Friday, February 10, 2012

Georgia Supreme Court Reaffirms the Right of Free Speech Applies to Non Conservatives on Issue of Assisted Suicide

Unusual Triumph of Law over Ideology

The state of Georgia is one of the few in the nation that allows assisted suicide.  It’s not clear exactly why the state does so, it is largely controlled by Conservatives and one thing Conservatives hate is for the government to interfere in the private lives of its citizens.  Oh, wait a minute, they don’t hate that when government interferes to support Conservative positions, like the position that terminally ill people who are suffering do not have the right to end their lives.

So it comes as a surprise that the highest court in Georgia has ruled, in a unanimous opinion, that the state cannot have a law the criminalizes publishing help for assisted suicide. 

On its face, the unanimous ruling was more about free speech than about whether helping people kill themselves should be legal. The Georgia law, which made the act of promoting assisted suicide an element of the crime, was deemed a violation of free speech rights.

The court was fairly strong in its defense of free speech.

“Had the state truly been interested in the preservation of human life,” the court said in its ruling, “it could have imposed a ban on all assisted suicides with no restriction on protected speech whatsoever. Alternatively, the state could have sought to prohibit all offers to assist in suicide when accompanied by an overt act to accomplish that goal. The state here did neither.”

The Dismal Political Economist has long believed that the issue of assisted suicide was one which defined whether or not a person was a true Conservative.  A true Conservative might deplore suicide and think assisting in suicide was a terrible thing, but a true Conservative would also recognize that government has no role in determining whether or not an individual who is terminally ill and suffering can end his or her life.  That decision is truly one to be made by the individual, the medical community and that person’s family and friends. 

Exactly how a politician, who has no direct contact or information or knowledge of a person’s situation can legally force that person to live a life of suffering, or to deny that person the right to end their life with the assistance of the medical profession can justify using government in this case is beyond logic.  But that is what Conservatives do.

Thirty-seven states criminalize assisted suicide, according to the Patients Rights Council, a nonprofit organization that opposes assisted suicide.

So the next time you find yourself in contact with someone who calls himself or herself a Conservative, and deplores government intervention into people’s private lives just ask them their position on assisted suicide.  And when they answer they think government should prohibit it, well then you know you are in the presence not of a true Conservative, but of a true hypocrite.  Don’t be hesitant to ask, there are tens of millions of them out there.

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