The Hobgoblin Of A Small Mind

In conversation with some friends tonight, it was pointed out to me that I am logically inconsistent. We started out with a conversation about BDSM over noodles, as one so often does. My position on this is that of a reasonable human being: “your kink is not my kink, but your kink is OK”. Provided of course, that your kink has one, two, or more consenting adult humans involved.

But then we got onto the issue of what it is possible to consent to (the context, of course, being that there are certain acts that law says it is not possible to consent to, and that list will get broader in a week or two). Now, as I say, if you want to let someone at your reproductive bits with any sort of implement, then that’s fine by me. All parties around the noodles were definitely agreed on that. But I do, for example, believe that it should not be possible to give your consent to being killed. (I am of course, thinking of the case of Armin Meiwes in German a few years back.)

Except that I believe in assisted suicide. My friends picked me up on this. And my response was that well, I believe in assisted suicide when someone’s quality of life is so awful as to be unbearable, and, in the opinion of a trained medical third party, is unlikely to improve. But if there’s a chance someone’s life could get back to bearable state, then they ought to keep going and that the urge of a person with a reasonable quailty of life (or a reasonable hope of same in the view of a third party) to simply end was the product of an abberant mental state that could be reasonably held in invalidate consent. (I should make it clear: this is not a judgement on people who feel like this, I simply feel that it is society’s duty to help people who feel like this to not feel like this, rather than to help them to shuffle off.)

“Why?” I was not unreasonably asked. Because, when you get down to it, I am a big communist hippy. Someone dying for no other reason than “just because they wish to right now” removes not just themselves, but all that they might ever be, from the world, and I think we owe it to our fellow man to hang about in case we can be useful later.

“Ah!” my friends then said: “So you’re pro-life?”

But I am not. I’m a good pro-choice boy, thanks. But, of course the death of a foetus deprives our fellow man of all they might be.

Bollocks. So, how do I reconcile this? Honestly, I think it has something to do with sentience. But I don’t seem to be able to nail it down very well, because, well, a foetus in sentience in potentia, isn’t it?

So, either I need to reconcile these views somehow, or I need to admit that it’s OK to help someone top themselves just because they’re having a bit of a bad day. But then, so does our justice system, so I’m hardly alone. But while I’m mulling it over, I wondered if anyone had any clever thoughts on how these positions could be made to fit together?