What we can learn from Peter FitzSimons and two WA tragedies…

Pete, mate. It’s alright. Don’t worry. I’m here. Sheeesh!

Peter FitzSimons seemed a little worried about me in his latest Sydney Morning Herald column so I thought I better let him know I haven’t disappeared. See:

So where are you now, you fierce opponents of euthanasia and the right-to-die?

He also had this to say:

How many of you, honestly, can look at the triumphant – you heard me – passing of the 104-year-old Australian scientist David Goodall in Switzerland on Thursday and say that he got it wrong, that society is on a slippery slope, et cetera?

Which leads the glib side of me to question when Pete will do us all a favour and have his own triumphal moment.

Flippant jokes aside, FitzSimons’ column did get me thinking, particularly in light of the two recent tragic events that have come from Western Australia.

The first was the euthanasia (albeit in Switzerland) of WA scientist, David Goodall, so enthusiastically embraced by Australia’s most well-known wannabe pirate. And the second was the apparent murder/suicide that resulted in the deaths of seven people from WA’s Margaret River region.

According to the moral world-view of Peter FitzSimons, both of these tragedies are equivalent. In the grand cosmic scheme of Atheistic Things, the end results for David Goodall and Peter Miles are exactly the same: absolute nothingness.

Or, in other words, both men’s actions have the same moral meaning and results. This is not so much an injustice, but the inference of a theory that logically concludes that there is no such thing as justice all.

And, as much as atheists may deny this, that is absolutely the implication of a universe without a perfect being with the ability to perfectly judge the actions of men.

If there is no judge, there can be no punishment or reward for breaking or keeping the rules. And if that is the case, then are no real rules at all. It flows, then, that the concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral are meaningless.

Men might have rules. But regardless of whether they are complied with internally through some individual ethical worldview or enforced externally through some societal mechanism, when it comes to the crunch there is no objective judgement, let alone one that lasts.

There can only be a brief life of self-judgement or the enforced judgement of others which, by the way, has no legitimate foundation other than might is right.

In the big picture, these man-made rules are futile and fade to nothing against the moral meaninglessness of the universe.

Given this, Peter FitzSimons is unable to articulate with any clarity why David Goodall is different to Peter Miles.

Sure. He might be able to claim that Goodall’s euthanasia was voluntary and only impacted on himself whereas Miles’ murder/suicide took the lives of others without their consent. He might also argue that Goodall’s death was legal whereas Miles’ ending was not.

The answer, according to strict atheistic logic, is so what?

In an atheistic world, there is simply no reason to judge Peter Miles’ actions as evil. He, for all intents and purposes, is able to kill his wife, daughter and grandchildren without consequence, just as wild bears do. Against the back drop of a godless universe, the concept that ‘consent’ is required for something to be moral is nothing more than a made up idea of some puffed-up men who, ironically, can only claim that their idea has merit by forcing it upon others – whether they like it or not.

And in a world where you like to ridicule the idea of a slippery slope it is very dangerous to get all legalistic about these tragedies. If the only thing that separates Goodall from Miles is an act of parliament passed by a bunch of people who believe they have the power to legislate right and wrong, then I give you one slippery slope, complete with detergent and a torrent of water.

But there’s more to this story. And this is really the shocking part.

Because while Peter FitzSimons might seem to be closer in mind to Goodall than Miles, his beliefs are in fact more in line with the alleged mass-murderer from Margaret River than the now-euthanised scientist.

Much has been made in recent days of David Goodall’s belief that the world is overpopulated and doomed by climate change, as detailed by Philip Nitschke on ABC radio late last week:

ABC presenter: What was your last conversation with David?

Philip Nitschke: Actually it was interesting. It was about global warming and his thoughts, and ah, we were discussing whether or not the world was over-populated. He was of the strong opinion it was and that we’d reached the planet-carrying capacity.

His position was that there was going to be a disaster that would seriously reduce the human race numbers. And then he added that one way to help out would be to allow people like [Goodall] who want to die to have that choice a little easier than what [he] had to go through…

Whatever you might think of Goodall’s last act, his logic cannot be denied. He believed that there are too many people on this planet and that it would benefit the rest of us if he took decisive action to reduce that number.

So he did.

You could quibble that taking 104 years to get to this point was a tad selfish but David Goodall’s last act accorded with the views of a man who believes the human race needed a vast reduction numbers.

Now it is well known that Peter FitzSimons also holds these views. For years he’s banged the climate-change drum and attacked the Vatican like some modern day prophet, claiming disaster is not only imminent but upon us.

And yet he is still here among us.

The only conclusion to be drawn is that Peter thinks the world has too many people other than himself. It is others he would rather see dead.

And in this sense, his outlook is far closer to that of the alleged Margaret River murderer than the old man who took his own life in Switzerland.

This, by the way, is the same Peter Fitzsimons who claims there is no slippery slope and that the states should bring in the euthanasia laws that he so happily champions…

…laws that are based on an ‘ethical’ understanding that it is fine to end a life and that the government has the legitimate power to determine how this will be done, by who and to who.

As they say in the classics, never trust a wannabe pirate with your life.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of nine children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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  1. The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Yes, I know it is biblical but it is also (I read) in the law of Moses and is found in many other places:


    Also, Homo sapiens is a social species and we tend to disapprove of people who do violence to us.

    Plus there is simply the law: If I kill someone, I am likely to be locked up for a long time (unless I am very, very rich and I am not).

    “my expectation is that he won’t respond”

    I guess you were wrong. But I may not respond further because I am busy. Make of my further responses, or lack thereof, what you will. If you think that means you “win” the argument, fine.

    Post a Reply
    • Alan,

      What I am able to understand of what you said is that ‘wrong’ equals “[not doing] unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It is also “disapproving of people who do violence to us”.
      The philosophical problems associated with such a claim are far too numerous to list. However, here are a few.

      1. The reason why “Not doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” is wrong is that it’s wrong to “not do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As you can see, it becomes quite circular, quite quickly. In other words, it’s tautological and tells me nothing about WHY something is wrong. You may see it as brute fact, something properly basic, in no need of further unpacking. However, for us mere mortals, that great meta-ethical question of what ultimate basis do you assert that not doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is wrong still screams out for an answer.

      2. Disapproving of something is no claim to moral truth or certitude. It may look like it posits some objective truth but really is nothing more than a semaphore for your feelings. As A.J. Ayer so (in)famously argued, all you are saying when you state “Murder is wrong” is “Boo! Boo for murder! I disapprove of murder.”

      3. Citing various cultures who may have a similar moral compass does not assist your argument. It’s a numbers game by another name. History, both contemporary and ancient, is replete with examples of civilizations who did not uphold your normative principle. They thought, and put into action, its very antithesis. So who’s right? What’s the unchanging, external moral guide post that will arbitrate of which side is ultimately the saint and who is to be condemned as the sinner? Is it you Alan? Is it everyone on your side who agrees with you, to the exclusion of everyone else? Or do we simply take a vote and count the ‘ayes’ and the ‘nays’ and hope one or the other is a clear winner i.e. 50.1%.

      4. As for your cynically desperate contention that because there is a law against murder your committing murder would send you to jail, is hardly a moral argument. It’s an instrumental or pragmatic one that is akin to saying since the car manual tells me to change the oil regularly, if I don’t I will destroy my engine and have to fork out 1000s of dollars in repair costs and so I should change the oil regularly unless I am a millionaire and can afford not to.

      I do hope you find some time to respond. All the best.

      Post a Reply
  2. James,

    I’ll wait to hear from Alan. After all, he used the word and my expectation is that he won’t respond.

    But, please, if you’d like to be brave and not skirt around the epistemological issue, you can fill in for Alan and tell me HOW an atheist comes to define, and know, what ‘wrong’ is. Or maybe you don’t even believe anything is wrong and that the word has no meaning whatsoever. The ball is in your court.

    Post a Reply
    • “tell me HOW an atheist comes to define, and know, what ‘wrong’ is.”

      Well I can only speak for myself, John. But personally I wouldn’t have a clue what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”, so when I need definitive answers I turn to a higher authority who says things that feel right.

      For me, that authority is an advanced extra-terrestrial race whose revealed knowledge was transcribed into a collection of books by Claude Vorilhon in 1974.

      So tell me, how does a Christian come to define and know what ‘wrong’ is?

      Post a Reply
    • Hey James: Where are you? Your self-imposed silence is disturbing, but entirely expected.

      Post a Reply
      • Sorry. I meant Alan and his silence.

  3. “In an atheistic world, there is simply no reason to judge Peter Miles’ actions as evil. He, for all intents and purposes, is able to kill his wife, daughter and grandchildren without consequence, just as wild bears do.”

    No, not true. People do not need a god to know that killing other people (even other creatures) is wrong (unless their own life is threatened). By all means, defend your faith, but please do not use flawed arguments to criticise others.

    Post a Reply
    • Alan – thanks for your comment.

      I am really interested in it. I accept that an atheist may believe that murder is wrong. What I want to know is why? And how is this morality enforced? And if it is enforced doesn’t that imply the existence of a being capable of judging and holding others to account that is greater than men?

      If this being is denied, then an atheist who claims that murder is wrong must also admit that this is nothing more than his own internal belief system and has no power over others. This feeling would have no more validity than an atheist who claimed that murder was perfectly justifiable.

      Post a Reply
      • You wrote: “I accept that an atheist may believe that murder is wrong. What I want to know is why?”

        But you don’t want to know *why* murder is wrong! You want simply to be told by the almighty that it IS wrong, no questions!

        That’s the definition of dogma: the almighty is right because might makes right. End of.

        Problem is, everyone has their own idea of who is almightiest according to their own internal belief systemm. So we have a bunch of people each claiming they know what God wants. Your god is righter than theirs… So how is that different to moral relativism?

        It’s still just people declaring what they think is right and wrong but with the hubris of pretending *only you* truly know the mind of God! There’s your slippery slope…

    • Alan,

      As an atheist, please define ‘wrong’. Very interested in your views on the matter.

      Post a Reply
      • John,

        Perhaps you could also define “wrong” for us as well. Very interested to see how the answers compare.

  4. Peter has always hunted with the hounds and run with the hare. His lack of belief in his own views is why he leans on others.

    Post a Reply
  5. Wannabe pirate you hit the nail right on the head there and drove it home in one. ha

    What a clown he is too, I have had people I don’t know come up and ask me what I thought about that clown, now I have the perfect come back, what that wannabe pirate !

    The crap that he comes out with, I wondered if he had been dropped on his head or have been pointing out that’s what happens when you take drugs, that one would end up like him, just a barking mad bigoted cocker spaniel.

    Post a Reply
  6. Peter (Towel Head) Fitzsimmons is nothing more than a “Groupie” to whatever popular idea wafting around at any given time. So he makes a lot of noise but does’t convey any coherent message – that just makes him a Fog Horn.

    As for the SMH & Fairfax press, well I stopped my subscription to that waste of time long ago. They’re the commercial arm of the ABC..

    Post a Reply
  7. It must have been too much for Dr Goodall to realise his life’s work & dual beliefs in the nonsenses of “Climate Science & Over Population” was nothing more than a waste of time he wasn’t willing to admit……

    One might say that Dr Goodall’s life amounted to,”F**kalł”…..

    Post a Reply
    • Peter Fitz is a very sad pathetic insecure man looking for real meaning but unable to find it,all he can do is criticise

      Post a Reply

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