A new contest is in order, if it doesn’t already exist. Each year we should recognize and award the person or group who invents the best new Orwellian Phrase. This is a word or words which appear to say one thing but which are in reality their own antonym.
I bruited this idea with a colleague, who was enthusiastic and suggested for a prize the same which Winston received at the closing of 1984. I was sympathetic but thought this lacked charity. But he pointed out that this was the point: the prize is not one which one would wish to win.
Except perhaps by the folks who are responsible for my entry for 2012. These are the Dutch doctors behind Nederlandse Vereniging Voor Een VrijWillig Leveseinde, an organization which will dispatch a van to your very own house filled with doctors itching to kill you. Oh, yes. Leveseinde, you see, means “life’s end” and the docs of NVVE want to be the ones who take you on that journey.
The phrase I enter is NVVE’s “Life’s End Clinic” or Levenseindekliniek. It would not be much of an entry, I admit, except for the addition of “clinic,” an act which abuses that word in a savage manner. Incidentally, this “clinic” (which is not yet fully operational) is a place for those who would rather not have the van park in front of their home and thus frighten the neighbors.
I envision it as the kind of building into which Edward G. Robinson strolled near the end of Soylent Green. Which means we now we have to wonder about Holland’s food supply chain.
NNVE’s front page proudly announces that “there were over 200 applications from people with a euthanasia request at this clinic. There are reportedly twice as many women as men” (“waren er meer dan 200 aanmeldingen van mensen met een euthanasiewens bij deze kliniek. Er meldden zich twee maal zo veel vrouwen aan als mannen.”). For some reason this brings to mind the phrase “Minorities and women strongly encouraged to apply” which appears at the bottom of every academic job announcement.
The leftward news site MSNBC called the Vans of Death “mobile euthanasia units”, which isn’t Orwellian but is at least sufficiently bureaucratic. “Old Jones was heard groaning last night. Dispatch the M.E.U.!”
The reporter claims all sorts of safeguards are in place. The death supplicant must cry not once, not twice, but thrice or more, “Kill me!” Various folks are interviewed. Documents are signed. And then a doctor—a person once thought to be have sworn a duty to preserve life—slips in a needle which kills you. Well, to be fair, it only puts you to sleep. Once your eyes are closed, that’s when the knife comes out and the Dutch “doctor” slits your throat.
Kidding! Actually, knives are far too messy so “a second injection follows, which will stop [your] breathing and heart beat.” A very long-winded way to say that the doctor actively kills you, that he commits homicide, that he purposely deprives you of your life, that the doctor has stepped just this side of being a murderer. That he gives a whole new meaning to “house call.”
MSNBC reports “The teams”—squads of white-coated killers—”would be allowed one procedure a week because of the emotional toll that each visit takes.”
I’m not sure what to think of that. Does it imply that these killers—for this is what they are—have retained some small scrap of humanity? It must be small because it only takes seven short days for their consciences to quiet enough so that they can kill again. Or is the one-scalp-a-week bag limit imposed so that the “teams” don’t begin to love their jobs too well? And don’t you claim that this isn’t possible, for all history tells us that it is not difficult to find individuals who enjoy killing.
Something has to qualify these people. Perhaps a desire to kill those who claim that they want to be killed will be a prerequisite for aspirants who wish to enter the growing specialty of euthanasia. As this field develops, we can imagine classes in Emergency Euthanasia covering topics like what to do when the needle is not at hand: see pillows, suffocation; tall buildings and the lower lumbar shove; the Ty Cobb upper lumber cranial contact.
Update I originally ended this piece with the unfortunate “Remind me not to visit the Netherlands anytime soon.” By this, believe it or not, I meant something along the Soylent Green line. I stupidly thought it implicit and did not add this. I hope it is obvious that I do not disparage all peoples of the Netherlands. I beg all your pardons. I blew it. I am sorry.
I do, however, disparage the doctors who ride around in shiny white (I’m assuming the color) vans willfully killing people. The Soylent Green business comes in from asking: what happens to the bodies?