If someone kills me I want someone to check why
I’m politically liberal, I believe in a small state and I believe in the right to autonomy. Therefore, you’d assume, I’d be one of those wondering “how could a bereaved mother [Kay Gilderdale] be put through the agony of a trial for attempted murder?”
In fact, I think one of the most vital things that the state should limit itself to doing is, when it finds one citizen attempting to end the life of another, to come along and ask in a comically plummy voice, “what’s going on here then?”
I was reading Gilderdale’s trial was horrific but necessary to retain a vital principle – Madeline Bunting in today’s Guardian and thought that she was really spot on. I have my own issues with assisted suicide but I think her observations are vitally important too, particularly in that it’s important not to subtly (or not) encourage people to end their own lives. I’d hope you wouldn’t tell a man on a bridge to jump, so you wouldn’t do it to an elderly relative either.
I think calls that the Gilderdale trial was a mistake are entirely wrong. I think that we need to be careful to watch who we put on trial but if someone is connected with the suspicious, non-natural death of a human being (let’s hypothetically say my death) they should damn well have to explain what they were doing. People who try to end others’ lives are not the sort of people we need to keep out of court. I don’t like the idea of accepting things which let you kill people – I don’t think it ends well.
I think if you kill someone in self defence you should have to show that it was self defence, if you were provoked you should have to show that you were provoked. Self defence lets you get away with murder, we really need to be careful with that. I think if someone claims they killed someone to end their suffering they should equally have to show that they did it to end their suffering and regardless, because every single murder victim in history was going to die eventually anyway, if they were actually OK with living in suffering that should never ever be a defence.
The problem with all of homicide defences based on the victim’s conduct (self defence, battered wife syndrome, assisted suicide etc) is that it is very hard to get the victim’s side of things afterwards. It’s hard to say you didn’t hit your wife after your murder, for example, and it’s also hard to say you didn’t consent to your death. If someone wishes to escape responsibility on the basis that you wanted to die and they were only carrying out your wishes I would humbly want someone to check that out.
We don’t have a legal right to die, we have an absolute certainty to it. What we do have is a right to life. If someone dies, potentially in very violent circumstances, it is a big deal and we should accept that. There are many reason that a carer might kill their patient, or even a mother might kill her daughter which have nothing to do with dignity or choice or love or anything else that is good.
I would hate for my murderer to get off because I was sick. Don’t just take their word for it.