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Finneran: Life, Liberty, and All That Stuff

Friday, July 28, 2017


“When in the Course of human events............”.

Thus starts the Declaration of Independence, an utterly remarkable document of rights, reverence, and revolution.

It’s been a tough few weeks for the Declaration’s central point about the equality of all, about certain unalienable rights, and most especially about “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Truth be told, there has never been an easy time for that life and liberty stuff. Tyrants abound.

This week’s victims of tyranny live oceans away. But the lessons of their tortured lives apply to America, that remarkable land of the free and home of the distracted.

Our national specialty may well be the pursuit of happiness, which for most of us means blithely ignoring the morally hideous crimes committed against large chunks of humanity.

One such crime has entered its final stages. In Great Britain, home of the Magna Carta, officials have denied a request from the parents of a little boy named Charlie Gard to bring him to the United States for experimental medical treatment.

There is no medical dispute that little Charlie is a very sick child. There is similarly little argument that the experimental medical treatment is an extreme long shot. But the controversy here is not about Charlie’s chances for life. Rather, the controversy is about who gets to make the call.

Should it be Charlie’s parents, by all accounts caring, concerned, and loving parents? Or should it be “officials”---nay, state bureaucrats---who deem the experimental treatment as not effective, and therefore deem Charlie as disposable?

Apparently we are all supposed to genuflect to the wisdom of judges judging “scientifically”. I choose not to. I genuflect to the parents instead, as they are the ones in the best position to decide their son’s fate.

There is no question here of parental abuse. Nor is there a question of gross indifference or denial of care. Indeed, the opposite is true. Charlie’s parents want to try a medical Hail Mary against impossible odds. Finally, there is no question here of the selfish exhaustion of limited medical resources. Charlie’s parents have raised money as well received offers from an American doctor to provide the experimental treatment for free. Yet none of that matters to the bureaucrats whose wisdom knows no bounds.

The grotesquely mis-named European Court of Human Rights has uttered its grotesque opinion that death is in the best interest of the child. All rise, all bow, our masters have spoken. As one commentator has remarked, this is “barbarism disguised as mercy”. Europe’s once-celebrated culture has become a culture of death, placing more value on the Benz in the driveway than the baby in the crib. Shame upon that culture. So much for Life.

The second item in the Declaration’s renowned trilogy is Liberty. Let’s jump across the Pacific Ocean to the ugly and brutal regime of Communist China. Don’t ever be fooled by the dollar-chasing madness of corporate America. Grovelling at the feet of thugs comes easily to American businesses. After all, they must hit a bottom line in order to satisfy another wretched interest group---the titans of Wall Street.

If any of these masters of the universe are aware of the savage imprisonment and treatment of Liu Xiaobo they have managed to hide it. Their silence makes them complicit in his looming death. Liu of course is only one of hundreds, probably thousands of political prisoners of this horrid Communist regime. His crime? He simply seeks democracy, which is apparently most intolerable to the smiling cultured Chinese leg-breakers.

Liu will die shortly, in prison of course, giving the Chinese leadership a two-fer in their squelching of both Life and Liberty.

Give the Chinese thugs credit---they’ve figured out that without Life and Liberty there’s no chance for any pursuit of Happiness. So say a prayer for Charlie Gard and Liu Xiaobo. You’re all they have, as their allegedly protective and preening governments have turned savagely upon them. Barbarism wins again.

For shame.

NOTE: This column was written in early July, before Liu Xiaobo died on July 13th of this year. He is mourned by lovers of liberty around the world.

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio.


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