One time, two of our young daughters went to some friends’ home for a sleepover. For some inexplicable reason, these girls’ usually responsible parents decided that watching the 1944 black and white movie, Arsenic and Old Lace, was a suitable evening activity. Twenty years later, that supposed comedy, with its murderous elderly aunts, still gives our girls nightmares.
Laughter often springs from a contrast between reality and what we are seeing. Surely, Arsenic and Old Lace could only be seen as a comedy by viewers who did not actually suspect that their sweet, unassuming aunts had scores of bodies hidden in their basements. As young girls, our daughters apparently were not completely clear that the movie didn’t depict reality.
Motivated by a misplaced sense of compassion (not to mention insanity) the two sweet, loving aunts in the movie murder lonely old men who are visiting them. Seeing the film as humorous, even if it is dark humor, presupposes an understanding of the sanctity of life. That is one of the values that Americans used to share and increasingly don’t.
Without that, Arsenic and Old Lace is no longer a comedy but a nightmare.
With little fanfare, a number of ‘medical aid in dying’ laws have recently gone into effect or will shortly do so in the United States. These allow physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients. The laws contain numerous clauses designed to ensure that patients are thoughtful, competent to make such decisions and not being influenced to do so by others. Reality suggests that meticulously crafted laws are no match for human ingenuity, mendacity, carelessness and evil.
Europe is ahead of the United States (though ahead seems the wrong word to use) when it comes to physician-assisted suicide and voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary euthanasia. I doubt that the relatives of those murdered, or who, as the official report euphemistically labels it, died by “a disregard for human life” at Gosport War Memorial hospital in the United Kingdom, would find Arsenic and Old Lace funny. The individual stories of the over 450 hospital patients who were given deliberately dangerous drug doses between 1988 and 2000 leading to their deaths, certainly aren’t even slightly funny. Rather, they are tragic.
Official government reports of this National Health Service monstrosity use terms like, “unsafe care” and “professional misconduct.” That is using language to mask the truth. It is not neglect or even misconduct to deliberately inject a patient with a dosage of medicine meant to kill him. It is murder.
This as well as other stories from Europe that suggest similar problems contradicts the progressive narrative. They receive little play in the United States. Universal healthcare is promoted as leading to better health care, not administrative overreach leading to horrific deaths. Advocates depict physician-assisted suicide only as a compassionate and caring act, not one easily subject to diabolical abuse.
In the real world, people get very ill and too frequently suffer months and years of physical and mental torment before dying. Those who love them suffer in agony with them. The lure of ‘medical aid in dying’ and euthanasia is a siren song whose appeal is incredibly tempting for good and caring people. Yet, as the Gosport tragedy reveals, interfering in life and death is one of those areas where we humans desperately need a Higher Power to separate Good from Evil.