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Monday, July 10, 2006

If Gitmo Won't Come to Portland...

The head guy down at Club Gitmo — also known as Guantanamo Bay Naval Base — says he's gosh darned concerned that captives continue to plot ways to bring about their own demise. Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr. says guards have confiscated hoarded drugs and hidden nooses in the cells housing some 450 captives with alleged links to al Qaeda and the Taliban. ''It is not possible to make a detention facility or prison suicide proof. . . . We do the best we can,'' said Harris, overall commander of detention operations here. Personally I find this altogether offensive. Specifically I mean Harris's characterization of what the prisoners are up to. How judgmental to take this sort of position concerning the obvious inention of these people to end their own lives. Why, if Gitmo were located in Oregon these detainees would find state officials altogether supportive of the right of prisoners to end their lives with — ahem — dignity. Depressed, willful, and tired of living? Step right up. Oregon permits physicians to write prescriptions for a lethal dosage of medication. True, the Oregon law says you gotta have a terminal illness. Still, there's a principle involved. You should be able to off yourself, on your own terms. Who are we to judge? Oh, sure. Critics of physician-assisted suicide say the practice is "dangerous." Potential bauses, and so forth. But look at the increases in the cost of health care. Many of these people are old and, well, not contributing much to the Gross National Product. Your health insurance premiums are going up, right? It's getting expensive to warehouse people. Look, I'm not saying we should kill 'em if they haven't asked to die. But if they're depressed and they've got disabilities that make them not convenient — what's wrong with them getting help to end the misery — not just the misery they cause healthier, useful folks but, you know, their own? Here's the key question: "Would you, if you were a cripple, want to vegetate forever?" That was the question Michael Schiavo faced. He concluded, no, he'd rather get on with the vitality of full-gear living. Thanks to his clarity, the agony is over. Reports indicate that Michael's honeymoon was splendid. Jet skiing, hikes, beaches. Great meals — none administered via feeding tube. (Kidding!) But I digress. It just seems so disrespecting of diversity to actively discourage depressed Gitmo prisoners from dying with dignity. Taking a can-do attitude toward suicide would mean fewer torture accusations, plus it would be nice to have done with the hand-wringing about what kinds of trials these people should have. Do we really need more showboating from Arlen Specter in that regard? "Abdullah, you sure got a long enough rope for the night? Need a step ladder?" "Fakhr-al-din, positive you've got enough Demerol for your body weight?" Compassion. It feels good — and it helps other people, too!