Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lucia Logan's Run

The euthanasia debate is heating up again. As if the right to kill yourself is something that ought to be enshrined in law. But whenever I think of euthanasia, I think of Logan's Run, a TV programme from the 70's that explored the concept of euthanasia taken to an extreme, that life wasn't worth living once a person turned thirty years old. But rather than suicide being a choice, the state terminated those who reached this hallowed age.

Once the state sanctions assisted suicide, all bets are off as to how far it will go. Logan's Run shows us just how far it could go.

Related Link: Date with Death ~ Dominion Post

15 comment(s):

Sean said...

"Logan's Run shows us just how far it could go." ...which is a TV program based on pure fantasy and science fiction, of course.

ZenTiger said...

Yeah, as crazy as imagining Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot could wipe millions off the face of the Earth.

And thousands terminated every year in NZ with state sanction on the basis they are young enough...

...all flights of fantasy?

I don't find it hard to imagine that there will be a cultural shift to "do the right thing" and not be a burden on the health system as the balance between young tax payers and old retirees continues its trend.

ZenTiger said...

"The Island" was another like Logan's Run that made a fine point.

Lucia Maria said...


science fiction is a form of future prophesing. You take an idea that is current and see where it could go in the future.

Ever read "Ender's Game"?

Angus said...

As Theodore Dalrymple one opined "there is a progression in the minds of men: first the unthinkable becomes thinkable, then the thinkable becomes an orthodoxy whose truth seems so obvious that no one remembers that anyone ever thought differently"

Euthanasia, drug liberalization, eugenics anyone ?

I.M Fletcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leonidas said...

I don't know.... I don't find it unreasonable to grant one with a terminal illness release from their pain. I do however agree that it could be corrupted into something entirely evil.

Sean said...

"Ever read "Ender's Game"?"

No - is it any good? I haven't read a novel in years.

I looked it up on Wikipedia and the plot seems pretty ordinary but - as the NYT reviewer puts is - "Card develops the elements well despite this "unpromising material""

ZenTiger said...

Any Good? It's brilliant.

Especially if you had read it the year it came out (which generally makes for better science fiction).

That reviewer would probably describe a rose as some kind of flower with annoying thorns, to be avoided in favour of very nice pictures of tulips.

Sean said...

Zen - is it a children's book? categorises it as reading ages 9-12! I was about to snap it up until I noticed this. Maybe when you enjoyed it so much, you were just a young 'un at the time! Or is misguided?

ZenTiger said...

Hi Sean, I'd describe it as a teen's book, and one that even an adult can enjoy. The same way many of the recent kids movies manage to insert messages and jokes for the parents dragged along to watch, which go over the heads of their children.

9-12 may well enjoy it but miss the subtext. Orson Scott-Card is a good writer in general.

I think I read the book when I was about 15 or 16, and it was definitely a good read at the time (and I was a voracious reader from an early age). I suspect it would still be a good read. I'll let you know, because I'll read it again when I get it for my young son.

Sean said...

Maybe you have a point Lucyna. Is the US taking a step in this direction?
The politics of death

Health reformers always smash up against two unpalatable truths. We are all going to die. And the demand for interventions that might postpone that day far outstrips the supply. No politician would be caught dead admitting this, of course: most promise that all will receive whatever is medically necessary. But what does that mean? Should doctors seek to save the largest number of lives, or the largest number of years of life? Even in America, resources are finite. No one doubts that $1,000 to save the life of a child is money well spent. But what about $1m to prolong a terminally ill patient’s painful life by a week? Also, who should pay?

There are no easy answers. Unfortunately for Mr Obama, some of his academic chums have pondered seriously and publicly about the questions. Cass Sunstein, an adviser, has written extensively about which life-saving rules are most cost-effective. Ezekiel Emanuel, a doctor whose brother is Mr Obama’s chief of staff, wrote a paper for the Lancet, a medical journal, in which he proposed a system for determining who should be first in line for such things as liver transplants or vaccines during an epidemic. Among other factors, he suggested taking age into account, with adolescents and young adults getting priority, because they have fully developed personalities and many years of life ahead. This may be philosophically defensible, but it is political poison—Dr Emanuel even included a graph showing voters above and below the ideal age how much less their lives are worth. Conservative talk radio predictably dubbed him “Dr Death”. Republicans vowed last week to outlaw the rationing of care by age."

Plus financing the older generation in 20 years time is a known future problem. Can it be easy to rationalise such scenarios?

ZenTiger said...

Sean, I think that it will be easily rationalised. More insidious though will be the cultural shift (loosely speaking) to "do the right thing" and not be a burden on the health system as the balance between young tax payers and old retirees continues its trend.

Seán said...

ZenTiger - well almost a year later and I have just finished Ender's Game (not that I started that long ago! - I noticed on a friend's bookshelf about a month ago and asked to borrow it, remembering this conversation).

You are right that it is a teen's book that adults can enjoy. I really struggled with the believability of it though, not the sci-fi component, but the characters and what they could achieve at the willing wisp of the author's pen. He did pretty well predicting the Nets though, though blogosphere doesn't quite yet have the influence of Demosthenes and Locke!!

Lucyna - in a earlier comment above you mentioned that the book takes a current idea and sees where it could go in the future. In Ender's Game, what are you referring to here? Cold war? Or a more social aspect like China's 'One child' policy cf "Third"?

ZenTiger said...

Hi Sean. What a coincidence. My children just listened to the audio book version (9 CDS) during the holidays. Their Uncle borrowed it from his local library.

They loved it.

I agree though, ideal for teens, characterisation not holding up so well after all these years.

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