News items tell us that the state of our national attitude is declining when it comes to the subject of respect for the dignity of the human person. Obvious to some, the social fabric of the nation continues to deteriorate.
If we were discussing an aging piece of cloth we might suggest that the material had become incompatible with existence due to the threadbare nature of its appearance. But we are not talking about an old coat. We are talking about the growing individual and collective disdain for moral absolutes that have existed for more than 2,000 years. We are addressing natural laws that cannot change regardless of the choices a person, a government or an entire nation make by denying that there are such things as justice and principle—both of which endure beyond opinion, choice or national character.
Examples of the manure about which we are talking exist across the political and social spectrum. Today we will address two examples that appeared recently in the headlines, but not in the major media.
Out of Minnesota comes the story of a former nurse, William Melchert-Dinkel, who was recently found guilty of two separate cases of assisted suicide. What is interesting about his case is that Melchert-Dinkel used a “free speech” defense to excuse his actions. However, as Rice County District Judge Thomas Neuville made clear, when Melchert-Dinkel employed the internet in his quest to identify people who wanted help in taking their own lives, he was not exercising his freedom of speech, but was instead engaging in “lethal advocacy.”
The most remarkable aspect of this event is not that a former nurse attempted to use his skills to “help” others end their lives, but rather that the perpetrator had the unadulterated hubris to claim that all he was doing was exercising his freedom of speech to make sure despondent, ailing human beings got the treatment they needed by dying! Yet when pro-life Americans voice their clear message that abortion kills a human being, it is not unusual for them to be punished because their “freedom of speech” actually violates a bubble zone or a woman’s right to privacy!
Clearly it is not a crime to kill a vulnerable human being or teach others how to kill themselves, but it can be a crime to tell the truth.
Then there’s the case of Martin Harty, a New Hampshire state representative who, at the age of 91, “was forced to resign after he disclosed his surprising views on eugenics to a constituent who runs a community mental health program.” We will not address the question of whether or not this now 92-year-old politician is perhaps “over the hill” in terms of his political views, but it is interesting that Harty has taken the very left-wing, Ted Turner type view that since the world is already “overpopulated,” the universe would be better off without those in our midst who are “defective.”
As BioEdge reported, Harty told the Concord Monitor’s Sharon Omand, “The world is too populated,” and that there are “too many defective people.” The defective people Harty was referring to included “the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions—the defective people society would be better off without.” Harty went on to opine that nature has a way of “getting rid of stupid people,” and “now we’re saving everyone who gets born.”
BioEdge continued, “Mr. Harty threw caution to the wind after Ms. Omand protested about cuts to mental health services. ‘I wish we had a Siberia so we could ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population,’ he allegedly said.”
As astounding as such individuals and their actions may seem to those of us who are rational and logical, and who are capable of critical thinking when it comes to what is ethical and what is unethical, they are not uncommon in the context of our cultural attitudes toward the dignity of the human person.
So it is for these people that we must pray, and it is these people we must educate, if we hope to see the dignity of human life become a vital part of our society again.