Belgium’s culture of death makes one try to imagine a world without Helen Keller

I think most of us found extremely disturbing the story out of Belgium telling about twin brothers in their 40s who were born deaf and were starting to go blind, and who found a doctor willing to legally euthanize them.  They weren’t sick and they weren’t suffering physically.  They just feared a future that added blindness to deafness.

I’m sympathetic to their concerns.  To be locked into your head like that must be very frightening.  But to make it a legitimate cause for government sanctioned death?  It’s an appalling thought.

I can see a very easy trajectory here.  It starts with people asking the government for permission to kill themselves.  The government grants that permission.  A few years of this, and you end with a government that starts thinking “Hey, there are some people who want this, so maybe others do and just aren’t speaking up, or don’t really know what they want.  Anyway, people who are suffering from these disabilities place an economic burden on society.  Let’s just make death automatic.”

Keep in mind that this trajectory is how the Nazis started their killing spree.  During the 1930s, “for the good of individuals and society,” they started euthanizing the unfit, whether they were mentally or physically disabled.

In my family, this has never been an abstract issue.  I had two relatives, one Jewish and one Christian, both of whom the Nazis “euthanized” in the 1930s because of mental health issues (or, in the case of the Christian, it might have been because he was gay — my mother doesn’t remember, as she was a young child at the time).  As we know, having discovered the institutionalized murder is easy, the Nazis expanded the scope, and begin killing Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, “deviants,” etc., while “merely” enslaving all sorts of other, less-than-worthy (in Nazi eyes) people.

But to get back to those twin brothers.  James Thunder reminds us that Helen Keller, at very young age, became both deaf and blind.  Thanks to her partnership with the amazing Annie Sullivan, those women became two of the most inspirational figures in the 20th century.  They were a triumph of patience, love, loyalty, faith, commitment, intelligence, and humanity.  It’s unnerving to think that, if Helen Keller lived in modern Belgium, and had a bad patch in her life, the government would quite cheerfully have euthanized her.

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  • Libby

    See: Liverpool Care Pathway. The doctors don’t even always inform the patients or their family that they’ve been put on it.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Secular liberalism is a materialistic death cult.
    It always starts with high ideals, until people come along and threaten their ideal of a perfect utopia.
    That  includes minorities, people with disabilities, people who are no longer economically productive or people that are just a bother. Unfortunately, once they start killing some, they start getting comfortable with killing others. It always begins with killing out of the public eye (abortion). The appearance of sonograms rendered the killing of babies more difficult.
    In our society, we have gone from shrugging off the murder of unborn children sight-unseen (because they would be a bother), to killing old people (too expensive and, besides, they no longer contribute economically to society), to killing newborn babies and the infirm. Eventually, once they are comfortable with the new normal, they will graduate to killing unwanted minority groups. 
    In the meantime, I will hold onto my guns, thank you very much! 

  • Libby

    And Britain’s NHS doesn’t just think that the old are disposable, they’re also accused of putting DNR notices on patients with learning disabilities:

  • Charles Martel

    In the interest of fairness and giving the underdog a fighting chance–both things that American culture holds in high esteem, I propose that old people who will be condemned to death under Obamacare be given a trident, net, or long spear they can use against the doctor who gives the death order.

    The two then face off. The doctor may choose from among the same weapons. He/she may also choose to be accompanied by an unarmed nurse or lawyer who can act to trip or flummox the elder.

    If the elder successfully defends himself, either by killing the prescribing doctor or inflicting a massive wound on her/him, the elder is automatically entitled to an extra $1 million in medical care.

    If the elder quickly caves on account of feebleness, the doctor’s death prescription is automatically vindicated and the elder’s corpse is set on a curbside for pickup.

    To make this really effective, I suggest we stage these end-of-life confrontations in some sort of arena. High school football fields or gymnasiums would be most appropriate since it would teach American youths how due process and medical expertise can work so very well hand in hand.

  • lee

    I cannot begin to express my anger over this. These twins are going to die because of depression. Not like they don’t have a reason to be depressed, but it is because of their depression that they want to die. Depression is an illness, and has varying degrees of debilitation, but it is very treatable.
    Helen Keller had a very full life. She did not have the visual memories these two will have. But she was certainly, (once freed by Annie Sullivan) NOT locked in her head–she had ways of communicating with people. She had ways of expressing herself.
    I used to follow the blog of a young man who, having been a very active athlete, found himself a quadriplegic as the result of a skiing accident. I found him inspirational–I know he went through his ups and downs, but he still had such a zest for life. The friend I mentioned in another comment section–paralyzed as the result of a gunshot wound–is a farmer, a motivational speaker, a great neighbor, and a wonderful husband and father. I am sure he was depressed after he was wounded, but he didn’t let it ruin his life–he made sure he continued (and still continues) to live life to the fullest.
    Everyone gets down in their lives at some point. Sometimes it is because of something serious–such as the loss of hearing, or because of a severely debilitating life-changing injury; sometimes it is just… because… One person’s depression is no less severe because of what led to it. The main thing is that IT GET TREATED.
    I always felt that my father’s death had more to do with his depression. Not that he would have lived much longer, (he might have lived a little longer), but he would have had a much better quality of life. He was dying, for certain. He had ideopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is extremely debilitating. Without a lung transplant, it is a death sentence. He was diagnosed at age 79. At the time, he was VERY active, and very athletic. He was in great shape–and not just for a 79 year old man. He did very well for the first four years after he was diagnosed. But when the disease started really affecting him, he sunk into a depression, for which his idiot pulmonologist did not refer him for treatment. My father got NO counseling, no antidepressants. Pretty much was told, “Yeah. Your life sucks, you’re gonna die.” When we tried to talk to his doctor after my dad said, “If I had the courage, I would just kill myself,” his doctor’s response was that he could not help with euthanasia! What WE WANTED was for someone to treat his depression!!!!  Then when his oldest friend died, my dad just gave up. He went downhill fast…
    Depression is a terrible thing, and it can make life feel terrible. It can kill–either through suicide, or just by letting disease have its way. But for doctors to help depression along!!!  What happened to “First, do no harm”?

  • Danny Lemieux

    Oh, quit carping everyone. If we are going to start offing the young, elderly and infirm for economic reasons, let’s turn it into clean, joyous family fun.  
    Here’s an idea: does anyone remember this scene from Logan’s Run?
    We could even sell tickets and television rights to help balance the budget.

  • Michael Adams

    Hammer and Danny, y’aqll are so bad!  I should be ashamed of myself for laughing so hard. Ungh.  I’m trying to get some shame. Damn! It’s just not working.

  • Ymarsakar

    I am fairly confident that in 6 months of 12 hour training per day, I can get anyone above the age of 70 to be able to deliver lethal force, if not efficient, then at least in a practical manner.
    Whether they want to use that to kill themselves or the bureaucrats, is up to them.