Friday, 17 June 2011

Peers complain about BBC death-as-entertainment programme

Four peers from Care Not Killing have accused the BBC of campaigning for assisted suicide.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Lord Alton of Liverpool and Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC, have written to Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC and to Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust, to complain about the recent programme "Choosing to Die" which showed the dying moments of a man who had travelled to the Dignitas "clinic" in Switzerland.

The peers pointed out that the BBC was running an orchestrated campaign in favour of assisted suicide. They wrote:
Setting aside our repugnance that the death of a patient with motor neurone disease should be turned into a form of voyeuristic entertainment, the BBC has a duty to provide balanced debate.
CNK also warns of the danger of copycat suicides and quotes the World Health Organisation recommendations to media professionals, most of which are contravened by the BBC programme.

Just so that you know: the Dignitas "clinic" is a hotel room or rented accommodation somewhere (they have to move quite often) where the person is given a lethal dose of barbiturates. The one who provides "assistance" does not have to be a doctor. In 2008, The Times reported on the warning issued by the Waste Disposal, Water and Energy Department to Dignitas about the human remains in Lake Zurich. To learn more about Dignitas, see the article by Peter Saunders: Twenty facts we did not learn from Terry Pratchett’s BBC ‘documentary’ on assisted suicide in Europe. An example is the fact that on one occasion, the relocation of the "clinic" was occasioned by residents encountering body bags in the lifts. (That's a problem people often forget about: What do you do with the bodies?) In some cases, the relatives arrange a funeral. In other cases, Dignitas is left to get on with things.

Peter Saunders comes in for criticism in the combox for daring to use the N word. In fact, he did mention the Nazi holocaust in order to point out that Leo Alexander, a psychiatrist who gave evidence at Nuremberg in 1949 said:
‘its beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted and finally all non-Germans.’
I wrote about a important essay by Malcolm Muggeridge in which he made much the same point: "The life thou gavest, Lord, we've ended".

Apropos of nothing at all, did you know that the slogan for the Dignitas "clinic" is Menschenwürdig Leben - Menschenwürdig Sterben. It has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?.

(BTW the Matt cartoon for Wednesday in the Daily Telegraph was very good.)
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