What you are arguing for is not my freedom to suicide – the evidence that I have this freedom is unassailable – but my freedom to demand the assent and co-operation of others in my suicide. It seems to me that, if your proposal were implemented, those others would have their consciences infringed. They would be required to assent to, and co-operate in, suicides regardless of the motive or justification. I do not think this obligation can be justified.
There is no obligation. If people choose to work in the industry that provides the drug that allows people to suicide that is their choice, they are in no way obligated to work in that particular industry.
I think there’s more to it than that. What you are advocating is a change in the law
to give social acceptance or approbation
to a suicide decision, and social support
(in the form of a socially-approved suicide drug) for implementing it. That is something that involves us all, even if we’re not actually handing out the drug ourselves.
A general statement that any gay man driven to choose suicide will be given poison if he asks for it is equally unacceptable. It’s monstrous, in fact.
Why? I think you need to justify this statement with reasoned argument. I think you are confusing your disgust at the fact that a gay man would feel so unaccepted in our society that he would choose to suicide with the actual argument, which is not at all about encouraging gay people to suicide, but instead simply about allowing all individuals who choose to suicide to do so (there are a lot of failed suicides, with serious repercussions, this policy would stop this from occurring, additionally, it may also lead to greater social acceptance of suicide- see below).
I think this is really about our society coming to terms with the fact that there will always be those who want to suicide, and instead of 'nannying' them, we should accept this, and we should give them the opportunity to fulfill their last wish in a peaceful, dignified manner (rather than being found hanging under the house by family members). This would be better for the individual, better for his or her family and better for society.
I guess what’s at the bottom of my concern, arry, is this. Suicide, ultimately, is a decision to reject society; to terminate irrevocably all your human and social relationships.
It’s a decision that can be taken for a variety of reasons. We’ve already identified voluntary euthanasia, where somebody takes the decision to escape from actual or expected intolerable physical pain, but we’ve also agreed, I think, that euthanasia is something of a special case, and is not really what we are talking about here.
Euthanasia apart, suicide is usually a rejection of human relationships. Take your example of the unhappy gay man. He is fundamentally rejecting the relationships through which he is oppressed as a gay man; once he’s dead, we can’t hurt him any more. He is also, of course, rejecting the actual or possible sexual and romantic relationships which define him as a gay man in the first place; once he’s dead, he won’t be gay, and he won’t have to hate himself or be hated by others for being gay.
But the man who is rejecting every kind of human relationship is rejecting society, and therefore cannot reasonably ask for (and almost certainly does not want or care about) social acceptance of, or co-operation in, his decision. If he cared at all about this, he wouldn’t be suiciding. At best, he is indifferent to what others think about his suicide; all too often, he wants
them to be offended, hurt by it.
It seems to me that if we as a society accept, endorse, co-operate in and approve of suicide decisions, even in the largely token way of passing this law which nobody will make use of, we are, in effect, saying, “You are right to terminate your connection with us; this is an ethically acceptable solution to the situation you find yourself in. We are happy, as you are, that your connection with us be utterly destroyed.” That seems to me to be a pretty fundamental rejection of someone, and to send utterly the wrong message to people who, as in this example, are struggling with society’s attitude towards them and their sexuality. That seems to me a profoundly immoral thing for society to say.
And, for the reasons just explained, the intending suicide does not need or want us to say it. We are saying this for our
benefit, not for his. What we are really doing is trying to approve or excuse or forgive or normalise or whatever you will our action, as a society, of abandoning this man or, worse, of driving him to destroy himself. I don’t think that’s a proper, healthy or ethical stance for us to take. I don’t think we’re looking for his peace or dignity at all; I think we’re looking for something that will enable us to avoid facing what we have done to him.
I find it a little hypocritical for you to use the term 'nannying' when your position is the one that opposes making it easier for people to make their own decisions about their own life.
I confess I was being deliberately provocative with that word. I can’t really justify it. But I don’t accept that what you propose is intended to make the suicide’s position any easier (and you’ve made no real attempt to explain how it would). I think it’s intended to make our
position easier, so that we don’t have to face up to any responsibilty for our
part in his suicide.