Of course it could just be a lazy sub-editor that insists on prefacing many of Amanda Platell’s Daily Mail hate-piece headlines with the word ‘sorry’, but I’m pretty sure it’s Amanda herself. You can hear her voice in it, and she isn't sorry at all. Rather, her sorry is the equivalent of her furrowing her brow like a salted slug and snorting contemptuously, ‘Errr, hello?’ For example, there was ‘Sorry, why should the NHS treat people for being fat?’ Then there was, ‘Sorry, but all of us - including me - must share the blame for Susan Boyle's path to The Priory’. Then there was the (slightly ironic? No.) ‘Sorry, but we need more than apologies’, directed at Gordon Brown et al.
Then this week, she did it again. Another title, another contemptuous fake apology. ‘Sorry,’ it begins, ‘but Debbie Purdy’s brave victory diminishes us all.’
This of course is the story of primary progressive MS sufferer Debbie Purdy and her desire – when the pain of her disease becomes unbearable – to go to Dignitas in Switzerland to hasten her death, and to be accompanied by her husband in the knowledge that her husband will not then be sent to jail for 14 years, as the current legislation decrees. Purdy doesn’t want her husband imprisoned.
Platell’s not so sure.
Platell is worried that in mapping out the guidance for future cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, will set our country on course for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia. ‘Surely it is part of being human,’ Amanda argues, ‘that life is not all about joy and happiness - it is about learning to cope with disappointments, sorrows and, yes, death. The shadows on life's journey are what make its sunny moments so precious. Yet increasingly we seem to shy away from these challenges.’
Amanda Platell, it seems, is a bona fide moron. She seems to be under the impression that deciding to end one’s own life - for whatever reason - is an easy option, a walk in the park on a sunny day; and she seems unaware that opting for death is actually a perfectly valid way of coping with the challenges of life.
‘Coming to terms with a natural death,’ she goes on, ‘is an essential part of the human experience - not just for the person coming to the end of their existence, but for all those around them. Assisted suicide, on the other hand, reduces dying to a process no more significant or challenging than checking out of a hotel.’
Oh, Amanda. Don’t make me wish a wasting disease on you. Again.
Presumably, when - after 54 years of marriage - Sir Edward and Lady Joan Downes chose to end their lives together last month, rather than accept the slow decay of blindness and deafness, and cancer respectively, Amanda would have stepped in and said, ‘Sorry, but a natural death is an essential part of the human experience.’ Rather than allowing this fantastically vibrant and creative and inspiring couple to end their lives peacefully, painlessly and most importantly, together, Amanda would have insisted they suffer the frustration and agony of slow decay and forced them to die on her terms, depressed, out of control and alone.
The strange thing is, being an arch-right winger, you’d expect Platell to be all in favour of self-determination. Perhaps she has religious qualms and thinks that only God should say when life is over. If so, she’s even more of an idiot than she initially appears. For if God actually existed, surely he’d be made up that some of his children sought to speed their return to his loving bosom? At the very least he’d forgive them. But anyway, this is no place for fiction.
The facts are that despite primitive thinkers like Platell, things do seem - finally - to be heading in the right direction. Keir Starmer this week suggested that whether a person seeks to die in Switzerland or even here in England, their friends and family would be equally protected by the new ruling. ‘This is not a policy that's going to apply only to those who go abroad,’ he said. ‘This policy is going to cover all assisted suicides.’ With this kind of thinking, voluntary euthanasia looks certain to become a reality in this country, sooner rather than later.
What makes this excellent news even more exciting is knowing how much it sticks in Platell’s toxic craw. For me it can't come soon enough. I'm hoping that within 20 years, the whole of Europe will be teeming with suicide cafés. They won’t be called ‘suicide cafés’ of course – that would be crass. They’ll be something quite prosaic and functional like Assisted Suicide Centres or Existence Curtailment Clinics. But colloquially they will be known as Euth Clubs and Toppermarkets and they will be very, very popular.
They will be popular because most people understand that, contrary to Platell’s poisonous, egocentric delusions, it in no way diminishes the preciousness of human life to suggest that human beings should be allowed to end it as and when they please. On the contrary, it could even be argued that it is a clear demonstration of that preciousness. In the Julian Barnes novel, Staring At the Sun, suicide has become commonplace and society views it not as something wholly negative, not as something of which we should be ashamed, but quite the contrary:
‘Suicide wasn't self-abnegation. It didn't say: I am so miserable and unimportant that it doesn't matter if I destroy myself. It said the opposite: look, it said, I am important enough to destroy.’
Surely this is an open and shut casket for anyone with even a hint of compassion. If people want to kill themselves, then for the sake of humanity, let them kill themselves. And the option should not be restricted to those who have a terminal disease. The fact of the matter is, some people are simply not cut out for life, and if we care at all for them, it’s our humanitarian duty to allow them, and even to assist them, to shuffle off with dignity.
Thankfully, it’s not and never will be up to some waxy, venomous cretin at The Daily Mail to decree who has to put up with it and who doesn’t.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, Granny and I are off to Zurich. I’ll be back tomorrow. She won’t.