11 August 2009

The Philosophy of Deatherism

While some so-called deathers may believe that there are explicit provisions in the Democratic health care-reform proposals that mandate compulsory euthanasia, much of the opposition seems to be grounded in assumptions or suspicions about how "rationed" health care run by liberal Democrats might work. Those suspicions in turn are based on the belief that liberals practice a "culture of death" characterized by their support for women's reproductive sovereignty and the belief of some in a right to die at a time of one's choosing, with assistance if necessary.

Cal Thomas might be described as a philosophical deather. His latest column on the subject shows plainly enough that he doesn't see his antagonists as the Democratic party but as the "culture of death."

The debate — OK, the shouting match — we are having over “health-care reform” is about many things, including cost, who gets help and who does not and who, or what, gets to make that determination. Underlying it all is a larger question: Is human life something special? Is it to be valued more highly than, say, plants and pets? When someone is in a “persistent vegetative state” do we mean to say that person is equal in value to a carrot?

This is a one-sided debate, since Democrats and other supporters of health care reform aren't debating these topics at all. If anything, they take affirmative answers to all of the above for granted, since such regard for human life explains why they want to provide health care for everybody. Somehow, Thomas doesn't get this. To him, the advocates of universal health care are the enemies of life.

It is between these two distinctly different worldview goalposts that the battle is taking place. Few from the “endowed rights” side [i.e. those who think rights come from God] are saying that a100-year-old with an inoperable brain tumor should be given extraordinary and expensive care to keep the heart pumping, even after brain waves have gone flat. But there is a big difference between “letting go” and “snuffing out.” The unnatural progression for many on the secular left is to see such a person as a “burden.”

What is Thomas's proof of this assertion?

The secular left claims we are evolutionary accidents who managed to crawl out of the slime and by “natural selection” stand erect and over millions of years outsmart our ancestors, the apes. If that is your belief, then you probably think health care should be rationed. Why spend lots of money to improve — or save — the life of someone who evolved from slime and has no special significance other than the “accident” of becoming human?

Notice that this is a proof based entirely upon his own assumptions about how the "secular left" thinks. It is unsupported by even one quote from any identifiable "secular leftist" who has ever made such suggestions, unless, as Thomas probably does, you presume that anyone who advocates universal health care really means, or desires, "rationing." Thomas says such an attitude results when people stop regarding human beings as "special," but I'd think universal health care is based on a notion that everyone is special, only apparently not in the way Thomas thinks. "Secular leftists" can't regard people as "special," it seems, which may come as a cruel surprise to many bereaved secular leftists over the years.

Again, Thomas has nothing to say about any of the existing proposals, but bases his opposition to them on a presumption about the evil motives of their supporters. Since that presumption has no basis in reality, the columnists' intervention in the health care debate is worse than worthless. The problem is that many of the opponents of health care reform or universal health care think the same way. No tweaking of any proposal will mollify them, since any advance for "rationing" can only mean unleashing Dr. Kevorkian from his hellish lair, perhaps in the uniform of the surgeon general leading an army of killer nurses of the kind that haunted the waking dreams of the lunatic who used to hang out in downtown Troy. The fears of the deathers should be taken just as seriously as that old man's ravings, but since they're part of the official opposition, they're apparently entitled to more attention than they actually deserve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find it quite ironic that the right-wing calls national healthcare "rationing" and the left as a "culture of death", when basically, they believe that anyone unable to afford healthcare should have to live a diseased and sickened life and die early. And that only those who can afford healthcare should have a "ration" of healthcare. And, for the most part, these are the same people who will defend war and defense spending. As usual, the right is pointing into a mirror and calling the mirror "left".