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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Choice devours itself--the bottom of the hill?

I tell ya', I simply cannot keep up with the bad guys these days. If one gets involved even for a few days in some project other than keeping people informed of what the culture of death is up to, one falls behind. It makes me especially grateful for the work of Wesley J. Smith and perfectly willing to echo him to some degree, just adding my own spin on the stories he keeps up with.

As readers know, I have for a long time been interested in the "choice devours itself" phenomenon. More about that here.

Now comes an example so extreme that one is inclined to say, "This is the bottom of the slope. It can't get worse than this." But who knows? Evil is endlessly inventive.

Evidently it turns out that so-called "assisted suicide" activists are literally holding down the hands of the people they "assist" when those people try to tear plastic bags off of their heads.

Some time ago a book came out by a pro-suicide author named Lonny Shovelson telling about a case of this, but Shovelson (who claimed to have witnessed it) deliberately hid the name of the victim. The "assister" not only held the victim's hands but actually lay across his partially paralyzed body to stop his struggles and prevent him from getting the plastic bag off his head.

Gene's body heaved up and his cry filled the room, "It's cold," he screamed, and his good hand flew up to tear the plastic bag [off his head]. Sarah's hand caught Gene's at the wrist and held it. His body thrust upwards. She pulled his arm away and lay across Gene's shoulders. Sarah rocked back and forth, pinning him down, her fingers twisting the bag to seal it tight at his neck as she repeated, "The light, Gene, go toward the light. Gene's body pushed against Sarah's. Then he stopped moving.

But this was apparently not an isolated case. Arrests have recently taken place after a sting operation in Georgia in which an investigator posing as a person seeking suicide was shown how the assister would hold down his hands during the so-called "suicide" after the plastic bag was placed over his head.

At the Dawson County residence on Wednesday, Goodwin allegedly walked the undercover agent through the steps and demonstrated how he would hold the agent's hands to stop him from removing the exit bag, Bankhead said.

I realize that maybe I shouldn't bother to ask these questions, but how in the world can these people keep up the pretense even to themselves that they are assisting in a suicide rather than murdering the person simpliciter when they are holding down his hands when he tries to tear a bag off his head? How? It's pretty much beyond me. I guess the argument is supposed to be that this counts as a suicide because the person asked them to help him die and consented to a process in which he was told ahead of time that he would be literally, physically forced to go through with it to the bitter end after crossing some point of no return. Actually, though, it sounds to me like "Gene" in the book maybe wasn't warned about this little part of the process. Ah, well, an oversight. If he had been warned and consented, then it would have been suicide and not simple murder.

The whole thing is insane. In the Georgia case, the charges are "assisted suicide, tampering with evidence and violation of the Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act." It's a shame they can't get specific evidence that John Celmer, the cancer patient whose death they are investigating, actually had his hands held down as per the demonstration to the agent. If they did, they should charge the "senior exit guide" in his case with murder, period.

I have said before with regard to infanticide that we need to be thinking about prosecutors. Prosecutors need to be prepared to enforce laws against outright murder of born, breathing people even when those outright murders are somehow related at the edges to issues like abortion and suicide. Time will tell if that line continues to be held. Meanwhile, these do sound like serious charges in Georgia as far as they go, and I hope that the "exit guides" get put away for a good, long stretch.

Comments (13)

If Christ naturally feared death, and the fear was good, no one else will be exempt from it, and it will manifest itself even to the point of contradicting reasons and reasoned decisions.

Well, that's just as well then, if the so-called "reason" involved means that the person asks to be killed. And I say again that it simply isn't suicide if you forcibly hold a bag over someone's head and hold his hands back to keep him from stopping you. It's plain, old, garden-variety murder. I don't care what he said ahead of time or whether the "guide" regarded his decision to be killed as rational.

Lydia: "I realize that maybe I shouldn't bother to ask these questions, but how in the world can these people keep up the pretense even to themselves that they are assisting in a suicide rather than murdering the person simpliciter when they are holding down his hands when he tries to tear a bag off his head? How? It's pretty much beyond me. I guess the argument is supposed to be that this counts as a suicide because the person asked them to help him die and consented to a process in which he was told ahead of time that he would be literally, physically forced to go through with it to the bitter end after crossing some point of no return."

On the show 30 Rock, Kenneth the Page is convinced that he and a bunch of other people are trapped in an elevator and that they will soon die of starvation. He (in his mind) valiantly offers himself up to be eaten by the others. He told them he permitted them to kill him. "But", he added, "I will try to fight back. It's just a natural defense."

I imagine something similar is going on in the minds of the people who assist with the "suicide". They think he wants to die; he can't help but struggle; but he wants me to prevent his struggling from stopping his death. (This becomes more plausible if, for example, Moe asks me to kill him, I try to kill him, but then Moe resists. Because Moe resists, I stop. Once I stop, Moe says, "what are you doing? You were supposed to pin my hands down!" If I then killed Moe, it would be easier for me to enterain the illusion that I am assisting him in a suicide rather than murder.)

Lydia,

Just to be clear, I agree with you. My point was that human nature will rear up and contradict nonsense like this when it comes down to it.

But what I am wondering is if this is an instance of critical pedagogy with the "guide on the side instead of the sage on the stage."

Bobcat,

I'd argue that human nature gives us a big clue as to the morality of the act at that point.

Bobcat, yes, that's what they are going to have to say. But I'm glad to see you use the phrase "entertain the illusion." I mean, it's so, so crazy, such a creepy act of self-deception, when you're literally fighting with the person, twisting the plastic bag over his head, holding his hands, and so forth. But if he consented to it ahead of time, it's not murder? That's a reductio of the notion that consent can change the fundamental nature of any act--poof.

If I put myself in the murderer's shoes, I imagine, on the one hand, wanting my loved one to die because I see her suffering so much (that is, wanting her disease to just finish already). But on the other, I can't imagine myself being able to smother her while she struggles against me, even if she asked me to. It's utterly repellent.

I should think that anyone who does is not necessarily a moral monster before committing the act. If they don't come to terms with what they've done, though, as a form of murder then I think they are quite culpably, and deeply, self-deceived.

Meaning, they are working on turning themselves into moral monsters?

I think anyone who defends it is morally insane, and anyone who overcomes all his natural human instincts and actually _does_ it is a moral monster in the act of so doing. If he draws back at the last moment and finds he can't do it, there's some hope. And even monsters, of course, can be redeemed and de-monstered, if they repent.

Shovelson...that's very, very bad all by itself. Because he witnessed it and was horrified and shocked but not only didn't even try to stop it, he went through an elaborate process afterwards to cover it up and make sure justice was not done for "Gene" and that "Gene's" identity wasn't even known. That's ideology stifling conscience at a very fundamental level.

It does seem that a number of people manage to navigate their way to suicide without the caring touch of death enthusiasts. Surely some are incapacitated but as the means differ and can lend themselves to methods efficient to the fatal end, I suspect that an element of both fear and indecision play a part in many of these cases.
Put simply, people are seeking to be convinced they are following the right course.
It follows that doubt can exist to the approaching end and where doubt a turning back, a last moment decision for life, not merely a reflexive, physical reaction.

Contemplation and preparation for suicide is not unknown, neither is the retreat from the final act, the saving of one's own life.
But of course this happens in the absence of ghouls who I suspect rather like their own brand of altruism.

That's a reductio of the notion that consent can change the fundamental nature of any act--poof.

Consent devours itself. As Mark Shae put it--it won't be long before some Bright in favor of killing asks what's so great about consent anyway.

He is a prophet. See this post and, if interested, follow the links:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2008/11/to_whom_do_we_belong.html

One of the latest suggestions: Organ conscription against the will of the potential donor.

Some instructor on the natural law has noted that our veneration for human life is granted even by a murderer. Though he may not recognize the wrongness of murdering others, he will still resist being murdered.

Even these suicides, in their struggle to breathe, show a kind of affirmation of life.

Seeking whether Aquinas had used the example of the murderer resisting being murdered, I came across his remarks on suicide ( http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3064.htm ).

Suicide is wrong "...because everything naturally loves itself, the result being that everything naturally keeps itself in being, and resists corruptions so far as it can. Wherefore suicide is contrary to the inclination of nature, and to charity whereby every man should love himself."

Not surprisingly, the revolt against nature transgresses both sex and life (whose mutual connection should not go unmentioned).

Aquinas also writes that suicide is wrong because man belongs to God and also the community. The latter point might make a few squirm but its correctness is obvious if one considers the effect of a suicide on the perpetrator's family and friends.

Mr. Jones -- actually the correctness may not be so obvious to some who believes that the individual has no obligations to others, but lives only for himself, for this is what Aquinas is touching upon -- everyone is a part of some community, to which one has certain duties, and so his life is not wholly his to do with as he wishes.

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