Anyone who has ever sat on an awards committee knows well that there are standards to be met. Make the award too easy to attain or provide it to someone who has not met the criteria and the currency of the award is diminished. Raise the bar too high and no-one applies.
At Exit International they must have ridiculously low standards. Exit boss and former medical doctor, Philip Nitschke recently awarded his so-called 'Peaceful Pill Prize' to an elderly Australian couple essentially because the woman concerned recently cried a patronising 'bullshit' at Professor Margaret Somerville on an Australian National current affairs program.
Nitschke claimed that Mr & Mrs Fellows' comments were 'forthright' and 'a significant contribution to the Australian Euthanasia debate'. Crass and undignified more like it!
There was a time when everyone understood that to raise one's voice or to swear in the context of a debate was to lose the argument. Maybe not so much nowadays; after all, the show's presenter, Tony Jones said that the 'bullshit' comment was 'refreshing' which seemed to me, at the time, to be a ringing endorsement of Mrs Fellows' sentiment.
Nitschke's endowment upon the Fellows', it seems, was no accident either. He admits that the couple are members of his Exit organisation and exemplars, one suspects, of Exit's new militant wing, Exit Action. Is it just me or does anyone else reason that Exit is synonymous with militancy; so why the need for tautology? If the Fellows' have set the standard perhaps we can expect more of this revolting behaviour as other card-carrying Nitschke-ites vie for the same prize.
So, what do the Fellow's gain for their inglorious moment? Steak Knives? Champaign perhaps? No. 'Two redeemable vouchers for 12gm packages of pure sodium pentobarbital (nembutal).' I suppose an alternative might have been a lifetime membership, but I digress.
The award ceremony will surely raise the interest of Border Protection & Customs Police. But, of course, Nitschke's not stupid: "As possession of this drug in Australia is illegal, the details of the delivery of the prize will be kept confidential. Delivery will be by unconventional means" said Nitschke. He added that the prize would amount to a 'safety net' for the Fellows - how bizzarre.
The Fellows, by their own admission are not unwell but simply don't want to live in a nursing facility in their decrepitude. None of us does, really, let's be honest. That's an issue that many of us will face; but few, I suspect would want to try to foister upon society a euthanasia regime with all its attendant and irretrievable risks simply for the sake of getting our own way. That's tyranny clothed as autonomy.
The Fellows may not have thought that through. Maybe they are unaware of the trail of grief created by Nitschke's 'collateral damage' in the deaths of young people via Exit methods; young men like Lucas Taylor, for example.
But people who are used to getting their own way don't necessarily consider much else in the drive for autonomy. The well, well-off but worried have a very blinkered view re-enforced by the Nitschke mantra of rationality.
Such was the assurance given by Exit's youngest member-now-statistic, Adam Maier-Clayton who suicided recently in Canada. 27 year old Maier-Clayton had some significant mental health issues yet claimed to be entirely 'rational'.
According to one report, he suffered anxiety, mood disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder and tried all sorts of remedies and relief to no avail; difficulties that should not be discounted. He spent the last few months campaigning for the inclusion of mental illness within the scope of Canada's new death legislation, arguing that it is not only those who are near death suffer refractory symptoms.
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
6 posts so far.
Paul is also Vice Chair of the International Euthanasia Prevention Coalition