Thursday 23 June 2011

The best of the commentary on the Pratchett assisted suicide programme

Sir Terry Pratchett
I thought it would be useful to look back and highlight some of the best commentary regarding Sir Terry Pratchett's BBC documentary on assisted suicide (below in chronological order). Many thanks to all those SPUC supporters who responded to our alert calling for complaints to be made to the BBC.

Peter Saunders, "Why I told the Daily Mail that the BBC was acting as the ‘cheerleader’ for assisted suicide", Christian Medical Comment, 16 April 2011:
"This programme will be the fifth produced by the BBC in just three years, presented by a pro-euthanasia campaigner or sympathiser, which has been specifically designed to portray taking one’s own life in a positive light."
Geoff Morris, "This saccharine portrayal of assisted suicide appals me", Daily Mail, 11 June 2011:
"As a piece of shameless propaganda, Terry Pratchett’s film is brilliant. But as an analysis of the truth behind so-called ‘assisted suicide’, it is grossly misleading and unbalanced ... For me, a disabled man with multiple sclerosis, this approach is profoundly troubling ... What has been inflicted on viewers is a repellent exercise in deceit. So untrue and distorted is Sir Terry’s film that it should really be classified as fictional drama rather than documentary."
William Rees-Mogg, "Why assisted suicide can never be right", Daily Mail, 11 June 2011:
"Death itself has a certain fascination which can be fatally attractive, particularly to depressives and adolescents. If people who already have a hankering to end their own lives are exposed to pro-suicide propaganda on television, some of them are likely to commit the final act."
Francis Phillips, "The BBC is drip-feeding assisted dying propaganda into our living rooms", Catholic Herald, 14 June 2011:
"This was consummate propaganda on the part of the BBC. The quick visit to a hospice, and the few words allowed to a carer there, did not remotely present the alternative case. The programme was weighted entirely on the seemingly reasonable and unanswerable notion that just as we have choice in other areas of our lives, we should have the choice to die when and how we want (and not have to pay £10,000 for the privilege)."
Dominic Lawson, "Why the disabled fear assisted suicide", Independent, 14 June 2011:
"[A]ssisted suicide for the severely physically disabled could so insidiously turn from being a liberating option into something more like an oppressive social obligation. I have no doubt that Terry Pratchett's campaign has good intentions; but for the very people he most means to help, they could pave the road to Hell."
Michael Nazir-Ali, former Anglican bishop of Rochester, Daily Mail, 15 June 2011:
"I think an opportunity has been bypassed of having a balanced programme – the thousands of people who use the hospice movement and who have a good and peaceful death, there was very little about them. This was really propaganda on one side."
Tim Lott, "The top of a slippery moral slope", Independent, 15 June 2011:
"I am instinctually in favour of assisted suicide. But the programme left me feeling uncomfortable. I have no time for the religious argument. And yet, I hesitate to fully sign up for the cause – simply because I wanted to die once, and have been enormously relieved that I never did anything about it. Admittedly I was suffering mental rather than physical illness – in my case acute depression. I had been suffering agony for four years and saw no end in sight. But with hindsight it is plain to me that you can be very serious about your wanting to die, having taken all matters into account – and most of those around me thought I was absolutely in my right mind – then later discover that you very nearly made a literally fatal mistake."
Dr William Oddie,"I agree: the BBC favours ‘the right to die’. But watch out. That’s a phrase with a sinister history", Catholic Herald, 16 June 2011:
"...[w]hat Sir Terry called in a contribution to the Newsnight discussion his “right to death”. When I heard him use that phrase, however, I shuddered, for it has a sinister history: it recalls vividly the entire reasonableness of the successful campaign in Germany during the 1910s through to the 20s and 30s to convince the medical profession that “assisted dying” or “sterbehilfe” for those with an impaired “quality of life” (to use a modern expression which also has sinister historical overtones) as morally acceptable"
David Sweetman, who helped take his partner's mother-in-law to Dignitas in 2009, Daily Mail, 18 June 2011:
"That vision of [the Dignitas builiding, ] what was little more than a blue tin shed will stay with me for the rest of my life. It reminded me of a gas chamber. I felt like I was taking Rona to her execution."
Peter Hitchens, "This man in black is leading us to a very dark place", Daily Mail, 18 June 2011:
"Couldn’t you see the unspoken thought – that it might be more convenient for the old and ill to be hurried into the grave – lurking behind the black-clad figure of Sir Terence Pratchett as he presented his pro-death programme at the licence-payers’ expense last week?"
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