Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Passive Murder

I am moved. Or possibly will have a bowel movement. The upsetting thingy of the day, nay past couple of weeks, is religious freedom and state interference.

I have been following a couple of stories in recent news of parents killing their offspring.

The first was about parents not seeking medical attention for their diabetic daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann of 11 years. The District Attorney of Marathon County, Wisconsin, is considering pressing charges for manslaughter. The gruesome details are simple: the girl was in diabetic shock for several days while the parents prayed on. In fact the little girl was displaying signs of type-1 diabetes for a full month before her death. Relatives did try to intercede on the girl's behalf, while the parents refused medical treatment for their daughter, and prayed on.

This is one of these standard-strict interpretation religions whereas they substitute medicine for prayer.

This reminds me of an old "joke":

'Heavy rains are flooding a low lying area. TV reports of imminent flooding and authorities broadcast an evacuation advisory.

'Our hero decides to stay with his homestead.

'The police show up at his door and enjoin our man to evacuate, to which he replies: "it's the will of God, he will save me."

'After a fashion his first floor gets flooded, our man climbs up to the second floor. The fire department shows up in a dingy to rescue our hero. He refuses. "The will of God, he will save me!" he says.

'Hours later, as he is sitting on his roof praying for salvation, Search and Rescue arrive in a chopper. But again he refuses.

'The man drowns.

'He gets to heaven, and of course, he is very severely pissed at God.

'"God why have you forsaken me? I've been devout and yet you didn't save me!"

'God is totally exasperated, and replies: "Good grief man! I broadcast an evacuation, sent you the cops, a boat and a fucking chopper! What the hell else did you want me to do?"

Sometimes God doesn't act all that mysteriously.

Anyway back to our religious fanatics, I'm all for religious beliefs, sure. But I also figure there should be a very special kind of hell reserved for parents who torture and kill their children even passively. I do hope Wisconsin throws the book at them.

Now this all gets more interesting, in other news:

There's a 13-year old boy, on the lam with him mom, who is refusing chemo for Hodgkin's lymphoma. He believes in alternate medicines as his parents have duly taught him. The reports I've read say he has a 95% chance of making a full recovery with chemo, yet refusing this treatment on religious beliefs.

This story is a little more proactive in nature. The courts have actually ordered this child to live. Mom is now in contempt and has an arrest warrant out on her sorry ass.

Be it known that I actually find it reprehensible that courts could override a parent's determination of their child's care. The state has no business interfering in the family nucleus, but then I also feel neither does the church! Case in point, if the film Evelyn with Pierce Brosnan is anything to go on, it's one of the reasons America founded separation of church and state.

I think my views on state-control are well known at this point.

Unfortunately I have to come to the conclusion that it is sometimes necessary for the authorities to step in. While never ideal, if it's a child's last hope, it's certainly better than nothing. Keyword there: "last hope".

I fear there's no way to prevent pre-emptive strikes by the state to presumably save children that don't actually need it and thereby destroying families in the process. I am certainly torn on the subject, but with yahoos willing to murder their kids by denying modern medicines I start to praise that which I hate.

Back to our 13-year-old hero.

He's not yet allowed to drive.

He's not yet allowed to drink.

Technically he's not yet allowed to screw (depending on state laws, granted).

But apparently he's allowed decision of life and death?

He's allowed to commit suicide?

Actually, there's the rub.

Many years ago, I think it was in high-school, we received some sensitization training on teen-suicide. I don't remember much of it now, but something did stick in my brain for a long time afterwards.

It was the question on the legality of suicide.

Where I lived suicide was actually a crime. My young brain was baffled.

For one thing, if you are dead, what the hell difference does it make if it's a crime? You don't go to jail. Furthermore, if you miss yourself does that mean you get your ass hauled off to jail on an attempted crime, whereas it seemed to me a trip to the psych ward would probably be a better investment.

As I grew older I began to understand the ramifications of making suicide a crime. It meant assisted suicide becomes a crime too! This is a safeguard of sorts against taking of a life and passing it off.

In this case, some pundits are saying 'if the boy wants to kill himself… blah, blah'. Technically, the boy is not actually allowed to kill himself now is he? This would be a crime! Something seemingly snaky now starts to make sense.

Other pundits are spouting 'dying with dignity… blah, blah'. To this I respond that a 13-year-old is unequivocally incapable of making that decision. If you are 50 years old pain ridden with 10% chance of survival, then yes, the quality of the life you have left by refusing treatment should very much be your own choice.

Here is something the pundits are wont to remember: magical thought. Children, except the very gifted, and I say gifted guardedly, don't understand their own death. Indeed that very concept doesn't really sink in until the early twenties, sometimes much later. Children just don't get that they can die. Their brains just can't compute it.

They do understand sick though.

What I'm thinking is that the 13-year-old boy is making a case with his mom about not wanting to be sick, he's just not fathoming death. Mom is a true-believer and his refusing treatment, no matter the reason, plays into her believer-hand perfectly.

I've talked about the issue I have with people who can't tell the difference between what they believe and what is fact. This is a perfect representation of that conundrum.

Mom believes in faith healing. I can't fault that.

But then I believe in science.

This means that my position will be that of proven fact as can be demonstrated by scientific method or, hell dare I say it, statistics.

My logical will say this: given the child can't make an elucidated decision, then treatment must be mandated and such or such treatment is chosen because it has a track record of being valid and successful. Of course then I add upon this my own empirical evidence of my family and friends saved by the very chemo that would save this child and it's pretty clear cut to me.

But faith isn't about logic, is it?

Faith is about, well, potentially defying logic and being at peace with it. Ok I get that, I really do.

I've been thinking about this blog for several days now, and I still haven't come to a comfortable conclusion.

I don't want the state to decide in lieu of enlightened family decision.

  • But what is enlightened?

I don't think anyone should impose their religious beliefs on another, especially when it comes to decisions of life and death.

  • But logic is itself a dogma of sorts too isn't it? And therefore I am guilty of imposing it!

Leave it to the experts, the doctors, etc. to council on what's best.

  • But expertise is based on who you believe and why. Many don't trust doctors believing they're just in it for the money! Many don't trust the clergy for reasons that are just as obvious albeit more personal. So who's to say which is right?

Maybe there's a middle ground here someplace? How about traditional treatment now, and when the kid is 18 he can then decide to off himself if he feels that strongly about it.

Hmmm. I think I'm about to get vociferous again.

The bottom line is that religious zealots are all about holding God (and others) hostage aren't they?

It's about imposing your faith on your child and praying that he or she survives the imposition. But worse in my book it's making light of life on earth in favour of an afterlife, but deciding for someone else! So my question is: how do you hold faith accountable?

The word belief was chosen carefully in the above statements. Belief is interpretation of fact, which is based on one's own experience…


"Good grief man! I send you scientific evidence, send you doctors, chemo and fucking logic! What the hell else do you want me to do?"