Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Strong vs. the 'Weak' in the Assisted Suicide Debate

The article I wrote about in my last post, Assisted suicide laws are more dangerous than people acknowledge by John B. Kelly, drew some strong commentary in support of Kelly. One such comment came from correspondent Leslie Wolfgang, who wrote: “Brittany Maynard is a strong woman, but assisted suicide laws are to protect the weak.”

The first question to ask is; “strong” in what way? The second question; what is the purpose of law?

“Strong” comes in two manifestations; the strength of a strongman, or the strength of good moral character. The first is the power of the club or the gun or muscles—physical coercion. The second is the power of virtues like courage, independence of mind, self-motivation, perseverance in pursuit of goals,and self-discipline. The first leads to destruction and death, the second leads to a successful, self-sufficient, flourishing life.

It is the second type of strong that carries the world, including the so-called “weak,” on its shoulders—the strength exhibited by people like Brittany Maynard. Moral strength is the foundation of life; weakness the weight of death. Yet, it is the strong who are exploited and need protecting. As evidence, consider the statement above. Wolfgang would callously uphold coercive anti-assisted suicide laws that violate the rights of the strong of character to act on their own judgement regarding their own lives, in the name of protecting the “weak.” To sacrifice the strong for the alleged benefit of the weak is the ultimate moral inversion; the sacrifice of life to death. Such is the nature of the weakest of the weak; the wielder of the club against the strong of character; the Wolfgangs of the world—the strongman.

Considering the growth of the regulatory welfare state—which is justified as a necessity to “protect the weak”—it is the strong in character who need protecting, since they are the victims of the welfare statist protectors of the weak. But, in truth, proper law doesn’t protect the weak at the expense of the strong; or the strong at the expense of the weak. It protects everyone—the weak, the strong, and the mediocre—equally and at all times. Protect the rights of consenting adults of sound mind to live and leave this world with dignity, while building in legal safeguards against exploitation of the “weak” of unsound mind by the unscrupulous. Laws legalizing doctor-assisted suicide, which really means eliminating rights-violating government interference in private decision-making until and unless evidence of rights-violating actions is uncovered, is the moral thing to do. Anything else is cruel, mean-spirited, morally corrupt—and truly weak. A Brittany Maynard’s rights should not be violated simply because she is a “strong woman.”


enness said...

"Yet, it is the strong who are exploited and need protecting."

Huh? This flies in the face of enormous amounts of historical human experience.

"But, in truth, proper law doesn’t protect the weak at the expense of the strong; or the strong at the expense of the weak. It protects everyone—the weak, the strong, and the mediocre—equally and at all times."

Some say justice is blind. I would argue that if the law truly is blind to the obvious, which is that not everyone needs protecting equally, then it is profoundly UNjust.

It doesn't take much to see why this philosophy leaves a bad taste in the mouths of not only the left, but some on the right as well.

I'm sure the strong and clever can still find a way to make themselves dead without the patronizing sanctioned 'help' (which, I might add, dictates to them under exactly what specific conditions they may do so: pills yes, bullets no!) of any authority figure. People have been doing so for a very long time.

Michael A. LaFerrara said...

Enness, what “historical human experience” do you mean? Have you ever heard of socialism, fascism, or communism; the regulatory welfare state with its controls on the productive and self-responsible and its redistributive graduated income tax; the Divine Right of Kings; theocracy? These statist strongman systems and their ilk exist by exploiting the morally strong: Authoritarians have to exploit the morally strong, because the morally strong are the only ones with something to exploit. (By “exploit,” I mean forced into some form of subservience or subordination.) In the sense I mean “strong,” the strong have always been the exploited class.

The assisted suicide issue highlights this fact. Here’s proof: You say “the strong and clever can still find a way to make themselves dead”: Yes, and at great, unnecessary suffering to themselves and their families. Is it just that the state forced Christina Symanski into resorting to being “clever.” If Symanski had the legal means she needed to end what she judged to be an intolerable life, who would have been hurt? In what way did Brittany Maynard harm anyone else, “weak” or not? Yet her and her family were forced to relocate from California to Oregon. These two morally strong women were exploited, that self-proclaimed champions of the weak can impose their moral standards on everyone else by law—which means, at the point of a gun. I am 66 years old. Who would be harmed by the government protecting my right to die with dignity should I choose to exercise that right? You say that Symanski, Maynard, I, and others with the strength of independent thought should be cast aside. This is what exploitation of the strong looks like.

The only alternative to a government based on equality before the law is some form of authoritarianism. Authoritarianism—whether an entire social system or laws against assisted suicide—is by its very nature the subordination of the strong to the weak.

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