Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Terry Pratchett

Anybody watch the Dimbleby lecture from Terry Pratchett 'Shaking Hands with Death'? Or rather the Pratchett lecture delivered by Tony Robinson because this brilliant and wise writer is too buggered up by Alzheimers to deliver something like that. Here's a bit about it, but I'm sure you'll be able to find more if you do a search. He's feels the terminally ill should be allowed to kill themselves, that the means should be made available - assisted by medical practitioners if necessary - and I thoroughly agree. The government doesn't own our bodies (though of course it would like to) and it is our choice to make. In fact I've always agreed with this, but it's even more plain to me after seeing both my father and my brother on their death beds. I want the option Pratchett is after for himself: sitting in a chair in his garden with a glass of brandy and exit potion of choice. No damned way do I want to end up dribbling and pissing my pyjamas in some stinking old people's home, or tubed up in a hospital with those supposedly looking after me afraid to give me enough painkillers for fear of being accused of killing me. In fact that will not happen to me; I intend to ensure it won't happen.

What do you think?


Kirby Uber said...

i cannot possibly agree more. self destruction, regardless of medical condition, i'll go so far to say, is utterly and completely the right of the individual.

everybody is going to die. pretending that if one lives a certain lifestyle one is not is delusional.

eeking out an extra decade or so smelling funny and forgetting your own name, in my opinion, is not a betterment of the situation.

quality of life goes, i say it is my call if i opt to follow it out.

Michael Stone said...

It's funny how we'll have our pets put to sleep as an act of kindness, but consider it ethical to keep our fellow human beings alive come what may.

Martin Sommerfeld said...

I couldn't agree more, Neal. While there is of course some need to make sure the individual actually WANTS to suicide, in the end everyone should be able to decide himself and not some stupid law or church. And the means to do so should be made available.

Scott said...

What Michael said.

We don't need laws to protect us from ourselves. There's no such thing, anyway. It's just another way of establishing overreaching control into our personal affairs.

Unknown said...

I'm sympathetic to the view that every individual has a sovereign
right to die by his(her) own hand
under circumstances that make any
kind of dignified existence impossible to continue. My one
reservation comes from a fear
that, should euthanasia (self administered or otherwise) become accepted practice, a 'right to die' could all too easily become 'a duty to die'; I do not think
it far fetched to suppose that,
due either to external social
pressures and expectations
or to an inner sense of moral obligation, an individual may
feel compelled to exercise a supposedly freely chosen option
to 'head for the exit', relieving both his intimate circle and society at large of the burden he may see him(her)self as having become.

RFYork said...

I am fortunate to live in Oregon in the US. I believe Oregon and Washington remain the only states in the US which have legally sanctioned doctor assisted suicide.

Both acts are called, appropriately, the Death with Dignity law. Oregon's was passed in 1997. There were several attempts to remove the in Oregon by ballot initiatives. All of them failed. As you can imagine, the usual suspects opposed it. "Only God....." crap.

Between 1998 and 2005 264 people took advantage of the law. For other stats, here's a website that tracks both Oregon and Washington's acts:

Note that in both states there are more people requesting to use the law than those who actually use it.

At 65, the Death with Dignity Law is one reason I live here. It really is the sense of control this law gives me that matters. Not the act itself.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

if i get alzheimers, seeing it coming, i'll have a few tattoos done on my arm, checkered lines following the viens with the words really big "OPTION HERE!" so i dont forget. people often mess this part up even with full faculty of brain use.

however, pissing my pants in public sounds like an interesting option, or excuse. in the event of odd, or bad behavior i'll have to make sure i do it in the company of the folks i despise.

ILTYT_Adventure said...

Agreed. There is an argument for living fast and loose and leaving a beautiful corpse. But Ian's point above is also correct about "a Duty to die". It needs stringent controls, or your dystopia will be upon us in two shakes of cats tail.

There comes a point where maintaining a life is just a total farce, just a way of keeping some carehome shareholders in pocket.

My Proviso is, that as long as I am in control of my marbles, not in everlasting pain etc I'll carry on absorbing information to the end.

LarryS said...

Of course I agree with what everyone's said but what I can't get my head round is the fact that we might be losing Mr Pratchett in the near future! Its always the good guys that get the shitty end of the stick!

Friso said...

This is one of the things that make me happy that I live in the Netherlands. Plenty wrong here, but it's a comforting thought that if I ever get to the point where I would want to bail out, the option to do it with medical supervision is there.