Dispatches > The Buzz

Quick Takes

Issue: "Guns & Poses," April 13, 2002

LICENSE TO KILL The Netherlands became the first country to legalize mercy killings as the country's notorious euthanasia law went into effect this month. Doctors may now openly put ill patients to death, ostensibly protecting their right to "die with dignity." Columnist Maggie Gallagher, noting the Dutch penchant for so-called mercy killing, asked why people think deliberately ending someone's life is a proper medical duty. "To care and to kill become semantically and morally indistinguishable, two types of medical procedures," she writes. "In this and a hundred other ways, a right to die becomes both a right to kill and a duty to get out of the way." Referring to Dr. Kathleen Foley's book The Case Against Assisted Suicide, she noted that many terminally ill people are depressed and need good care, plus a sense of life's meaning. Instead, euthanizers want to dehumanize the sick to prove that their lives are not worth living. STEADY STREAM OF SELF-ESTEEM If "self-esteem" is the answer, then what's the question? Columnist Elizabeth Nickson calls the popular catch phrase an excuse to make millions selling narcissism. About 3,000 books with "self-esteem" in the title are on the market, she points out, as crowds of experts try to make people feel good about themselves. What the world needs, she argues, is self-reliance, not self-esteem. "The idea that we must feel self-esteem is swiftly building, on this continent, an angry confused underclass, whose dominant emotion is resentment," she writes. The doctrine is "institutionalized in our public school system with its destructive, equal weighting of all cultures, and its craven consent to teach natives only their own culture, because to do that is to build self-esteem." PROFILE IN POLITICS Racial profiling may be a myth, concludes Heather MacDonald in the City Journal. She writes that the evidence for heavy-handed charges of police racism is based either on anecdotal evidence or misused statistics. "Rather than debating whether racial profiling is a good or bad thing, we should first determine whether it is even going on," she argues on the journal's website. "More hard science is needed on the interaction between police and citizen behavior." Ms. MacDonald notes that the typical complaint is over traffic stops. "Trouble is," she writes, "no one yet has devised an adequate benchmark against which to measure [whether] police are pulling over, searching, or arresting 'too many' blacks and Hispanics." EVIL ENGINEERING Two lesbians who are trying to genetically engineer a deaf baby received a sympathetic feature profile in The Washington Post. Writer Liza Mundy said the pair belong to a radical segment of the deaf community that sees hearing impairment as the key to their cultural identity. Her article hints that this is a precursor to a future world where people can choose a baby's abilities and handicaps and have a child custom made to their own specifications. "Sharon and Candy share the fundamental view of this Deaf camp," she writes. "They see deafness as an identity, not a medical affliction that needs to be fixed. Their effort#&151;to have a baby who belongs to what they see as their minority group#&151;is a natural outcome of the pride and self-acceptance the Deaf movement has brought to so many." THE IRON LADY EXITS Margaret Thatcher's abrupt departure from public life leaves a hole in world politics. John O'Sullivan notes in the Chicago Sun-Times that the announcement from her office late last month that she would not give public speeches "ever" again brought "whoops of delight from the Left" even as Britain's Conservative Party backed away from her legacy. Before her retirement due to a stroke, Mr. O'Sullivan had helped the former prime minister with her memoirs. ("No one writes books or speeches for Thatcher#&151;but only with Thatcher," he points out.) "Thatcher knows her place in history is secure," Mr. O'Sullivan writes. "Whatever the constantly changing valuations in the market of historical reputation, she was Britain's greatest peacetime prime minister of the 20th century and probably the last British prime minister to make a significant impact on world history. She no longer need exert herself on her own behalf."

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