Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The one-way street to Death

Picture of the CEO of Dignitas (courtesy of Google Pictures)

According to the Washington Post Foreign Service, a Swiss organization called Dignatas, has opened a branch operation in Hanover, Germany. Dignitas is a dignified non-profit organization dedicated to the dignified purpose of assisting people to kill themselves, with dignity.

Apparently, Switzerland has the most liberal and dignified assisted suicide laws in the world, something which may be related to their obsession with accurate timepieces. Recognizing an unfulfilled market niche, Dignitas has opened an office in Europe's most populated country in order to offer its dignified counselling services. Depending on the success of the Dignitas operation Germany may, or may not, retain its population edge over its neighbours.

Regrettably, Dignitas is prohibited from actually helping dignified Germans to poison themselves with dignity on German soil. Der dignified Deutch folk must travel to Zurich to be poisoned. It seems that a series of unfortunate not-so-dignified political events from 1932 to 1945 has made doctor assisted killing a rather delicate subject for conversation in the gasthouses of the German nation. Descendents of the Huns may drink themselves to death in a pub without stirring much dignified comment, but one must not request the active participation of physicians in the process.
"In a country like Germany, where we have a problematic past, it's not such an easy situation. That is the danger of an organization like this," said Elisabeth Heister-Neumann, the justice minister for Lower Saxony, the German state that includes Hanover. "We see such a group as a one-way street to death."
Such historical squeamishness aside, I think this Dignitas marketing initiative has legs. As the article points out:
Dignitas already draws most of its members from Germany. As of last month, 253 Germans who made the trip to Zurich either swallowed or injected themselves with fatal doses of barbiturates, with Dignitas's help. The organization takes care of the legal and logistical arrangements, from obtaining the drugs to disposing of the body. If all goes smoothly, members can die the same day they arrive in Switzerland.

Ludwig Minelli, a lawyer and the founder of Dignitas, said the opening of the Hanover field office was a response to strong demand for the group's services. But he said Dignitas had a larger goal in mind: to pressure Germany, the most populous country in Europe, to bow to popular demand and legalize assisted suicide.

"We should break the taboo of discussing suicide," Minelli said in a telephone interview. "For the sake of efficiency, you should be able to offer assisted suicide when this is the best possible solution. We've got to take this problem
out from under the carpet and put it right on the table."

Sehr gut, mein Herr. "Efficiency." The first of the Teutonic virtues. One can see the marketing possibilities in marketing an efficient death to Germans. In my view, there is a great future in death.

It is obvious that when an efficient German (Is there any other kind?) wants to depart this mortal coil, he will insist on arrangements running smoothly and the expiry taking place exactly as scheduled. To have it happen according to the ticking of a fine Swiss watch is enough to make the heart of any good German beat faster, until it doesn't. The fascists made the trains run on time. The Swiss now timetable the arrival of the Grim Reaper with astonishing competence. And how about that same day service!

If there was ever a case to be made for private medical care, this is it. Can you imagine such a program being run under Canada's medicare system? We can't even get hip replacements onto the hips of former hippies within a century. How would we manage same-day deaths? We couldn't. There'd be people dying of undignified natural causes before their turn came to be killed with dignity. Let that happen too many times and there'll be a stink I tell you.

The Globe and Mail would be filled with outraged letters to the editor from frustrated almost heirs who were denied that timely Mediterranean cruise on old Uncle Jeremy's bequest. Good vacation planning requires strict deadlines for booking trips and the uncertainty involved in having Uncle Jeremy passing in the old fashioned way could make it very difficult to reserve preferred cruise boats.

I say that if we leave it to the government to kill us, we will live to regret it. Think about it. It would be bureaucratic chaos. After 25 years of effort and billions of tax dollars spent, government can't supply clean water to First Nations' communities. After spending hundreds of million on new military rescue helicopters, the rotors are falling off the choppers. Only by straining resources to the maximum can governments ensure timely delivery of spanking new hypodermic needles filled with free drugs to addicts on the streets of Vancouver.

I can't even contemplate the number of federal-provincial conferences that would be needed needed to come up with common acceptable waiting time standards for poison injections. Given the nursing shortage resulting from billions of dollars being pumped into resuscitating medicare, we don't have enough trained medical people to inject the anticipated suicides. Sure we can alleviate some of the resulting shortage by asking Vancouver drug addicts to help out, but we can't fly all the suicides to the west coast. Our military Hercules transport planes are grounded due to cracked wing spars and it'd take a long time to taxi from Trenton Ontario to Vancouver BC, even if we could afford the tolls on Ontario's expressways.

Not convinced yet? We have spent billion upgrading our security since 9/11. Yet there are more than 200 roads crossing our border that have no customs posts and if they did, the customs officers aren't armed. The customs officers have to depend on defunct RCMP detachments for assistance and for some reason no one answers the phone at these vacant former police buildings.

After spending two billion dollars on the long gun registry, the government can't register all the squirrel rifles in Saskatchewan, while dozens are being mowed down by handguns in Toronto every day, it seems. Okay, I admit there are good public policy reasons for the gun registry. It provides massive employment for the population of Nova Scotia from whence the program is administered. That's good. I'm not against people working for a living. I'm just leery of them working for a dying.

Unfortunately, we won't see Dignitas private clinics operating in Canada any time soon. Jack Layton said so just last night and what Jack says should be the policy of the Government of Canada, is the policy of the Government of Canada. Jack, you see, is the "defacto" Prime Minister of Canada , much like Governor General Michaelle Jean is the "defacto" head of state. They're the real, as opposed to the figurative, thing.

Jack is there to protect us from the consequences of our democratic choice in electing Liberals to office. Someone has to do it for God's sake. Better to have a dignified man of principle, like Jack Layton pull the levers of power than an expedient man like Paul Martin. Expedient men have no dignity.

No, Jack Layton is not like those other grubby politicians who are expedient by nature. Not him. He is a socialist. The proof that he is a man of socialist principle is the fact that he is prepared to maintain the corrupt Liberals in power forever, despite the findings of Mr. Justice Gomery, if the Grits take steps to stop all private medical clinics from operating in the Dominion.

It's not that Jack and his party are opposed to assisted suicide. On the contrary, when the Liberals are re-elected to office and everyone in Alberta is clamouring to kill themselves but need help to fill out the maze of federal paperwork to get a gun permit, Jack and the New Democrats will be there with encouragement and help in filling out the forms. He and his party believe that any Albertan who wants to commit suicide is entitled to the finest medical care the Canadian system can muster.

But Jack wouldn't allow Dignitas, a private company, to set up shop in the true north strung out and freeze. Medical care, he says over and over again, is too important to leave to private companies, - unless it's a private for-profit clinic owned by the socialist saint Henry Morgentaler, who is dedicated to dismembering babies in a mother's womb. That's not just alright. That public funding is as goddam sacred as it gets for socialists.

Hat tip to Lifesite News.


At 2:08 am, November 03, 2005 , Blogger bob said...


At 1:04 am, November 05, 2005 , Blogger echotig said...

I just don't see suicide as dignified. It says "I'm a weak little girly man." I also don't think this will ever fly in Germany. And, even if it did, would they leave it to a Swiss Company? I mean really.

And yes, there are other kinds of Germans besides efficient ones. But then I guess its hard to come up with any better stereotypes than the ones you already covered here.


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