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Find below an interesting essay By Paul Russell that I reproduce under its Creative Commons license from Online Opinion. I think that Paul makes a quite persuasive argument that Dr Nitschke goes too far in trying to make suicide seem more rational than it often is one thing we can be sure of and taht is its not as sweet as its presented in Soylent Green
Bouquets to Jeff Kennett and the Beyond Blue organisation for their clear and appropriate condemnation of the actions, or rather inactions, of Dr Philip Nitschke in relation to the suicide death of a Perth man in the story that ran on the ABC’s 7:30 report a little over a week ago.
According to the media reports and to Dr Nitschke’s twitter feed, he is basing his defence, in part at least, on his claim that there is such a thing as rational suicide.
The idea that suicide can be somehow a rational choice is not new. In fact, an organisation exists in the UK called the ‘Society for Rational Old Age Suicide’ and there has been one study that I am aware of that canvasses the issue.
Dr Nitschke has consistently maintained that every adult should have access to the means to their own end. The faux lower limit, in light of this, seems more about trying to soften the public perception of this macabre death industry than it does about any corporate sense of public duty.
When we think of suicide we commonly understand that people who contemplate ending their lives will be viewing their problems through a very dark lens that does not, at that time, offer them any hope or possibility that what troubles them could be dealt with in a less dramatic fashion.
But there is always hope; there is always some other solution. Time, good counselling, talking to family and friends, taking exercise and a good night’s rest can all help us see past those solitary, dark moments. We can all help.
Some years ago now, my work with homeless and at risk youth gave me a very clear window into this issue. That’s why I’m so grateful for the work of Beyond Blue and other suicide prevention organisations. Suicidal people can often appear to be quite rational; their plan and their reasoning behind it, quite compelling. Were we to have accepted the assertion that any of these people should simply be left unchallenged and unsupported because they could put up a calm and cogent argument for their actions we would have been abandoning them in their time of deepest need. The intuitive assessment that suicide should be shunned and is never the only option is natural, normal and something hardwired into humanity. Thank goodness!
And while the argument about whether or not someone can be genuinely rational is, intuitively false – an oxymoron as one commentator put it – it is largely academic and should not be brought to bear upon suicide prevention nor our natural responses to those in need. The message would be a dangerous one and bears within it the distinct possibility of an implied endorsement of some suicides.
Think about it. At the end of this article and of every story on this subject we’ve grown to expect that responsible media will always carry a closing line saying something like: “If this article troubles you, phone…….. for confidential help.” If Dr Nitschke’s argument holds true, would public policy then demand that we add something like: “Unless you consider yourself rational; in which case contact Exit on….”? Yes, I know an example in extremis but I think it makes the point.
That the public commentary has focussed on the WA man is understandable in as much as he had direct contact with Dr Nitschke. But the ABC’s story also told of the suicide death of a 25 year old Victorian man who used the services of Exit to purchase information and thereby, a prohibited substance to end his own life. Nitschke’s defence here that the man lied about his age on a tick box on an Exit website is as ludicrous as is Exit’s self-imposed supposed lower age limit of 50 years for such services.
It is this supposed right-to-die that is the false over-arching philosophy by which the death of a young person can be somehow ‘rationalised’ by Nitschke and Exit. In 2010, in response to a Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine Report showing that two thirds of deaths in the preceding decade using the Exit drug-of-choice, Nembutal, were for people under the age of 50 with nearly one-third being younger than 40 and six being in their 20s, Nitschke said: ”There will be some casualties … but this has to be balanced with the growing pool of older people who feel immense wellbeing from having access to this information.” Tell that to the families of the two men featured in the 7:30 Report! Suicide prevention should never accept the notion of acceptable casualties!
And herein lies a bigger question which suicide prevention organisations and the Australian public generally need to come to terms with: How is it that we have somehow grown to accept that it’s okay for older people to seek to end their lives; that there’s somehow a distinction to be made about access to suicide methods and suicide ideation, generally, based upon age?
This notion that somehow ‘older people…feel immense wellbeing’ from having the means to kill themselves is very odd indeed. Certainly, studies on people who have accessed suicide methods in Oregon under their legalised suicide system do point to this as an outcome for some. But if we apply the same general thinking towards people who are suicidal as described earlier (and I argue that we should), we should be thinking clearly about the reality that there is always another way past presenting difficulties and dilemmas – even if these problems ultimately include advancing age or a difficult prognosis.
We should be preventing suicide by treating every suicidal person with equal respect and act the same in every case. If not, then aren’t we at risk of failing people in the same way as Nitschke’s cry for the recognition of rational suicide would?
It’s about time this macabre and clandestine industry was subject to public scrutiny.
But, as Cook points out, this means that ‘only four per cent of the authors “voted”‘ which is hardly grounds to claim a consensus.
Here is a lovely exposition of the way that statistics can be manipulated and distorted as a propaganda tool and then cited ad infinitum as if they have some intrinsic meaning, sorry in advance to the true believers in Climate change but this may just upset your apple cart just a little next time you cite the “97% consensus” claim.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday 28 May 2014
Media Contact: Tim Black
+44 (0)207 40 40 470
Today on spiked, Michael Cook takes apart the claim, cited by President Barack Obama, that 97 per cent of scientists are in agreement that climate change is man-made and poses a serious danger.
‘Do 97 per cent of scientists really agree on both propositions? Let?s do a reality check here’, writes Cook. ‘On what issue do academics reach 97 per cent agreement other than that they are being underpaid? That the sun will rise tomorrow? No, some of them will say, because the sun doesn?t rise; the earth revolves. No, because we can only assert that it is probable, not certain. No, because we might be living in a multiverse where the sun will not rise on 28 May, etc, etc.’
So how did an Australian scientist at the University of Queensland, and several colleagues, arrive at the this now famous figure of 97 per cent?
Cook discovered that the researchers had sorted through thousands of academic abstracts featuring the words ‘global climate change’ and ‘global warming’, dividing them up into four piles to indicate whether they held a position on climate change (the biggest pile (66.4 per cent) held no position)
Cook writes: ‘Of the smaller piles which did express an opinion, 97.1 per cent “endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming”.’
The researchers then emailed a survey to 8,547 out of the 29,083 authors who ‘endorsed the consensus position’ on climate change, of which only 1,189 responded (nearly all of whom did agree that climate change was man made (97.2 per cent)).
But, as Cook points out, this means that ‘only four per cent of the authors “voted”‘ which is hardly grounds to claim a consensus.
Furthermore, Cook points out, ‘Obama rashly added the word “dangerous” to the claim. Not even [the Australian reseachers] dared to assert that 97 per cent of scientists believe that global warming is “dangerous”.’
Cook concludes: ‘Scientists and politicians do themselves no favours when they use shoddy statistics and public relations flim-flam to sell scientific hypotheses to the public.’
Read the full article:
When we are given any numerical value as a signifier of a proposition’s veracity we should, of course always ask the obvious question of just how was that number made or settled upon. Especially when it is a major dot point in the climate change debate. In any event in scientific terms “consensus” is and always has been close to utterly meaningless, not that any of the true believers will ever admit that because to them its their ticket to ride in the Chariots of the Dogs.
Victorian lefty Jeremy Sear has his own election rant, with an unpersuasive and long-winded post attacking the Coalition and advocating a vote for the Greens.
Firstly, Jeremy mocks the Coalition’s claims of waste, even though Labor has blown billions on pink batts, overpriced school halls, massive subsidies to the highly unionised car industry, overpriced set top boxes, carbon tax compensation, a larger public service, the climate change department, green schemes, foreign aid directed at getting us on the security council, and so on.
Then Jeremy claims that the Coalition’s waste argument is discredited because their costings reveal only a modest improvement in the bottom line. So there! If there really was billions of waste, the Coalition would surely have brought in greater savings, right?
There are a few reasons why Jeremy’s argument is plain silly:
1) The Coalition’s reductions in government outlays are modest because they do not want Labor to mount an effective scare campaign. Anyone following the campaign will have noticed Kevin Rudd and Labor warning of Coalition cuts.
2) The Coalition’s paid maternity leave scheme is a costly promise which makes it a lot harder for the Coalition to substantially improve the bottom line. Jeremy is a support of PML. I am not. I am voting for the Coalition (LNP) in spite of this policy.
3) Jeremy assumes that Labor if re-elected won’t introduce any new spending that again blows the bottom line, when the last six years of profligacy show that this is almost uncertainly a completely false assumption. Remember when Labor promised to restrict real expenditure growth to 2% per annum? Remember when Labor promised to have a balanced budget over the business cycle? Remember when Labor promised a surplus in 2012/13? All of these promises have been flagrantly breached. Labor needs to be judged on its track record, not its promises.
4) The Coalition will in its first term have a commission of audit, which will allow it to implement savings in its second term.
I also loved this howler:
Are you really set on voting Liberal no matter what they do?
Because your power bills are up? Only a very tiny percentage of that has anything to do with the so-called “carbon tax” – 90% of it is because the states run by Tony Abbott’s party have let the power producers increase all their other charges
As a matter of fact, the carbon tax has been responsible for a large portion of recent increases. But Jeremy seems to be suggesting that state governments should require their own ‘power producers’ to run at a loss. In which case the taxpayer picks up the tab. So according to Jeremy, you should be glad if the state subsidises your power bills in order to prevent higher prices, even though you pay more in tax as a result.
Also amusing is Jeremy’s rather mild criticism of Labor:
Look, I agree that the ALP have been a disappointing government, blowing in the wind and fighting with each other.
Presumably if Labor hadn’t engaged in any infighting or ‘blowing in the wind’ they would have been a good government, in spite of the many Labor policy failures I outlined in my last post. Talk about looking at the most superficial things rather than policy.
Like Ray, Jeremy fails to acknowledge those debacles. This confirms my view that anyone saying that Labor should be re-elected would have to. The more you list the facts, the more it becomes obvious that Labor needs to lose.
But the facts have never been on the side of Greenies. That’s why Jeremy has been so easy to dominate in argument over the years.
Hard to decide which of these items to write about so I am writing about all of them. first example I think that we can only draw a gasping breath of surprise as we find that the Fairfax press has actually published a piece full of fulsome praise for Tony Abbott, something that I would not have expected at all a few years a go:
I may be wrong but to my mind this piece is staking out that much coveted “middle ground” in Australian political reporting and it probably represents the best chance that Fairfax has to remain a viable media player in the game of Politics reporting. The departure of a number of open;y Leftist writers and reporters must bea factor here and it can only improve the standards of the Fairfax Media to follow the clear change of mood in the Australian Polity rather than continuing the braying chorus of the Uber-left that has become so dull and annoying, especially in the light of the Labor’s terminal death spiral under Rudd and Gillard.
With its consistent disdain for the extreme left its no surprise that the Oz should be taking some deligt at the embarrassment of the NSW Greens over their on again of again flirtation with our own infamous Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben.
Clearly they are less than keen to have this infamous Anti-Semite sharing the public stage with them because it would be proof (as if something so self evident needs proving) that the loopy Greens support for the Palestinians is based upon the clear anti-Semitism of the far left. I can only dream of the shivers of schadenfreude had Toben managed to stand on the deck of that cruise boat. As Maxwell Smart would have said “missed it by that much” You can’t stop a feller dreaming now can you?
I absolutely enjoyed the Guardian’s top story for today about Asylum seekers which gives us just the smallest hint that an Abbott government might actually repudiate or attempt to reform the UN refugee convention.
The best thing would of course be to repudiate the outdated and no longer appropriate convention with a domestic law that no longer relies upon the entirely subjective “fear of persecution” and replace it with a requirement that mendicants show that they have actually been persecuted and make the way that we deal with the illegal immigrants that come here under the Asylum seeker flag of convenience entirely subject to the decisions of our parliament rather than the cohort of idiotic far left lawyers who populate the refugee advocacy groups. Thus it would be far easier to deport failed claimants and far quicker to decide the legitimacy of the thousands of mendicants who have taken advantage of Rudd and Gillard’s naive idiocy in “fixing” a border regime that was not at all broken.
Finally the news today that Microsoft will heed the wishes of gamers that we should be able to but sell and trade the games we buy for their new Xbox one is most welcome.
Of course if I was going to buy a next gen console I tend to think that I would stick to Sony and go for the PS4 (the power of brand loyalty at work 🙄 ) however I see this as a very good example of consumers making their voices heard and ensuring that we are not just herded into a system that makes us into corporate milch cows for the hard ware producers. It also suggests to me that those who see Microsoft as an unstoppable juggernaut are, well, exaggerating.
So there you have a diverse range of issues to consider on this (nearly) mid winter’s day. Me? well after breakfast I have to interrogate the daily driver’s ECU, finish hooking up the heater on my sports car, sand and paint a wall repair here at Chez Hall and then there are a million other things on my list…
This story tickled my fancy this morning because it has a great deal to say about the silliness of European governments and it suggests a new and environmentally friendly way to promote
suicide euthanasia tourism.
Really could anyone think of a cleaner or greener way to end the suffering of the terminally ill? All that has to be done is to throw them off the same cliff, a thousand foot drop will be enough to end their lives very quickly and disposal of the mortal remains will be assured as well as being a great way of helping the survival of an endangered species… Its a win win win idea whose time has surely come.
Levity aside though this story does highlight the unintended consequences of government decisions because if the long traditional practice of disposing of dead live stock by leaving them for the vultures has made what was a benefit to the farmers a liability which is itself symbolic of the way that the whole European experiment is failing because while the European union may have heralded an era of unprecedented peace it has replaced the cycle of war with the false hope of unity and the petty minded stupidity of an unloved bureaucratic hierarchy.
Tim Flannery has had a really good session with his nose in the money trough under the patronage of the Labor Government but of course he should be unsurprised that when his patron falls that he will be cut off from the largesses that he has enjoyed over the last few years.
What amazes me is that under a Labor government we have seen the creation of such a useless department as the one devoted to climate change, worse still that they have been paying Flannery so much money to sprout the same nonsense that the waterfront home-owner has so hypercritically been yelling from the roof tops for free.
Sadly I expect that making Flannery redundant will probably entail a substantial severance package. Even so the nation will be better off on the day that he has to front up to centerlink ….
- Abbott forecasts Flannery job loss (bigpondnews.com)
- Fear campaign for climate change (redearthbluesky.wordpress.com)
- Climate Commission: Australian ‘climate on steroids’ (abc.net.au)
- Climate Commission back in firing line (bigpondnews.com)
- Severance Packages | eLocal (elocallawyers.com)
- The Power Index: carbon cutters, Tim Flannery at #6 (crikey.com.au)