Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Suicide Is Shameless

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.

Sorry, Granny.

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Antipo Déesse said...

Zurich!! You should have a coffee with The Lovely Ms. Mac!

But on second thoughts, no, because I will then die from envy. And you wouldn't want my demise on your conscience.

Topperfarms -excellent name. Patent it now.

I might have to become a Waxy, Venomous Cretin myself, in order to get your attention, right?

La Bête said...

No, you've got my attention now - but mostly because you said Topperfarms and I said Toppermarkets. You know, like the Kwik-E-Mort.

Anonymous said...

LOL kwik e mort

Confused said...

Im a strong supporter of people who when dyeing slowly and painfully of a horrible disease take the very very brave decision to end their own life. death is the one and only thing that truley scares me (the unknown and all that) and i have nothing but admiration for the people that take charge and decided when they will end their own existence. That woman at the paper sounds like a bit of an insensitive nob to be honest! sorry for the bad spelling and grammer! :-)

Anonymous said...

Bete - well, I do agree with you in theory!

There's just one thing that bothers me.

If these suicide centres get popular, isn't it all likely to get a bit tasteless - as everything generally does when the prospect of big bucks steps into the equation?

'Oh go on, Albert love. You've only got a few more years left, and it'll be boring for you back in Eastbourne without me. And they're doing two for the price of one, this weekend.'

'Nan, you don't mind bringing Rover when you go to Switzerland, do you? Only there's a special offer this month where they'll do household pets free. And the vet bills are taking the piss lately.'

Never mind when they start seperating the euthanasia experience into seperate cost categories.

Premier Elite - where you're given state of the art sleeping pills and a bottle of vintage Cristal to wash them down with.

Business Class, where you get a glass of Lanson to settle your nerves, before receiving a high quality goose feather pillow over the face.

And for those less financially fortunate, there's always the Super Saver - where they leave you out in a back alley till some passing nutter batters you to death with half a brick.

Incidentally, can I be the first to trademark the brand name Smothercare?

J x

Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête,
Very well written, with a nasty little finishing touch. Brill !
It's exactly the same problem here, but maybe one day ....the gits will be defeated.
Uncle Did

the fly in the web said...

If that were my granny, she'd be coming back and I wouldn't.

What happened to the good old NHS days of a pillow over the face of the elderly in geriatric wards? In my young day, elderly people would fight to keep out of the ambulance taking them away.

Tim Footman said...

There's an analogy with divorce and abortion at the middle of the last century. The former was frowned upon, and the latter was illegal - unless you had access to money. Then you could afford the lawyers and the tame psychiatrists (who would say that childbirth would inflict untold emotional damage on the mother) to take care of things.

Now, assisted suicide is wrong - for anyone who can't find 7,000 quid and the cost of an EasyJet to Zürich. The pressure to change the law is not about morality - it's about social justice.

There is another angle to this: wealthier people, those who can afford Dignitas fees, are also likely to be able to pay for their own end-of-life care. Poorer people with MS, MN, cancer, etc are more likely to be absorbing NHS funds. Let them top themselves as the same rate as Sir Edward and co do, and there's a net saving. Hoorah! (That's a bit like the statistical blip that saw US crime figures dip about 15-20 years after abortion was legalised.)

Henk Van Vleck said...

If funding is the problem you could ask your pension fund for a rebate. Saves them some payments straight off the bat (or the pillow, or the pills &c...)

La Bête said...

Confused, your grammer confuses me slightly. My grammer meanwhile, is in safe hands. Bless her.

Juliette, yes, Smothercare is yours. And ideally, on a slightly serious note, assisted suicide should of course be available on the NHS.

Merci, mon oncle.

Fly, what you describe – if I understand correctly – is murder. I believe that still goes on.

Hey, Tim. The freakonomics of suicide, eh? This is where I start to get well out of my depth. I wish it could be a non-financial thing, and people could just die when they wanted to without anyone making a profit out of it. I know, I know, I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.

Oh, Henk. Imagine there’s no payments, no rebates, funds or… hold on a sec. What bat? You sick monkey.

Litha said...

At the end of may we found out my mother had advanced cancer. It would be a matter of months. After a week in hospital getting weaker and weaker, my mom decided she didn't want to go on. The official procedure for euthanasia would take days. So the doctors gave her sleeping medicine. Without food and water her weakened body died from dehydration after 4 days of 'sleep'.

In Holland euthanasia is possible for people who are suffering unbearably. But in practice most people die the way my mom did. The doctors told me I shouldn't call it euthanasia, because they didn't do anything to actively kill her.

What a strange world we live in...

Doc said...

Just a thought: will the insurance you can get with your flight cover the costs of repatriating Granny's remains? Or will they try to twist out of it? Hmm....

And do, by all means, have that coffee with Ms Mac. Our dearest Antipo needs a little bit 'o torture.

La Bête said...

Hi Litha. I’m sorry to hear that. That’s really sad, but also, I guess it’s good that your mum was able to take control. It is a strange world, yes. Sometimes really close to unbearable. Sometimes unbearable too, let’s face it.

Doc, you do know I was only joking, right? You’re probably joking too. OK, good. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so funny though. Let’s pretend for the moment I’d never said anything about my gran. ~goes to give Granny a hug – or at least her will~

Toni said...

Hmmm, I don't know what to say about this. I am in extreme pain and it is never going to get better. I will be 40 next year and have a few ,ore years of this to look forward too. I could never commit suicide, (its a Catholic thing), So I drink. I drink a lot. Now I have been told drinking the way I do is probably going to kill me before my original ailment does. I think all people deserve the right to choose how they kick the bucket. I can't kill myself because of religious reasons, but other people have different beliefs. Also I have recently met someone who is aware of my problems but she accepts I might die before we can be together. It isn't ideal but hey, worse things happen at sea I guess.

Catofstripes said...

Toni, the Catholic thing is a bugger but if it's a mortal sin (!) to kill yourself then surely drinking yourself to death knowingly is the same thing? Is it not?

I hope the new friend and you can work it out.

La Bête said...

Hi Toni – gosh. It’s difficult to know what to say to that without sounding crass. I just wish you all the best with everything. I hope turns out much more positive than you could ever have imagined.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with your comments about Ms Platell. I find it interesting how she writes... the 'but' is the denial.
Drop The Pink Elephant; another writers work helps fathom the real truth hidden in the apparently honest approach.

Garry Crystal said...

Having just had the misfortune to read two of Platells columns I could not agree more. The woman is, to use an understatement, a complete arsehole.