- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 21, 2001

Assisted suicide laws contribute to 'culture of death

Although I often agree with Bruce Feins analysis of the law and legal policy, his recent Commentary column regarding Oregons Death With Dignity Act misstates or intentionally distorts the position of most of those opposed to legalized assisted suicide ("At deaths door with dread," April 17).

First, Mr. Fein seems to say that the opposition to assisted suicide derives somehow from a fear of death and things dealing with death in our hedonistic society. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those most ardently opposed to assisted suicide laws are religious people who believe that death is not the end but a beginning. Further, in claiming that the opposition to assisted suicide is the result of a distorted modern view of death, Mr. Fein implies that assisted suicide is the product of a previous, healthier era in our culture. The movement to enact such laws, however, began in modern times. Our forefathers would never have dreamed of institutionalized suicide.

The modern view of death and the modern lack of respect for life have resulted in the push for legalized suicide.

Second, and more important, Mr. Fein disingenuously oversimplifies the opposition´s argument. Suppose a 16-year-old boy wants to have a doctor assist him with suicide because his girlfriend dumped him. If human autonomy is the basis for permitting assisted suicide, why not? Of course, we would not permit this because this is not a "good" reason. But is not wanting to burden your family a good enough reason? How about saving the expense of terminal care? Is avoiding pain a good reason? If so, how much pain? The very limitations and safeguards within assisted suicide laws belie the fact that society is making a judgment about the value of life. This is what the Roman Catholic bishop Mr. Fein quotes meant when he said, "Human life is not in our hands."

Mr. Fein sets up a straw man for the argument of those opposed to legalized assisted suicide in an attempt to prove it "counterfactual." In doing so, he completely misses the point. It´s not about facts but faith and philosophy. No matter how perfectly an assisted suicide law is carried out, it would still be wrong and would still contribute to what Pope John Paul II has termed "a culture of death."


SEAN HANNAWAY

Beavercreek, Ohio

B.C. comic strip exhibits stone age humor

In The Washington Times April 14 Comics section, Johnny Harts "B.C." was offensive not only to the adherents of the Jewish religion, but to all who practice religious tolerance.

On the occasion of Easter, he chose to illustrate not a message of support for all peoples and religions, but an obscene attack on one of the most important symbols of Judaism, a seven branched menorah. In the strip, all of the candles are initially lit. They are extinguished one by one, with quotes drawn from the Christian Bible, culminating in the extinguishing of the final candle and the conversion of the menorah into a cross.

Despite explanations by the writer, the message is clear: Judaism is no longer valid as a belief, having been replaced entirely by Christianity.

If this were the first time that Mr. Hart had indulged in bigotry and attempted to proselytize with his comic strip, it might have been excusable. But Mr. Hart has exhibited this approach to cartooning for a time.

A reprimand for his repeated offenses is not sufficient. At minimum, the strip should be screened for such bigoted views and lack of tolerance; at the most, it should no longer be published.


NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring

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