Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Death and the State

In Canada, abortion is legal while capital punishment and euthanasia are not. This is a rather complex state of affairs, and is at the base of many raw and passionate discussions. Ultimately, none of these areas pertain to issues so black and white that we can just make a blanket statement that will prove just.

Abortion is the only case in which the one being terminated has no choice whatsoever. In committing a crime, there is an element of choice as to whether or not one proceeds with the deed, thus accepting the statement: if I kill someone, am caught and found guilty then I will be killed. The case of euthanasia depends on the existence of a living will or whether the individual is conscious and able to say: I am suffering from a terminal disease and do not wish to carry on.

As straightforward as my brief synopsis above may seem, when you begin to apply their logic to actual situations they tend to fall apart. For example, abortion for the sole purpose of birth control is, in my opinion, completely wrong. In the case of pregnancy caused by rape, we immediately plunge into a grey area. Risk to the woman’s health, or a seriously deformed foetus- again, grey. Ultimately I do believe that it is the women’s body and it is her choice insofar as that choice is not to correct a careless act. People must still be held responsible for their actions.

This is a perfect segue into capital punishment. Someone who takes a life during the course of an assault or criminal act should be held responsible. Then we again enter the grey area. What if Dick finds his wife, Jane, in the shower with John and he is blinded by rage, thus killing the two adulterous lovers? Is mental illness an excuse as in a post-partum mother drowning her children in the bathtub? Are being strung out on drugs or alcohol an excuse?

Lastly we have the case of euthanasia. In the case of someone terminally ill with cancer, there should be no question of that person having the determination of when to die if they so choose. But then this gets cloudy when we are talking about the quality of life and illness/injury. Suppose someone is in a car accident and is a quadriplegic. Sitting here as an able bodied individual, I think I’d want to die. I’m sure, at the moment of diagnosis, so too would the individual. But then we look around at some of the quadriplegic individuals accomplishing great things in society and have to step back. Euthanasia can also be dangerous in that the choice won’t always rest with the afflicted individual. For example, a baby born handicapped or the elderly could fall victim to this if someone else determines whether or not they should live or die.

As we examine all of these issues we must ask what role the State and Courts can really have when it comes down to it? How easy can this be abused? How unfair is it if we do not have the option? Personally, I am pro-choice, pro-capital punishment and pro-euthanasia, but can not begin to stress the massive ‘*’ that I place beside each of these issues. If I were to justify my selections, I don’t know how well I could, and that scares me!


  • At 2:02 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I think you delineate the natures of quandaries faced on morality of these issues. And is the state the delegated authority to decide these? The vigilant citizen, the "Vigilante" mentality, the despotic leadership style of Trudeau or Klein? Whom to trust? We live out here in grey areas and disenfranchised/ not empowered to decide for others. If the state stays out of the abortion issue and leaves it as a cosmetic surgery option, or if Capital Punishment is not used sometimes, the private "Vigilantes" will act. If we think the state acts justly and on our behalf, we drop out of the participation in these issues and go fishing. In between, the shades of grey (is it gray?) leave the topics open in the coffee shops and bars. Now, if I have a glass of beer, do I hit the other guy with it for saying he disagrees? Or do I wait in the alley with a knife, like we used to in the old days? Does this municipality have the right to tell me I can't drink from a glass because someone else is prone to violence? I think we should appoint Professor R. Johnson to come from the pat-down lines and speak up in the public forum. If he abdicates his responsibility, we may live in fear as "anons" strike from behind, in the dark, for no reason, or capriciously, like goats butting when you least expect it. Anyone named Dave or Kevin cannot surely be expected to speak for us. Too common! I vote for the initials R., B. and G. as the only viable resources of truth and ethical rationalization. Of course, I am anon, nodroG.

  • At 8:57 p.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    What is the cause of the conundrum in the first place? It isn't the abortion. It isn't the capital punishment. It is the determination of the value of a life, and the determination of what constitutes a life. If we say that our life is sacred, what exactly do we mean by our 'life'? It surely isn't the act of living, consuming, defecating, breathing. You touched the idea when you pointed out that quadraplegics may go on to accomplish great things. The value of a life is what that life's POTENTIAL is. If an embryo's potential is to be shuttled around foster homes, or dumped in a toilet, then the abortion is simply saving a person the torture of physical existence. If the criminal's potential is to go on and commit more crimes, then society has to defend itself against further destruction. If society were to create safeguards against the devaluation of the individual, perhaps we could afford to ban all of these state or personal acts of violence, but in the meantime, the perpetual competitive growth society has put a number on every head, and it is not related to morality or potential Net Creativity.

  • At 7:44 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    How can we truly determine a life's "potential"? Certainly looking at Stephen Hawkings, we would assume life would be torturous and been wrong. Why is Human life sacred? Is that a throwback to traditions of a Christian - Judeo society? Why is their such an uproar over the Canadian seal hunt while the abitoires are in full production without protest slaughtering lambs, pigs and cattle? If we apply Darwinism to our spieceis, should we not allow the weak to be destroyed or does that become part of what the Nazis attempted with their eugenics programmes? Do we not protect society by destroying those who seek to cause harm, or is that barbaric and lacking compassion? No simple or black and white answers here. I would argue, being long winded in my approach, as to "the cause of the conundrum" being the fact that we have become abstract beings who exist within but also outside of the natural world. Nature is often cruel, and, as we have become what we determine as "civilised", that said cruelty has become unacceptable, even though it exists within our instinctive being. Studies show, for example, that even dolphins kill for revenge or jealousy, or that wolverines kill for pleasure. We also possess science which gives us an extended reach into the realm of the natural world, as well as laws which create order. The problem is that science and laws are based on abstracts and absolutes which we have further clouded through religion. The result - conundrum. The answer? Not simple!


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