Some stuff in the news recently has had me thinking... where are things just difficult decisions that the people who have to make them have a very tricky course to steer and where there is no real "right" answer overall and where is there just plain hypocrisy.
Today I read that Tony Nicklinson has died. This poor man who was undoubtedly highly intelligent was left severely paralysed as the result of a stroke. He had campaigned for the "right to die" - essentially the issue being he couldn't kill himself as physically he could not administer the lethal injection or take the pills. Recently the High Court ruled that if he asked his family or a doctor to carry this out they could still be prosecuted for murder. It seemed on face value an absurd ruling, this clearly intelligent man who had thought it all through and who was clearly suffering psychologically due to his physical condition simply wanted his wishes to be carried out. If he could have killed himself he would have but he was unable to. In the end an infection and his refusal to take food meant he now has passed away and his wishes regarding resuscitation have been respected as they should be and his death was by natural causes. However I can't criticise the judges in this case - firstly they don't make the law, parliament does, they interpret that and adjudicate but murder is murder there was no blurring in their view. I support the decision however painful for Mr Niklinson as I can see the issues it may bring up - ensuring that the person is fully compos mentis when they make that decision, there is no duress being brought to bear on the individual etc. etc. If this is to be a "right" in future we need all those kind of things thought through and a public debate through parliament on whether as a nation we do agree with it or not. Mr Niklinson's legacy may well be that we do indeed have that national debate, sadly you can today rightfully say that will be too late for him. So this is a decision, in my opinion, where for the judges making it there was no "right" answer frankly - I'm glad I was not in their shoes.
Now Mr Assange - is it right for the UK to be sabre rattling over his being granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy? Are the charges Sweden true or not? Who knows, if we don't get a trial little chance of ever knowing the truth. Is he right to be afraid? Possibly. Does he have the right to ask for asylum in the way he has? Compare this with the Pussy Riot protest and trial in Russia and the condemnation that the UK government has levelled at the Russians about freedom of speech. Just for a moment think on this... let us say that as a protest against the monarchy the Sex Pistols had reformed, stormed into Westminster Abbey and thundered out a performance of their 1977 anti-royalist anthem "God Save The Queen" on the day of the recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Or more believable young black rap artist today jumped up on the alter of St Paul's performing an anti-government rap littered with obscenities. Would we expect these people to be arrested and prosecuted? At least with something along the lines of breach of the peace? I doubt very much that nothing would be done. Heck not that long ago St Paul's was in court trying to evict peaceful demonstrators in tents outside the building from its environs. We shout for freedom of speech; we decry rigid clampdowns on anti-establishment protest in countries we have a historical philosophical beef with but seem in the next sentence to be similarly vindictive against people who lead protest against our own establishment. Are these tricky decisions or just hypocrisy?