Scott Adams Might Want to Kill You

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Kazzy

One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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  1. We don’t know as much as we might like about how and when these decisions were made. The one thing we do know is that — without breaking the law — Adams and his dad don’t get to choose any course of action other than the one that they are following right now.

    If a decision of this type had been made freely and in advance, I would very strongly defend it. Even now, I think it still should be a choice that remains open, despite Adams being scared and angry. He may not be the best decisionmaker right now, but someone who never knew him and who decided for him years ago must surely be worse.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      He may not be the best decisionmaker right now, but someone who never knew him and who decided for him years ago must surely be worse.

      Blunt question: if someone decides, in apparent good physical health, that they want to kill themselves… does not also follow from this logic that we should allow them to do so?Report

  2. Avatar NewDealer says:

    This has been a discussed issue in US Healthcare for years and years seemingly without end. Americans spend more money on healthcare during their last years of their life as compared to any other time usually.

    I’m generally sympathetic to the idea of physician-assisted suicide. However, the case presented above is an easy one.

    A few months ago I had dinner with an 85 year old woman. Mentally, she is sharp as a tack and present and alert and lively. Physically, she seems okay but will tell you about stuff that probably has kept her alive or at least free of amputation. She’s had vein or artery replacement or some such.
    Should she not have been given these surgeries?Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to NewDealer says:

      Should she not have been given these surgeries?

      Was she held down and given the surgeries against her will? If so, then no, she should not have been given them; otherwise, she wanted or at least consented to them, and so should have been given them.

      A more relevant question – did she at any point desire or request assistance in committing suicide, and find it unavailable? Because if she didn’t want the help, then it would have been homicide.

      I mean, we could argue about the merits of arbitrary homicide against the elderly, but we may have a hard time finding anyone to argue the pro side.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Many years ago my mom was in her final days with cancer. The doc politely asked if i wanted her to have as much morphine as she safely handle so that she wouldn’t be in pain. Of course i said yes. What other option was there, she wasn’t coherent, so she could have been incoherent, somewhat awake and in pain or asleep and not in pain. She died a couple days later.

    Just to be pissy i’ll add one of the horrible terrible no good parts of the ACA that was originally in but was taken out due to various ravings was paying for docs to talk to patients about end of life care and how they wanted to be treated. Of course that was death something and O was going to personally pull the plug on grandma so it had to go.

    I’m all for assisted suicide but there need to be some protections built in. Best case is the patient herself writes out exactly what they do and don’t want ahead of time. There likely needs to be some sort of fast paced court to hear disputes between family members if there is a disagreement on what to do.Report

  4. It’s good to know that, of all the perils the world holds, I do not appear to be in any personal danger from Mr. Adams.Report

  5. Avatar Glyph says:

    I think most people here will generally take the tack that if the patient made the decision himself, compos mentis, then it should be allowed; and even if it’s next-of-kin making the decision, then while some safeguards need to be in place to prevent inheritors from speeding up the inheritance process, it still should be an option.

    What I find more grey is the idea of compos mentis. What do we do about people who aren’t physically near death, yet want to die anyway? Do we help them? Stop them (perhaps via institutionalization or medication), even if just temporarily?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendy_O._Williams#Death

    I don’t believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time. I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have. For me, much of the world makes no sense, but my feelings about what I am doing ring loud and clear to an inner ear and a place where there is no self, only calm.

    Was she compos mentis? She’d previously attempted suicide in 1993 (but changed her mind) and 1997 (and failed). Should a doctor have assisted her in achieving some less-violent death?

    Should she have been forcibly restrained from doing it, as non-compos mentis, and in the hopes that a solution might eventually be found to her psychic pain?Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Glyph says:

      I don’t think Mentos: The Freshmaker!!!!, really want to be all that involved in assisted suicide. Although their commercials could drive someone to wanting to off themselves.Report

  6. Avatar Rod says:

    Yeah, this is something my siblings and I will be facing sooner rather than later. Mom’s 95 and in a nursing home. Knock on wood, she’s still pretty good mentally and physically, at least for 95, although her memory isn’t what it used to be.

    I can only hope that when the end comes it’s a merciful heart attack in her sleep. I’ll never be able to forget what her mother’s last weeks were like. Her mind went before her body and… it wasn’t pretty.

    I’ve never understood why a religion, that has as a major tenet that you go to meet Jesus when you die, is so insistent on dragging out the pain as long as possible.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The attitudes toward pain management in this culture are attitudes that I absolutely do not understand.Report

  8. Avatar Patrick says:

    Yet, I find his argument a compelling one in large part because he has an experience that I do not and, thus, seems better qualified to comment on it than I.

    I do, but I’m not certain that gives me a particular qualification.

    Perhaps he is not best positioned to do so, but better than most?

    This is debatable either way.

    End-of-life decision-making is susceptible to a lot of local laws, so it’s not clear to me exactly what Scott’s dad’s situation *was*.

    Separately from that, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on physician-assisted suicide.

    I’m generally of the opinion that I would not want to participate, if I were a physician, nor would I want to ask a physician to participate, if I were the subject in question, because I would not want to deal with the ethical implications nor ask someone else to do so.

    (May I forever be excused from circumstances where I would feel that suicide is an option. Barring that, I expect I’d try jumping out of a plane?)

    I have issues with suicide on both ends; I’ve seen someone die after a long illness where it could be considered pretty likely that whatever “they” is there departed well before the physical shell did, and the transition itself was horrifyingly long… and I’ve been exposed to someone killing themselves due to another illness that wasn’t terminal. Both of those things are fraught with danger if you try to encode either one of them in the law, for basically opposite reasons.

    If you are opposed to the practice, how would you respond to Adams?

    Probably most people who are opposed to the practice who would feel that it was their place to respond to Adams are… um… not nice people.

    If you are in favor of the practice, would you hold Adams’ piece up as Exhibit A in the fight?

    No, simply because I don’t think that the raw emotions involved in end-of-life decisions are particularly informative to the public policy debate over how they ought to be dealt with.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Patrick says:

      Adams in general is a bit of bomb thrower when talking about serious things. That combined with his raw emotion doesn’t really lend itself to working out the very many issues that are embedded in this discussion.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to greginak says:

        Honestly, it reminds me quite a bit of the whole “we need to make torture legal so that our operatives don’t feel like they’ll get in trouble and have to defend themselves and their behavior in a court of law” argument.

        In one sense, “I’m not willing to buck/challenge/oppose the system over this” (for whatever this we’re talking about) tells me something about how much you value your objection to the this. It’s very difficult for me to read this charitably. I admit that this is a fault of mine, and I have to get it out of the way every time these sorts of topics come up.

        Because if your raw emotion isn’t important enough for you to say, “hang the law, I’m doing what’s right”, then I’m not sure why I should particularly care about your raw emotion response. You might have a bunch of other great arguments and I’m sure that we can talk about those and yadda yadda.

        This makes me kind of a robot, I guess.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to greginak says:

        I dunno. This is what I was thinking after reading Jason’s post about the fake over 50 driving retest law: not disobeying the law only shows that your disagreement with the law does not outweigh your desire to avoid the consequences of disobeying it. Not wanting to face the consequences of disobeying murder laws certainly does not necessarily say that a person doesn’t feel very strongly about the wrongness of a particular application of those laws.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to greginak says:

        @patrick I think the torture thing only works because the guy in question believes there’s a ticking time bomb and already has a brown person strapped to a chair.

        In this situation, I’d expect Adams to take steps to end his father’s life. But those would probably be legal steps, rather than, say, literally killing his father. And I assume he did take those steps and was thwarted.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to greginak says:

        @chris

        Not wanting to face the consequences of disobeying murder laws certainly does not necessarily say that a person doesn’t feel very strongly about the wrongness of a particular application of those laws.

        You can feel all the strongly you want, so can he. I’m not trying to tell anybody how they ought to feel about something or even admitting I have grounds to have an opinion about how they should or shouldn’t feel about the something.

        I’m just not sure how much I’m supposed to care. Acting… I know how much I’m supposed to care about acting. Feeling is something else.

        I did mention that this is largely my problem, right?

        @alan-scott

        And I assume he did take those steps and was thwarted.

        Probably. And I don’t know enough about the case to know anything for sure.

        But I know that it’s actually surprisingly easy to kill yourself, if that’s what you actually want to accomplish. If you don’t accomplish this before your mind is 98% gone, I’m not sure how much you actually wanted to commit suicide, and I’m pretty sure that if you didn’t write anything down about this… well, if your mind is 98% g\one and someone says, “He would have wanted to die” I’m really inclined to say, “Then he would have written down something to that effect”.

        And, also, if your mind is 98% gone, I’m pretty sure you don’t care any more about your condition in any meaningful way, so if there’s a living Hell going on, Scott’s going through it, not his dad. Which isn’t to diminish what Scott’s going through, but it does shore as hell shootin’ mean I really ought to be a damn sight leery about lettin’ Scott decide anything on behalf of the old man.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to greginak says:

        I don’t think you’re necessarily supposed to care about how strongly Adams feels. I mean, if more people feel this strongly about the issue, it might make you take a step back and look at the issue to figure out why they do, but the only real point of discussing Adams’ feelings about the issue is to highlight the issue itself. And the issue is the feelings, or more specifically the suffering, of the dying. Those you should probably care about.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to greginak says:

        And the issue is the feelings, or more specifically the suffering, of the dying. Those you should probably care about.

        Oh, sure.

        But the suffering of the dying is something we all have to look forward to, at some point or the other, for some duration or the other.

        I’m really, really, really certain that this is such a profoundly personal experience that it’s really a really, really, really bad idea for me to get involved in how you deal with the experience unless it’s really, really, really necessary.

        Seriously, someone’s choice not to make this sort of thing clear in a meaningful way is shoving off all sorts of stuff on a bunch of other people. It’s bad enough when those “other people” are their spouses. Hauling all of the rest of us into it is going to lead to one of two outcomes:

        (1) We kill someone who doesn’t actually want to die
        (2) We keep someone alive who doesn’t want to live

        Both of these things are fucking horrible things. I’d be much happier if we didn’t put that on the rest of society.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to greginak says:

        Yeah, I can understand that, but that’s where we are now, too: society has chosen that the dying don’t really get a choice, particularly in the case where they can make a decision but are physically incapable of carrying it out on their own, which is where so many of us will end up.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to greginak says:

        Oh, I get that, which is why I wrote this comment.

        Society should err on the side of intervention, barring explicit instructions otherwise. Your spouse can serve as a proxy, nobody else.

        Barring explicit instructions, we’re asking doctors to decide that it might be okay to accidentally kill (or not preserve) someone who doesn’t want to die, which seems to be a much greater potential ill than accidentally keep someone alive, particularly if they’re in a vegetative state (it might be a waste of money, but that’s a lesser problem than the justice one in this particular incidence).

        And we really should encourage people to fill this paperwork out… to the extent that maybe you have to fill one out (even if it’s a default page) when you get your license or something.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to greginak says:

        Ah yes, sorry, I hadn’t seen that one.

        I think a living will should be a basic piece of medical care for anyone who’s being treated for a life-threatening condition, and maybe for everyone period. And I think that one of the decisions one should be able to either make or delegate to a proxy (should one be needed) within a living will is whether to die — not merely whether to be removed from life support, but whether to be assisted in dying by a physician — and under what circumstances (within limits, obviously).

        Also, this is probably opening up a can of worms that doesn’t need to be opened, but I think higher brain death is death, which colors the way I think permanent vegetative states should be treated. One of my first blog debates was on the topic, with the incredibly bright and interesting Brandon of the philosophy and religion blog Siris (Brandon’s an early modern philosophy scholar, specializing in Hume, and a devout Catholic, so we’re pretty much polar opposites intellectually, but he’s one of the people I most respect in the blogosphere):

        http://mixingmemory.blogspot.com/2005/03/enough-with-schiavo-already.html

        http://mixingmemory.blogspot.com/2005/03/higher-brain-death-and-personhood.html

        http://mixingmemory.blogspot.com/2005/04/higher-brain-death-and-personhood.html

        http://mixingmemory.blogspot.com/2005/04/higher-brain-death-and-personhood-iii.html

        I definitely recommend checking out Brandon’s posts/comments in particular, if you’re interested in the subject. Looking back, I think he came out better in that debate. My thinking has changed a bit since then, but I still think higher brain death is death. I’d write a more up-to-date post on it, but it’s a really depressing topic that gets people pretty riled (it has implications for all sorts of issues that people are passionate about, particularly abortion). Better to write one on vaccines and Tylenol.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to greginak says:

        I think higher brain death is death, which colors the way I think permanent vegetative states should be treated.

        Me too.

        But I also think that I don’t necessarily have the grounds to tell anybody else that they’re dead if they don’t think that they are.

        I’m okay with saying, “Higher brain death absolves the state of the necessity of defending an individual against a deadly assault that the individual has previously agreed to undergo.”

        I’m not okay with saying, “Higher brain death absolves the state of the necessity of treating an individual not as an object, barring that agreement.”

        In the first case, the individual acknowledges that they agree that higher brain death equals death, so we can treat them like a slab of meat.

        In the second case, the individual has either not explicitly agreed to this or has rejected it, and in either case I’m not cool with the state settling that question *for* them.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to greginak says:

        Eh, I’m less interested in what the states do than in what physicians do. As the determiners of when someone has died, I’d rather that be their standard. The state, inevitably, will play a role in that, but I don’t get to write a letter say that when my heart, lungs, and lower brain stop, I want to be considered alive for medical purposes.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    One thing I don’t like about public policy being involved with doctor assisted suicide is that public policy doesn’t really play well with concepts that are not either “forbidden” or “mandatory”.

    I see doctors being sued for not engaging in the practice.
    I see doctors being sued for engaging in the practice by the other side of the family.

    If it stays behind closed doors, at least it has a shot at remaining a private family matter.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jaybird says:

      This is part of the problem, generally.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

      So causing someones death should be kept in the dark, a secret to fought out between warring children likely mourning the oncoming death of a parent. Isn’t a death caused in secret very likely to look a heck of a lot like a murder? I don’t really see what this is supposed to mean. I can’t remotely picture docs being forced to take part in this…..not even a remote fear for me in country where pharmacists don’t even have to hand out pills they don’t approve of.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        I’m not talking about docs being forced to take part. I’m talking about docs being sued because they didn’t.

        Isn’t a death caused in secret very likely to look a heck of a lot like a murder?

        I don’t know. Would an overdose of Deaderall given to someone in Scott Adams’s Dad’s case look like murder? I’d tend to think that it’d look like an old man dying.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak says:

        Okay….but i really can’t picture a doc being sued for that either. Docs refuse to do all sorts of treatment already, they really aren’t forced to do stuff they don’t want. Especially for something as high emotion as this.

        Jay, are you really thinking this through? Some old person is dying, their family takes them out of the hospital and they are dead a day later. What if the will is challenged, what if some of the family didn’t’ want him taken out of the hospital. what if the old person hasn’t made their wishes known and isn’t able to now? What about a person with a chronic condition that is slowly getting worse, the family goes over and the guy is now dead. Dead he approve of that, well that one son of his said he did, so does that settle it. Of course the son said dad was all for it.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        Greg, honestly… do you think that doctor-assisted suicide does not happen now? I imagine that it happens quite regularly. It’s just very, very subtle, it happens only after discussions that take place behind closed doors, and if there is *ANY* indication that someone would be opposed, the door never gets closed in the first place.

        The state never gets involved because this tiny hypocrisy is a very, very important front to maintain.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak says:

        Jay- I’ve been through this with my mom. Docs will give enough meds to quiet pain in someones last few days. Will an odd doc here or there do a bit more: it wouldn’t surprise me at all. But it certainly doesn’t mean everybody who like the option to end it before they are screaming in pain or are ready to move can do so. That is part of the penalty of keeping things secret, only the lucky few can access the dark, hidden secret. Most people are left out in the cold or doing vague google searches to find someone on the street to help them out. If you want something, then you want it open to people in the open. If you want it hidden, then don’t complain if most people can’t do it, or the occasional person might get arrested for murder.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        If you want it hidden, then don’t complain if most people can’t do it, or the occasional person might get arrested for murder.

        As far as I can tell (thanks, Wikipedia!), the only doctor who has gotten convicted for euthanasia is Doctor K. and he was *NOISY*.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to greginak says:

        @jaybird (huh the @ thing isn’t working for me) – I think we need to be careful with the terms here. I’d be EXTREMELY surprised if Doctors regularly assisted in active “suicide” (that is, giving an overdose of drugs etc.)

        I imagine they pretty regularly (with tacit or explicit permission of immediate family or the patient) *fail to continue to prolong life* (that is, they “allow to die” vs. “assist in suicide”) in cases where the patient faces impending and inevitable death, however.

        But that inaction (“don’t even bother hooking him up the machine, it’s hopeless”) is not exactly the same as actively assisting in suicide (“unplug the machine”), is it?

        Or is that splitting hairs?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        I am reminded of Dr. M. Scott Peck’s book “Denial of the Soul — Spiritual and Medical Perspectives on Euthanasia and Mortality”. (Sigh.)

        There’s a description of the part I’m thinking of here:

        Recalling the anguish of the family in waiting, Peck looked at Tony for the next 15 minutes, cut the levophed drip in half, went to the doctor’s lounge, smoked a cigarette, returned 10 minutes later, found Tony dead, and informed the family. As they wept, speaking to each other in Italian, he could not tell whether they were weeping in grief or relief. He concluded, probably both. He, of course, had the presence of mind not to tell anyone about what he had done.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak says:

        Well i can’t see anyway that kind of thing could work out poorly. Rock on then.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        Greg, you really shouldn’t use the whole “Well i can’t see anyway that kind of thing could work out poorly.” snark within a couple of hours of using the “You are just coming up with a far fetched possibility proof. But any of us can come up far fetched possibilities.” argument.

        At the *VERY* least, you should use them against two different people.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to greginak says:

        @jaybird – yeah, and I guess hairs can be further split; if the patient wouldn’t live without the machine or drip, is removing them any different from never administering them to begin with?

        What I find more striking is that Peck made the call on his own; regardless of the answers to these other questions, that strikes me as something we generally don’t want.

        What I also find striking is his claim that physical pain can *always* be palliated with enough morphine; but per my question elsewhere about psychic pain, what about that?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak says:

        Umm Jay, at 3:35 i said it wouldn’t surprise me if some docs would go pretty far. “Docs will give enough meds to quiet pain in someones last few days. Will an odd doc here or there do a bit more: it wouldn’t surprise me at all”

        So what Peck did doesn’t surprise me. I also can quite clearly see the possible problems with that. That you aren’t’ or can’t seems sort of striking. Are you just arguing or can you really not see how what he did could turn out really poorly?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        Are you just arguing or can you really not see how what he did could turn out really poorly?

        Of course I can see how what he did could turn out really poorly.

        I can also see how what he did could open a book discussing the ethics of euthanasia.

        And, to top it off, I see that only one of those two things *ACTUALLY HAPPENED*.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        Glyph, I suppose I should recommend the book to everybody as it does a great job discussing these things and offers a lot of really troublesome examples that led him to the conclusions he reached and the questions he asks are really, really worth wrestling with even if you come to the conclusion that he’s forfeited any right to call himself a doctor with his opening (corker of a) story.

        I agree that we don’t want doctors making these calls. I don’t know how I feel about the choice that he made apart from saying “I’m glad that I wasn’t faced with that choice.”

        As for psychic pain, I don’t know. It certainly seems to me that a fully-grown adult who is of sound mind and body ought to be able to say something like “I’m out.”

        …but, at the same time, there is the lingering thought that wants to point out the literally billions of alternatives to suicide and thinking that suicide is one hell of a permanent solution to what is very, very likely to be a temporary problem.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to greginak says:

        a fully-grown adult who is of sound mind and body ought to be able to say something like “I’m out.”

        Agreed, but for me the sticky wicket is this: given the overwhelming biological drive to survive, absent other factors (like excruciating and unrelieved pain; or someone who sacrifices themselves for a military objective, or to protect others), someone who even CAN say “I’m out” is, IMO, almost certainly NOT “of sound mind”, at least as we usually use that term. They are being affected by a psychic pain so profound that I think their judgement may be considered at least somewhat suspect.

        So that’s the catch-22 – should someone who’d say “I’m out” arguably maybe not be considered *competent* to make that call? Frankly, if I were suicidal, I’d hope that friends and family (and yeah, maybe even the state) would intervene and restrain me temporarily in the hopes that the situation would improve. But intervene to what degree and for how long? What if they imprison and medicate me to catatonia for life because I never get “better”?

        And, contra what I say above and as some would argue, what if I was never mentally “sick” to begin with, but suicide is instead the only rational action for me in the universe as I understand it?Report

    • I’m with @greginak on this, in that I think it would be highly implausible for a physician to face liability for declining to prescribe lethal medication for the purposes of patient suicide.Report

      • Do you see it as implausible, then, that a lawyer would take such a case and successfully argue to a judge that the case ought to be argued in front of a jury?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        Jay- This is America, anybody can sue anybody for anything. That something could conceivable happen isn’t really much of an argument because anything can happen. Something bad could happen as a result of any idea, so nothing should ever be happen.Report

      • Do you see it as implausible, then, that a lawyer would take such a case

        No.

        and successfully argue to a judge that the case ought to be argued in front of a jury?

        Yes.Report

      • See, I don’t know. I suspect that it’s fairly easy to imagine a court somewhere ruling that your religious beliefs are all nice and crap, but we’re talking about a patient’s Right To Die, here.

        If you didn’t want to do your job, you shouldn’t have become a doctor.

        That sort of thing.

        Perhaps I’m crazy.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        Jay, you really need an Everest sized slip and slide to go that far down the slippery slope for that to happen. If we posit that as a possibility than how many other one in million possibilities could we throw out there. Could we wonder if someone might help push dear ol’dad off this mortal coil just a few months or years early all because of a will. But hey, dad was mentally ill and he told me, all in private, that he couldn’t go on.

        I mean really, this is a weak argument. You are just coming up with a far fetched possibility proof. But any of us can come up far fetched possibilities. Hell allowing gay marriage might lead to box turtle on tree sloth marriages, so we can’t have any of that.Report

      • Well, without getting into the whole distinctions between modus ponens and “slippery slopes”, I’d instead wonder if bakers being sued for not making cakes for same-sex marriage ceremonies wouldn’t be a better example of something that only stupid/crazy people might think would happen following the instantiation of a particular policy supporting gay marriage.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        In America we have a glorious free market on law suits. Anybody can sue anybody for anything. I believe i noted that already. Is that good, well not so much, but that is the way it is. But is it an argument for not doing X or Y. No since anybody can sue anybody for any damn thing. ( although of course it doesn’t mean they will win). Anybody can come with a But they’ll sue me if don’t/did/won’t/etc. In fact it would be easy to come up 14 different ways a doc could be sued if this is all kept hush hush. This seems like a generic argument that can be used to argue for or against anything.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        I’ll add to my comment after thinking a bit more about The Case of the Insufficiently Tolerant Cup Cake Creators. I remember when talking about Sandy Hook and other schooling shooting one point that is correctly made is that they are actually rare events but get a lot of attention due to how emotionally horrifying they are. But they are rare and this is a big country. On the whole violence is down. All true. So given we have one Cup Cake Controversy Lawsuit does that somehow make it salient even though its one incidence. Was their another Cup Cake Lawsuit somewhere else bringing the grand total to two? But still this is a big country, how much does one or two incidents prove? Is it a trend? Something that is likely to keep getting worse?Report

      • Well, it’s the difference between “that’s a slippery slope fallacy!” and “that only happened once or twice!”Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

      “If it stays behind closed doors, at least it has a shot at remaining a private family matter.”

      It also has a shot of getting the doctor imprisoned, or having his ability to practice medicine revoked.Report

  10. Avatar Patrick says:

    I will state this unequivocally.

    If you believe that you may at some point be in a condition such that you would find suicide (or termination of treatment) to be preferable to continued existence, it should be absolutely 100% upon you to detail this information.

    In the absence of this, your medical power of attorney should devolve unto your spouse, if you have one, and that should be the only acceptable secondary source of authorization for any action.

    This whole next-of-kin bit is fraught with peril and should only apply to non-emancipated minors. Otherwise next-of-kin should not be involved.

    I’m not sure how to accomplish that without a default policy of some sort.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick says:

      Why not use power of attorney? if someone can already remove all means for you to pay for it, why shouldn’t they also be allowed to kill you?Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Patrick says:

      If you believe that you may at some point be in a condition such that you would find suicide (or termination of treatment) to be preferable to continued existence, it should be absolutely 100% upon you to detail this information.

      I think the whole problem is getting the state to allow a doctor to follow the wishes of such a document. If you sign a document saying that you want something illegal done, it is still illegal.Report

    • Avatar Pyre in reply to Patrick says:

      Disagree.

      Very few aging couples die together. There are also a lot of single parents. In the U.S., a lot of people simply don’t take care of a lot of their end-of-life errands whether it is a will or a living will.

      I can see adopting Belgium’s practices of needing two doctors agree that the patient needs to be at a state where life isn’t worth living as a safeguard against heirs who want to speed up the inheritance. However, next-of-kin should have the legal right to also be able to make that determination.Report

  11. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    @kazzy , Scott Adams is arguing for the slow painful death of those who disagree with him. I can think of no better example of why angry frightened or scared people are not the best decision makers.

    That said,of course, this is a decision that should be made, and of necessity often must be made when someone is angry, frightened, or scared. I have no doubt that in a few month or years when Adams is no longer feeling the intense anguish of his father’s passing, that he will still believe that his father should not have had his life prolonged. But the fact that people in stressful emotional situations often make the same decisions they would when thinking calmly and rationally doesn’t mean that decisions made in stressful situations are going to be good decisions.Report

  12. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    Scott Adams adores me; I voted twice in favor of physician assisted suicide as an Oregonian. Those are the only votes I’ve ever cast where I would actually say I’m proud of having voted so.

    So Russell asks me;
    If you are in favor of the practice, would you hold Adams’ piece up as Exhibit A in the fight?

    No, no. There’s great value in the raw pain of it, but when he starts the torture-porn business…no. That’s no way to persuade others that you’re in the right.Report

  13. …I find his argument a compelling one in large part because he has an experience that I do not and, thus, seems better qualified to comment on it than I.

    I do too, but I recognize that I went into it thinking assisted suicide should be legal. So, my bias will be to hold up his pain as an example.

    But as a general rule, we can’t pick and choose whose pain is relevant and what times–particularly from *within* that pain when you are experiencing it. I think Adams’s post is if anything an even better example of the how we should temper resolutions made under emotion than my Chris-Christie example because Christie just was arguing that we shouldn’t have civil rights while Adams is arguing to torture and kill people who voted a particular way. This is a totally understandable reaction, but if that isn’t a good example of emotion making for bad policy, then I don’t know what would be.Report

  14. Avatar Matthew says:

    Also worth reading in this context:

    Who by very slow decayReport

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