The Medical and Legal Establishment Has Got It Wrong On Alfie Evans | Musings of an Old Curmudgeon

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Of all the worldwide comment on the Alfie Evans case, the core truth was best encapsulated by a headline in the Wall Street Journal: “Alfie Evans and the State. A medical debate that’s gone global is not about the money. It’s about power.”

Source: Musings of an Old Curmudgeon: The Medical and Legal Establishment Has Got It Wrong On Alfie Evans

Most readers are probably at least somewhat familiar with the case of Alfie Evans, a 23-month-old boy from Liverpool with a still-undiagnosed neurodegenerative disorder (a fact which is itself concerning), who died in Alder Hey Hospital in Britain after a British court ordered life support removed (technically, they ruled that doctors could order the removal of life support, which they did).

This, despite his parents’ valiant fight to take him to Italy for further treatment, which resulted in Alfie being granted Italian citizenship, the Pope chartering a state-of-the-art air ambulance to fly him there, and the Italian government and even military standing by to serve in a support role.

Despite international outcry and support for Alfie and his parents, the hospital not only took him off the respirator – after which he continue to surprise everyone by living four more days – but for even denied him sustenance and hydration, and went so far as to station a police cordon outside the hospital so that he could not be removed.

The argument was that airlifting him to Italy – where he would, as is generally accepted, have had no more hope of recovery than in Britain – would not be “in the child’s best interest.” Apparently starving and dehydrating him was.

I was a relative latecomer to this saga, but after learning about it, the incident has touched me deeply. I found the linked response to be particularly on-target:

“[At] every stage of this power struggle, the motive invoked was Alfie’s ‘best interests.’

“In the event, Alfie’s best interests turned out to consist of removing his ventilation, depriving him of nutrition for more than 24 hours, giving him minimal hydration and refusing, with the support of the courts, to release him from the hospital where this regime was being imposed on him. Although judicial permission had been given, in principle though not in practice, for his parents to take him home, this was deferred due to fears they might abscond with him to Rome and secure him humane treatment…

“Nobody expected a miracle cure at the Bambino Gesù (though its world-class clinicians might at least have succeeded in diagnosing Alfie’s illness, in the interests of medical research). What was expected was that Alfie could have ended his days among people who did not automatically regard his best interests as synonymous with death. His palliative care would have been of a high order and, as a moral principle, he would not have been starved or dehydrated to death – the point at which gently allowing a hopeless case to slip away crosses the red line to become euthanasia…

“And what about his parents? In that environment they could have spent invaluable time with their son, become reconciled to the inevitability of his death, in the consoling knowledge that every human endeavour had been exhausted in the effort to save him. That experience would have brought them – though the over-used term may jar – ‘closure.’

“Why was that not allowed to happen? The air ambulance ordered by the Pope was state-of-the-art, the medical personnel highly qualified, even the Italian military were involved and the danger of harm to Alfie in transit minimal; and, if he had died naturally, it would have been no worse than suffocating at Alder Hey. At least his parents would have done their best for him.

“But family and parental rights are being marginalized in Britain. It was spelled out from the judicial bench that parental rights took second place to the child’s best interests, a subjective term that turned out to be a euphemism for killing him… Here, however, we had two loving parents, in full agreement, trying to take their child abroad with every medical facility both in transit and at their destination, but prevented by the state.

“That is the grim reality: Alfie Evans [was] a prisoner of the State.”

It was and is a tragedy. Not Great Britain’s finest hour!
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West Rise Junior School – Teaching young students resilience, in the out-of-doors

“If kids never step out of their comfort zone, how are they going to learn resilience?”

— Mike Fairclough, Headmaster, West Rise Junior School (Eastbourne, UK)

Not sure if I shared this last year, when it first appeared – if not, I should have! If I did, it’s worth a re-share. As I wrote at the time:

What, you mean there’s a school that’s actually teaching children where real food actually comes from – as opposed to magically appearing, wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, at the supermarket? Good heavens! In fact, the whole program sounds absolutely brilliant.

This amazing state school in the UK teaches children from “a varied demographic” – most of whose families are on various forms of social assistance – how to shoot, hunt, dress and cook the game they take, make bows, build fires, and otherwise function effectively in the outdoors.

The video shows them gutting squirrels, plucking pigeons, splitting wood for the fire with a mallet and fro, and cooking and eating the proceeds.

“The most dangerous thing you can do to a child is to not expose them to an element of risk and danger,” says Mike Fairclough, Headmaster, West Rise Junior School, who adds that “if children are excited about coming to school, if they’re being inspired and enthused by being outside, then that has an impact back in the classroom.”

The school gets the best exam results in the area, and won the 2015 T.E.S. Best School of the Year award, according to the video. “Teaching the children to shoot is controversial,” the video notes. “But the school argues it teaches discipline and responsibility.”

“The cotton-wool culture of Britain has got a little bit out of control,” Fairclough comments, referring to the modern desire on the part of many – schools, parents, media, etc. – to wrap children up and insulate them from many of the realities of life. “It’s only really peoples own sort of limiting beliefs, and a few media myths that people have invested in, which have stopped children from having these sorts of activities.”

Here’s an article with more information (despite the rather absurdly breathless style in which it is written).

Kudos to Mike Fairclough and West Rise Junior! You’re doing it right.

Mike Fairclough, head master of West Rise School, just outside Eastbourne. With some of the school's water buffalo
Mike Fairclough, head master of West Rise School, just outside Eastbourne, with some of the school’s water buffalo. Photo: Christopher Pledger

Hope Not Hate: anti-fascist authoritarianism | Free speech | spiked

Hope Not Hate: anti-fascist authoritarianism

“There has always been something paradoxical, even ironic, about so-called anti-fascist and anti-racist groups… These anti-fascist bodies are a reminder that people with unshakeable good intentions on their side are always the most dangerous.”

Source: Hope Not Hate: anti-fascist authoritarianism | Free speech | spiked

Online columnist Patrick West notes that

“There has always been something paradoxical, even ironic, about so-called anti-fascist and anti-racist groups. While ostensibly promoting peace, understanding and tolerance in the face of nasty and intolerant far-right groups, they have always seemed to contain an essence of authoritarianism and intolerance themselves – and even an undercurrent of menace…

“These anti-fascist bodies are a reminder that people with unshakeable good intentions on their side are always the most dangerous. People who believe they are fighting evil impose no boundaries upon themselves, because in their battle in the name of good, anything is permitted.”

Now, it seems, “the latest anti-fascist group, Hope Not Hate, which sounds caring and innocent enough… latest campaign has been to urge major booksellers Waterstones, WHSmith and Foyles to stop profiting from selling ‘dangerous books’ with ‘extreme hate content.'” Correctly noting that “the concept of ‘dangerous books’ is both babyish and ridiculous,” Mr. West points out, accurately, that

“It should strike us as ironic that anti-fascists are seeking to ban books in the name of promoting tolerance. What next? Burning books? But this shouldn’t surprise us. Paternal, power-crazy, anti-fascists have a long track record of self-righteous censoriousness. They’ve always feared the ill-educated, unwashed masses of people who might have had too much to think. They always mean well. And that’s what makes them so dangerous.”

Dangerous indeed! Referencing a number of recent cases of authorities in the UK tagging people for anti-PC “thought crimes,” Mr. West continues,

“Free speech means standing up for people you don’t care for, because if your enemies aren’t safe from the encroaching powers of the state, then you and you friends won’t be safe, either. You don’t have to be a libertarian fundamentalist to be worried about the state now prosecuting people for jokes.”

It has until recently been seen as self-evident, here in the U.S., that free speech is meaningless unless it also protects unpopular, even offensive speech. This consensus seems, sadly, to be fading even here, and it appears already to have gone by the wayside in the U.K. (which used to have a robust tradition of free speech, but sadly never one protected – as ours still is, however tenuously – by a written Constitution).

I am, in any case, reminded of C.S. Lewis’ famous dictum:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Unfortunately, at the moment it seems that the tyrannical “omnipotent moral busybodies” are very much in the ascendant in today’s public square, aided and abetted by inaction on the part of those whose greatest fear is to be seen as being “intolerant.” But as the late great G.K. Chesterton observed, “Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.” Sadly, there seem to be many such men in the present age of the world.

Conservative Activist, Journalist Lauren Southern Detained at Calais, Banned From Entering UK

The government of the UK has banned Canadian conservative activist and journalist Lauren Southern from Britain, being held at Calais just days after Austrian activist Martin Sellner and American author Brittany Pettibone were refused entry at Heathrow.

Source: Conservative Activist, Journalist Lauren Southern Detained at Calais, Banned From Entering UK

So, once-Great Britain, which stood firm against Nazi Germany and was our greatest ally against the Soviet Union, is now inimical to free speech and freedom of oppression. She has become what once she opposed. I cannot express how deeply this grieves me.

What are the great crimes for which Southern and Pettibone have been denied entry, and detained and interrogated prior to being deported? Have they called for genocide? For physical attacks on immigrants, such as black South Africans are committing against Afrikaners, with the tacit support and even approval of the government there?

No, they simply want Britain to remain Britain, and other nations of the West to remain Western, and they oppose the uncontrolled migration of alien peoples with alien and inimical cultures into the West. And in the case of Southern, she has dared to film a documentary on the brutal attacks against white farmers (Boers, in Afrikaans) in South Africa – whose government has just voted to strip white farmers of their lands, without compensation.

And for this they are labeled “far right,” and “racist.” Southern and Pettibone (who ironically was on her way to a pro-free-speech rally), not the South African government!

It appears the UK government has learned the wrong lessons from WW II – it is totalitarianism which is to be opposed, not merely any views deemed to be on the political “right” – and has taken political inspiration, rather than a cautionary example, from the Soviet Union. The UK has, as I say, apparently become what it once opposed. This is a source of tremendous sadness for a life-long Anglophile like me!

Loving one’s own nation and people, its history and heritage, and being opposed to those bent on its destruction, is not racism, but sanity. But as one commenter put it,

“If ‘racism’ is a sufficient reason for preventing someone from entering the UK, why isn’t it a sufficient reason for kicking out of the UK all those non-white people who openly hate the white population? Of course nobody in authority has the slightest intention of answering that question – in fact they probably think that asking the question is in itself ‘racist.'”

Indeed, we have entered dark days.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II – Accession Portait

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - Accession Portait

A further celebration of the Accession of Her Majesty, The Queen, on this the 66th year of her reign. God save The Queen! And may our gracious Lord grant her continued health and long life!

O LORD our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH; and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that she may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way: Endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant her in health and wealth long to live; strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies; and finally, after this life, she may attain everlasting joy and felicity: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

— “A Prayer for the Queen’s Majesty,” Book of Common Prayer 1662 (UK)

God save The Queen! On the 66th anniversary of her Accession to the Throne

HM Queen Elizabeth on her Accession

Today is the 66th anniversary of the Accession of Her Majesty. Always a bittersweet day for the Queen, coming as it did as a result of the death of her dear father, His Late Majesty King George VI, aged only 56.

— from the Constitutional Monarch Association

ALMIGHTY God, who rulest over all the kingdoms of the world, and dost order them according to thy good pleasure: We yield thee unfeigned thanks, for that thou wast pleased, as on this day, to set thy Servant our Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH, upon the Throne of this Realm. Let thy wisdom be her guide, and let thine arm strengthen her; let truth and justice, holiness and righteousness, peace and charity, abound in her days; direct all her counsels and endeavours to thy glory, and the welfare of her subjects; give us grace to obey her cheerfully for conscience sake, and let her always possess the hearts of her people; let her reign be long and prosperous, and crown her with everlasting life in the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

British actor and historian Robert Hardy dies at aged 91 – 3 August 2017

Robert Hardy (pictured centre), the star of All Creatures Great and Small who appeared as Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter films, has died at the age of 91, his family has announced.

Source: Actor Robert Hardy dies aged 91 | Daily Mail Online

Robert Hardy passed from this life and onto a farther shore and into a greater light yesterday, 3 August 2017. A greater loss, in my opinion, than many who are better known:

“The family of All Creatures Great and Small star Robert Hardy have paid tribute to the ‘gruff, elegant, twinkly, and always dignified’ actor following his death aged 91.

“The actor was best known for his roles as vet Siegfried Farnon in the BBC show, which was popular in the Seventies and Eighties, and as Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter franchise.”

The late Mr. Hardy was more than just an actor, however gifted:

“Paying tribute, Hardy’s children said: ‘Dad is remembered as a meticulous linguist, a fine artist, a lover of music and a champion of literature, as well as a highly respected historian, and a leading specialist on the longbow.

‘He was an essential part of the team that raised the great Tudor warship The Mary Rose.

‘He is celebrated by all who knew him and loved him, and everyone who enjoyed his work.'”

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon him.