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Thursday 14 December 2017
Commentary

Van Demon’s Land

Van Demon’s Land

BC Pires writes a weekly column for the Newsday called Thank God It's FRIDAY! 

Well, that's it: I’m moving to Victoria, Australia. On Wednesday, the Victorian Parliament legalised euthanasia and that clinched it: if I get to the stage of life/near-death where I can’t decide whether the high point of my day is my bowl of mushy peas or my diaper change, I’m heading straight for Van Diemen’s Land.

My other go-out-with-a-bang plan would be to celebrate my 92nd birthday by hang-gliding off a tall building and aiming for a highway landing; but I can’t see myself getting away with that; even if I could organise such an outing from my wheelchair/hospital bed.

So it’s Oz for me. There are other places in the world where you can perfectly (or, sometimes, imperfectly) legally have someone help you die, but God knows they don’t have as good a cricket team.

Belgium, eg, legalised euthanasia in May 2002 — but they would have to, wouldn’t they, with Brussels being the administrative European Union capital and accordingly overrun — it is the apposite word — by European Members of Parliament and bureaucrats: if doctors couldn’t help people die in Belgium, everyone would be killing themselves on their own, just to be finally rid of the firetrucking red tape. Good chocolate just doesn’t compensate for living under the hellish combination of wealth and power; also living in a place whose people are called, “Belch.”

Since April 2016, Canada, too, legally allows “physician-assisted dying” but you have to be eligible for Canadian healthcare because — get this — they don’t want to encourage suicide tourism; who’d have thunk that Canadians would be the first ones in the world to understand just what people really would go to all lengths for?

Colombia permitted euthanasia as early as 1997 but it really didn’t need to, with such high chances for everyone being killed by drug cartel stray bullets; Colombian euthanasia is sending your abuelo and abuela to an old folks home in Medellin; ditto for Mexico, where relatives of the terminally ill have been able to legally shorten suffering medically since 2008, but they could have achieved even earlier death at any time simply by moving to Juarez.

Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands all allow euthanasia, but all have cold climates.

Additionally, I wouldn’t want my last days to be spent with people who don’t speak or understand English: who would pass on what I have planned to be my glorious exit lines? (Assuming, of course, that I was compos mentis enough to remember them.)

It seems a little odd that the first World Cup winner, Uruguay, should also have been the first country that allowed euthanasia, way back in 1933, the same year that Hitler came to power, bringing with him, ultimately, his Final Solution, the single secular act that most significantly retarded — if you allow another apposite word — what would otherwise have been a natural discussion about euthanasia, with the inevitable end any compassionate person would reach, at which Victoria arrived on Wednesday.

So hold me now because I gone, on the next rising tide, for to face Van Diemen’s Land. (The Edge, U2.)

Because God knows I won’t get medically-assisted voluntary suicide in old age in Trinidad. We pretend to sophistication, but we could never be man enough to do what we could never stop thinking of as, “God’s work.”

In Tobago, it’s even worse: the Tobago branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will tell you that Tobagonians refuse to defy what they see as God’s will by neutering their pets. So there won’t be any Trini euthanasia for me — though, like Mexico and Medellin, Trinidad’s murder stats greatly increase the likelihood of my getting an unintentional and unsought criminally-assisted homicide at any age and at any moment on any day anywhere at all.

On second thought, though, I realise I wouldn’t have to leave the country.

In Tobago, legally-assisted suicide was established years ago. However, as in Canada, you have to be eligible for it: at least up to 2015, when the Wheelers were its last beneficiaries, Tobago’s euthanasia programme is only available to elderly white couples.

And you have to move to Bacolet.

But then it is conveniently administered in the comfort of your own home.

Usually with a cutlass.

And it is legal because the police don’t do a thing about it.

BC Pires goes too far but still can’t reach Trinidad. Read more of his writing at www.BCPires.com

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