Miscellany:Larson for Delegate, suicide version
- 1 FAQ
- 1.1 What is your campaign platform?
- 1.2 What are your specific legislative proposals?
- 1.3 Why should a variety of suicide methods be made available?
- 1.4 What effect would legalizing pentobarbital for suicide have on rates of recreational use?
- 1.5 Should suicidal tendencies be regarded as a sign of mental illness?
- 1.6 How much demand will there be for assisted suicide clinics?
- 1.7 Why do people need the help of a suicide clinic; why can't they just kill themselves on their own?
- 1.8 What are some high-profile cases in which it would have been helpful if assisted suicide had been legal?
- 1.9 What would be the benefits of legalizing suicide clinics?
- 1.10 What effect could legalizing suicide have on politics and culture?
- 1.11 Can legalizing suicide clinics help people who don't ultimately kill themselves?
- 1.12 Is suicide an LGBT issue?
- 1.13 Is suicide a veterans issue?
- 1.14 Is cannabis prohibition another reason why we need legalized suicide?
- 1.15 Could legalized suicide help with the problem of pedophiles' and hebephiles' not fitting into society?
- 1.16 Can psychiatric help prevent suicides?
- 1.17 Why shouldn't people work to improve their lives rather than ending them?
- 1.18 Aren't a lot of misfits beautiful and wonderful people?
- 1.19 Why not change society or change the individual so that there aren't so many misfits?
- 1.20 Aren't there people who say, "I'm glad I didn't kill myself when I wanted to"?
- 1.21 If I have no interest in killing myself, why should I support suicide legalization anyway?
- 1.22 What effect will the legalization of suicide have on the gene and meme pools?
- 1.23 Has the erosion of freedom of speech made life less worth living?
- 1.24 What do libertarians think about suicide?
- 1.25 Why should there be a federal constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to suicide?
- 1.26 Why run a single-issue campaign rather than having a more comprehensive platform?
- 1.27 What have you done to help legalize suicide?
- 1.28 Why don't you put your theory into practice by committing suicide yourself?
- 1.29 What has been your involvement in the Libertarian movement?
- 1.30 How can I help legalize assisted suicide clinics?
- 1.31 Do you have any campaign photos?
- 2 Notes
- 3 District maps
- 4 Contact information
- 5 External links
What is your campaign platform?
What are your specific legislative proposals?
I propose either (1) simply removing pentobarbital from the schedule of controlled substances in § 54.1-3448 so that it can be purchased over-the-counter by those desiring to end their lives; or (2) adding a new code section, modeled after § 18.2-251.1, allowing possession or distribution of pentobarbital by assisted suicide clinicians for suicide.
I also propose making alternative means of suicide, such as ED-209-style assisted suicide machines, be used to accommodate those who prefer a different suicide method, such as by firing squad.
I also propose amending § 37.2-809 to remove risk of physical harm to self as a basis for civil commitment.
I also propose amending the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to guarantee prisoners the right to commit suicide.
I also propose a constitutional amendment guaranteeing everyone the right to take their own life, and to assist others in committing suicide.
I also propose establishing assisted suicide clinics and offering other assisted suicide options in all the jails and prisons in the Commonwealth.
I oppose legislation such as SB 1443 that would take away gun rights from suicidal people.
Why should a variety of suicide methods be made available?
Pentobarbital is a reliable and peaceful method, but not the quickest method. A firing squad in many ways would be superior. Chris Everett notes:
A proper firing squad will consist of some number of shooters, usually between four and twelve, all of which will have some training in arms, firing in unison at the target (usually the heart) of the condemned. When a rifle bullet hits flesh at that range, it will tend to begin to tumble, and as a result the force on the bullet increases to beyond its structural integrity, and it fragments into many small pieces. The effect of several bullets doing this in the thoracic cavity will in effect shred the heart, lungs, and other organs in that area. This will cause an immediate drop in blood pressure, and the blood in the brain will quickly drain. This will cause an almost immediate loss of consciousness, and death will soon follow.
A U.S. News article notes:
"Firing a gun at point blank range into the head" is 100 percent effective, and "would cause a near-instantaneous death. But it would be exceedingly violent and destructive," Goldfarb writes.
Justice Sotomayer wrote in Arthur v. Dunn, "In addition to being near instant, death by shooting may also be comparatively painless. . . . . And historically, the firing squad has yielded significantly fewer botched executions."
A firing squad equipped with M2 Brownings might be an effective way of inflicting a speedy death.
What effect would legalizing pentobarbital for suicide have on rates of recreational use?
If the pentobarbital were to be administered by a suicide clinic, this would likely be a non-issue, since they would only be administering lethal doses.
But even if it were made available over-the-counter, I don't think there would be much effect. After cannabis is legalized, drug users will probably mostly switch to cannabis. Also, most drug users are probably aware that pentobarbital is a dangerous drug best reserved for suicide.
But supposing some recreational users did get hold of it, and overdose on it, this could help weed out of the population those who might have a tendency toward drug abuse, so in the end, it's a net positive.
Should suicidal tendencies be regarded as a sign of mental illness?
Perhaps, but not all mental illness is treatable. Also, even if a person is mentally ill, his desire to commit suicide because of the effects the mental illness has on his life could still be rational.
Depression could also serve an evolutionary purpose or a social purpose (e.g. by allowing society to divert resources to people whose future prospects seem more promising). Many suicidal people are socially isolated, which could indicate they are not offering value that would incentivize others to offer them the social support they would need to solve some of their problems, feel more of a sense of purpose, and not feel so miserable.
The kinds of problems that drive people to suicide can't always be solved by taking a pill or going to therapy sessions. If society and its members are not willing to offer a suicidal person anything more than a place in a mental hospital (or in jail, since jails are the new mental hospitals), or some other meagerly subsidized life that is roughly equivalent to such an existence, then maybe that person has no reason for continuing to exist.
Even supposing, for the sake of argument, suicidal ideation is a sign of mental illness, not all illnesses have a cure, and sometimes all you can do for a sick person is let him die with dignity.
But at any rate, maybe suicidal ideation is simply an indicator, "You need to seek help, and if help is not forthcoming, then you need to check out rather than continuing to spin your wheels purposelessly." The misery is intended to impel one to action of some kind or another to put an end to the misery. If, after cries for help, no one offers the necessary help to deal with the situation other than by suicide, that's a sign that society has judged the person unworthy of any more investment. Since humans are social animals, that is for practical purposes a death sentence.
Arguably, it's the non-suicidal who have a warped view of reality. As Encyclopedia Dramatica notes, "Depression is a higher state of consciousness in which your pleasant illusions are dispelled, leading you to realise your utter irrelevance and worthlessness. Comprehension of this higher truth inevitably leads you to the only acceptable solution. This state is incorrectly perceived by mainstream society as a medical condition, arguably because a depressed person tends to destabilise the pleasant illusions of others."
Carl Vogel argues, "Psychologically healthy people generally twist the world to their advantage just a little bit. If we do well on a test, for example, we're likely to congratulate ourselves. If we do poorly, we'll claim the test was badly written, unfair or wrong. It's normal, perhaps even necessary. By telling ourselves that our faults are universal but our strengths are unique, we can get through life's trials without losing faith in our own abilities."
There are some strange psychological phenomena that are common to all. Déjà vu could be considered a form of mild hallucination or delusion. When people monentarily feel distressed over embarrassing incidents from 20 years ago that likely no one else cares about, yet which repeatedly come back to mind with the same effect despite being dismissed as unimportant, that could be considered a mild neurosis. No one can explain it, yet we all have it.
Given that we all have quirks and eccentricities, rather than speaking of crazy or normal, we could simply talk about fitting in or not fitting in, because that is the truly relevant demarcation between categories of people, from the perspective of society. "Able to handle the pain" or "unable to handle the pain" might be the relevant categorization from the standpoint of the individual. Despair reduces one's ability to handle pain.
How much demand will there be for assisted suicide clinics?
I'm thinking the demand could be pretty high, especially among students. According to the CDC, among students in grades 9-12 in the U.S. during 2013:
- 17.0% of students seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months (22.4% of females and 11.6% of males).
- 13.6% of students made a plan about how they would attempt suicide in the previous 12 months (16.9% of females and 10.3% of males).
- 8.0% of students attempted suicide one or more times in the previous 12 months (10.6% of females and 5.4% of males).
- 2.7% of students made a suicide attempt that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or an overdose that required medical attention (3.6% of females and 1.8% of males).
That is a lot of people who could potentially benefit from this reform.
Why do people need the help of a suicide clinic; why can't they just kill themselves on their own?
The failure rate of attempted suicides is fairly high. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, suicide attempts overall result in a 14.1 percent fatality rate for males and 3.1 percent rate for females. According to a Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center study, 30 percent of transgender youth report a history of at least one suicide attempt. The CDC reports, "Nearly one-third (29%) of LGB [lesbian, gay, bisexual] youth had attempted suicide at least once in the prior year."
According to the CDC, in 2013, 494,169 people were treated in emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries. Nonfatal, self-inflicted injuries (including hospitalized and emergency department treated and released) resulted in an estimated $10.4 billion in combined medical and work loss costs. This is unacceptable.
Suicide also often involves paramedics, police, etc. getting involved, which could all be avoided if it were treated as a normal medical or life decision.
For those who face criminal charges, pentobarbital offers a better death than what once could obtain by means of cyanide ingestion. There were some few high-profile cases, e.g. those of Michael Marin, Steve Parsons, and Alan Bruce Chmurny, in which defendants took cyanide in the courtroom after the guilty verdict was read. It's can be a horrific (and disturbing, for those who witness it) way to die, but for those who insist on watching anyway, the footage is on YouTube and/or LiveLeak.
What are some high-profile cases in which it would have been helpful if assisted suicide had been legal?
What would be the benefits of legalizing suicide clinics?
Legalized suicide could be a way of getting rid of some misfits who can't find a place for themselves in society. It could save on the health care costs of keeping terminally ill patients alive. It could save on the costs of incarceration if jailed or imprisoned persons, recognizing that their criminal record means they likely lack a promising future, were able to more easily kill themselves.
If people felt like they could talk honestly about their suicidal ideation without being committed to a mental hospital, they might also be better able to get help as an alternative to committing suicide.
The organs of people who die in a suicide clinic could also be harvested for transplantation.
What effect could legalizing suicide have on politics and culture?
Legalizing any consensual practice tends to encourage legalizing other consensual practices, as experience with the new freedom proves that the world doesn't come to an end when people are allowed to make decisions for themselves.
Aside from that, it's hard to say. It partly depends on what kinds of people would be killing themselves. We can probably safely assume that not a lot of people who fit into society well, and who have a lot of contributions left to make, would be killing themselves. Probably the major change is that some people who are on the borderline between wanting to live and wanting to die would make the decision to die.
We have to keep in mind, though, that some of the people who don't fit into society well make unusual contributions. A perusal of Wikipedia userpages reveals that many editors identify as having a number of psychiatric disorders. "Normal" people tend not to get heavily involved in editing, because they have other stuff to do; it tends to be people who have failed in other endeavors who spend a lot of time giving away their work for free.
The same goes for offbeat political ideas. The spiral of silence would tend to keep unusual political ideas, and even unpopular truths, from being expressed, were it not for a few individuals who either have nothing to lose, or who will insist on speaking their minds until they get ostracized to the point that they have nothing left to lose. What happens when these people kill themselves? This may promote more tolerance toward unusual people, as society seeks to avoid a Soviet-style brain drain of dissident intellectuals, or it may further the spiral of silence, as there are fewer dissidents to appreciate other dissidents' ideas and stand up for them.
A lot of dissidents probably influence society in very behind-the-scenes ways that are hard to trace back to them. (Again, Wikipedia comes to mind.) I would imagine the dissidents most likely to want to commit suicide would be the more obscure ones who lack obvious reminders of their significance in the world.
Legalized suicide could make it possible for activists to organize mass suicides to try to achieve political goals by raising awareness through a demonstration of their unwillingness to accept tyranny (a historical example being the 1981 Irish hunger strike, memorialized in the song, Roll of Honour). Suicide is often a tool of activism, an example being when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire.
Can legalizing suicide clinics help people who don't ultimately kill themselves?
I think so. The case of Emily/"Laura" is one such example. Had she not been presented with the opportunity to kill herself, she might have stayed in her rut, focusing on why she wanted to die.
Is suicide an LGBT issue?
There are high rates of suicidal ideation and attempted suicide among LGBT youth, so yes.
Is suicide a veterans issue?
The relationships between military service and suicide are not clear, although one study of recent veterans reported a 12.5% prevalence of suicide ideation in the past 2 weeks.
Is cannabis prohibition another reason why we need legalized suicide?
Every restriction on freedom makes life a little bit less worth living, because it limits our possibilities for pursuing happiness. Drugs provide some temporary relief from, or enhancement of, reality and therefore could help some people get by day-to-day so that they don't have to resort to suicide. Also, getting arrested for cannabis offenses can harm one's family and career prospects, making life seem less worth living.
Could legalized suicide help with the problem of pedophiles' and hebephiles' not fitting into society?
Certainly. People are always saying, whenever a pedophile gets caught, "You should've killed yourself before you did that!" Yet they aren't providing the clinics by which that would be easily possible. Historically, there's been a stigma against able-bodied people killing themselves. Dignitas, for instance, won't let you use their services unless you meet stringent criteria:
This is very difficult, a lengthy and complex proceeding with many obstacles and there is no guarantee to receive the “provisional green light” for an accompanied suicide. It depends much on the quality of the medical file: clear diagnosis of the illness, description of its cause and development, proof of all therapies tried (with or without success) plus an in-depth psychiatric appraisal concerning the capacity of judgement and discernment in regard of the wish for a self-determined end of life, also confirming that this wish is not a symptom of the psychiatric illness but a well-considered balance decision.
Those who have a documented diagnosis of pedophilia (and/or pedophilic disorder), or who have been deemed to have a low-moderate or higher risk of offending, might be considered as being in a situation meriting suicide.
One might argue, "People who want to kill themselves are mentally ill," but by that same logic, those who advocate that pedophiles kill themselves could also be mentally ill, since they too are desiring that a suicide occur. To my knowledge, no one has ever said that those who advocate pedophiles kill themselves are mentally ill.
According to psychiatrists, pedophilia can't go into remission. While sex offender psychologists say that treatment and supervision can somewhat reduce the risk of a pedophile's offending, legislators, judges, and mental health workers generally seem to think that it cannot cure pedophilia or reduce the risk to a level that would warrant releasing the offender from restrictions on his liberty, as evidenced by the fact that lifetime supervised release is typically recommended for sex offenders.
Although one might argue that there's a difference between pedophilia and sex offending, the general public conflates the two. Either way, both categories of people should be allowed to kill themselves.
When a video of a tween cleaning her room gets 2.7 million views, we know that there are a lot of pedophiles and/or hebephiles out there. Probably a large proportion of those committing suicide are already closeted pedophiles who see little point in remaining a part of a society that sexually disenfranchises them. At any rate, the majority of society seems to want them dead, so society should not have a problem with making the means more readily available to them.
We live in a society where men are considered sick unless they prefer cellulite-riddled, saggy-fleshed, middle-aged women carrying baggage from many previous relationships, to younger, tighter, less experienced, and more sweet, accommodating, and trainable girls. A growing number of men are deciding that it is not worth the sacrifices and effort required to try to please these older women, for what little success they have in making them happy, and what little love they receive. This, however, leaves them without a family of their own, and wondering what their purpose in life is.
Despite the ruling in Stanley v. Georgia that "If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch", the state prohibits the possession of child pornography because it doesn't want the truth to come out that Vicky wasn't raped and Kenneth Freeman did nothing wrong.
I support SuiPed and its agenda.
Can psychiatric help prevent suicides?
In some cases, there is an underlying psychiatric disorder contributing to suicidal ideation, but the sheer number of suicidal people in our society suggests that society as a whole may be dysfunctional in ways that are causing millions of people to feel alienated and hopeless.
Why shouldn't people work to improve their lives rather than ending them?
Sometimes people get painted into a corner where their options are limited. A man might get a felony conviction and have trouble getting a decent job (or any job at all). A woman might reach a certain age and still not have married or had kids. Some people find it's too late to turn their lives around.
There are also some people who are simply incompetent and lacking in marketable skills. Everything they try to do, that others might find to be of value if they could succeed at it, they mess up.
Aren't a lot of misfits beautiful and wonderful people?
Yes, from the standpoint of those who don't have to support them or rely on them to function as a normal person would.
The best analogy I can use is to a workplace where you have a co-worker who is very helpful when you ask for assistance, and has a pleasant personality. Yet he gets poor performance reviews, and ultimately gets fired. The explanation for this is that you are only seeing one side of him, while his boss is seeing a fuller picture. From your perspective, it is good to have this person around because he helps you with your job, but from the boss's perspective, he is not pulling his weight.
Now it could just be that the boss is a jerk or that the company is dysfunctional, but if your co-worker gets fired by managers at many different companies who make the same complaints about his performance, then he's probably the common denominator who is an incorrigible misfit.
Similarly, you may have a friend who is a joy to be around, but you are not responsible for feeding, clothing, sheltering him, etc. or having to deal with him in other intimate capacities. You get the good aspects of having him around on this earth, without having to deal with the bad parts. Someone else deals with those.
This is why, too, it's easier to get along with someone as a friend than as, say, a spouse or a business partner. The more intertwined your affairs are with someone else's, and the more you're in a position of having to rely on that person to meet your needs, the more potential there is for them to fail in their role, creating conflict. You start to see weaknesses in them that you otherwise wouldn't have become aware of. Geniuses are often doomed to a life of solitude simply because the nature of pioneering work is that it occurs in seclusion as, in the words of Ludwig von Mises, "his fellow men at best are unconcerned about it, more often even greet it with taunts, sneers, and persecution". Mises writes:
As a social institution marriage is an adjustment of the individual to the social order by which a certain field of activity, with all its tasks and requirements, is assigned to him. Exceptional natures, whose abilities lift them far above the average, cannot support the coercion which such an adjustment to the way of life of the masses must involve. The man who feels within himself the urge to devise and achieve great things, who is prepared to sacrifice his life rather than be false to his mission, will not stifle his urge for the sake of a wife and children. In the life of a genius, however loving, the woman and whatever goes with her occupy a small place. We do not speak here of those great men in whom sex was completely sublimated and turned into other channels — Kant, for example — or of those whose fiery spirit, insatiable in the pursuit of love, could not acquiesce in the inevitable disappointments of married life and hurried with restless urge from one passion to another. Even the man of genius whose married life seems to take a normal course, whose attitude to sex does not differ from that of other people, cannot in the long run feel himself bound by marriage without violating his own self. Genius does not allow itself to be hindered by any consideration for the comfort of its fellows even of those closest to it. The ties of marriage become intolerable bonds which the genius tries to cast off or at least to loosen so as to be able to move freely. The married couple must walk side by side amid the rank and file of humanity. Whoever wishes to go his own way must break away from it. Rarely indeed is he granted the happiness of finding a woman willing and able to go with him on his solitary path.
Therefore, if there is someone in your life who considers himself a misfit, yet who seems fine to you, that may be because of your distance from him, your knowledge about him is limited, and you're filling in the gaps with assumptions that give him the benefit of the doubt.
The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. A rose might be more beautiful than an oak tree, but it won't be around nearly as long. Sometimes you have to enjoy a fleeting beauty while it lasts.
Why not change society or change the individual so that there aren't so many misfits?
Society is already doing everything it can to change the individual so that he will conform to society's expectations. As for changing society so that individuals can be happier, perhaps the first priority should be giving the individual an escape from a dysfunctional society, before trying to change society to be less dysfunctional. Until people start dropping like flies by means of suicide, society may not even notice there's a problem. So, legalizing suicide could partly be a means to an end, resulting in broader reforms.
Even in the best society, there will still be misfits. I suppose it's possible that society's imperfections could cause some people to be misfits who really shouldn't be, and cause some people to fit in who in a better society would be misfits.
It could also be that misfits are the kind of people who, in any society, would not be very adaptable, but rather would demand that society adapt to them, so that they can create progress by being the squeaky wheel.
Aren't there people who say, "I'm glad I didn't kill myself when I wanted to"?
Yes, and there are also people who say, "I might as well have killed myself years ago and saved myself all that pointless suffering." We don't hear much from them, because their story is politically incorrect to tell, and nobody cares what the unsuccessful have to say anyway. Besides, they may finally kill themselves and not be around to tell their story anymore.
It's often argued that life gets better. Sure, maybe if you win the lottery. But as Thoreau observed, the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Just because it's quiet doesn't make it any less desperation. Looking at how people brag on Facebook, one would think everyone is happy, but in reality, they're playing the same game of grasping for social status as what went on in high school, while shunning certain people and making passive aggressive digs. Kids think that when they grow older, they'll be free to do what they want, but few actually end up in a position of being their own boss. There is always someone to answer to, whether it's a manager, or customer, or whomever. The social pressure to conform is present in the adult world too, as it was in high school. Theoretically, through brains and hard work, one can outshine those who were at the top of the high school pecking order, but it doesn't always work out that way. Ludwig von Mises points out:
Scarcely one person in a million succeeds in fulfilling his life's ambition. The upshot of one's labors, even if one is favored by fortune, remains far inferior to what the wistful daydreams of youth allowed one to hope for. Plans and desires are shattered on a thousand obstacles, and one's powers prove too weak to achieve the goals on which one has set one's heart. The failure of his hopes, the frustration of his schemes, his own inadequacy in the face of the tasks that he has set himself-these constitute every man's most deeply painful experience, They are, indeed, the common lot of man.
If I have no interest in killing myself, why should I support suicide legalization anyway?
If you like freedom, then you should support every freedom that people want to uphold, even those you don't plan on exercising, because the state usually follows a strategy of using unpopular freedoms as wedge issues to make it easier to take away other freedoms.
Also, even those who aren't misfits themselves have an interest in helping rid society of misfits. If misfits were wanted in this world, they wouldn't be misfits. What makes them misfits is that they're unwanted. They do not offer enough value for the world to want to accept them. Yet at the same time, people often wish they would just quietly go away, even though there is no place for them to go where they can do anything adequately productive (since if there were, they wouldn't be misfits).
What characterizes a misfit is that they take more value than they give, whether intentionally or not. Now it may happen that after they're dead, society reassesses the value of their contributions and decides that they were wrongly persecuted. Who is to say that the new assessment is any better than the old assessment, though? Change, especially in the field of politics, ethics, philosophy, etc. is not always progressive; sometimes it is regressive.
Is society any worse off because Alan Turing committed suicide in 1954, rather than continuing to live under the circumstances in which he found himself? Usually by the time people decide to die, their best work is behind them. The persecution of Turing would have hindered him from making further contributions, so he made an arguably logical decision.
Turing's death may have hastened changes in the laws concerning homosexuality and thereby saved others' lives from being destroyed. People's quiet misery can often be overlooked, but deaths grab people's attention and may spur them to action to address the cause of the misery that prompts people to kill themselves.
Persecution tends to harm people's morale and limit their freedom of action. A person who felt he could transcend these restrictions and still be helpful and/or happy anyway, would probably choose to continue living. Some may wish to pursue martyrdom, feeling that they can do more good in death than in life.
People might be more daring in life if all they had to fear was death rather than a miserable existence. We could probably use a little more boldness in our society.
Legalized suicide makes it possible to put into practice the "live free or die" ethos, even in a mostly unfree society.
It's also good to cultivate a culture of compassion. It is compassionate to allow the suffering to die if they wish. For the same reason torture even of prisoners is outlawed, because it offends values of compassion, keeping people alive who don't want to be alive should also be outlawed. This is especially true of suicidal prisoners, welfare recipients, etc., who have to be kept alive with taxpayer funds.
What effect will the legalization of suicide have on the gene and meme pools?
We might look at suicide as a way by which people earn a Darwin award for ensuring that only the strongest survive. This is especially true if young people are killing themselves before reproducing. This is another reason why it's important to make suicide methods available to minors.
If people kill themselves for foolish reasons, then they are helping weed out of the gene and meme pools the tendency to kill oneself for foolish reasons. If, on the other hand, the state forcibly keeps them alive, and they go on to reproduce, then that helps those suicidal genes and memes propagate, creating further dependency on the state to prevent suicides.
Has the erosion of freedom of speech made life less worth living?
I think so. Even if we live in a society in which there isn't much personal freedom, if we at least have freedom of speech, we can try to make progress by persuading people why we should be allowed more freedom. As Justice Brandeis noted in Whitney v. California, "Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. . . . . It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears."
Yet in many ways, freedom of speech has been infringed. Child pornography laws prevent activists from presenting important visual evidence concerning the truth about how adult-child sex affects children. Although one might argue that most downloaders of child pornography are not intending to use it to make political points, Justice Marshall noted in Stanley v. Georgia that it is not "relevant that obscene materials in general, or the particular films before the Court, are arguably devoid of any ideological content. The line between the transmission of ideas and mere entertainment is much too elusive for this Court to draw, if indeed such a line can be drawn at all."
Intellectual property laws infringe people's right to create and distribute derivative works that are based on copyrighted material. This hampers people's freedom of expression, unless they can claim that their work is a form of "fair use". The beauty and informativeness of collaborative projects like Wikipedia is diminished by the fact that many images and other media cannot be included because permission cannot be obtained from the copyright owner. This is detrimental to our quality of life, and gets in the way of making the truth known.
What do libertarians think about suicide?
The 2004 Libertarian National Platform had a plank advocating "the repeal of all laws interfering with the right to commit suicide as infringements of the ultimate right of an individual to his or her own life." Peter McWilliams wrote:
When one chooses to die, shouldn't one have the right to do so in the presence of friends and loved ones? In more than half the states (and the number is growing), the law says no. If you invite friends or loved ones to be there, you put them at risk of being charged with "assisted suicide," "accessory to suicide," or even murder (first degree murder in at least two states). So many suicide notes contain messages such as, "I'm so sorry we couldn't be together at the end, but I did not want to endanger you. I thought this way was best."
Cato's Letter No. 56 notes that it is no "service to society, to keep alive by art or force a melancholy, miserable, and useless member, grown perhaps burdensome too by age and infirmities" and that we find "in history, many examples of the great and magnanimous heroes of antiquity, choosing voluntary death, often in the midst of health, with the greatest calmness of mind; sometimes from satiety of life and glory, either when they could gain no more, or apprehending that the future caprices of unconstant fortune might sully the past; and oftener still, to avoid submitting to disgrace and servitude."
Why should there be a federal constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to suicide?
Some might ask, why not leave it to states to experiment with their own policies?
It's better to allow property owners to decide what conduct and services to allow on their property, so that social experimentation can arise more organically and in a way that is guided by the invisible hand of the free market.
Why run a single-issue campaign rather than having a more comprehensive platform?
From the standpoint of the individual who wants to kill himself, other reforms may be fairly irrelevant, since once he's dead, he won't be around to care about them. A politically homeless individual, lacking affiliation with any organization or party, may lack the means to bring about other reforms anyway, since as a practical matter, campaigning for a broader agenda usually requires being part of a larger movement. It's much easier for an independent candidate to run on a single issue.
There are a lot of other important issues out there that simply aren't of interest to the voters, or that people don't want to engage in discussion about because there's an orthodox, politically correct opinion that one is not allowed to question without being denounced and ostracized. Therefore, it becomes necessary to retrench and focus on an issue like suicide instead.
What have you done to help legalize suicide?
I'm a life member of Exit International, which is mostly an organization of older individuals who talk about getting hold of pentobarbital, smuggling it across borders, and offing themselves when they decide they'd rather go that way than have to rely on a caregiver for all their basic needs as they become physically or mentally disabled. They even go so far as to manufacture their own pentobarbital so they can have a domestic source.
Why don't you put your theory into practice by committing suicide yourself?
I've committed social and political suicide many times and in many ways. That's not really that much different.
Besides, the proper way to kill yourself is to first spend years talking about how you want to kill yourself, until your situation and prospects for living a happy and meaningful life deteriorate to the point that you actually do decide to kill yourself.
What has been your involvement in the Libertarian movement?
How can I help legalize assisted suicide clinics?
You can vote for me. You can join organizations like Exit International.
Do you have any campaign photos?
Sure, here's one.
- Due to the procedurally and substantively defective nature of certain proceedings at the 26 March 2017 LPVA State Central Committee meeting, I do not recognize the outcome as valid.
- "HB 5005 House District 31" (PDF). Division of Legislative Service.
- "House of Delegates District 31". Virginia Public Access Project.
- "Overview of State House District 31, Virginia". Statistical Atlas.
- "HB 5005 House District 31" (PDF). Virginia General Assembly.
Nathan can be reached by email at
[email protected] or by phone at 540-391-1530.