Shocked at the Shock

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

The headline from this piece in Flanders’ paper-of-record De Standaard reads “Belgium, where the blind and babies with an open back* must die,” and its first sentence reads “That our land wants to broaden the Euthanasia Law to include minors is arousing incensed reactions outside the country.”

Yes, you’ve surely heard by now that, from being one of the few countries in the world to have legalized euthanasia (which it did back in 2002), Belgium is about to enlarge that to include requests to die from terminally ill minors (i.e. under 18 years of age).

There is certainly resistance to this measure from some Belgian political quarters, but all indications are that that extension of the law will be enacted. But this particular article has more to do with how the world at large has reacted to this – or actually, and despite that “outside the country” (in het buitenland) above, how certain elements of the American media have reacted.

For example, there is the “American news broadcaster” (not further identified) cited as decrying Belgium’s “culture of death” and comparing the new euthanasia law with good old King Leopold of the 19th century, “who in the Congo had the natives’ hands chopped off.” (BTW that last is true: the Belgian administration of the Congo as its colony was truly scandalous, but that really has nothing to do with this euthanasia debate.) The Christian Broadcasting Network is then named explicitly, with its outrage over “this shocking tale out of Belgium.”

The most notable instance, though, involves CNN, in particular that broadcaster’s celebrity reporter Christiane Amanpour. Check out this video – also embedded within De Standaard’s article – of her interview with a Flemish legislator involved in pushing the new law forward:

Wow – imagine if YOU were called upon to face such hostile questioning, broadcast to millions over one of the biggest worldwide news channels, unable to defend yourself in your native language! No wonder Belgians are feeling aggrieved by the attention!

* “Open back”: This apparently had to do with babies born with the birth-defect of some sort of cleft in their backs, allegedly then consigned to be disposed of in the manner of Biblical King Herod.

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