Monday, December 15, 2008

The Ultimate Property Right

Let's put on our hip boots and wade into The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Here's an excerpt from their article on Libertarianism:

Libertarianism holds that agents are, at least initially, full self-owners. Agents are (moral) full self-owners in that they morally own themselves in just the same way that they can morally fully own inanimate objects.

Wrap your head around that sentence, and you'll understand why hard core Libertarians are fanatical about abolishing the draft, drug law reform, gay rights, and so forth. If I belong to myself, then what happens to me is no one's business but my own.

Andrew Ian Dodge has reminded me of another self-ownership issue that doesn't get as much publicity as it did back in the days of Dr. Kevorkian.....
(I corresponded with Andrew back when he merely ran a site called Dodgeblogium. That's the site for "bloggers who combine a taste for heavy metal music with a taste for heavy metal politics". Now he has his own Pajamas Media page, where he posts alongside bow-tie wearing conservatives. You've GOT to click both of those links. I love the internet.)

Ok, back to the topic..... Andrew raises the issue of Physician-Assisted Suicide. And whether there is any possible reason to broadcast it on television.

....This time around, controversy has been raging for weeks after Sky Television decided to air the actual death of a man from Harrowgate, North Yorkshire, as he prepared to die at a suicide clinic called Dignitas in Switzerland. Dignitas has seen several British citizens use its services to end painful and debilitating lives, but this was the first time one of their procedures was actually broadcast on British television.
Sky (Rupert Murdoch’s news outlet in Britain) produced a rather moving piece where tehe sufferer himself, Craig Ewert,
makes the case for his ability to take his own life to save himself suffering. He even, between gasps of oxygen, manages to pose some interesting questions to the Christian opponents of the procedure.

Suicide has been decriminalized in Britain, simply because

.....Prosecuting a dead person seems to be seen as rather unreasonable, not to mention rather difficult, although such trials have occurred in the country’s past. The problem boils down to the law which threatens those who help facilitate the act with punishment of up to 14 years in prison.

Imagine intolerable pain, going on for hours, days, and months. But no, you must suffer. Mustn't set a bad example for everyone else. Check out the comments on Andrew's Pajama's Media post. This one in particular:

This is horrible!!!! Suicide is murder of one’s self. Common sense and at least minimal background in Christianity’s 10 Commandments gives us the answer: THOU SHALT NOT KILL! Suicide is killing of one’s self. Furthermore, to be televised while committing such a crime, is to be an exhabitionalist, while one cruel enough to watch is mentally sick! If someone is stupid enough to kill him/herself, don’t drag others into your selfishness and self-pity.
Dec 14, 2008 - 11:22 am

The point of the broadcast was for Craig Ewert to raise questions about his own right to die, and for others to see what a Physician-Assisted Suicide is like.

Are there are other things we do as a society that should be broadcast for the same reasons? Would some of us be so gung-ho about executions if we had to watch it happen, just once?
How about a late-term abortion? Does anyone think that watching one of those might change polling data?

6 comments:

miche said...

Video link is busted, babe.

Suzette Watkins said...

Oh Good golly, this gets into all sorts of issues and arguments. I'll keep it simple and answer your question. Yes, I believe that if late term abortions were on film it would change the polling data. I also believe that if the inhumane way we slaughter our animals here in the US was on film, people would eat, and feed their dogs much less meat....so on and so forth.

David Z said...

There would for sure be a lot more vegetarians in the world, if A) agribusiness wasn't so heavily subsidized and B) people actually knew how it all worked.

I've eaten and enjoyed venison a number of times, but I've *always* declined opportunities to bag my own deer. When I think about that, it makes me reconsider hamburgers, too.

Gar said...

It all depends on whether you are forced to watch or not. I'd choose not to watch it. It's one of my many freedoms.

Procrustes said...

Next question in line, can I start selling my own organs now?

(in all seriousness)

Okay, someone offers me ten million dollars for one of my eyeballs, because some billionaire lost his, and he really wants a replacement. (I have no clue if eyeballs are transferable, but there are plenty of other organs that are.)

What's the moral value in prohibiting me from selling my eyeball or the billionaire from buying it? Is it the fearsome idea of only the rich getting organs? Well, guess what? The rich generally are the only ones who get just about whatever they want right now. Why not (just like what would happen with drugs if the drug war were nixed) make the organ trade legal so that the black market organ trade would dry up?

Anyway, more to the point of your post, isn't having a terrible diet equivalent to killing oneself? I think that automatically makes most Americans (most of them Christians) commandment breakers.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Miche,
Thanks for commenting. All others, just Google Craig Ewert video. There are dozens out there, and I don't remember which one I picked.

Suzette,
Agreed. I'm a hunter, fisherman, etc., but I once saw the process of slaughtering turkeys at a farm in Arkansas. It threw me off turkey for a while.

David,
Thanks for commenting, and I believe you are dead on about A and B. It's one of my favorite dead horses to beat.
However, if I were properly armed and saw a 10-point Buck running down I-35, I'd shoot it if I could get away with it. It's the mechanized slaughter (see the above about turkeys) that gives me the willies.

Gar,
I try to avoid even mentioning abortion, much less expressing an opinion, simply because I'll never have to have one. There are videos out there of late term abortions (it's easy to find the links), but I've never clicked on one to see what it's like. I'll admit to being afraid that it would cause me to start spouting opinions on the subject.
Sign of cowardice on my part.

Crusty,
If I were a billionaire, I'd try buy one of your eyeballs just for fun - mostly out of curiosity about how much I'd have to give for it.
I'd keep it in a jar of formaldehyde on my desk.

And I believe your equating of the drug war with the organ donor trade is 100% accurate.