A Word About the US Presidential Election and the MA Question 2

I have intentionally held back from writing this post, but I think it is about time for this to be put forth.

One of the reasons for which I was not very ardent about this post is that I respect the daimon’s command to Socrates to not go into politics. I hope that the following post will not be confused for that.

The other reason can be illustrated by a little story. One day, two Englishmen were arguing about the proper pronunciation of the word “neither.” One said that is was to be pronounced with a short “i” sound, the other said that the “i” sound should be long. Being deadlocked, they decided to ask the Scotsman sitting two seats ahead of them (they were on a bus at the time). The Scotsman told them, “It’s naither.” (pronounced with a short “e” sound). The Scotsman’s position is very much what I ascribe to in terms of who I want elected, neither. Allow me to explain why. I am a college student and, frankly, I have seen not much be done these last four years to either ease my troubles regarding tuition or make the job market better out there. Obama has not done much for me and I don’t think Romney will do much more if gets elected. So, I hope they both lose (who would win in that case, I do not know, but I am sure it will not be anyone who will give a damn about me and a lot of young adults like me).

Allow me to ascribe my chief grievances with the whole campaign (on both sides) and by I have absolutely no optimism about the next president.

First and foremost, I could not bear to watch many of the debates from the beginning to the end. How some people can say so little ans speak so much, I cannot understand. There was nothing but rhetoric, talking past each other, and ad hominem attacks. Not one time did we get a real debate, where both candidates outline their points and then go on to logically argue about their validity. The Bad Lip Reading video on YouTube that they made about the debate(s) was about as accurate as watching the real ones. People in this country need to understand that we cannot make progress in this way. If we the people allow ourselves to be persuaded by empty rhetoric, nothing will change (again). It’s clear that our leaders will not be the examples of virtue that I, at any rate, would hope they were, so we the people need to show them how to do it.

Some specific instances that annoyed me:

Bidden’s response to the question about abortion (at the end of the debate). First of all, the abortion question is not an ex fide doctrine (in fact, it is not a doctrine in the Catholic Church) I know enough about Catholicism to know that (even though I am not Catholic). Second, the wording itself annoys me. Bidden need not use “ex fide doctrine” when he (much more accurately) could have said “teaching” or (even better) “position.” Of course, if he had said that, he could not hide behind, “I believe it for myself, but I wouldn’t want to push my views on you.” To that, I respond, “And why, most venerable man, do you believe this doctrine? Because a man with a white skullcap told you so? [I do not mean to be irreverent toward the Pope, I am merely trying to show how Bidden seems to see him]” This is because, as I understand it, if you believe the Church’s teaching, i.e. that abortion is murder, you most definitely want to impose your views on others. Let’s look at comparable positions. Suppose I told you, “I am against rape, but I can’t impose my views on you,” I hope that if I told that to anyone, even as a joke, they should slap me. Or, if we go back to our history, “I am against the idea of owning other human beings, but I don’t want to impose my views on you.” Seriously, I hope you’d consider anyone who would say that insane. I ultimately think that Bidden was making use of his loftiest words to go past the heads of as many people as he could. I think it is obvious that the question about abortion does not, in any way, depend on religion. It is, rather, a philosophical question and I could make a case both ways without ever using the idea of God. So, I don’t see what Bidden is talking about, but I can be sure that he always means what he says.

Since we are on Bidden, the outright lies did not help either, like when he said that he voted against both Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which is simply not true.

Less of a point of annoyance and more of a concern, I hope Romney was respectful in handling his binders full of women, though I do wish to know how one can do that.

I wish Romney’s plan to balance the budget was contingent on more than his smile, which I judge to be the second-best of the campaign (Bidden takes the cake on that one, too), but I understand, baby steps.

I have started going to the gym recently (that’s why I have not been able to write as much), but I do wish I could train with Paul Ryan and be taught his secret ways about running a marathon in less than three hours.

In other news, I wish the President had given me a cut on his Nobel Prize money, me being a broke college student and all that good stuff, seeing how he got the vast majority of the young vote four years ago. (In case you were wondering, other students would appreciate a similar move, too)

If you notice, I only talked about one point in depth and that is because it really rubbed me the wrong way. There’s not much else to talk about, really. All the rest was crap, this stuff was interesting crap.

On a serious note, however, the real reason why I wanted to write this is one of the propositions up for voting in Massachusetts. I am talking about Question Two, of course, and if you live in Massachusetts and have not heard about it, you must be living under a rock (or you have broken free of the chain of politics, for which I congratulate you). In fact, even if you are not living in MA, I think it is very important to look at it, because, if it passes, it could provide a basis and precedent that would lead to more states making similar policies, so, I think it is very important.

It is officially called the “Death with Dignity Initiative” and it is supposed to provide physician-assisted suicide to terminally ill patients. The initiative says that a terminally ill patient is to be defined as any patient who (a doctor says) has less that six months to live. What it does not mention (surprisingly), is that the FDA has rules about how much bad stuff (i.e. the stuff that will kill you) you can put in a pill, so the dose is a series of one hundred (yes, you read that right, 100) pills you have to take for it to kill you. Talk about death with dignity, have you ever seen 100 pills. I poured out the rest of my multivitamins (there was about 100 of them left) and I’d rather shoot myself than take 100 of those one after the other.

That’s not to mention that if you take them with water (which is probably worse off, because you could probably choke on one of them and die a quicker death if you did not), you’d have to relieve yourself a few times before you can finish the job. Actually, I think drinking 50 glasses of water (let’s suppose they only drink half a cup at a time), or even 25 cups could harm you. Imagine the last thing you have to do in this life is to go to the bathroom, how dignified.

That’s first off, (I realize that it got a little humorous toward the end there, I don’t mean to make light of the situation, only to point out the absurdity of it all) but the problem persists. We hear just about everywhere about people who were told they had less than [insert number six or less here] months to live and, somehow, a cure was found or something happened that saved them (granted, there are many who do not go past the time doctors say they will die). Add onto that number all the people who get two very different opinions from different doctors about those issues and then consider the fact that the “you have x amount of time left” is supposed to be an estimation at best and any doctor will admit that. The human body does not work like a clock and, because this is so, predictions about how much you have left do not mean a whole lot (I am not saying here that you should disregard them, only that to make such cut-off on these grounds sounds a little silly).

That being said, even if a doctor could assure you beyond the shadow of a doubt that you had less than six months to live, suicide is still the wrong option. Before you say, “You don’t know what it’s like, you don’t know all the pain…” I do. My father’s mother passed away from cancer and she moved in with us for help the last few months. I saw every stage and all the pain that she went through. I understand that it is horrible, but just because it is does not mean you have the right to take your own life. Plato seems to agree with me on that. In the Phaedo, Socrates argues that though death is nothing to flee from, one does not have the right to take his own life, because he is not the cause of his own life (if you are unfamiliar with the “First Cause” argument that is formally put out in Aristotle, comment and I will explain). Beyond that, if you agree that murder is wrong (i.e. the act of killing an innocent human being), you cannot exempt yourself from the equation. If you accept the rule, you must accept that “[    ] murders [    ]” is wrong in all cases, even when the same person is the doer and the one on whom the action is being performed.

The problem goes even further on the practical scale. We have seen, in the recent years, the disaster that medical marijuana has brought. There are many people today who get marijuana legally because they have a headache, or because they can’t sleep at night, or other such complete crap. I am not saying that if this preposition goes through the same will happen, but we have to consider the situation where a doctor is “liberal” with his “death pill(s)” prescriptions. I think anyone who is realistic will have to accept that some of this will happen, but I say that even if it takes one life (supposing I agreed with the rest of it) that is beyond that six month cutoff, it has done a great harm to society. If you abuse medical marijuana, you get people who are high that are not supposed to be high, if you abuse this, you get people who are dead who are not supposed to be dead (oops!). After all, suppose you sue a doctor for determining wrongly that a patient had less than six months to live, he could always go against his data, blaming someone else for the screw-up and so on and so forth. I don’t think there is a high likelihood that you can prosecute these people simply because of how much the determination of how long a patient has to live is based on the doctor’s judgment  and, frankly, I don’t think you can really blame them for making the wrong estimate (within a certain bound, too).

Another problem related to the one above is that the six month cutoff (though I get the idea) is a little arbitrary. Suppose someone is diagnosed with “seven months to a year” to live, is the fact that they miss the six month deadline by a one to five months to hold them back from killing yourself. What do you tell to those people if you are a doctor, “Oh, you know, go on a cruise or something, try to enjoy life for about six more months, then we’ll help you kill yourself.” That’s simply silly. What standards are there for picking the six month cutoff?

In short, my humble recommendation is that you vote against this preposition. It is silly, arbitrary, morally impermissible, and it will cause much more harm than it will ever cause good.

 

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