Pain is well down the list of reasons terminally ill people choose suicide or assisted deaths, writes Michael Duffy. When David Scott Mathers escaped a jail sentence for suffocating his chronically ill partner, much was made of her pain. Eva Griffith had wanted to die and her considerable pain was referred to 16 times last week in Justice Peter Hall's judgment, which concluded the manslaughter to which Mathers had pleaded guilty was ''a selfless act born out of the love the offender held for her''. In Australia it is often assumed pain would be the main reason for voluntary euthanasia, or assisted suicide, yet evidence from the US suggests Griffith's circumstances were unusual. In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal in certain situations, the 525 people who killed themselves under the law from 1988 to 2010 were asked for their reasons.
My Godfather was a bachelor who lived in a small cottage in East Melbourne. We called him Uncle Ernest but he was actually my grandfather’s brother and technically my mother’s uncle. He came once a week to dinner at our house and was an important influence on my development. Although my parents were by no means uncultured, he brought something extra into my life in terms of a respect for the arts and the value of refinement and taste. He was for me a model of elegance and urbanity and, most important of all, gave me a sense of style. I still remember when he took me to my first Shakespeare play in the city, performed by the visiting Old Vic Company. I believe he had a similar positive influence on some of my cousins. He was a loved and respected member of my extended family and I never heard a word spoken against him. The family sometimes mentioned his late companion who shared the cottage with him for many years, well before my time, but there was no hint at all that there was anything untoward in this.
The specter of socialism is haunting America. Fiscal conservatives think that the Great Shellacking of 2010 put that specter to flight. But many of my colleagues believe that by repealing Obamacare—or by having it struck down in the courts—and then putting a stop this to the president’s taxing and spending will dispel the threat of socialism forever. “While pursuing such worthy and urgent goals,” they say, “we must let social issues take a back seat.” But social issues are exactly what may speed us down the path to a socialistic state. President Barack Obama has said his view of marriage is “evolving.” Actually, it’s devolving. He ordered the Justice Department not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Vice President Joe Biden says the granting of marital status to same-sex relationships is “inevitable.” All this occurring after Americans in 32 states voted not to grant such recognition.
Young South Koreans will be banned from playing online video games later than midnight after lawmakers passed a new curfew law. Yonhap news agency reported the new law - which bans anyone under 16 from playing online into the early hours - was passed by lawmakers worried about growing levels of addiction to gaming among youngsters. Gaming companies fiercely contested the legislation but the Youth Protection bill passed late Friday.
Plans for a US-style child beauty contest in Australia have provoked public outcry, writes Rachel Browne. The debate about child beauty pageants in Australia is getting decidedly ugly. Ever since the US group Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant announced plans to hold its first Australian competition in Melbourne, the howls of protest from parent groups, psychologists and children's rights organisations have been loud and fierce. Rival social media campaigns have been launched - for and against the pageants - and a petition to ban them has started. There will even be protest rallies on the steps of Parliament Houses in every state on May 24.
We began the week with our eyes fixed steadfastly on the past and the distant past. For the first time in more than a decade the anniversaries of two of our key foundation stories coincided, and it appeared military sacrifice resonated more with us than the divine. Media Monitors says there were 1878 mentions of the word Anzac in broadcast media over the long weekend, compared to only 44 resurrections. It is hard to know what we learn from the growing annual Anzac celebration (the Prime Minister's word), although this year at least we know that the SAS veteran and Australian Christian Lobby boss Jim Wallace learnt a fair bit about social media. ''Just hope that as we remember servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for - wasn't gay marriage and Islamic!'' tweeted Wallace at midday on Monday. By about 2pm the post had been deleted and the now traditional retraction and apology had been issued. But as Wallace now knows, what is said on social media stays said.
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