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"Unworthy to Live"

Sign up here to receive your FREE alerts. By clicking on "Submit" you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Email Newsletter. Log In. Toggle navigation MENU. Email Address. Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. It's like the guy who was asked if he could eat an elephant. But the answer to that question is, "Yes you can, if you eat the elephant one bite at a time. The first bite is taken when someone decides that there is a life that is unworthy of life.

This phrase "life unworthy of life" is a Nazi term, by the way. They coined the phrase. Once someone decides there is a life unworthy of life then the question becomes "Which life is it that is unworthy?

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Now the most troublesome at that time were the infirm, the children with congenital defects, and the old people that were a drain on society. Those that were the source of social turmoil were the Jews and Gypsies and the homosexuals and the political dissidents. Which brings me back to Ollie's question.

I think that if this kind of thing was going to be repeated it would follow the same pattern. Euthanasia becomes acceptable when we say that there is a life that is unworthy of life. Then groups that are both the most troublesome and those perceived to be the source of social turmoil are systematically eliminated. The fact is that the most troublesome groups in our culture right now are already being killed--inconvenient unborn children, burdensome newborns with congenital defects, and old people.

We are already sacrificing their lives. But what of the groups that are the source of social turmoil? In Nazi Germany it was Jews, political dissidents, homosexuals. Are those the kinds of people that might be, in our future, the objects of a more widespread euthanasia program in this country?

I don't think so, partly because each of those are very strongly politically connected, the homosexuals being an obvious example. There is, however, another group of people increasingly being considered in our culture as philosophically troublesome, annoying and increasingly problematic, so much so that there is an aggressive attempt to marginalize them. In other words, this group appears to contribute to social turmoil and could very well be at the bottom end of the euthanasia slope we're presently sliding down.

I realize that right now some of you are scratching your heads saying, "This wild-eyed reactionary conservative is raising the specter of the Third Reich and comparing us to Nazis and the Third Reich and storm troopers.

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I admit to you that there have been many who have raised that specter inappropriately and have used that imagery from the past illegitimately. What I am trying to do is refer to specifics from history, not just past history but what's happening right now, to demonstrate for you that this is not a wild-eyed claim. I am convinced that we are on the exact same slippery slope as the Germans were in , , , , those years just prior to the death camps. And I am not suggesting that as we continue this course we will face concentration camps.

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I don't know if that's the case. But what I'm saying is that there is a slippery slope and we are on it, my friends, because we have made the same decisions they did. We are arguing the same way. We are using the same kinds of language those did who forty years ago euthanized innocent people by arguing that there was a life unworthy of life. And that process ended up in a very few years to the extermination of not just dozens, not just hundreds, not just thousands, not just ten thousands, but millions of people.

What makes us so confident that we will escape their fate? They did it one bite at a time. They started by saying that there is a life unworthy of life.

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They continued by including more and more people in that group from each end of the age spectrum, from the youngsters to the old people and they moved towards the middle. Then everybody was in danger; nobody was safe from being declared unworthy of life because it was no longer just the physically infirm on either end of the age spectrum, but it became those people who had ideologies that were offensive to the status quo.

And that's what I'd like to talk about right now, those people who have ideologies that are offensive to the status quo, who are increasingly being perceived as a significant source of social turmoil.

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We've already got the first step, my friends. We are already euthanizing those on each end of the age spectrum and we do it without hardly lifting an eyebrow. We started with the unborn children, we're continuing now with the elderly and we're moving closer and closer to the middle. Now, if we did cross this threshold in which the life unworthy was not merely a life victimized by some physical malady, but somebody victimized, if you will, by a philosophical malady, what group in this country would qualify? What group could possibly qualify? Following the pattern it would have be that group which seemed to be responsible for social turmoil.

Now I am going to make not a prediction, but a speculation. Please understand that the distinction is very important. Having said that, let me ask you a question. What is the ruling ethic of our culture? The ruling ethic of our culture is relativism, often described as pluralism. And it's not the old pluralism which meant that everybody had a right to their view and we could argue about our views and I could say, "You have a right to your view but I think you're dead wrong and here are the reasons why.

This pluralism says that everybody has a view, but since truth is relative and morals are relative you can never say that your view is any better than anybody else's. You can never say that any morality is better than another. You could never say that your point of view is more reasonable to be believed because that would be divisive and intolerant.

Binding and Hoche's "Life Unworthy of Life": A Historical and Ethical Analysis.

The most intolerant people, the greatest sinners and those that cause the greatest problems in a deeply relativistic culture are those that do not buy that particular concept of pluralistic relativism, in other words, those people who make moral judgments. If the biggest sin is being intolerant, taking a moral stand, then moralists would be the biggest "sinners" and the most dangerous in a this type of pluralistic society. Moralists would be the most dangerous because they would fracture and injure the social organism with divisive, private, personal moralities that really "belong in the church" or really "belong in the privacy of one's own home" but are being "forced upon the public.

Simply put, religious people that hold moral absolutes--principally conservative Jews and conservative Christians in this country--would be the biggest enemies of a pluralistic, morally relativistic culture. As the book of Binding and Hoche proves. L'Osservatore Romano Vatican City. All rights reserved. Notice This site uses cookies Cookies are small text files that help us make your web experience better. By using any part of the site you consent to the use of cookies. More information about our cookies policy can be found on the Terms of Use.

If life is 'unworthy of being lived'. May 5,