It is strange that there was so little coverage or public discussion. Mass killings are always headline news.
And after such mass killings there are always calls for gun control or dramatic government intervention. At the end of July, Japan witnessed the largest mass-killing since the atomic bomb. And it was all by one man.
But there was no gun. The government had actually assembled the victims. A government employee was the perpetrator. And if a newsevent appears to challenge the thinking of the popular press, the reaction is usually the same: ‘”Nothing to see here. Just move along. We in the media will determine what should be important to you.”
But there is something particularly important and haunting about what happened in Japan at the end of July. It is a dramatic commentary on the world-wide push to use medicine as a tool to kill.
On July 26th, Satoshi Uematsu, a 26-year-old Japanese man who had worked at a state-sponsored facility for the disabled, broke in through a window early that morning before beginning a methodical, knife-wielding rampage. The attack — in which nineteen, nine men and 10 women were killed, and 26 more people injured — is Japan’s deadliest mass killing since the end of World War II.
The suspect turned himself in at a local police station around an hour after the attack began, carrying a bloodstained knife and cloth, officials said.
In a letter he wrote several months before the incident, and made public to the media, he said he had “the ability to kill 470 disabled people.”
While that is astounding, it is his reasoning in the letter that is most alarming. It is not the wandering rant of a madman, it in fact echoes the ‘thinking’ of so many other compassionate “caregivers” around the world who believe they see a better way. And they are acting on it. They have legalized it.
He boasted that he could easily kill 470 disabled people at a go. It would help society. He dreamed, “of a world where disabled people with severe difficulties socializing as well as severe difficulties at home are allowed to be peacefully euthanized.”
‘Oh, but in California and in Oregon and in Europe,’ you may say, ‘the issue is about voluntarily killing one’s self, its about assisted suicide.’ And that’s where you would be wrong. Once the use of medicine is authorized to kill patients, and done so in the name of kindness, or love or ‘mercy,’ it inevitably cannot be kept from those who are ‘unable’ to make known their desires. The laws have borne this out in each jurisdiction where medically authorized killing is implemented. If this is kindness for those facing suffering, the cruelest unkindness is abandoning those who are unable to make such decisions.
The legal concept of ‘substituted judgement’ is well established and inescapable. Both case law and legislation have provided for someone else to make important decisions for individuals in MANY different circumstances It might be the court, or your next of kin, or a designated power-of-attorney, but third parties routinely make decisions for individuals who may otherwise appear to be quite competent to you or me. I’ve toured dozens of nursing homes; I am quite sure that the majority of those therein are legally dependent on the good wishes of outside agents for their well being. Their ‘decisions’ are not their own.
Mr. Uematsu did something that is regularly being done in the Western world. And he eloquently underscored the ‘compassionate reasoning’ of those who are legally using voluntary euthanasia and non-voluntary euthanasia as a form of medicine.
Though initially legalized as ‘assisted suicide,’ in Belgium thousands have been killed by physicians without ever making a request. The vast majority are elderly in nursing homes, yes, dependent on the care and kindness of others. Dutch law too has upheld the euthanizing of those who ‘couldn’t bring themselves to ask.’ If medical killing is a good tool, why should it be denied to those ‘who need it the most’?
In Oregon, those who are ‘non compis mentis’, ‘not of sound mind,’ have been killed via so-called, ‘assisted suicide.’ There is no requirement for psychological counseling. Alzheimer’s patients, emotionally distraught paraplegics, and others in a questionably emotional or intellectual state, have been legally killed with the “help” of an “assistant.” But in assisted suicide it is only the “assistant” who is getting freed by such use of medicine. They are free to walk away from the scene without further questioning or investigation, even if they are immediate heirs. The victim is simply dead.
In all these jurisdictions, physicians are encouraged to falsify the death certificate, and instead replace the true cause of death with natural causes. This makes for less scrutiny and need for explanation. But does ‘mercy’ really need an explanation? Apparently not to the contemporary press. ‘Love and Mercy’ seems reason enough.
This summer Mr. Uematsu took it upon himself to act on a very common, contemporary idea. Japan’s largest mass-killing since the use of nuclear weapons has much more significance than the popular press has given it. The ‘fallout’ of this news story is the result of decisions made long before Mr. Uematsu decided to lift his blade ‘in compassion.’ It is a deadly fallout that has already settled over and infected much of the medical profession.