In the Netherlands, Els Borst has been found dead in her garage. A few hours earlier, the 81 year old physician and former deputy prime minister had attended a meeting of what is described by the Telegraph as her center-right political party. In the Netherlands, apparently, any party to the right of the Maoists can be described as center-right. After initial forensic investigation, the police have concluded that her death resulted from a criminal action. The bruises on her body point to some sort of assault.
The police have found no evidence suggesting a motive, but they are obviously looking at the real-life equivalent of Poe's purloined letter, which is staring them in the face. As Dutch Minister of Health, Borst was the leading advocate of Netherland's euthanasia law, a program that encourages the heirs of elderly people to pressure granny and grandpa to make a graceful exit, before their medical bills eat up their estate and waste the taxpayers' money. Perhaps one of Borsts' disciples decided that the time had come for the grisly lady to take her own medicine.
The "low countries" have become truly deserving of what had once been a merely geographical term. Belgium has just extended the blessing of euthanasia to children. Now, just about anyone who is not a child understands that the principal difference between children and normal adults is not size or age but the child's inability to make fully independent moral decisions. A child who decides he has suffered enough or that his family has suffered enough is not making a decision of his own free will but caving into pressure.
In Belgium and the Netherlands, a sixteen year old can consent to sex, which means that predatory teachers, ministers, and social workers may now seduce adolescents without automatically facing rape charges. Naturally, there is strong agitation, especially in Belgium, for lowering that age to 14. Indeed, between 1990 and 2002 the age of consent in the Netherlands was 12. Not coincidentally, the low countries—Belgium in particular—are infamous for child prostitution and child pornography. Paul Belien, in A Throne in Brussels, details the activities of a pornography ring with ties at the highest levels of government and society. They kidnapped girls, whom they filmed as they were being tortured and raped. Many of the girls were murdered.
It hardly matters who killed Dr. Borst or for what reason. By her own double-Dutch reasoning, she had outlived her usefulness and deserved to be put out of other people's misery.
Don't say "It can't happen here," because informally euthanasia is being practiced every day even in state that have not legalized assisted suicide. Euthanasia is the unavoidable consequence of socialized medicine: If the state takes responsibility for keeping us alive and well, then the state also has the right to decide when it is time to pull the plug or administer a fatal dose of morphine.
But the motivation for assisted suicide is deeper than practical necessities that arise in any Marxist state, such as ours. Where human life is valued only for pleasure and productivity—as it is in Hollywood movies, dating services, and consumer industries—then a creature that can neither produce nor consume Apple products is without value. Consumerism is the fatal poison that leads to the American Way of Death. Near the end of Huxley's Brave New World, the savage's mother dies happy, overdosing on soma in her death clinic.
At the height of our highest recent crisis, the September 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush told people not to go to Church or reexamine their consciences or even to read a good book or attend a Bach organ recital. No, he told Americans to go out and shop, because real life for the Bushies and Obamies of this word is buying expensive junk and strutting your stuff.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.