Monday, March 23, 2009

I Bowl Like a Retard

In last year’s presidential campaign, large chunks of the electorate and many disability advocacy groups were apoplectic that Sarah Palin made clear her advocacy for children with disabilities. She did so from a position of strength: She had a newborn with Down syndrome and a nephew with autism.

As I noted at the time, this was the first time any of the presidential candidates had specifically spotlighted advocacy for people with disabilities. Until Palin’s remarks, the national disability community had been seething over how they had been pointedly ignored.

After Palin’s remarks, they seethed all over again, just for different reasons.

Unfortunately, Palin’s use of the bully pulpit quickly got derailed from a laudable opportunity to advocate for people with disabilities to the gutter of partisan politics. Those politically opposed to Palin, including many disability organizations and researchers, pounced.

They were outraged that she had the temerity to mention disability. Essentially, their rather pitiful arguments were (a) how dare a Republican try to hi-jack disability issues, when the Democrats owned that territory (going back to the Kennedys’ advocacy for people with disabilities in the early 60s)? and (b) Palin was being politically opportunistic, the disability issue a convenient vote-grabbing prop.

There was no quarter given that Palin was genuinely prepared, if elected vice-president, to make this her vice presidential issue.

Perhaps the most vicious responses came from many in academia: the special education researchers and university faculty who, from their lofty perches, gleefully declared Palin’s remarks the confused babble of some Neanderthal hick with an IQ lower than the people she was advocating for.

It gave me a whole new perspective on my profession, who usually go to great lengths to remind us all how impartial they are, and how they know what’s best for people with disabilities.

A colleague at another university even took the time to pass on a hit-piece to a prestigious special education listserv I subscribe to. In that piece, the writer said that in Alaska, there were many others like Palin - “knuckle-dragging” epithet and all.

Fast-forward to last Thursday, and President Obama’s Jay Leno Show derision of people with disabilities, describing his poor bowling skills as something that would be seen at the Special Olympics.

Here’s what the President meant: “I bowl like a retard.”

Criticism of the President has been measured, at best. The listserv I’m on that so viciously went after Palin has been completely silent about President Obama's insult.

Not a word.

And certainly no words taking the President to task.

Here’s the sad truth: President Obama said what he thinks:

People with disabilities are less worthy than the rest of us. They can’t even bowl properly. Or run properly, or think properly, or see properly.

Go to the Special Olympics; see them unable to do things that others do well.

Have a good laugh.

Be thankful you’re not them.

Way to go, Mr. President.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pain Management in the UK: Good for Sir Liam and a Propaganda Prediction

As I’ve repeatedly noted on this blog, the UK seems to be ground zero in the international push for legalizing assisted suicide.

The eagle-eyed pro-death crowd is expert in looking for spin and angles that will bolster their case, even from circumstances that would suggest the opposite.

For example, many Britons have gone to Dignitas in Switzerland over the past few years to legally commit assisted suicide. Rather than focus on the macabre Swiss and their dark practices (for a price, of course), the pro-death lobby turns the argument this way:

"Assisted suicide is dignified death. Those progressive Swiss understand this, as do the intelligent Dutch, and the ever-so urbane Belgians, so they have made assisted suicide legal. Assisted suicide in the UK is illegal. How unsophisticated we Brits seem to be!! We must work to change these Neanderthal notions in the UK!! Our poor fellow Brits have to die in a strange country, bereft of their familiar surroundings, family, and friends. They should be allowed to die with dignity at home, in the UK, surrounded by their loved ones, their friends, and Spot, their loyal dog, preferably on a sunny warm day with a nice breeze……"

Oh, sorry, I’m getting a little carried away with the propaganda…..

You get the picture.

A related issue surfaced in the UK’s Guardian last Saturday, when the issue of pain management at the end of life took center stage on the news that the UK’s chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, was about to release his annual state of the health system report blasting the lack of pain management experts and care.

A part of the story caught my eye, the issue of severe pain at the end of life:

Asked whether better pain relief could, as some anti-euthanasia supporters argue, reduce the demand for doctor-assisted suicide from people with terminal conditions, Donaldson said: "I think this concept of a good death is very bound up with the lack of pain and the sort of serene quality that people enter when they are free of pain, so I guess all of the feelings that surround that are bound up to a large extent with pain.

Good for you, mate.

You see, the pro-death crowd play on peoples’ fears – like the fear that in your last days nobody will be able to control your pain and you’ll go screaming in unspeakable agony into the world beyond. 

They don’t want you to know that almost all pain, in almost every case, can be very, very effectively controlled. Medically, there is no reason for people to suffer excruciating pain at the end of their lives. It can be managed. Period.

That’s what the good doctor was saying.

But. BUT: That’s not the way the assisted suicide and euthanasia extremists will twist it.


The pro-assisted suicide and euthanasia bloodlust will not call for better education in pain management, or for reducing the ignorance that pain can’t be managed.

They’ll spin it by saying, Look, there is no need to suffer such terrible pain at the end of your life. Horrible pain is, well, very painful, and undignified! We can help!!! Wouldn’t you like to put your mind at rest, knowing that before your pain gets too bad, we have a solution that you control!! Don’t worry, you don’t have to use it, but won’t it be great to have that option if you ever need it? The health system doesn’t have the wherwithall to help you with your pain – we can!!!

And that’s the real agenda, folks.

Making you dead by first making you frightened.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Final Exit Network Gets Busted Part 2: SPIN MODE!!

Last week’s arrest of four FEN members in a federal sting in Georgia has cranked up the pro-death extremists’ propaganda machine. They’re in full spin mode.

You know there’s something going on when Dr. Death Jack Kevorkian is bleating about FEN being a bunch of whackos whose methods he doesn’t agree with.

From the story:

A lawyer for retired pathologist Jack Kevorkian, who participated in dozens of assisted suicides, said his client does not condone the methods of a national assisted-suicide ring with Michigan ties at the center of a multistate investigation.


Don’t miss the spin: It’s only that he doesn’t condone THE METHOD. He’d much prefer, I think, that FEN use the methods he did, especially in his televised killing of Thomas Youk in 1998.

So, an ersatz distancing, if you will.

Then there’s the ubiquitous Derek Humphry.

He of the Hemlock Society (now spun as “Compassion & Choices”).

He of the book “Final Exit.” (Gee, you’d think the Finale Exit Network could have been a bit more creative here).

He of deserting his second wife when she turned out to have terminal cancer.

ANWAY, Humphry went into full spin mode:

“We shall keep going — we will fight this case,” said Derek Humphry . . .This [Georgia] is a test case. We didn’t look for this. They handed us a case. The public is enormously interested.”

Don’t miss the spin: There we were, going about our kind business, and we have been unfairly targeted. We shall fight! We will not be silenced! You mess with us, we’ll take our case to the masses!!!


Except that good citizens reading these quotes less than carefully are likely to mistake killers for caregivers

Which is exactly what they want.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Final Exit Network Gets Busted Part I

Well, things have gotten hot for the Final Exit Network.

They should.

Should get much hotter, if you ask me.

The reports were thick and fast late last week that an undercover federal investigation in Georgia resulted in the arrest of four FEN members on charges of assisted suicide, which is illegal in the state.

It seems that the feds began putting together pieces of the death puzzle after FEN was exposed in Arizona last year for allegedly helping kill a 58 year-old woman, who had no terminal illness at all, but who apparently had psychological problems.

So much for the pro-assisted suicide argument that assisted suicide should only be available for people with terminal illnesses. . . 

Then last June, in Georgia, 58 year-old John Celmer checked out. Celmer’s wife became suspicious that he hadn’t died in his sleep, as it first appeared when he was found. Going through her husband’s things after his death, she came across evidence that Celmer had corresponded with FEN members. She also found receipts for the purchase of two tanks of helium.

FEN recommends victims inhale helium through a mask placed over their head. The helium replaces oxygen, thereby suffocating the victim. It’s also almost impossible to trace at autopsy. It’s a FEN standard operating  procedure, as is their removing of all evidence of the assisted suicide after the death. That’s why Celmer’s wife thought he died in his sleep.

As if that wasn’t enough to raise red flags, Celmer’s doctor, completely surprised at his patient's death, weighed in. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

According to an affidavit, Celmer’s physician, Dr. Brant Carlson, told investigators Celmer had head and neck surgeries that left him cancer-free but Celmer was “concerned about his public appearance” because the surgeries disfigured him. “John Celmer was making a remarkable recovery” from two surgeries, according to the affidavit.

Celmer also suffered from arthritis in his hip, according to the affidavit, and his pain “could have been greatly reduced if he had taken his pain medication properly and stopped drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.”

So, I’m asking all you gung-ho assisted suicide extremists, for the rest of your lives, please don’t tell us that assisted suicide is only for people who are suffering excruciating pain and who have less than 6 months to live.

Just go ahead and say what many of us already know: That what you really want is death on demand, anytime, anywhere for anyone – and for any reason.

Oh, and that you want it legalized, all for our good.

Death is good.

Legalized death is even better!!!!