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Gutless politicians donít speak for me on ethics

By Jason Cohn - posted Friday, 15 October 2010

I am 19 years old and last Monday night there was a party at my friend’s house.

Last week's Q&A was not worth missing a party for.

Not just any party, but a holiday-launching, noise-polluting, parent-make-grumbling kind of party. There were girls too, lots of them. I didn’t go.


Instead I was stuck to the edge of my couch with my eyes glued to the television. They were going to talk about euthanasia on Q&A.

Two ministers would be obliged to disclose - wait for it - their feelings. No cue cards, no sound bites, just naked personal philosophy. Morals would be challenged and characters defended.

I was excited. How would they bumble across the ethical minefield of mortality? There are no easy slogans to fall back on in this game.

For: “If grandpa wants out, give doc a shout.”

Against: “If grandma’s well sad, well that’s just too bad.”

None in good taste anyway.


I was ready to love again after voting in my first election, bitterly underwhelmed by the whole process. But by the end of the show all I was left with was an all-too-familiar churn in my stomach when I realised that I had missed a night out with friends for a cheap show of bipartisan wussery.

Neither Liberal’s Christopher Pyne nor Labor’s Chris Bowen acknowledged the only ethicist on the panel’s plea for the empowerment of personal autonomy. Dr Leslie Cannold warned us that the practice is harder to regulate when criminalised and while applauded by the audience, she was ignored by the two lawmakers.

The conversation ended without Mr Pyne having to back up his vehement opposition to voluntary euthanasia with silly things like “evidence”. Oh don’t worry; he assured us that his “committed Catholicism” doesn’t encroach on his ability to govern for a supposedly secular state. That’s a relief.

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First published in The Punch on September 30, 2010.

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About the Author

Jason Cohn is a 19-year-old freelance writer and social commentator who is studying Journalism and International Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Dual citizenship of Australia and the United States and a short lifetime of mass media consumption has spawned a deep-seated interest in political philosophy and meta-ethics. Jason is using his time to give a voice to the youngest of the politically active demographics.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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