Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Repugnance of the Forced Life Position

Washington is considering an assisted suicide measure similar to Oregon's. Predictably, churches, especially the Catholic Church, have spoken out against the measure. The Most Rev. Carlos Sevilla, quoted in the Yakima Herald, provides one of the most repugnant, cruel, mean-spirited defenses of the forced life position I have yet heard:
Initiative 1000 is an attack on our most fundamental beliefs and teaching, and placing it on the November ballot would contradict our proclamation of the gospel of life . . . Pain and suffering and illness are important parts of our faith experience. [Emphasis mine.]

In other words, suffering people who don't share his religious beliefs should not have the right to die - in a democracy - because his religious beliefs place a value on suffering! God likes suffering, so suck it up.

Meanwhile, in India, lawmakers consider repealing a law that makes attempted suicide a criminal offense. Its Law Commission offers this compassionate analysis:

If a person has the right to enjoy his life, he cannot be forced to live that life to his detriment, disadvantage or disliking. If a person is leading a miserable life or is seriously sick or having an incurable disease, it is improper as well as immoral to ask him to live a painful life and to suffer agony. It is an insult to humanity. [Emphasis mine.]

Indeed, an insult to humanity in the name of God is exactly what Rev. Sevilla is offering.

Analytically, Sevilla's position appears similar to Velleman's, in that a particular value that "belongs to humanity" cannot be violated, even if upholding that value causes great suffering to individuals. Compassionate followers of Christ also recently opposed the right of an 11-year-old Romanian girl who was raped by her uncle to get an abortion. The interest-independent value of life, and all that.


  1. I know I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating. Why is it that we consider some killings merciful, when it comes to creatures other than man? Indeed, someone who would keep a suffering pet alive would be considered by most to be selfish at best, cruel at worst. Most followers of the Most Rev. Carlos Sevilla would never apply his brand of logic to a dog, but for some reason this obvious human sensibility gets turned on its head when applied to HUMANS.

    As for Velleman, all I can say is that this is what comes from replacing simple empathy with societally induced dogma, no matter what hoops one jumps through in order to justify an artificial philosophical position. Silly, really.

  2. I differ. Animals receive terrible treatment; it is only in rare places and times that they receive mercy. In most municipalities and counties, the Humane Society workers have to jump through countless hoops to provide relief to suffering animals, and the "owner" has all the power to deny that suffering.

    In my experience, many people like to know others are suffering, because then they feel they don't have it that bad. I call it the Trainwreck Mentality. People are fascinated by gore and horror because they get to watch the spectacle and feel all comfy from it, while also masturbating their abstraction centers.

    O yeah, and suffering is a sign of FAITH. My answer to that is always, "Tell you what, god-boy. You take the lead on modelling the suffering you want to inflict on others." In the case of the Romanian girl, I might suggest something like, "So I and ten of my friends will rape you up, then stick a watermelon up your downspout. Then you not only have to push it out, you have to keep it for 20 years and make it the center of your life. AND you have to LOVE it. And also marry us who raped you."

    People are always much easier with abstractions than with having to suffer what they would inflict on others.

  3. Wow.

    Rationality in India, in official places.

  4. Rationality ... and decency, I might add.


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