I’ve been thinking about death again. I wrote previously how our culture has become separated from death, both of people and of food animals, and our separation is interesting when you consider the violence level of our computer games or the body count in popular movies. This time, I’m going to focus on subjects of mortality other than the death of President Reagan and the varied reactions to it.
On September 7, 2004, a milestone was reached in Iraq when three solders died in fighting around Baghdad, and a fourth soldier died from wounds received the previous day. This brought the total number of Americans who have died in Iraq past 1,000 — three-quarters of these deaths related to combat. Every death is a tragedy, even deaths of villains such as Odai and Qusai Hussein — more so with the deaths of these brave American husbands and fathers, mothers and wives. Each death is a tragedy because the opportunity to do good and benefit others is now gone. This is why, while I believe in and support the death penalty, I do not believe it should be rushed into, nor should it be something we exult in, even when it happens to such sorry excuses as the Hussein brothers.
StrategyPage.com has a large list of military-related images and articles. Most images are related to the current American activities in Iraq, and because the military’s primary job is to kill people and break things, there are many images of death and destruction. WARNING: The following three links show graphic scenes of death. There is a video of an F-16 dropping a bomb in the middle of hostile Iraqis in Fallujah, or an attack helicopter engaging three insurgents with 30mm cannon fire, or a lone Iraqi being shot before he could fire his RPG at American troops. The first two are black and white, but the last is in color. I would guess the camera was 50 feet away from the Iraqi as he was shot. The last clip must have been recorded off a Spanish-language news channel because the announcer says, “La muerte en directo se han convertido en un imagen por te vean allí. Esto ocurrido en el …” This translates approximately to, “This actual death has been caught in this live image. This occurred in the…” or that general idea.
This last clip is the most dramatic image of death, and the news station probably used it as an example of how evil the American troops are to slay this poor innocent Iraqi. As much as I am saddened when people die, I can’t blame the American troops for shooting at a man who was preparing to attack and kill them. Nor can I condemn the bombing or shooting of the people in the first two videos. If you rise up armed against U.S. troops, your overall life expectancy is dramatically shortened. Consider it a law of nature, if you will. Speaking of laws, Niven’s First Law states, “Never throw shit at an armed man.” This should be translated, printed up and dropped as leaflets all over Baghdad. The corollary to this law states, “Never stand next to someone who is throwing shit at an armed man.” This corollary should be handed out to every news agency which sends its people into a war zone. It could possibly save some lives, although it is too late for Mazen Tumeisi. Tumeisi, a Palestinian journalist, died as he was filming near a burning Bradley vehicle in Baghdad as an American helicopter fired rockets on the vehicle. It is pretty standard for the military to destroy a disabled vehicle if the enemy might loot it. The last thing the military needs is for its own ordnance to be used against the troops. I have heard various media people rage about how they are fired on and sometimes killed while reporting the news. News Flash: when reporting from a war zone, standing right next to the action is dumb.
Speaking of dumb, I come to my final topic of death: euthanasia. Wesley J. Smith wrote in the Daily Standard, “In the Netherlands, 31 percent of pediatricians have killed infants. A fifth of these killings were done without the “consent” of parents. Going Dutch has never been so horrible”:
First, Dutch euthanasia advocates said that patient killing will be limited to the competent, terminally ill who ask for it. Then, when doctors began euthanizing patients who clearly were not terminally ill, sweat not, they soothed: medicalized killing will be limited to competent people with incurable illnesses or disabilities. Then, when doctors began killing patients who were depressed but not physically ill, not to worry, they told us: only competent depressed people whose desire to commit suicide is “rational” will have their deaths facilitated. Then, when doctors began killing incompetent people, such as those with Alzheimer’s, it’s all under control, they crooned: non-voluntary killing will be limited to patients who would have asked for it if they were competent.
And now they want to euthanize children.
In the Netherlands, Groningen University Hospital has decided its doctors will euthanize children under the age of 12, if doctors believe their suffering is intolerable or if they have an incurable illness. But what does that mean? In many cases, as occurs now with adults, it will become an excuse not to provide proper pain control for children who are dying of potentially agonizing maladies such as cancer, and doing away with them instead. As for those deemed “incurable”–this term is merely a euphemism for killing babies and children who are seriously disabled.
Jim Quinn, a talk show host from Pittsburgh, sums up the attitude that leads to this sort of “euthanasia”:
I have identified the basic, fundamental difference between the liberal cultural Marxist and the conservative American, and the difference is this: for the liberal every new life is a burden, another person to be educated by the State, cared for by the State, fed by the State, clothed by the State, and housed by the State. For every conservative out there a new life is a gift, another source of potential genius, another possible solution to the human condition.
“Why didn’t you send us a cure for AIDS, God?!?”
“I DID, BUT YOU ABORTED HIM.”