Daniel James – R.I.P.

The name Daniel James will not be known to many on this side of the Atlantic, or, indeed in his home country of the UK. Nevertheless, in his own way Daniel James represents the perfect example of a victim. He’s the victim of a social system that has become endemic in the western world; a system of control, of manipulation, that renders the ordinary person a slave to the dictates of those who would impose their will on others, while utilizing a different set of laws to regulate their own, wealth-ridden, lives.

Daniel James is dead. He died, of his own free will, in a Swiss clinic. Daniel James chose assisted suicide in Switzerland, because his home country – like much of the western world, including America (with the exception of Oregon) – denied him the right to die with dignity, after an accident during a rugby match left him paralyzed from the neck down, the result of a badly crushed spine.[1]

Daniel James was twenty-three. Being of sound mind, he decided his body had become a prison. He wished to end his life. He tried several times to kill himself, without success. Eventually, he achieved his wish by traveling to Switzerland.

His parents, distraught and in need of comfort at the loss of their son, are being harassed by police demanding statements, with a view to possible prosecution, because they may, in some way, have committed an offense if they helped their son achieve his wish. Such “help” includes purchasing his air ticket, driving him to the airport, daring to accompany him on the plane.

HOW DARE THEY? Who do they think they are? Do these inhumane creatures who dare to legislate such monstrous laws think they have the divine right to harass and torture individuals already overcome with the grief of bereavement? Do the God Almighty Lords and Ladies of English aristocracy, the toffee-nosed, high-falluting, US senators of Congress, truly believe they alone hold the right to decide if an individual may, or may not, consider his life too unbearable to endure?

Frankly, my contempt for these autocrats knows no bounds. My greatest joy would be to urinate on them from the top of a very high building. They are, to coin a phrase, sanctimonious bastards.

My heart goes out to the parents of Daniel James. Let the law do its worst, for the law is an ass.

Blackmail is the lowest of crimes, yet the law cavorts with blackmail when it twists the arm of people like Daniel James, by threatening their relatives and friends if they dare to defy “They Who Must Be Obeyed”.

It’s a fact that the older one grows, the less one knows. When we’re young we think we have all the answers. As we grow older, we realize we don’t even understand the questions. There’s one fact I have learned, however, in my sixty two years on this planet: it’s that those who hold the power to make the rules, are not worthy of our respect. The rules are always for their benefit, never ours.

Daniel James – may he rest in peace. And may his parents take comfort that at last he’s found it.

[1] “Parents speak on assisted suicide” BBC, October 17th 2008

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7 Replies to “Daniel James – R.I.P.”

  1. I read about this elsewhere, RJA, and also about his younger sisters who have been profoundly affected both by his frustration at being trapped inside a useless body (he had a huge personality apparently)and now by their parents being harassed unduly by the police for being ‘complicit’ in his suicide whilst grieving their beloved brother.
    Dems that rules us all so need to just grow the f*** up.

  2. Sadder still is the realization is that he was spot on with his analysis that life as a disabled person is second class. However, this need not be because of physical limitations, but because society makes it so. His death is once more a reinforcement of the common opinion that it is better to be dead than to be disabled. Everywhere, on this blog too, the cry is heard for legalization of the right to die, yet no one questions the position people with disabilities have in society that should make their plight so abhorrent to the able bodied that death is the preferred choice.

  3. This case is really sad for two reasons; firstly that he felt that life wasn’t worth living, and secondly, that once he’d made his informed decision, that UK law means that he had to travel overseas, and that his parents wouldn’t have been able to be with him at the end.

    Part of the reason behind this is due to the issues surrounding where euthanazia ends and murder begins – the authorities don’t want to legislate in case someone is murdered and the murderer gets away with it by saying that the victim wanted to die.

    It also doesn’t help that enough of the law makers are Christian, and therefore the feeling that “Only God can decide when it is time for you to die” is enough to ensure that suffering of countless people who do not want their family to be prosecuted.


    This bites very close to home – my grandfather suffered (and I use the word carefully – his pain was immense) from terminal lung and brain cancer. Three of his children are nurses. They were able to tell him the exact amount of pain killer which would kill him, allowing him to die at home with what little shred of dignity he had left, rather then ending up hooked to a life support machine in hospital. But he had to take the overdose himself – none of them were allowed to assist him even by getting the medication out of its wrapper.

  4. I can’t begin to imagine how I’d feel with that extent of paralysis, at such a young age. I thought about Christopher Reeve when I was reading here. He was similarly paralysed, but older, more experience of life, and possibly of quite different personality type. He fought, for as long as he was able. In the end it has to be a personal choice whether to fight or to die, and help to travel both routes ought to be easily available in a civilised country. No other individual has the right to dictate in such matters. Same applies to abortion, IMO.

  5. The comments on this post raise certain questions. All have something positive to offer. WWW is right to describe the situation in which Daniel James found himself, as ‘sickening’. Flimsy makes the observation that people are not kind, even though we are led to expect them to be. Twilight compares the case of Daniel James with Christopher Reeve, a more mature individual and thus better equipped to fight against his crippling injuries. Jo points out the issue of that thin line – the demarcation zone between murder and euthanasia. Finally, Lodro Rigdzin, a newcomer to Sparrow Chat – welcome – emphasizes, perhaps the most important factor in the debate: our own personal, – and society’s – view of the severely handicapped. It is true we regard them as second-class citizens. This fact is highlighted by the impact of, say, the paraplegic Olympics as compared to the Games themselves. Be honest, the paraplegic games are something of an afterthought, aren’t they? Society tolerates the handicapped, but fails to accept them. I’m not sure if there is anyway to change that, for it seems to be instinctive in our attitudes. Many animal species cast out injured or mutilated members of their type, knowing they will quickly fall prey to predators. Are we, at a subconscious level, segregating ourselves from the plight of those with afflictions that make them less than whole? I believe it’s likely. It brings us back to Flimsy’s simple statement that people are ‘not kind’. It is certainly true. Despite the advent of Christianity, and the belief in a God-man whose basic tenet was to love our neighbor, we have obviously failed, in all aspects of our existence, to live up to the creed He espoused. It is this very fallibility that demands we legislate to protect the disabled from our own apathy and rejection.
    There are two issues: one is the right of any individual to end his earthly existence. This needs to be accepted as sacrosanct. Jo notes the twisted Christian doctrine, “Only God can decide when it is time for you to die,” and points out the suffering imposed on so many by such cold and religious influences.
    The second issue concerns our own view of the handicapped. As individuals we need struggle to conquer our natural instincts, and rise above the animalistic, to a truly “Christian” love for our neighbor, whether paraplegic or not. Society, as a whole, needs to pay more than lip-service to providing them a quality of life as close to that of a healthy individual as possible.
    Perhaps if we can all achieve that, the numbers of those who choose to “Die with Dignity” will drastically reduce, and we all may be better for the effort.

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