Writing in The New York Times, naturally, Jerry Pinto tells a heart-wrenching tale of the suffering caused by India’s criminalization of suicide. As if people struggling with suicidal tendencies and their families didn’t have enough to contend with, attempting suicide makes one a criminal, and gives the state enormous leverage over oneself and one’s family. The law makes a crime of what is almost always a manifestation of grave mental illness, and criminals of people like Pinto’s desperately ill mother.
There is every reason for this law to be repealed, in the name of mercy as well as common sense. So far, so good. But then, Pinto goes on:
India is now deciding whether to allow citizens like Ms. Sharmila the ultimate freedom: the right to refuse to continue living, for whatever reason they choose. India, in other words, is deciding whether to be a true democracy.
Self-murder as the epitome of liberty, and the right to self-murder as the ultimate test of democracy? This is death-cult liberalism. Liberty and democracy are good insofar as they serve life. As Pinto frames it, liberty and democracy are good insofar as they serve the individual’s will to power over all things, including life.
Pinto wants the right thing — a change in this cruel law — for the wrong reason. It’s a reason that sounds very American, though: deifying the Choosing Self.