are any problems in this writing, let me know by posting a corrective comment and I will update this post accordingly.  If I feel this way, I know that there are others who do also.  So we need to start raising the issue and keeping it on the front burner.  It’s the least I can do.

I hope that my friend’s meeting goes well.  I also hope that our veterans find themselves with civilian support. 
We can definitely do better.  The question is, do our politicos in Ottawa and Washington know this?  If not, they should.  If they refuse to…

The irony to me is that as I write this, one person I am associated with on Twitter is at a meeting in Phoenix to discuss the issues – on Armed Forces Day, 2014.  Seems to me that someone who served in the 1960s should be able to relax in their retirement…

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Silly Season is upon us.

Otherwise, read below for my post May 9, 2014.

The silly season is upon us.  I am writing about the impending election in Ontario.  It goes from bad to worse.  We have Wynne picking a fight with Harper over pensions; this is an attempt to deflect from ORNGE, e-health and other scandals.  We have Horwath sticking her foot in it by blocking bus routes and Hudak coming across like a know-nothing.  He was caught off guard the other day when someone asked him about the employment rate in Ontario.

Then we have Trudeau saying that only pro-choice candidates need apply.  Interesting: to provide choice, the leader of the Liberal party denies choice to those who would vote on choice, leaving them no choice.  And I think Trudeau has complained about Harper’s dictatorial ways in times past…

And then, on May 8, 2014, we have Thomas Mulcair saying that the NDP is pro-choice all the way: it’s a woman’s right to choose.  That day, by the way, was also the day there was a life march on Parliament hill against the destruction of pre-born life.

With that, we have two bills presented in the House trying to get Canada to agree to assisted suicide.  Then there is a well-known euthanasia enthusiasts’ group smearing an anti-euthanasia task force with being ‘in the pay of the Vatican’ or words to that effect; this same group of euthanasia enthusiasts wants to loosen the penalties for counsel-to-suicide in the Criminal Code.  To top it all off, we have the Quebec Liberals arguing that they need to re-introduce a palliative care/euthanasia bill at the same time when there is a national palliative care bill being presented in the House of Commons!

Making it even more interesting, the same Trudeau who won’t allow conscience to counter convenience says that we need a national strategy to stop the problem of suicide!  The irony of course is that on the one hand, Trudeau, standing in for Liberals everywhere says we need to die, and on the other hand, we need to live.  And he is the one to provide the wisdom to lead those choices through a cloud of marijuana (mariwana?  Marywanna?) smoke. 

So we have another contradiction: at a time when we are trying to strengthen the palliative care movement as a national strategy, a provincial government wants to make it legal to kill the elderly, disabled and dying.  This comes after their national convention at which they agreed in principle that death on demand was a good thing.

And everyone piled on after that.


So we have one faction which says that life at the beginning isn’t worth it; and that same faction says life at the end isn’t worth it.  We have another faction which says that life at the beginning is worthless.  And we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms which says that Canadians have a Right to Life (notwithstanding).

It is clear that this situation cannot last.  Here’s the problem politically: if you have issues based voting, you are going to focus on the contentious issues after the fact. 

It gets even worse: there is no discourse on these issues as the two sides are entrenched.  Except that there is some evidence of dirty dealing at least with Google in the US: NARAL and Google have apparently teamed up to deny pro-lifers advertising.  And NARAL now wants to do the same thing with Bing and Yahoo…

So the only way NARAL can win is by cheating?  Interesting.  The only way Trudeau can win is by dictating?  Interesting.  Even better on Thursday morning, (MAY 8, 2014) an announcer for Global’s morning TV show in Toronto kept using anti-abortion instead of pro-abortion to refer to Trudeau’s stance.  I am sure that was an oversight, right?  Way to not get the issues straight…on (national) media.

Except that we have made a fetish of choice, and choice offered becomes necessity after all.  So a woman doesn’t have to have an abortion if she doesn’t want it…until it becomes ‘necessary’ for her to have it…or else.  A woman has control over her body as a diktat of two male political leaders who, one presumes, won’t get pregnant.  (At least, one would hope).  No-one has to have euthanasia forced on them…until we realize that the Quebec Bill included those who were mentally fragile and whose who, presumably could not speak for themselves like infants or those with dementia.  In addition, it seems that the new euthanasia Bill might also include the idea of psychological suffering undefined, which leaves open the idea that those who are tired of life or are mentally ill and therefore suffering can kill themselves.  I could mention Rehtaeh Parsons, but I digress…

This is just what I can think of off the top of my head.  The insidious part of all this is that those who are opposed to these measures, abortion, late term abortion, infanticide, juvenile killing, assisted suicide, euthanasia and the like are all defined as religious when they are not necessarily so by those who want to allow these things.  And unfortunately, in our culture, those who propose death on demand for others and themselves in theory know the culture: we think religion equals nuts or worse, oppression.  These are called defeater beliefs: they will, once imposed, defeat all other arguments and leave the opponents looking like ghouls into the bargain.

So we have religious and political profiling.  Even worse, we do not have a stake in the discourse: it always happens to the mysterious, anonymous other who doesn’t exist.  Or at least this other exists in our imaginations, where fear has free rein.  Except that those who want to control the debate are counting on the silent assent of those who are in fear of their imaginations and who do not object to the destruction of the theoretical other.  Because there’s no way that could be real, could it?

To illustrate the depths of this social psychosis, those who advocate these issues are blissfully unaware, or wilfully ignorant of, the history of these issues.  They call for euthanasia on demand; but they forget that euthanasia was practiced and endorsed by the Nazis and the earlier republic.  They call for abortion, and forget that there are many couples waiting to adopt.  They call for youth mercy killing, forgetting that there are those who would adopt a child with health challenges out of deep love.  They call for medical aid for all, forgetting people like Madi Vanstone and Justina Pelletier, who are being used as political pawns here in Canada and in the US.  Truly, the silly season is upon us.

And it’s not likely to go away anytime soon.  The sad part is that we have chosen to allow these killing attitudes without countering them forcefully.  We have decided to be polite and respectful.  I don’t need to respect someone whose own personal attitudes could get me killed by a doctor (or nurse) sympathetic to their political position based on attitude.  Where life and death are on the line, those who want to kill don’t need respect.  They need sanction and social exposure; they also need their contradictory beliefs as well as the real-world problems exposed for all to see and marvel at.  My mother was abused as she was dying; my step-father was euthanized in front of me.  You tell me it’s about choice.

People will die as a result of these personal policy decisions, like they died in Germany, like they have died in Holland, in Switzerland, in Belgium, in Oregon and in Washington.  And once the target market is dead, the enthusiasts will find another market to eliminate.  These are political decisions that people are making on our behalf.  This is why people speak out, regardless of how much flak they get: we are choosing to enforce death as a political mechanism when we ‘choose’ infanticide, abortion, late term abortion, assisted suicide.  And that enforcement will make us all less free.  Except that now it’s convenient for those who dislike their opposition to use that policy to get rid of their opposition…

We should hope it doesn’t come to that again.  We can’t handle deciding on life and death; we can’t even handle finding help for over fifteen hundred disappeared aboriginal women in this country.  So what the hell makes us think we have enough wisdom to provide death on demand without it being twisted, and twisting us?  Remember, we had a school in California which wanted to debate if the Holocaust was an excuse used by the Jews to raise money…so everything old is new again.  We do not have to go down this road.  For now, we do have choices.  Let’s choose properly for life before that power is taken away from us in a very final fashion.