Civil liberties

Super Stupid

I still can't believe Ross Douthat writes for The New York Times, especially when he pens such ludicrous nonsense as this item against assisted suicide. The following passage is arguably the most ridiculous thing Douthat has written for the NYT:

We are all dying, day by day: do the terminally ill really occupy a completely different moral category from the rest? A cancer patient’s suffering isn’t necessarily more unbearable than the more indefinite agony of someone living with multiple sclerosis or quadriplegia or manic depression.

Douthat has obviously never watched someone die from terminal cancer -- the patient, barely human, crying out in pain, the morphine drip barely working but its effects turning the dying sufferer's words into loud, moaning gibberish. I assure you, however awful those other afflictions are, this is nothing like MS, manic depression or, as Douthat smugly writes, the normal aging process -- "we are all dying." Such nonsense.

Do the terminally ill occupy a different moral category? Yes they do, just as certain words or certain movies or certain video games or certain types of magazines can be sanctioned by the religious right on different moral grounds than, say, the Bible.

  • bigdogdad99205

    My Grandma died of brain cancer in August of 2005 and my wife suffers from MS. The two should not and cannot be compared, except for the right to choose. We must not forget that they are the ones in pain, not us. Ultimately my Grandma chose to leave this world when the pain was too much for her to take and my wife, someday, will be faced with that same choice. I will be there to support my wife’s decision as I was to support my Grandma’s.

  • muselet

    Ross Douthat has a very limited repertoire of rhetorical devices at his disposal; the Slippery Slope is his favorite, because it’s very easy for him to bang out 750 words and get on with the rest of his morning. He’s a very lazy, very stupid man who lacks basic human decency—an air-waster, in other words.

    The Sadlynaughts thoroughly and hilariously (and profanely) demolished Douthat’s column yesterday. Worth a read, if you’re not easily offended.


    • Grant Beaudette

      Lot’s of conservatives love to play slippery slope on a lot of issues. It’s just most of them hypothetically end with people having sex with box turtles.

  • Clancy

    I completely agree with your sentiment, but I’m not in love with the implication that those with terminal MS don’t suffer towards the end in a comparable manner as do those with terminal cancer. One doesn’t really need to get into some sort of terminal illness pissing contest with Douthat and still undermine his basic premise. MS, like cancer and numerous other illnesses, can be horrific, agonizing, and result in prolonged and unnecessary suffering. It simply isn’t necessary for proponents of allowing terminally ill people to die with dignity–at a time and manner of their choosing–to start ranking which illnesses and afflictions are worthy of such a choice. Put simply, the determination of what level of suffering and indignity one can live with should be left to the one who must bear it.

    • BuffaloBuckeye

      “Put simply, the determination of what level of suffering and indignity one can live with should be left to the one who must bear it.”

      Exactly. When I’ve had enough and can bear no more, as I want to bear it, then let’s pull the curtains.

  • IrishGrrrl

    Douchehat has to be trying to stir up readership by being controversial or if he is sincere, then he has NEVER known someone dying of cancer. My grandmother suffered for two years in her mid 70’s with lung cancer. It was horrible and in the end the only thing that brought her any peace was Marijuana. You have to understand…she was a Southern woman, born in 1916 on a farm in northern Mississippi, she had 6 children but only 5 survived to adulthood, she was a strict Presbyterian, I never saw her cry or complain, not even once. She raised those kids while her husband worked two job and she ran the gas station they both owned. She was a tough, tough lady and nobody gave her any crap. For someone like her to smoke pot in order to deal with the pain that morphine couldn’t even touch…then we’re talking about some serious friggin pain.

    What is it about Conservatives that they lack so much empathy? Seriously…they are, for the most part, lacking in the ability to understand another’s suffering. It’s the mark of an immature personality (not to mention an asshole).

    • Bob Rutledge

      I believe that lack of empathy is a prerequisite for being a Conservative (USian type).

      • John Michael Hall

        Reflected in their political ideology: the human element is never considered.

  • cousinavi

    Employing the hypocritical and shallow methods of the right in distinguishing “immoral” movies from the “moral” bible is no way to argue that terminally ill patients occupy a different moral landscape than the rest of us. Perhaps they do, but that’s beside the point. And it is a fool’s errand to even begin attempting to rank the various forms of suffering: All the forms of terminal cancer versus all the forms of degenerative disease versus all the forms of mental illness versus spinal injuries counting down from the neck to the waist…
    Frankly, it’s a mistake to even go down that road.

    It is both better and more accurate to simply admit that on that narrow point, Douthat is perfectly right – we ARE all dying. And if the notion of individual rights, including the right to life, are to mean any goddamn thing at all, they must include the right to choose when and how we die.

    As a legal matter, society is probably not prepared to permit people to say, “I’m perfectly healthy but I’ve fucking well had enough of this shit and I choose to quit.”
    Of course, as a practical matter, if that’s one’s decision, there ain’t much anyone can do to stop you…we’re just not ever going to legally allow health care professionals to assist you. Too bad. We SHOULD.

    Leaving that aside, the notion that assisted suicide should only be available to those whose level of physical agony has reached some arbitrary level, or their impending and inevitable death is less than a certain number of days in the future is philosophically suspect, morally questionable, and offers those who make purely technical arguments based on their alleged “respect for life” a wedge with which to push further suffering onto those who most deserve authority over their own fate.