Over the weekend a friend and fellow activist opposing assisted dying, Liz Carr, emailed me with a link to another Huff post by former UKIP MEP, Godfrey Bloom. The article was denouncing the recent House of Commons vote against Rob Marris’ Assisted Dying Bill as the product of religious nuts and simpletons. His argument was that it is unlawful to leave a wounded animal suffering, so the same logic should apply to humans.
As I often do, I confronted Godfrey about his viewpoint on Twitter, as I saw it, asking whether he would consider me a wounded animal? His response was the denial of the blunt point he made and he concluded that I needed psychiatric treatment, a tweet I believe he has now deleted conveniently. This is when I looked him up on Wikipedia and understood I needed to have compassion for his condition, which I will leave you to work out.
His mental health insult is not untypical reaction on Twitter when people are challenged on a viewpoint they have but don’t really understand. My disappointment is that he was unwilling to follow through with the point he was making. If he truly wishes to equate wounded animals with sick and disabled people, then he is talking about changing how government and society responds to our existence, and I think it is a debate we should have in the public domain so we can expose the deep rooted bigotry that exists.
Biologically speaking, I am the runt of the litter, there is no getting away from that, and in some situations animals are drowned on this basis for economic reasons. The real reason wounded pets are put down is that there was not the technology to heal them, the owner could not afford the cost of available treatments, or the owner simply does not want to look after them in the long term. In farming, a wounded animal is an economic burden and so their killing is nothing more than a business decision. Killing any animal or human being will end their suffering in whatever way others construct it to be.
I am interested to know why Godfrey feels he has a voice in this debate about other people’s lives? He cites locked-in syndrome (ALS) as a perfect example for where assisted suicide would be needed, but I am unaware of any ALS organisation, or any disabled/patient organisation that has been calling for Assisted suicide to be legalised anywhere in the world. I am also unsure why he thinks the selfish desires of a handful of middle class individuals ‘wanting to die’ constitutes the majority of the public.
Emotional blackmail is certainly not the way to make laws. We elect our MPs to make decisions in the best interests of everyone, often with insights we are unaware off such as in terms of security. MPs can not afford to make wild judgments when they are considering the bigger picture. It is easy for Godfrey to say a family would never force an older person to feel like a burden, but the reality is abuse within families have always existed. In the 19th Century, adult children would have their parents committed to an asylum simply so they could steal their money and assets, and so assisted suicide could become the method of obtaining wealth in the 21st Century.
I wished Godfrey had the conviction to justify his deep rooted beliefs. I know there is a magic line between disabled people society is happy to accept, and those it regards as too vulnerable for mainstream society and probably ‘better off dead’. I also know for most people, I am in the second group but people are too wrapped up in political correctness to ever be honest about that. But in order to justify my place in society, I need people to be honest that it is under threat.