It beggars belief that the leader of the free world and the world’s policeman, the President of the United States, thinks that torture is not a bad thing. On the campaign trail he insisted several times that torture works and that even if it didn’t “they deserve it anyway, for what they’re doing.”
Now that he is in office, however, Mr Trump seems to be having a two-way bet. While personally in favour of waterboarding, he is deferring to the opinion of his Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, a tough and experienced soldier, who says that it does not work. In this way, he keeps faith both with voters who want him to be tough on terrorism and voters who want him to rebuild the military.
So the upshot of this week’s confusing news about a draft executive order from the President permitting “enhanced interrogation” techniques is that no one really knows what he believes. But it is an ominous sign that Mr Trump’s moral compass is so weak that he resiles from repudiating torture, keeping it in reserve as a potential vote-winner. In a civilised society which respects human dignity, torture should be absolutely unthinkable.
The euthanasia debate has intensified in the Australian state of New South Wales, with reports from parliamentarians indicating that new legislation is imminent.
A euthanasia bill is expected to be introduced in New South Wales by the end of 2017, with a cross-parliamentary working group currently finalising draft legislation for public consultation.
The state’s new premier, Gladys Berejiklian, is yet to express her views on the issue, though Opposition Leader Luke Foley said earlier this month that he is opposed to euthanasia.
“I worry about the message it sends to a society where some old and frail people feel that they are too much of a burden on their loved ones, that they have to end it all,” Mr Foley said.
In a statement the parliamentary working group said that “law reform on the issue of assisted dying is necessary.”
Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald last week, Australian Catholic University academic Julie Morgan, who herself is terminally ill, said that she “can imagine a time when particularly frail and vulnerable people will succumb to the thought that it might be best for their families and for society in general for them to let go and die”.
Sydney palliative care specialist Linda Sheahan has called for an open and honest debate: “It's crucial we engage with this incredibly important issue in a deep and reflective, robust way”.
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