Sunday, March 06, 2011

Defending The Defenceless From The Indefensible

Buckle up. I'm not in a good mood.
Earlier today, I heard the most disgraceful comment I can recall hearing on a British television show. The occasion was a show called 'The Big Questions', the speaker an individual named Richard D. North. Mr. North was introduced as a writer and broadcaster, but he also has a blog. I had never heard of him before today, but having heard him I will be taking a very keen interest in his output in the future.
In the context of a debate entitled 'Is it right to save very premature babies?', Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, said that 'society has a right to open up a very tough discussion on what is frankly eugenics'. Although the whole debate is worth watching, if only for its car crash quality and to marvel at the ignorance of some of the participants, and I will come to the other participants shortly, his particularly ugly contribution to this discussion can be seen between 09.44 and 11.04.
Writing later, on his blog, Mr. North stated the following;
"I had an outing on BBC1′s “Big Questions” and said a fair proportion of what I ought to have done, but on the issue of extremely premature babies I thought I missed an important note or two…
A doctor with a huge amount of experience on the subject (and a film-maker who had included her in a documentary to be shown this Wednesday) gave us the salient facts. Extremely pre-matures
(sic) babies have dreadful life prospects, with perhaps 1 in a 100 (sic)beating the odds. The parents of a young child who was born very prematurely said she was doing much better than anyone expected.
Then the discussion got rather stuck on the issue of how inadequate was the funding of care for the disabled once they reach 18. This implied that there was a sum of money that might relieve the situation.
I have nothing to add as to fact or direct experience, but I did say (what is pretty obvious) that society has an interest in the issue because taxpayers pick up so much of the bill. I should have focussed at least as much on the idea that society has an interest because we (the law, etc) can’t stand aside if there is an issue of aggressive medical intervention in effect being and producing torture.
This is especially true if the parents of babies insist on their right to decide the babies’ fate.
What I should have said is that success stories (premature babies who do well) do not make the case for intervention. Society could not allow a hundred babies to suffer because statistics suggested that amongst them one or two would thrive."
My opinion on this proposition is informed by my experience of being both disabled and the parent of a very premature baby, unlike, and by his own admission, any on this subject which might be held by Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster. No matter what he might write on his blog afterwards, Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, appears to be a right-winger of such primitive views that he would prefer those he thinks might cost him money to be exterminated, for no other word appropriately describes the withdrawal of care from the very vulnerable; it might also be called neglecting someone to death. He seems to be a barbarian; a suitably modern, cost-conscious barbarian to be sure, but a barbarian nonetheless. Like all right-wing barbarians, he seems to be desperate to lash out at someone; so desperate that he seems willing to lower the British right's already low bar, and take a step down from trying to punish and hurt their neighbours' children by demanding they be birched and sent to juvenile detention, to demanding that they be killed in their cots.
You will see from his appearance that Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, is an old man. It is not unknown for the some of the old to hate the young for no reason other than what they have is what the old have already spent. Perhaps he has succumbed to one of old age's hazards, mere wickedness. If that is the case with Mr. North, it could be that his is of a type recognisable to anyone who has read 'The Everlasting Man'; that sheer wickedness that endeavours to destroy children, and celebrates its efforts. Then again, perhaps hours spent holding forth to himself on the PC, setting the world to rights and, in his head, making everyone in it bend to his will, have finally caught up with him, and he has at last succumbed to the bloggers' disease - megalomania.
Megalomania is a condition to which those who control information put out in front of the public can be prone. In his book 'Hidden Agendas', John Pilger recorded how Cecil King, of whom he seemed quite fond, succumbed to it by taking over the front page of the 'Daily Mirror' and publishing an article of his own demanding that Parliament be replaced by a government of businessmen. King was dismissed the following day. I have actually seen what megalomania can do to other bloggers with my own eyes. There was a blogger at Mick Fealty's 'Political Innovation Scotland' event last November with a roaring case - and it was neither David Farrer nor Shuggy, both of whom are old school gentlemen. The blogger in question sought to dominate every discussion in which they were involved, constantly tried to turn every discussion round to their own enthusiasms, at one point even saying they had switched party allegiances in order to ensure their own agenda gets advanced; in my opinion, their megalomania bordered on the comical. Their case was so extreme that they had even forgotten that you can't really speak to someone in the flesh the way you might want to speak about them on your blog, at one point referring to another participant as a 'totalitarian'. The correct riposte to such a remark would have been to remind them of the need for good manners, but it's doubtful whether even that simple call to common civility would have been heeded. It would probably have taken a detachment of French Foreign Legionnaires of at least battalion strength to keep that character under control. So perverse did they seem that they might even take that observation as a compliment.
Perhaps bloggers risk megalomania in pursuit of their leisure the way those who play football for their leisure risk breaking their legs, or those who play rugby risk breaking their necks. Anyway, when it catches you it's an unpleasant sight for everyone else, almost as unpleasant as a very premature baby might seem to Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster.
A number of thoughts occurred to me during this debate, not the least of which was the need to hurl expletives at the television set; after all, I was listening to the case for the eugenic destruction of vulnerable life being advanced by a man who has since admitted he has no experience of the situation in which he wishes to see it done. However, in no particular order, the other thoughts were roughly as follows.
A kite worthy of Khalid Hosseini was being flown. In Scotland, the life of Margo MacDonald's End of Life (Scotland) Bill has ended, subjected to a mercy killing by the Scottish Parliament. Now that the public have been informed of the enthusiasm some in our Establishment seem to feel for getting rid of Grandma because she's perceived to be a burden, and have expressed their revulsion at that view, elements in the Establishment have now transferred their morbid affections to Junior, lying there in his incubator. The culture of death never stops seeking new victims. It is pitiless. It is remorseless. It is, however, the apogee of liberalism.
Others will have put this point better than me, but since the earliest days of the French Revolution it has been obvious that liberalism and Christianity are incompatible. The Montagnards knew this, which is why they pursued a policy of de-Christianising France. This is not to detract from some of the social achievements of liberals; nobody in their right mind wants to re-criminalise homosexuality, or to make legal bastards of the children of civil marriages, as Victor Emmanuel did in Sardinia in 1815. Such pitilessness, such lack of regard for others, is the hallmark of every de Maistreian 'throne and altar' mob that Europe's ever seen. However, liberalism is precisely the same. Just as the 'throne and altar' brigade won't leave you and yours in peace, liberalism won't leave you alone either. It demands that you make a choice between faith and reason, when, to my mind, the two are perfectly compatible with each other in their own context. However, the tyranny of the reasonable demands that you must take sides, the only reasonable view being the one they are prepared to accept, to the extent that we now hold debates on whether the best way to relieve suffering is to kill, which Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, would seek to broaden into killing to relieve possible future suffering, and maybe saving him a bob or two into the bargain. These are the economics of Moloch at their bloodiest.
Although this proposition is bound to fail, bound never to become law, the opening of debate on this matter would in itself be the start down the most slippery of slopes, for it would inevitably open up debate upon whether premature children should be able to receive treatment later on in life. My boy was born eight weeks early. He always breathed on his own, thank God, but needed to be tube-fed for three weeks, because babies feed themselves by sucking, they learn this of their own accord in the womb at thirty-five weeks, and he was born at thirty-two. Now, God forbid, what might happen should he need medical treatment for something else later in life? Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, will never be given the sanction to stick a needle in his arm; but will the terms of the debate he says we all must have (but in reality is one which only he and a very small group of others want to have) on the viability of premature babies, and the cost of caring for them, include their prioritisation for medical treatment later in life? My boy's going to be developmentally behind until he's four or five - is he going to be put to the back of the queue for anything else, penalised because a neo-natal nurse once had to put tubes into his stomach?
And who's going to be given the power to draw the line to determine just when a premature baby should be considered 'very premature', a line being on the wrong side of which could place you in mortal peril? It's never going to be three weeks, if only because Florence Rose Endellion Cameron was born three weeks early. Eight weeks is considerably earlier, and therefore, in my opinion, considerably riskier.
And what is a child to be penalised for? I am sure that Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, would abhor the cost to himself of providing spectacles for my son, should they ever be required, but precisely what medical conditions would he include in his hard-hitting, tough-talking debate on the viability of the premature? Whatever they might be, I'm sure they won't include extropia; the condition from which Lady Louise Windsor suffers. So what does he plan to penalise children for?
But enough of Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, pro loco et tempore. Dr. Daphne Austin, Consultant in Public Health, also spoke in support of the proposition. Two things were notable about her contributions. The first is that she is a consultant in Public Health, not a paediatrician. In the United Kingdom, a consultant in Public Health might be someone who lives their professional life with a constant feeling of failure; after all, the British adamantly refuse to stop smoking, to drink less alcohol, to have less promiscuous sex, and to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables of day. We are, after all, good liberals, and do what we want, when we want, where we want, and how we want. We know no better, for that is how our betters have told us we should behave. But if your game is public health, you can't really treat people when they don't want to play ball. Do I have the wrong end of the stick, or is that not public health in a nutshell?
That she is not a paediatrician was notable. Perhaps some paediatricians hold the same views she does; on the other hand, working as they do with the health system's most vulnerable patients, perhaps they don't. Perhaps they find her views revolting. Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, might consider the revulsion which a paediatrician feels at the suggestion that some of their patients be eugenically eliminated to be rent-seeking. However, I imagine that they might feel genuinely revolted at the thought, if only because the ones I've met seem keenly aware of what they can and can't do to help their patients. This might be one of the reasons why they seem so keen on the simple but very effective treatment system called 'Kangaroo Care', the benefits of which were recently, and very publicly, demonstrated by a fearless, and dauntless, tigress of a mother named Kate Ogg; and may God bless her and her family. It would be interesting to know what Kate makes of the views of Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster. After all, she didn't give up on her boy when Richard D. North might think she should have. That maybe says more about Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, than Kate Ogg, The Queen of Kangaroo Care.
Of course, I've seen Kangaroo Care working on my own son, so I am not an unbiased spectator. No doubt that lack of impartiality would disqualify from me from participating in any debate on the care of premature babies held at the instance of Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster. That the weak and the sick must be considerate of the views of the powerful and the healthy is one of democracy's oddities.
However, at some point Dr. Daphne Austin, Consultant in Public Health, used the term 'spectrum of disabilities', if memory serves in the context of how much money premature babies might cost in the years to come. I have a story for her.
One Sunday afternoon while my boy was in hospital, a new baby was brought into his ward. Mum was shattered, and Dad, a nice big bloke, was dancing on coals. They mentioned that the wee one had been conceived through IVF.
Now, obviously, I wish that family well, and hope that the wee one's coming on; but is there a link between conception via IVF and prematurity? I might be being unreasonable, but I would have thought that that might be a more fruitful line of research for Dr. Daphne Austin, Consultant in Public Health, to engage in rather than suggesting doing anything that might put the lives of the patients in her paediatric brethrens' care at risk. Of course, the possibility that a link exists between IVF and prematurity would also be excluded from the terms of any debate on the care of premature babies held at the instance of Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, if only because he seems to be interested in finding an economic justification for infanticide. However, debate upon such a link would expose a Gordian Knot of competing rights to be untangled, the only reasonable conclusion to which would be that someone would be required to determine not only the degree of priority between a mother's right to have a child and a doctor's right to kill it, but also which of the costs attached to each right is the more reasonable to incur.
For example, if a parent has received IVF treatment on the NHS, at a cost of many thousands of pounds, it makes no sense for any premature child born as a result to be denied treatment - having helped create a life, one would think that the doctors would be obliged to save it (although Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, might disagree, on the basis that doing so would be throwing good money after bad). If IVF children are more likely to be premature, we would find ourselves in the position of the same children being conceived at greater than usual expense, and also requiring a level of neo-natal care only capable of being provided at greater than usual expense. Would that mean that a saving in the cost of caring for premature babies could be found in paring back the availability of IVF? Or, in my view the far more likely outcome, would it mean that naturally conceived premature babies would be prioritised behind IVF prems in the perpetual struggle for affordable neo-natal health care, if only because we must celebrate and be seen to celebrate the wonders of IVF, and that IVF must be seen to be a success at all times and under all circumstances?
I have another story for Dr. Daphne Austin, Consultant in Public Health. It's Day 27 - Discharge Day! My son is going to be spending his first night in his own home, a big deal for any parent of a prem, the pram's been delivered, the car seat's been bought. A Blue Badge parking space has even been secured.
They hand you the discharge papers. On the front page, it says that premature children run an elevated risk of cot death.
That sticks the wind right up you, to the extent that you can't sleep that night.
If anyone disbelieves that premature children run an elevated risk of cot death, they should read the tragic story of wee Kai Curran, God rest his soul, and weep for those bits of the NHS that didn't work as well for him as the bits that enabled him to go to his own home. If Dr. Daphne Austin, Consultant in Public Health, and Richard D. North, writer and broadcaster, wish to hold a debate on the medical termination of very premature babies' lives, they should at least do so in the knowledge that they're talking about killing people with a higher than normal mortality rate. It seems to me that to seek the deaths of the particularly weak is a very strange way to express your humanity.
The third person seeking to advance the proposition was a film-maker named Adam Wishart, of whose views I didn't hear much, having zoned out after hearing the words 'film-maker'. Adam Wishart, film-maker, has a documentary of some kind on this subject being broadcast on BBC2 in the near future. How one misses the days when documentaries confined themselves to documenting Roman ruins and copulating frogs, and their makers didn't seem to wish to make a living from other people's suffering.
That's the opposition, folks. If this is the best that those who wish to terminate the lives of the most vulnerable have to say, if this is indicative of the depth and quality of their arguments, one can only say - Bring it on.

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Blogger Julie said...

We're living in venal times, Martin. Keep your chin up - we're winning the battle over euthanasia in Scotland. Wishing you, your wife and the wee one all the best.

08 March, 2011 00:45  
Blogger Martin said...

Thanks, Julie. That's very much appreciated.

08 March, 2011 11:28  
Blogger PJMULVEY said...

Martin....thanks for your comments on my page....we are in total agreement.

Pope John Paul II accurately depicted the conflicts as the Culture of Life Vs. Culture of Death. The latter culture is atheistic and secular and views all decisions on a utilitarian basis. Just look at the nonsense going on in the USA. The same people who object to a major multi-billion project due to the possible discomfort of a subspecies of beetle, will be the biggest supporters of euthanasia, abortion or subject the premature infant or elderly to a cost benefit matrix. Why? They view a beetle more important than a human being...and they rate humans according to 'their' criteria.

This nonsense will continue unabated as long as schools teach this type of selective ethics based on a variant of Darwinian theory. As I have written in the past, I have spent Sunday evenings for 10 years deprogramming my older children with this type of evil and illogical thinking.

Only when society once more turns back to Christ will we ever see change. It appears bleak at the moment but the contradictions of the opposition are slowly being exposed as systematic selective genocide (of the 'unfit') in the guise of compassion...and cost savings. God bless you, your little valiant boy and wife.

23 March, 2011 23:50  

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