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Is John Ashcroft paying back the Christian right?
November 6, 2001 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Is John Ashcroft paying back the Christian right? Or is he simply enforcing existing laws? But then what about pursuing Eric Rudolph?
posted by Rastafari (26 comments total)

 
Once is enough for any man...or at least that's what Wilbur thought about writing on the Eskimo's buttocks
posted by quercus at 2:32 PM on November 6, 2001


It isn't great, but it certainly isn't out of character for the attorney general to go after politically charged state laws and operate on the basis of political agenda rather than the law. If the assisted suicide law is a good one (and it looks like it isn't very well written - dispense but not administer the drugs? c'mon...), it'll be back when whoever takes over for Ashcroft in 4-8 years comes in. In the meantime, anyone who wants to commit suicide can certainly do so fairly easily, with or without a doctor's help. There are several highly effective methods that can be employed with common items. A small caliber handgun can be purchased for less than $300 and will do the job cleanly, quickly and with a minimum of pain, and there's nothing Ashcroft, or anyone else for that matter, can do to stop you.
posted by UncleFes at 2:45 PM on November 6, 2001


isn't suicide illegal too?
posted by ggggarret at 2:55 PM on November 6, 2001


Yeah, but rather difficult to prosecute.
posted by UncleFes at 3:00 PM on November 6, 2001


Unless it's a failed attempt, at which point you'd have the cops waiting for you to get out of the hospital.
posted by rks404 at 3:30 PM on November 6, 2001


Unless it's a failed attempt, at which point you'd have the cops waiting for you to get out of the hospital.

Which is most likely the case in do-it-yourself cases. Something like 1/3 are successful for various reasons.
posted by skallas at 4:14 PM on November 6, 2001


It seems that those who are serious are universally successful, and those that simply want attention, well, someone always seems to arrive just in the nick of time, no? It's not difficult to do. People manage it by accident all the time.
posted by UncleFes at 8:32 PM on November 6, 2001


"And the 2001 Award for 'Most Compassionate MetaFilterene' goes to..."
posted by hincandenza at 10:28 PM on November 6, 2001


I live in Oregon, which gives me a perspective different from the others in this thread.

It's fine to be glib about suicide, but keep in mind that this law was designed for terminally ill people who are in constant pain and won't ever get better. Most of them are elderly, and asking them to shoot themselves to death is just cruel. Seventy people have used this law to end their lives peacefully and with dignity. A gun allows neither of those things.

Ashcroft and his right-wing buddies are all for a smaller government, except, apparently, when they want a bigger one to better interfere with people's private lives. Tossing the DEA into the doctor-patient relationship is a horrible idea that among other things will make it less likely that doctors will dispense adequate pain medication for the terminally ill. If the patient dies, somebody might suspect the doc of helping a bit too much.

No doctor participates in an assisted suicide unless he or she wants to. A lot of doctors don't like the law because of the clause in the Hippocratic oath that says, "First, do no harm." But when a patient is terminally ill, in constant pain that will never get better, and makes a rational decision to die, refusing to give that patient a way out IS doing harm.

Here ends the rant.

*Sigh* Maybe Ashcroft just wanted to make people forget for a while what a shining success the anthrax investigation has been.
posted by diddlegnome at 11:48 PM on November 6, 2001


The "rational decision to die" is always the hard part to be certain of.
posted by firestorm at 11:51 PM on November 6, 2001


In anycase, imagine the ideal case that comes to mind with this law. It would seem that both the political right and left would be aiming for the same goal, practically the same way.

It's just quibbling over details. Is the political right really that bad? Perhaps the "rightist" counterpart would choose to go out another way, by refusing doctor's help in the end. Is that an unrespectable decision?

Obviously, other people might choose a different way. But those are other people. Both political views have far too many little factions and contested points, there's no single entity on a side that represents the whole.

Anyhow I think both political sides have been embittered and antagonized by each other. Too much polarization, clinging to details rather than the principle.

Yes, this is less focused on the original topic, of suicide. No, I have little else to say at the moment, and no, English teachers don't like what I write ;)
posted by firestorm at 12:01 AM on November 7, 2001


The "rational decision to die" is always the hard part to be certain of.

True. But requests for suicide drugs have to be made at least twice at least a week apart, and two doctors have to agree that the patient has chosen to die and is able to make health-care decisions. Kinda rules out the spur-of-the-moment request.

Perhaps the "rightist" counterpart would choose to go out another way, by refusing doctor's help in the end. Is that an unrespectable decision?

It's a respectable decision, but one that could lead to the kind of drawn-out, painful wasting that Oregon's law was meant to avoid.

Finally, the voters of Oregon approved this law not once, but twice, and it survived a court challenge that went right up to Mr. Rehnquist and friends (who declined to review the case). Again, certain people in power (not mentioning any wings this time) are all for local control, except when they'd rather stick their noses into somebody else's business.
posted by diddlegnome at 3:26 AM on November 7, 2001


Clearly, the US Supreme Court decided that this is a States' Rights issue, not a Federal issue. So Ashcroft (as a member of the Executive Branch) is overstepping the boundaries of his authority, and violating both the separation of powers and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

But, since most people aren't aware of these important principles, and the media is too stupid to pursue this with intelligence, insight, and wisdom, most people won't care. Nothing will be done about it.

This isn't a partisan response. It is a principled response. I don't care if he's republican or democrat or independent or whatever. He's in violation of our constitutional principles, and that's all that matters.
posted by yesster at 6:38 AM on November 7, 2001


"And the 2001 Award for 'Most Compassionate MetaFilterene' goes to..."

Good Lord, Hin :) All's I'm saying is that it's kind of inconsequential to ban an assisted suicide law that (a) doesn't allow a doctor to assist in a suicide, and (b) can't stop a determined person from committing suicide anyway.

My thought: forget the assisted suicide law, and just take the handcuffs off the doctors and allow them to dispense pain medication as they see fit when patients meet certain criteria. Seems to me that the whole thing is more about dispensation of opiates than whether or not someone kills themself, anyway.
posted by UncleFes at 7:05 AM on November 7, 2001


And why hasn't anyone found Eric Rudolph yet?? We got a fucking mad bomber running around, and the Justice Department is farting around with some old guys with terminal cancer? Priorities, people!
posted by UncleFes at 7:46 AM on November 7, 2001


the Justice Department is farting around with some old guys

Since one of Rudolph's Olympics victims was a British journalist, how soon before Great Britain demands that the US turn over Rudolph immediately ...or else!?
posted by mischief at 10:05 AM on November 7, 2001


And why hasn't anyone found Eric Rudolph yet??

To be fair, he is on the FBI's Ten Most-Wanted List (with a $1 million reward). Just continuing proof that it's hard to track down someone who's willing to live in caves.
posted by boaz at 12:05 PM on November 7, 2001


Seems to me that the whole thing is more about dispensation of opiates than whether or not someone kills themself, anyway.

Good point. If there was decent palliative care in this country, a lot of the people who used Oregon's law could have borne their final months without resorting to suicide. The law has had some effect in improving that situation, but there's still a long way to go.

All of this reminds me of an excellent New Yorker cartoon that ran shortly after the assisted-suicide law passed. An older couple, very pleasant-looking tourists, are stopped at a gas station. The man says to the attendant, "Oh, yes, Oregon's lovely, but we're just here for the suicide."
posted by diddlegnome at 1:42 PM on November 7, 2001


Of course he's paying them back. The only time the Republican party has stopped its political war profiteering has been to have some economic war profiteering. Besides, Ashcroft is a member of the Religious Right -- he's only being true to himself here.
posted by tiny pea at 8:15 PM on November 7, 2001


I certainly hope no one who has a mind to pursue this private matter is planning on paying any attention to this garbage. I would join the "this is depressing" crowd if I thought this could affect me or anyone I care about, but I will not obey if it comes to that. Unfortunately, just about everyone has a big nose these days, why is it so hard to stay out of other people's personal lives?
posted by thirteen at 10:28 PM on November 7, 2001


Trouble is, thirteen, that this law requires a doctor to write a prescription, something that's not bloody likely if the doc thinks the feds are going to come down on him. So this IS depressing, for all the reasons I've already gotten into in this thread.
posted by diddlegnome at 2:19 AM on November 8, 2001


An update on this: nytimes
posted by pooldemon at 5:36 AM on November 8, 2001


"anyone who wants to commit suicide can certainly do so fairly easily, with or without a doctor's help:

Entirely untrue.
posted by Catch at 12:39 PM on November 8, 2001


How so? The most significant barrier to successful suicide is will, as in the will to survive (and fear of the great beyond) overcoming the desire to kill oneself. Once you've gotten past that, what's the holdup?
posted by UncleFes at 2:06 PM on November 8, 2001


"what's the holdup?"
UncleFes, I'm thinking of cases where a person is paralysed or so weakened by illness that methods such as a small calibre handgun are out of their reach. Hospice cases and such. I suspect that most cases of assisted suicide would fall into this category.

Also, "will to live" and "desire to kill oneself". I would swap those terms around when talking about this kind of suicide.
posted by Catch at 3:00 PM on November 8, 2001


I'm thinking of cases where a person is paralysed or so weakened by illness that methods such as a small calibre handgun are out of their reach.

I concede that point; I think that they are more rare than portrayed, though. On the terms, you're right, I was thinking more of the desire to kill oneself balanced against one's natural instinct for self-preservation.
posted by UncleFes at 7:01 AM on November 9, 2001


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