killing me softly
By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jan 11, 2005
Miles Plastic, the hero of Evelyn Waugh's "romance of the near future" Love Among the Ruins, has the great good fortune to be assigned to the new socialist Britain's only thriving industry: euthanasia. His supervisor, Dr. Beamish, is a man "now much embittered, like many of his contemporaries, by the fulfillment of his early hopes." In a moment of candor Beamish vents his exasperation to Plastic:
"Damned sentimentalists. My father and mother hanged themselves in their own backyard with their own clothesline. Now no one will lift a finger to help himself. There's something wrong in the system, Plastic. There are still rivers to drown in, trains -- every now and then -- to put your head under; gas-fires in some of the huts. The country is full of the natural resources of death, but everybody has to come to us."
When it was written in 1953, Waugh's novelette counted as satire. Today, it's sober reality. Check out the following report from the Netherlands:
Doctors can help patients who ask for help to die even though they may not be ill but "suffering through living," concludes a three year inquiry commissioned by the Royal Dutch Medical Association. The report argues that no reason can be given to exclude situations of such suffering from a doctor's area of competence. ...
The new report does not rule on how doctors should respond if a patient without a classifiable condition should approach them for help but says that doctors believe that some cases of "suffering through living" could be judged "unbearable and hopeless" and therefore fall within the boundaries of the existing euthanasia law.
Waugh's sardonic prophecies were inaccurate in one respect alone: the paragon of social planning in which they were realized is not Britain but what Mark Steyn calls Eurotopia, the death-'n-sex boutique states of Holland and Switzerland. Of the popularity of England's euthanasia service Waugh wrote -- in the early 1950s, remember -- "Foreigners came in such numbers to take advantage of the service that immigration authorities now turned back the bearers of single tickets." Laugh, if you will, briefly, because last month the Telegraph reported: "The Swiss are planning to crack down on 'suicide tourists', including hundreds of Britons, who want to take their lives at a Zurich euthanasia clinic."
Did you think that "physician assisted suicide" was still a voluntary option, by the way? Don't kid yourself. In that respect too, the future is already here.
All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!