Standing up for the right to suffer

There is something uniquely disgusting about the sort of person who fights against the attempts of terminally ill patients to end their suffering under the pretext of protecting their “Right to Life”. It’s not simply that their position is rationally indefensible — the world is well-stocked with nutters whose disconnection from reality is far greater — but rather the smug, self-serving manner in which they gleefully cheer on other people’s enforced misery in order to pander to their own emotional insecurities, along with their ridiculous pretence that you can “protect someone’s rights” by taking away their choices.

In the recent case of Tony Nicklinson, a stroke victim who is paralysed from the neck down, the actual court ruling was understandable: a declaration that assisted suicide is permissible in this case would amount to the courts making a change in the law, which is a supposed to be a privilege reserved for Parliament. But the reaction from the pro-life lobby was swift and predictably idiotic:

Compassion and solidarity are the humane and caring responses to locked-in syndrome. To legalise killing of those who are suffering would adversely affect many, many people.

We trust that today’s judgment will help end the insidious campaign in the British courts to change the law on assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Compassion and solidarity. The guy can’t move a muscle in his body, but it’s all perfectly OK as long as the rest of us feel really, really sorry for him. Let’s start a Facebook group in his name, and show how compassionate we are by taking it in turns to post the most insipid masturbatory glurge we can come up with; I’m sure that will make his life a whole lot better. The “insidious campaign” comment is just bizarre: what these patients want is the freedom to end their own lives, nothing else. What insidious ulterior motive are they supposed to have? Perhaps Mr Nicklinson is actually faking his disability for the sole purpose of hurting the feelings of a few self-important moralidiots who can’t stomach the idea of other people being allowed to make choices of which they disapprove.

Despite what god-botherers, new-age spiritualists and general bliss ninnies like to claim, human life is not some magical unexplained gift from above. It is a biological accident with no meaning or value beyond what it provides to its participants, which in the case of Mr Nicklinson seems to be very close to nothing. For an unrelated third party to muscle in and dictate that life must be preserved at all costs, even against the express wishes of the mentally competent patient, simply because their own life is wonderful and they can’t imagine how it could be different for anyone else, demonstrates not compassion but the typical patronising and sanctimonious arrogance of those whose world-view is governed by blind faith rather than fact.

Let’s hope that one day, when humankind’s primitive superstitions hold less of a stranglehold over public policy, sanity will prevail and people suffering incurable pain will be able to choose to end their lives in a manner which suits them rather than the emotional convictions of sanctity-of-life romanticists. But for now, the message is clear: if you get diagnosed with a terminal disease, make sure you kill yourself while you have the ability, because once you are dependent on others you can be sure that they will drag out your death for as long as humanly possible — all in the aid of compassionately protecting your rights, of course.