Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How is 'bullshit' the 'perfect' response?

I didn't see last night's Q&A, but it didn't take long scrolling through Facebook and Twitter this morning to know what had generated the most conversation. Professor Margaret Somerville, an anti-Euthanasia advocate, was engaged with an 81-year old proponent of euthanasia. Somerville  argued that how an individual dies is a matter for society. The 81 year-old dismissed that with the assertion that choosing how and when to die is nothing whatsoever to do with society (although it does have something to do with family) and to suggest otherwise is 'bullshit'.

Now, I reckon you could make a pretty strong argument that the fact that proponents of voluntary euthanasia are making public arguments for a change in the law is a pretty good indication that the question of how people die is a matter for society. If you want to change the law of the land, it is a matter for society because the law is a social matter. This is true regardless of whatever position you take on the legalising of euthanasia.

But what was most alarming was the celebration of the dismissive 'bullshit' comment. BuzzFeedOzPolitics headlined it as the 'perfect' response. Even Tony Jones suggested it was 'refreshing' - the word that found it's way into the headline of the The Australian's review of the programme. One Tweeter celebrated it as evidence that old people aren't stupid!! Surely, it was, instead, a classic case of refusing to engage with someone who holds a view different from your own. And that's worth celebrating?





Then as I kept watching, I discovered that later in the program there was an excellent segment about whether we were becoming less tolerant of views we disagree with. (Check it out at the 45:37 mark.) There were really sensible comments from Billy Bragg and Penny Wong about the importance of exposing ourselves to contrary views. That's the bit of last night's programme that really is worth watching and celebrating - no bullshit. 




3 comments:

Pamela said...

I didn't watch the Q&A program you are referring to. Euthanasia is an emotive subject. Like you, I believe it is a matter for society. However, I can understand why people would want to 'control' this part of their existence. 'Bullshit' is a very Australian response when we are a bit peeved, and at a loss for words. If it's multiplied, then the person on the receiving end may feel there's a whole pile of something not very savoury in front of them!

Susan Malthouse said...

I totally agree that "bullshit" is a childish and inadequate response from someone blinkered to the broader and different arguments around euthanasia. As someone aware of both sides, who feels conflicted by both sides, but who is also living both sides at the moment, there are no easy answers.
I am also aware that euthanasia is a social issue purely based on the fact that there are such diverse opinions that they can only (MUST) engage with each other on a social level. However, as someone who has relocated into my Dad's home to be with him in his final weeks/months, I can't see beyond my immediate family, and can't see that it's anyone else's business if my Dad (or me on his behalf) made choices that helped him to die with slightly more dignity than he might otherwise have...

Kim Fabricius said...

... nothing whatsoever to do with society (although it does have something to do with family ...

Who was it who said, "You know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families." Oh yes, Margaret Thatcher!

How frightfully ironic.