I have been working against euthanasia/assisted suicide since 1993. During that time, I have seen a lot.
But there has been one consistent theme that cuts across Kevorkian, to the Hemlock Society’s Compassion and Choices’ agendas, to the Netherlands: The utter refusal of the media to see what is before their eyes and accurately report the truth about the movement.
Pondering the media’s blatant pro-culture of death bias, I have often thought they know what they don’t want to know.
The reporting around Philip Nitschke–Australia’s answer to Jack Kevorkian–epitomizes this phenomenon. Nitschke has always stated that he believes in an absolute right to assisted suicide, to death on demand. Indeed, way back in 2001, he told NRO’s Kathryn Lopez that he thought suicide pills should be available to “troubled teens.” From the interview:
Lopez: Would there be any restrictions on who could be served on your [euthanasia] boat? Do you see any restrictions that should be placed on euthanasia generally? If I am depressed, do I qualify? If an elderly woman’s husband dies and she says she no longer has anything to live for, would you help her kill herself? What about a troubled teen? Who qualifies? Who decides if a life is worth living?
Nitschke: This difficult question I will answer in two parts. My personal position is that if we believe that there is a right to life, then we must accept that people have a right to dispose of that life whenever they want. (In the same way as the right to freedom of religion has implicit the right to be an atheist, and the right to freedom of speech involves the right to remain silent).
I do not believe that telling people they have a right to life while denying them the means, manner, or information necessary for them to give this life away has any ethical consistency. So all people qualify, not just those with the training, knowledge, or resources to find out how to “give away” their life.
In August of that year, I was brought Down-Under to tour the country in what, in essence, was an anti-Nitschke tour. I accused N of advocating death on demand, including for teenagers. It created a media firestorm, with television stations chasing me down for interviews in restaurants, and eventually a front page story of me accusing him of importing suicide bags.
Happily, that story began Nitschke’s long line of legal troubles recently culminating with the loss of his medical license.
I noticed during the two week national tour, that reporters seemed emotionally invested in disproving or denying what I was saying about N. One day, he admitted his advocacy in the Sydney Morning News. The next day he denied my charges. A talk radio host told me that AM, in seeming triumph, that I had been refuted and my charges discredited.
I replied, “If you call lying effective refutation, perhaps so.” And then I read Nitschke’s quote from the previous day’s Morning Herald. Unsurprisingly, the host immediately changed the subject without acknowledging the truth of my assertions.
Now, the media seems surprised (AGAIN!) that Nitschke believes in assisted suicide for social reasons. From the News.com.au story:
DOCTOR Death Philip Nitschke has again courted controversy, saying he sees many people now “who want to die for social reasons”.
The controversial doctor, who burned his medical certificate in Darwin last month over frustrations with the Medical Board of Australia, said people should not need to be sick to seek voluntary euthanasia. “A person controlling the time of their death should be a fundamental right,” he told the NT News from Switzerland yesterday.
“It’s not the majority of people, but it’s a growing number of people, who have come along for reasons that would not be considered suffering of a terminal illness. “They’ve made a rational decision, thought through all the issues and now they think it’s an appropriate time to go.”
Excuse me: How is this news? Nitschke has been saying this very kind of thing for more than a decade. A week from now, they will forget until the next time.
You see, when it comes to the culture of death, the media know what they don’t want to know.