Friday, September 16, 2011

BBC re-casts Socrates’ death as voluntary euthanasia

The BBC is developing (at our expense) a little cultic side show for the promotion of death. The Corporation was flooded with complaints over Sir Terry Pratchett’s sojourn in the Swiss Alps, where Dignitas efficiently dispatch all who are desperate to die. Some producer then had the bright idea of broadcasting a natural death under the pretext of scientific inquiry. No doubt if Auntie could carry advertisements, she’d be promoting Marie Stopes and the limitless virtues of abortion.

The BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg recently discussed the Hippocratic Oath. The assembles classicists were concerned with various interpretations of those difficult clauses which deal with abortion and euthanasia, and accurately expounded the document’s sitz im leben – with one exception.

If you go to iPlayer and listen from the 25th minute onwards, you will hear a discussion on the subject of voluntary euthanasia, during which the omniscient Melvyn Bragg astonishingly announces that Socrates in fact ‘decided to take his own life, and he personally took hemlock...’. Not only that; he ‘went and got hold of it’ and ‘ around him seemed to object’.

Well, you learn something new every day.

His Grace had no idea that Socrates was in fact a poster child for voluntary euthanasia. All this time, His Grace has been deluded into believing that Socrates was put on trial and sentenced to death by the Athenian authorities for corrupting the nation’s youth, and that he was forced to drink hemlock, which was a cause of great distress to many, not least his fellow philosophers.

But now we know, through this dazzling new interpretation of Plato, that Socrates was actually not only a supporter of voluntary euthanasia, but an enthusiastic practitioner.

His Grace looks forward to the forthcoming BBC documentary on sharia law, and the laudable practice of voluntary euthanasia by stoning.


Blogger Stockton Heath said...

Quite right, Your Grace: and insofar as Socrates could have fled Athens to avoid his state-mandated punishment, he gives his reasons in the Crito (none of which are relevant to voluntary euthanasia):

Socrates: ...Then consider the matter in this way: Imagine that I am about to play truant (you may call the proceeding by any name which you like), and the laws and the government come and interrogate me: "Tell us, Socrates," they say; "what are you about? are you going by an act of yours to overturn us- the laws and the whole State, as far as in you lies? Do you imagine that a State can subsist and not be overthrown, in which the decisions of law have no power, but are set aside and overthrown by individuals?"

What will be our answer, Crito, to these and the like words? Anyone, and especially a clever rhetorician, will have a good deal to urge about the evil of setting aside the law which requires a sentence to be carried out; and we might reply, "Yes; but the State has injured us and given an unjust sentence." Suppose I say that?

Crito: Very good, Socrates

Socrates: And was that our agreement with you?" the law would say, "or were you to abide by the sentence of the State?" And if I were to express astonishment at their saying this, the law would probably add: "Answer, Socrates, instead of opening your eyes: you are in the habit of asking and answering questions. Tell us what complaint you have to make against us which justifies you in attempting to destroy us and the State? In the first place did we not bring you into existence? Your father married your mother by our aid and begat you. Say whether you have any objection to urge against those of us who regulate marriage?"

None, I should reply. "Or against those of us who regulate the system of nurture and education of children in which you were trained? Were not the laws, who have the charge of this, right in commanding your father to train you in music and gymnastic?" Right, I should reply. "Well, then, since you were brought into the world and nurtured and educated by us, can you deny in the first place that you are our child and slave, as your fathers were before you? And if this is true you are not on equal terms with us; nor can you think that you have a right to do to us what we are doing to you. Would you have any right to strike or revile or do any other evil to a father or to your master, if you had one, when you have been struck or reviled by him, or received some other evil at his hands?- you would not say this?

And because we think right to destroy you, do you think that you have any right to destroy us in return, and your country as far as in you lies? And will you, O professor of true virtue, say that you are justified in this? Has a philosopher like you failed to discover that our country is more to be valued and higher and holier far than mother or father or any ancestor, and more to be regarded in the eyes of the gods and of men of understanding? also to be soothed, and gently and reverently entreated when angry, even more than a father, and if not persuaded, obeyed? And when we are punished by her, whether with imprisonment or stripes, the punishment is to be endured in silence; and if she leads us to wounds or death in battle, thither we follow as is right; neither may anyone yield or retreat or leave his rank, but whether in battle or in a court of law, or in any other place, he must do what his city and his country order him; or he must change their view of what is just: and if he may do no violence to his father or mother, much less may he do violence to his country." What answer shall we make to this, Crito? Do the laws speak truly, or do they not?

16 September 2011 at 09:44  
Blogger The Watchman Waketh But in Vain said...

What a shocking rewrite of history!

My initial thought, before I heard the excerpt, was perhaps Bragg had misunderstood Xenophon's interpretation which suggests Socrates was happy to be sentenced to death for various reasons (but which clearly stops a long way short of suggesting he killed himself).

Having listened to the clip, one cannot even make this defence. Bragg quite brazenly states nobody was about and Socrates acquired and took hemlock of his own volition. Just utter ignorance of fact!

16 September 2011 at 09:49  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

No the BBC has not recast Socrates death as voluntary euthanasia - but one particular commentator on the BBC has expressed such a view. I have also heard plenty of people on the BBC expressing their views against voluntary euthanasia, abortion and Sharia Law.

I am sorry but this is what I expect the BBC to do - to express different views and interpreations and long may it continue. And yes commentators do make factual mistakes from time to time.

16 September 2011 at 09:50  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

You are a naughty man taking the rise out of the iconic Melvyn. My understanding of the classics and the history of the time is limited, so I'll avoid commenting on the accuracy of his revelations.

At some point he or some other bright cookie will reinterpret the Passion of Christ as 'voluntary suicide'. Indeed some have already suggested Jesus manufactured His own death by being wilfully provacative towards the religious and political authorities in Jerusalem.

Interestingly, I watched the programme you refer to about Terry Pratchett and, if anything, it strenghtened my opposition to 'voluntary suicide'. However, it has to be said I watched from the position of believing it was a morally indefencible option to take. I can understand if one was 'open minded' about the issue then 'sympathy' mixed with secular moral relativism might lead one to conclude it was an acceptable option. I suspect it is only a question of time before it becomes legally available 'on demand' in Britain.

16 September 2011 at 09:50  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Tory Boys Never Grow Up Says “I am sorry but this is what I expect the BBC to do - to express different views and interpreations and long may it continue. And yes commentators do make factual mistakes from time to time.”

Would we not therefore also expect the BBC to offer the opposing point of view too? So far they have been very partisan with regard to abortion, evolution, embryonic stem cell research and climate change and I have seen very little from them about the dangers of GM crops. Considering that that GM crops have after a few years completely impoverished farmers in the Third World one might expect an in-depth analysis of the reason rather than merely a news items reporting the large number of suicides by Indian farmers. I recommend the ISIS web-site for issues regarding GM crops and other issues relating to the corruption of science by wealthy corporations in the furtherance of policies whose end result is death and disease for millions. The BBC operates by sound bites and does not make much attempt to develop a debate by opposing experts over a series of programmes. That way we would have a chance of the lies being exposed providing that the experts they chose were not ‘carefully selected’. There preferred is to have debate controlled by their minder interviewers.

16 September 2011 at 10:46  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"At some point he or some other bright cookie will reinterpret the Passion of Christ as 'voluntary suicide'."

That'll be me, probably. Sorry.

16 September 2011 at 11:00  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...


I disagree with you about the BBC not presenting the alternative view in many of the cases you suggest.

On the danger of GM crops you are probably right - but then I think you will find that they also present very little on what some see as the benfits of those crops. GM crops just do not figure very high on the BBC's agenda at all - and I think this highlights a more serious concern about how the agendas are selected. I can think of many areas where items are not included in the BBC's agendas - and many of them seem to be where they do not want to rock the boat of established commercial interests.

16 September 2011 at 11:24  
Blogger bluedog said...

tbngu @ 09.50 said, 'And yes commentators do make factual mistakes from time to time.'

Fortunately, said commentator would never deliberately make a factual error that may consequently assist promotion of his own ideas and beliefs.

16 September 2011 at 11:45  
Blogger Jimbo said...

What next from the BBC? That Adam and Eve were the first advocates of voluntary euthanasia? For the Lord said, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die."

16 September 2011 at 11:48  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Shacklefree @ 10.46 said, 'Considering that that GM crops have after a few years completely impoverished farmers in the Third World one might expect an in-depth analysis of the reason rather than merely a news items reporting the large number of suicides by Indian farmers.'

Isn't it possible that Third World farmers fail as a result of their gross ineffeciency?

For example, this communicant understands that in the past 25 years or so, the amount of diesel burned in a First World farming operation to grow wheat on one hectare has dropped to 5 litres. You would find the Third World operator using typically, 10 litres per hectare. And the market price of wheat is the same for both operators.

Could it be that simply economics are more relevant to Third World farm failure than the much maligned Monsanto? Or would that proposition fail to reinforce your evident prejudice?

The central point in favour of GM crops is that the world population is set to increase by 50% in the next forty years. In view of rising living standards it is expected that demand for food will increase by 70%. If you can tell communicants how the same (or a decreasing) area of arable land is going to expand its output by 70% without GM in forty years, His Grace will no doubt ensure your award of a Nobel Prize for agricultural science.

16 September 2011 at 12:11  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

TBNGU, Thanks for your response. We are definitely in agreement about the more serious concern about how the agendas are selected. There are many decent people in the BBC but I think that whereas it creates some excellent programmes its major effect is one of indoctrination. I'm not sure whether this is by design or outside pressure but the result is that we think we are informed but in reality are subjected to indoctrination the biggest of which is the organization of the world to suit the policies of American corporations. I recemtly listened to an interview by a nun who had worked in Africa for many years. She said that in Uganda using the ABC programme (Abstinence, Be Faithful and Character Formation) AIDs had dropped from 27% to 6% whereas in Botswana, which had gone for condoms from the beginning the rate rose from 0% to the current figure of over 30%. The evidence is there but we still hear people saying the Catholic Church is killing people in Africa

16 September 2011 at 12:13  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Bluedog, If third world farmers fail because of their gross inefficiency why did the suicides begin after the introduction of GM crops. Secondly farmers experts now tell us that the type of agriculature we use now is unsustainable and based on low oil prices. This will not last for long. In addition modern farming reduces diversity and soil fertility. I remember as a kid flocks of seaguls and other birds following behind a tractor ploughing a field because the soil was so fertile. You don't get that now.

16 September 2011 at 12:17  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Bluedog, If you consult the ISIS web-site you will find reports there showing that when herbicide resistant crops are introduced, then using herbicide on everything is effective, killing off everything else but not the herbicide resistant variety. However after a few years the resistance to the herbicide transfers to the weeds and the herbicide then becomes ineffective. American farmers are finding they are having to buy huge extra quantities of herbicide and it is not working. In addition many of these GM crops are sterile so the poor farmer cannot use part of last year’s crops to sow the new ones and so have to buy from Monsanto and others at prices which put him out of business. Eventually we are all at risk when food production goes down and we are all competing for it. Using natural processes and new technology we have been able to feed the world. Africa alone could satisfy the demand of the whole world for food but interestingly we have controlled food supplies and distribution to such an extent that poverty has risen and the answer has always been to blame the poor.

16 September 2011 at 12:29  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I'm with tory boy ngu on this. The BBC its seems at times, can't please all of the people all of the time but taken as a whole is by far the most honourable media institution in the world (and I have lived in other countries where what passes as news or factual really is mind controlling propaganda.

Of course it's not perfect - it never will be because it is operated by human beings; I know it is still regarded as the Gold Standard in broadcasting.

But fortunately for us, we still live in an open society which provides the means to formulate our own opinions and make our own judgement on the validity of the output. That we are openly discussing in matters that the repressive Victorians would have banned has to be a good thing.

Death will come to all of us and for myself holds no fear - the manner in which I succumb to it is another matter entirely. I have no desire to cling to life that is artificially prolonged and has no value in my understanding or that I become so reliant on others that I surrender my independence and that is why I support the Dignitas concept.

I have already discussed my departure with my nearest and dearest who will respect my wishes by donating my body for the benefit of scientific knowledge and teaching.

HG should not condemn the BBC for not striking out the comment or view of a single presenter because He feels he cannot yet hear the counter point. He has a Church that seems to be struck dumb until it finds something profoundly inane to say - that is where He should be pointing the finger of accusation.

16 September 2011 at 12:29  
Blogger bluedog said...

Shacklefree, when I was 16 and driving Dad's Fordson Super Major in front of a plough I don't remember seeing any seagulls at all. Possibly because I only got to drive the thing at night!

Obviously any farming technique reduces soil fertility and species diversity, your statement is not new news. The whole point of growing a crop is to replace natural pastures with introduced species. That is what a farm does. Similarly, there is a transfer of nutrients from the soil to the crop that you eat. This has been understood for centuries and has lead to crop rotation. For example, some crops deplete soil nitrogen (wheat), others replenish it (various legumes) and then there are various applied fertilisers. Pastures are very good at replenishing soil carbon. It is therefore completely wrong to say that farming is unsustainable.

There are some fascinating things going on in the GM area. The introduction of GM cotton, for example, has dramatically reduced chemical (organo-phosphates)usage in growing cotton. Less chemicals means less soil contamination and less incidence of cancer and nervous diseases in farming communities.

Is that bad?

16 September 2011 at 12:48  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Bluedog, I take your points but long term I am very suspicious. Obviously, it is good that human inventiveness is applied to the problems of the world for the good of all but I have seen promises made in the past which turned out to be false. Remember BSE – it arose from some clever chappy thinking we can improve yields by feeding offal to vegetarian animals. Then we had the research into suppressing the body’s immune system so that we could make transplant technology successful but lo and behold we have the scourge of AIDS and they tell us this must have occurred naturally rather than in a laboratory. Embryonic stem has been lauded promising unrivalled benefits whereas now it appears that adult stem cell research would have been more effective with no ethical problems. Now they are telling us that we have to create human/animal hybrids on the promise that it will have incalculable benefits for medicine. They forget to mention that this will possibly make humans susceptible to disease which previously affected only animals. The possibility of a world-wide pandemic killing millions was not seen as a good enough reason to stop us creating modern versions of Tolkein’s orks. When we start manipulating the language of life at the genetic level we are opening a can of worms that threatens to engulf us.

16 September 2011 at 13:04  
Blogger Sam Vega said...

I think it is possible to make too much of poor old Melvyn's mistake. He is presented as some kind of Renaissance polymath, and the "In Our Time" format requires him to sound plausible on quantum theory one week, and revolutionary politics the next. Often he flounders, sounding as though he is getting by on a couple of pages of Googled notes, strong coffee, and fake academic gravitas.

He is the equivalent of a fairground boxer for the educated classes, and we should not be too surprised if occasionally he lets his guard down or mis-hits.

16 September 2011 at 13:18  
Blogger bluedog said...

Shacklefree @ 12.29, I doubt US farmers are either surprised or handicapped by 'In addition many of these GM crops are sterile so the poor farmer cannot use part of last year’s crops to sow the new ones and so have to buy from Monsanto and others.'

The rust (fungus) that affects wheat changes continually and new strains of wheat have to be introduced every five years or so. Whether the Monsanto GM crop is sterile or not is immaterial, the farmers know they have to buy a new cultivar. They will get away with retaining seed for next year for a while but then nature will catch up with them and their crop yields will collapse. Its a ceaseless battle.

The problem in Africa is the corruption of the elite, not Western control of food supplies. Look at Zimbabwe, and increasingly, South Africa. You may think that Western (in your lexicon, US) corporations control food production and distribution but its a global market. The problem for many third world countries is that they are being outbid by the rising powers of Asia for food supplies. Egypt, for example, lives on US subsidies but is inevitably going to be outbid by China for wheat supplies. So Egyptians starve and their population declines.

If you want to get truly paranoid about crop failure and starvation, spend some time researching the influence of bees on pollination. No bees means no fertilisation in many plant species.

The key to world domination is to kill your enemy's bees while innoculating your own against your killer GM virus.

ISIS is an Egyptian goddess. Perhaps you can expand the acronym.

16 September 2011 at 13:23  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Shacklefree said re:Uganda and aids

The evidence is there but we still hear people saying the Catholic Church is killing people in Africa

So you hear 'evidence' from a presumably celibate Catholic nun - therefore it must be true - did you really expect her to recommend the use of contraceptive sheaths to inhibit the spread of infection? Just so glad the BBC haven't yet signed up to this understanding of 'the truth'.

'The number of new infections (an estimated 120,000 in 2009) exceeds the number of annual AIDS deaths (64,000 in 2009),20 and it is feared HIV prevalence in Uganda may be rising again. There are many theories as to why this may be happening, including the government’s shift towards abstinence-only prevention programmes, and a general complacency or ‘AIDS-fatigue’. It has been suggested that antiretroviral drugs have changed the perception of AIDS from a death sentence to a treatable, manageable disease; this may have reduced the fear surrounding HIV, and in turn have led to an increase in risky behaviour.21'

16 September 2011 at 13:24  
Blogger Jimbo said...


It is not just a nun who thinks this but a top HIV epidemiologist from Harvard.

Harvard Aids expert says Pope 'correct' on condoms and spread of HIV

16 September 2011 at 13:52  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...


And your point is?

16 September 2011 at 14:13  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Dreadnaught, We are getting to the nub of the problem here. A catholic nun who has experience in the field and who has dedicated her life to helping the poor gives actual evidence to show that condoms increase the problem has her views dismissed because of the indoctrination you have accepted. Common sense tells us that if girls are educated about the use of condoms the subliminal message they receive is that they do not have a valid reason to say no. I looked at the site you mentioned and the very first paragraphs confirm what the nun said i.e.
“Uganda is often held up as a model for Africa in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Strong government leadership, broad-based partnerships and effective public education campaigns all contributed to a decline in the number of people living with HIV and AIDS in the 1990s.
Although there is a lot to learn from Uganda’s comprehensive and timely campaign against the AIDS epidemic, emphasising Uganda’s success story must not detract from the huge consequences that AIDS continues to have across the country.”
This is the way indoctrination works – nice seemingly humble phrases like “there is a lot to learn” and fear mongering phrases like “must not detract from the huge consequences” ared use to follow on from actual evidence and cause people to forget that we know what works but the lucrative condom lobby are not interested in African lives but rather in profit even if it results in disease.

16 September 2011 at 14:25  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

By the way Dreadnaught, why would you go to an ‘International HIV and AIDS charity’ site for your information? They are part of the organs of indoctrination, I suspect set up by the condom lobby but paid for by our taxes in government grants. I once looked at the web-site of the Terrance Higgins “charity” and the first page was all about “your arse” and why it is so interesting. I don’t intend to go back there.

16 September 2011 at 14:37  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

'According to the CDC, studies examining sexually active people at high risk for contracting HIV have found that “even with repeated sexual contact, 98-100% of those people who used latex condoms correctly and consistently did not become infected.

As I posted earlier - we have a choice to disseminate the information on the facts available.

However, the Pope is not at all wrong when he says don't have sex and you won't contract HIV - bit of a no brainer really if you discount infection through blood/bodily fluids transfer.

Even so it's bit like saying - don't have heterosexual sex and you wont get pregnant or don't have homosexual sex and the Church won't persecute you or don't have sex with a child then we won't have to move you to another parish -

Yeah we should listen to him alright.


I think you are trying to shift attention here in the same manner you have veered the OP off topic, without even addressing the latest message which totally undermines your proposition.

I shall disengage here for the sale of the OP.

16 September 2011 at 14:47  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


Your ignorance is insufferable! When you can't handle the evidence just become irrational and argumentative. And for your information, the odds are a lay person inclined towards homosexuality is far more likely to sexually abuse a male boy. Hell, Peter Thatchell says it does no harm and 9 year olds can consent and find it rewarding!

DanJ0 said...
"At some point he or some other bright cookie will reinterpret the Passion of Christ as 'voluntary suicide'."

That'll be me, probably.

I think the "bright spark" condition rules you out ... ;o)

16 September 2011 at 17:18  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...


I seem to remember feeling slightly sorry for you when I and others no doubt, witnessed your grovelling, toe-curlingly submissive pleas to HG to allow you to continue posting here; what a chump - my feelings were sadly misplaced.

In my opinion, if the best you have to offer is a childish tantrum and ad hominem comments, you have demonstrably undervalued HG's munificent recantation.

16 September 2011 at 19:04  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


Oooooo ....

The difference is Mr Cranmer was correct. Nothing rude or abusive in my latest post to you. I stand by every word.

16 September 2011 at 19:23  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "I think the "bright spark" condition rules you out ... ;o)"


16 September 2011 at 19:49  
Blogger English Viking said...


I'd be grateful if you'd let this one slide, it's just a collection of the great man's quotes.

Drag and drop, people; all this html stuff does my head in.

16 September 2011 at 19:57  
Blogger Philip Pennance said...

Dreadnaught: you claim that
"According to the CDC 98-100% of those people who used latex condoms correctly and consistently did not become infected."

This is junk science. What does the phrase 98-100% even mean? In reality, the use of condoms to prevent HIV is a form of Russian roulette. Such "theoretical" people, invented by the CDC, do not exist in the real world. And what of those who used condoms of the Engabu brand, 40 million of which were were found to be defective?

Evidence strongly indicates that, when condoms are promoted, there is an overall increase in HIV transmission rates due to increases in promiscuity. For example, why, despite massive promotion of condoms, is the AIDS rate in (non Catholic) Thailand 800% higher than in the (Catholic) Philipines?

Neither do condoms offer much protection against STDs such as HPV -why do cities like NY, where condoms are very heavily promoted, have std rates greater than 25% among at risk segments of the population?

I sincerely hope that your citiation of dubious statistics, based on bad science, is not leading HG's flock into immoral and unhealthy behaviour.

17 September 2011 at 05:01  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Philip, The problem is that people have been so indoctrinated that they simply will not see that condoms are the problem rather than the solution. There is also the fact that they consider anything the Catholic Church says as being by definition wrong and any argument against the Catholic Church as being automatically right. Chesterton says:

This is the last and most astounding fact about this faith; that its enemies will use any weapon against it … Men who begin to fight the church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the church. This is no exaggeration; … I have known people who protested against religious education with arguments against any education, saying that the child’s mind must grow freely or that the old must not teach the young. I have known people who showed that there could be no divine judgment by showing that there can be no human judgment. ‘Orthodoxy’ by G. K. Chesterton

17 September 2011 at 17:29  
Blogger Philip Pennance said...

Shacklefree said...
"The problem is that people have been so indoctrinated that they simply will not see that condoms are the problem rather than the solution."

I agree totally with you. Chesterton describes the situation perfectly. By the way, EWTN have a very excellent series on G. K.

18 September 2011 at 02:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not so surprising that the BBC (which is an anti- God organisation) should be albeit in a slightly underhand way promoting death.
Jesus came that we might have Life and all that opposes Jesus Christ has the sense of death upon it, for the individual and for Society.
The BBC which could have been a force for good in our Society seem to be more interested in the pulling down of Society rather than the building up of it.

'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full'.(John 10:10)

'The thief' seems to have a secure foothold in the Media and thereby the ability to promote these aspects of his trade.

18 September 2011 at 11:05  
Blogger Shacklefree said...


22 September 2011 at 17:47  

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