A Worrying Time to be Alive

Last week James E Holmes terrorised a cinema in America showing the latest batman movie, shooting dead twelve people, including a six-year-old girl whose mother is still fighting for her life in hospital, unaware of her daughter’s death. He arrived through an emergency exit dressed as the Joker, causing many to assume he was a practical joker, that is until the shooting started. A few were shot at as they raced towards the exit, one man leapt from a 20ft balcony with his baby daughter as his partner was shot in the leg as she moved in front of their other child to protect her.

Most worryingly of all perhaps is that there seems to be no motive behind this attack. James Holmes had just dropped out of his PhD, and although fellow students didn’t know him as he kept to himself, neighbours described him as a “normal kid”.

Over recent years there have been other incidents which cause you to question people’s sanity. A shooting in Norway last year left 77 dead. A father killed his three children before committing suicide.

What drives these people to invoke such terror?

Is it the array of violent films and video games available? Because that’s what they thought prompted the kidnapping and murder of James Bulger in 1993 by two older children (as well as a troubled home life).

Or is it mental instability? The father-in-law of the father who stabbed his three children to death before killing himself insists there was no malice, that there was “only victims”.

I think it’s scarier if these people who commit these acts are sane, as then they are completely aware of the destruction and the heartbreak they’re causing.

Incidents like the cinema shooting really make you consider today’s society and how we are capable of creating monsters who feel no remorse after killing dozens of innocent people.

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Euthanasia – murder or a human right?

Recently a stroke victim, has challenged the euthanasia law in front of three High Court judges. Mr. Nicklinson, 58, previously worked all over the world as an engineer and enjoyed sports such as skydiving and rugby. However, after a serious stroke in 2005 he became paralysed from the neck down, only able to blink his eyes. Mr. Nicklinson claims it is human right to decide whether he should die and so states that any doctor who assists his suicide should not be prosecuted.

As quoted in the ‘i’ (sister newspaper to the independent)Mr. Nicklinson says “I feel I am denied my most basic human right; I object to society telling me that I must live until I die of natural causes and I will do all I can to restore those rights.”

This case has huge moral implications as ultimately it questions the law as to what constitutes as murder, and the outcome could affect many others who suffer from painful terminal illnesses or are paralysed. However, the BBC 2 reporter stated it would be likely the case would be dismissed. Could this be because assissted suicide comes too close to murder and change could cause huge problem in the future?

Many agree with Mr. Nicklinson that he should be able to make his own choices and since he is physically unable to act independently a doctor should be allowed to help him achieve his wishes. Also, what about his wife and family and friends; is it harder on them to watch one they love suffer or to deal with his choice in his own death? Others ask what sort of life does Mr. Nicklinson currently have? Does he even have a life anymore?

Some people say that new technologies allow those who are paralysed to communicate and live with everyone else. Mr. Nicklinson has been using a form of gaze-detection, computer software which detects eye movements so that he is able to pick out letters and the comupter device then forms the sentences. This technology means Mr. Nicklinson has been able to communicate with the outside world via twitter, where he has gained 8000 followers. Furthermore, similar gaze-control technology can enable the paralysed to play video games – an activity considered a waste of time by many, but for one guy, the one thing he could share with his son.

So, can it be said Mr. Nicklinson has no life? He certainly does not have the same quality of life as before his stroke, but can adjustments be made through technology to build a different life? Dr Donegan’s video –

– explains similar technology. One subject, Marco, says via gaze-control software “without this equipment, it would be as if I didn’t exist”. (Quoted in the ‘i’).

Or, should Mr. Nicklinson be granted his human right to decide his own fate? (even at the hands of others)?

Personally, I think technology can seriously aid the paralysed to interact with their families and friends. But if this is not the right choice for Mr. Nicklinson; I feel it is his decision and his decision alone. After all, who are we to judge a man who suffers from circumstances we cannot even begin to imagine?