The anti-choice mindset strikes again
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By librarian-of-hell   |   
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Back on Instagram, before my old account was deleted for censorship reasons, I used to complain about how anti-cutting and anti-suicide propaganda is everywhere and I'm tired of seeing it all the time. And people usually responded to that by telling me "you have already made up your mind, you have your position, so it doesn't affect you, but there are some younger people who may need it because they are impressionable and might make choices they shouldn't be making at that immature stage". Now, to an extent I do agree with that - minors should not be eligible to choose suicide for the same reason they aren't eligible to vote or to marry. It's a decision for adults, just like those. And no one should pressure anyone, especially not minors, towards committing suicide.

But.

That doesn't mean you have to demonize the choice and "teach" people that it's always bad and never an option. That already failed as a method of sex education and drug abuse prevention. Abstinence-only sex ed is a great idea on paper, but it statistically, in the real world, does not work. Sorry, but that's the cold hard fact. Similarly, if you demonize cutting and propagate the idea that everyone who practices it is mentally ill and/or morally wrong, it has the potential to a) make it more tempting, because people have a rebellious streak (forbidden fruit effect); b) it makes it impossible to teach people *safe* cutting practices, making unintentional permanent harm more likely (just like not teaching about safe sex makes STD infection, pregnancy, sexual dissatisfaction, and even potential injury or exploitation more likely). And as for suicide - regardless of what you may think of the moral implications, the fact is that in some cases it is the most obvious and convenient way to prevent or eliminate real human suffering, which means that teaching the idea that it is *never* an option implicitly *inflicts* suffering. Also, if people are not taught to be comfortable with the idea of dying, or at the very least not unhealthily terrified of it, it is more likely that they won't be prepared for facing it when they have to (and it's a *when*, not an *if*; either through loss of a loved one or simply one's own old age); and which should be even more important, they are more likely to make rash decisions, as opposed to well-reasoned, rational ones - which may lead to either needless deaths, or even worse, catastrophic failures causing permanent damage and disability.

Here's a quote from punk singer Wendy O. Williams that sums up my side's position:
"I don't believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time. I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have."
This is part of what is usually called the concept of "unenumerated rights", on which dr. Jack Kevorkian built his case when he was fighting for the special case of terminally ill people having the right to end their lives with medical assistance. The argument, specifically spelled out in the 9th Amendment, goes like this: you cannot use the list of basic rights for restricting someone's rights - in other words, you cannot make a right (in this case, the right to life) into an obligation. But I think there is an additional point here - namely that by forcing people to live (and this includes locking them up because you perceive them to be "at risk" for suicide), you are indeed affirming their right to live, but at the same time, you're infringing upon their liberty - which is in the same list.

That's just the legal rights point of view though. It doesn't mean you can't express an opinion or publish information that is against either cutting or suicide. By all means, feel free to do that. I may disagree, but cannot stop you from saying what you're saying. I cannot censor you.

Which is where we hit the second problem: censorship. While anti-suicide/anti-cutting content is freely allowed and even encouraged by social networks, including Instagram, DeviantArt, Facebook (yes, I know, FB has other censorship-related concerns too, but this is one of them), Tumblr, and Ask.fm, material that represents the opposite view is most often banned, taken down, even against the by-laws of the site. Now, I *know* these sites/apps/interfaces are not run by the government, and thus aren't strictly required to have a free speech policy, but I think there might still be an implicit fear on the part of the people who run them that the government is going to shut the network down if they do allow free speech in this area. And I don't think that fear is entirely unfounded. In which case, it is the government implicitly requiring them to censor the user community. And that is straight-up illegal, on par with allowing creationism into the public science classroom (which was btw struck down with good reason *multiple times*, most familiarly in the Scopes "monkey trial" and in 2005 with Kitzmiller v. Dover).

And then there's my personal gripe with the whole thing, which inspired me to actually write a post this time (because I've already talked about this and frankly, I'm tired of making the same points over and over again): I'm becoming wary of looking for sexy cutter stuff because most of what shows up in the results is propaganda against it. I like to look at hot cutter girls showing off their fresh cuts or scars in a positive, unapologetic way. That's just a personal preference. But whenever I type related keywords in a search box, 98% of what I get is aggressive anti-cutting material - negative portrayals, pointers to campaigns like TWLOHA, links to "helplines", concern trolling and "awareness" stuff, and tips on how to stop cutting. What if someone doesn't want to stop? Should they be bullied and stigmatized into stopping just because society wants them to? By the same token, should LGBT+ youths be subjected to debunked, harmful anti-gay "therapies" just because a portion of society is uncomfortable with them openly being themselves? Should youths of average or slightly above average weight be shamed into starving themselves? Wouldn't it be a more comfortable, less painful world, if people could be whatever the heck they want to be, as long as they don't force their choices on anyone else? I mean, there are so many real, difficult, and globally significant problems to spend out energy on. Let's try not to spend it on trying to mold everyone else into our own image. Please.
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