Monday, January 18, 2016

Lewis: Four months is not enough for a debate on euthanasia.

By Charles Lewis

Just like everyone who has taken a role in trying to combat euthanasia, I am well aware of the poll numbers on societal support for government-sponsored killing. But numbers, no matter how high, lay flat on a page. They carry no emotion and nor do they reveal the depth of support. Someone's "yes" may be weaker than another person's "yes."

I got a real taste of what real enthusiastic support for assisted suicide sounds and feels like. 

Last week, Bill Maher, the most obnoxious liberal talk show host in history of media, was interviewing California's Deputy-Governor, Gavin Newsom. Newsom, a Democrat, is tall, boyish and handsome with a full head of dark hair. He already has said he'll runs for governor and do not be surprised if his name pops up shortly after that as a likely presidential candidate. He is Kennedyesque, as Americans like to say.

Maher's interview was more of a love in. He and Newsom share the same views on a host of issues, including easy access to abortion, limiting carbon dioxide emissions and, as it turns out, assisted suicide. Newsom listed his government's accomplishments to which the audience responded with polite applause to every item ticked off. But they saved their most explosive applause for when Newsom noted legalized assisted suicide as one of those achievements.

It is not a surprise that those sitting in the studio to watch Maher lean left. Nor is it a surprise that Maher and his audience support assisted suicide — though I will never understand why legalized assisted suicide became such an American liberal project.

In the past, American liberals were an important driver of such things as civil rights, equal protection under the law, fair hiring, equal work for equal pay and voting rights for the country's black citizens, the right to health care. Most will agree that these causes were justified and life affirming.

But now the liberal banner has turned from life affirming to life ending. Newsom grinned when the audience thundered its support for killing patients. What was he grinning about? Should not someone with an ounce of morality still feel some regret about taking the life of anyone, especially someone who is innocent? Perhaps a good man might have frowned, and silenced the audience with a wave of his hand. He might have said this is nothing to celebrate. He might have added: The taking of a life is always tragic. He could have made the case that assisted suicide is an awful but needed response to what he sees as a tragic situation. Finally, he could have gone out of his way to assure his audience that he and his government would ensure that the new law be used only in the most extreme situations.

I would not have become a supporter of assisted suicide if he followed my fantasy script but at least I might have been assured that this misguided legislation was at least approached with the care and gravitas it deserves. But no: The Maher audience became a rally for death.

It is important to keep this in mind as we come down the stretch in Canada. The court gave our Liberal government a four month extension to come up with new legislation that reflects the court's Feb. 6 2015 decision to strike down the nation's ban on euthanasia.

Four months is not enough. It is not enough for debate and not enough so every Canadian gets to here a full debate on the issue — something that amazingly enough has not yet happened. But perhaps the supporters of euthanasia in Canada are as enthusiastic as their like-mined brothers and sisters in California. If that turns out to be the case, then God save us.

Charlie Lewis was a journalist for 33 years and a former columnist with the National Post.

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Jule Koch said...

Collective madness occasionally overtakes entire societies. It's happened so many times in the past - in Rwanda, in Germany, in Turkey, in Russia, in Cambodia - the list goes on and on. Now we're seeing it happen before our very eyes - right here in Canada. But when these pages are written into history, it must be known that some people did not go along with the killing and tried to stop it.

Wisdom Hunter said...

Well said Charlie Lewis