The Truth About Cats and Dogs
Archbishops are very presumptuous, aren’t they.
The Archbishop of Canterbury says even watching his mother’s slow, painful death did not persuade him of the arguments for euthanasia…But despite this experience, he is still against assisted dying “chiefly on the grounds of my religious commitments – the conviction that life is a gift from God that we cannot treat as a possession of our own to keep or throw away as we choose,” he said.
Well that’s a stupid argument. Those grounds are not good grounds – not for a public debate, especially not for a public debate that influences legislation, they’re not. Life is not a gift from ‘God’ any more than it’s a gift from Krishna or Aphrodite or Baal or Mr Potato Head. If the Archbish wants to think it is for his own pleasure, fine, but he has a hell of a nerve making the rest of us die a slow painful – agonizing torturing degrading – death when we don’t want to on the basis of his belief in a fictional being. He has a nerve telling us that we cannot treat our lives – our lives – as possessions of our own, because he thinks they’re a prezzy from The Big Guy. He has a colossal nerve telling us we cannot keep or throw away (i.e. end) our own lives as we choose simply because he thinks they were a valentine from the deity. There are other reasons for saying that, or something like it, but they are secular reasons. The reason he gives is unadulterated blither, and it’s disgusting that he is allowed to impose it on everyone else. There is a debate to be had about euthanasia, there are secular, rational reasons to cite against it as well as for it, but allowing pious untrue cant to clutter up the subject is 1) not helpful and 2) a ridiculous, coercive intrusion.
We would know that if the wording were just a little different. If he said ‘chiefly on the grounds of my religious commitments – the conviction that life is a gift from Wallace and Gromit that we cannot treat as a possession of our own to keep or throw away as we choose’ – the worthlessness and intrusiveness would be obvious. Replace ‘Wallace and Gromit’ with Lucille Ball, or Spock, or Yosemite Sam, or Widow Twankey, and the worthlessness and intrusiveness remain just as obvious. But replace it with a different fictional character, and people become blind to the worthlessness and intrusiveness. It’s accepted that archbishops have something of value to say on the subject – something extra (deep, profound) that secular reasoners don’t have. But they don’t. They think they do, but they don’t. They have emotive formulas about gifts from God, and that’s not something of value, it’s nonsense. Nonsense that causes people not to change their minds even when they watch people die painful deaths. We don’t watch our dogs and cats die painful deaths, but people? Well, their lives don’t belong to them, unlike those of cats and dogs.