Poor bugger David?

Although the left has lost no time in dismissing the Hutton report as a pathetic whitewash, while simultaneously demanding to know why Lord Hutton didn’t enquire into questions totally outside his terms of reference (like why US/UK intelligence on Iraqi WMD capabilities was so wide of the mark), one thing Hutton has apparently achieved is to stop the lefties from claiming ad nauseum that Tony Blair, Geoff Hoon or former New Labour spin doctor Alisdair Campbell somehow “drove” Defence Ministry scientist David Kelly to commit suicide.

Unfortunately, some of the more knuckleheaded righties (conceivably a tautology, although my own right-ish tendencies prevent me from conceding that point ) have instantly adopted the left’s idiot logic and turned it against their own ideological enemies. The latest example is Paddy McGuinness who, in today’s SMH, has no difficulty concluding that “The BBC, in its overweening institutional arrogance, killed David Kelly.”

Well Paddy, as far as I know the evidence rather suggests that the only person who killed David Kelly was David Kelly himself.

The same is true of just about every other suicide in the history of the human race. No-one “drives” a person to commit suicide. It’s a decision made by the suicide him/herself and, except sometimes in the later stages of a terminal illness, it’s almost always an utterly selfish, immature, self-indulgent decision giving little consideration to the effects on loved ones left behind, and more often than not involving a tawdry attempt to impose a “guilt trip” and punish those the suicide has become convinced were the cause of his unhappiness.

That’s not to say that I haven’t momentarily entertained such notions myself a couple of times when in the trough of some life crisis, nor that I feel no sympathy whatever for the suffering and despair of a fellow human being who takes such a drastic step. But my sympathy is strictly limited. We don’t do anyone any favours by colluding in the suicide’s evasion of ultimate responsibility for his own actions, any more than by credulously applauding/excusing the well-heeled Aboriginal activist whose demands for “self-determination” (i.e. an open cheque account with no overdraft limit) are invariably accompanied by self-serving bullshit rhetoric about white oppression, or his remote community brother who believes everyone other than himself is responsible for his own alcohol and drug abuse and gross physical and sexual abuse of spouse and children.

The same problem arises with the defence lawyer whose standard tactic is always to paint his criminal offender client as a helpless victim deserving far more sympathy than the real victim whose rights that client callously violated. I have an old friend who now works as a forensic psychologist at Darwin Prison. Another friend once asked him if he had observed any common behavioural/attitudinal denominator in repeat criminal offenders. His answer coincided with my own observations: the most obvious and ubiquitous common factor is a complete inability or unwillingness to take responsibility for their own actions, allied with a kneejerk response of instantly looking for someone else(however unlikely) to blame for the offender’s own behaviour. One of the most eloquent, and funniest, evocations of the syndrome can be found in the song Gee Officer Krupke from Leonard Bernstein’s great musical West Side Story.

Whether dealing with suicide, crime, alcoholism, welfare sponging or any other anti-social activity, we should all avoid colluding in perpetrators’ evasion of responsibility for their own actions by granting their self-justifying excuses any legitimacy whatever.

There now, that should be enough to restore my heartless RWDB boofhead credentials with any readers who may have feared I’d lurched towards the soft-hearted, self-indulgent left during my recent blogging holiday.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Not poor bugger but selfish bugger.
I wonder how happy his family was when he topped himself, sorry he didn’t think of them!

Suicide is the ultimate in selfishness. Blaming someone for that action is stupid.

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

I agree about the effect of suicide on others. I also think that even a LWDB like myself can see enough grey to wonder whether suicide might not in some cases be the unavoidable result of depression and more to be pitied than condemned. Hutton’s most important conclusion on that subject is that no-one could have contemplated Kelly’s suicide. Paragraphs 15 and 437.

Jim
Jim
2022 years ago

I’ve known two people well who tried to – in one instance and succeeded in another – to kill themselves.Not only is it absurd to blame someone/thing external for suicide but I don’t believe anyone can actually be prevented from taking their own life if they have reached that level of despair.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Hard to generalise about suicide. Some people kill themselves because they hve suffered some kind of collapse of perspective, in which they are no longer thinking straight about time, consequences, and their relationships with other people. Or they kill themselves because they are simply mentally ill at the time – something like 25% of people diagnosed with a bipolar disorder will kill themselves. Or they kill themselves because they are in horrible pain and not likely to get out of it. I don’t feel disposed to judge people who kill themselves, but by the same token, I am not going to ascribe responsibility for a suicide on some else. It is an internal phenomenon.

At the same time, it is easy to imagine that David Kelly felt like he was in a very invidious position. I wouldn’t have wanted to be there.

zoot
zoot
2022 years ago

Thank you Ken. The next time a McGuinness or a Sheehan or a Bolt or a … (oh you get the picture) spouts about Carmen Lawrence having a hand in Penny Easton’s death I shall refer them to this post.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

Anyone, zoot, who is genuinely incapable of seeing a clear moral distinction between Memory Loss Carmen’s dispicable role in the Penny Easton affair, and what happened with the BBC’s handling of the truth about the U.K. suicide, needs to do a course in basic analysis, presented by an extremely patient tutor.
Carmen, especially in light of her numerous and strangely eratic memory” lapses, is fortunate the cartoonists don’t make use of her Ph D being in memory studies.

zoot
zoot
2022 years ago

So Norman agrees with Paddy. I still agree with Ken.

trackback
2022 years ago

Coming to terms

An absence of months and Ken Parish still can’t tell the difference between left and right, or perhaps simply prefers not to bother: Although the left has lost no time in dismissing the Hutton report as a pathetic whitewash, while…

trackback
2022 years ago

Coming to terms

An absence of months and Ken Parish still can’t tell the difference between left and right, or perhaps simply prefers not to bother: Although the left has lost no time in dismissing the Hutton report as a pathetic whitewash, while…

trackback
2022 years ago

Coming to terms

An absence of months and Ken Parish still can’t tell the difference between left and right, or perhaps simply prefers not to bother: Although the left has lost no time in dismissing the Hutton report as a pathetic whitewash, while…

trackback
2022 years ago

Bloody lefties

In line with the ideological analysis over at Troppo Armadillo (via Surfdom), left wing loony Brian Jones, who retired in January 2003 as the head of the UK’s defence intelligence staff’s scientific and technical directorate, which was responsible for …

trackback
2022 years ago

Bloody lefties

In line with the ideological analysis over at Troppo Armadillo (via Surfdom), left wing loony Brian Jones, who retired in January 2003 as the head of the UK’s defence intelligence staff’s scientific and technical directorate, which was responsible for …

trackback
2022 years ago

Bloody lefties

In line with the ideological analysis over at Troppo Armadillo (via Surfdom), left wing loony Brian Jones, who retired in January 2003 as the head of the UK’s defence intelligence staff’s scientific and technical directorate, which was responsible for …

trackback
2022 years ago

Coming to terms

An absence of months and Ken Parish still can’t tell the difference between left and right, or perhaps simply prefers not to bother: Although the left has lost no time in dismissing the Hutton report as a pathetic whitewash, while…

trackback
2022 years ago

Coming to terms

An absence of months and Ken Parish still can’t tell the difference between left and right, or perhaps simply prefers not to bother:…

trackback
2022 years ago

Bloody lefties

In line with the ideological analysis over at Troppo Armadillo (via Surfdom), left wing loony Brian Jones, who retired in January 2003 as the head of the UK’s defence intelligence staff’s scientific and technical directorate, which was responsible for …