Hiding the truth

I never thought Jay Kuten would so successfully hoist himself with his own petard, but he has convincingly done this in his recent article ("Police exceeded authority", March 21).

Beginning with a plea for clarity in the use of words, he gives three examples of common euphemisms that obscure reality and so hide the the truth from people. His third example is naming torture "enhanced interrogation".

So far I am with him all the way, but then, turning to David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill, Dr Kuten asks us to jettison the word euthanasia and talk of "assisted dying" instead.

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Assisted dying is a vague term and could mean no more than the important service of rearranging the pillows for a dying person. The word "euthanasia" began life some 500 years ago and meant much the same, helping a dying person to be more comfortable. Later it came to have its present meaning of "bringing about a gentle and easy death" (Oxford Dictionary).

The End of Life Choice Bill talks of assisted dying but with no indication of how this is to happen until the last major paragraph of the extensive explanatory notes. There, as part of a much longer sentence, the bill finally says,' the medical practitioner must administer it," and so, in six words it defines assisted dying as euthanasia in the present meaning of the word.

The bill clearly states that the death should be voluntary and requested. So the bill, although it mentions neither euthanasia nor assisted suicide, intends the death to be due to voluntary euthanasia.

If we are to debate and reach conclusions about this important subject, we must have a clear idea about what we are debating. Clarity is therefore important.

Frankly, I am surprised and disappointed to find that the one who so often "afflicts the comfortable" is now found to be using comfortable euphemisms himself.

I am in agreement with him that the police surveillance of people at an assisted suicide meeting is a disgrace.

May I suggest to a psychiatrist that it is the emotional disruption that the thought of death can generate in our lives that has led to both the abandonment of clarity in his article, and the abuse of power by the police hierarchy.

I write this realising that, like them, I am not immune to the influence that death has upon our lives and the decisions we make.

JONATHAN HARTFIELD
Whanganui


Self-murder
Chronicle, 22 March: 2018. It is good to see Carol Webb responding. Lots of abuse, showing lots of pain.

But what do we do with suicide, which is self-murder? Can a community grow with self-murder being a rule of thumb?

F R HALPIN
Whanganui


Warm gesture

Happy Easter! This is not an April Fool's Day joke.

For those on NZ Superannuation, July 1 will see a Government subsidy towards your cost of keeping warm. We all know the political party who may have driven this. You don't need Facebook, Google or Twitter!

From July 1, you will receive approximately an extra $20 per week, slightly different for couples, for the months of July, August and September 2018, I am advised this payment will be made for approximately 13 weeks with a quantum of an estimated $250 in total and is a "Budget" figure? These are facts you may wish to know. Be aware and enjoy!

KEN CRAFAR
Durie Hill


Back off, men

A letter to all the men airing their vast knowledge of pregnancy, life, the universe and all that.

While you are bombasting away, airing your interminable opinions on history and ethics, millions of girls and women are suffering the shame and pain of rape, incest and difficult births.

Back off and stick to subjects you really know about.

KEITHA MALCOLMSON
Marton


Schmoozing

What an honour for New Zealand for the former leader of the world to come and play golf with John Key. Air New Zealand paid him $500,000, but the publicity will be worth it.

Sir John Key deserves a medal for service above and beyond the call of duty for schmoozing up to President Obama and keeping our contribution to America's wars down to tokens.

For once, I am glad we do not have an air force. Australian and Danish planes have bombed the Syrian army. Like NZ, Denmark (but not Greenland) is "nuclear free".

Winston Peters was an excellent minister for foreign affairs 2005-08. I believe he was responsible for restoring our good relationship with the US. I applaud his desire to improve trade and relationships with Russia. However, this is not wise, as it will anger the American establishment, invite punishment for evading American sanctions.

How about it, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern? Go to Washington, and schmooze up to President Trump. Close your eyes and think of New Zealand.

ALAN DAVIDSON
Gonville


Fluoride facts

Chris Price, passionately pro-fluoride, is unremittingly critical of Lucy McDougall's anti-fluoride stance (letters, "Fluoride safe", March 23).

Price's tirade, unfortunately, is misleading, if not sometimes fallacious. Referenced researches, and many countries' official statistics, prove my assertions.

I was neutral for decades about fluoride until I did some research. Now anti-fluoride — but only in drinking water.

The largest, inadvertent, case-control research (ie. academically acceptable) it is possible to do, concludes that fluoride in the water supply is useless at reducing tooth decay.

Government-provided statistics of tooth decay in many countries, involving hundreds of millions of people, show without exception that tooth decay, for over 50 years after World War II, dropped by equal amounts between countries which did, and did not,

fluoridate their water. Conclusion: fluoride in drinking water doesn't work for teeth.
Some may claim the above researches are not case-control. It's debatable, fair enough.

But it can't be denied it's certainly "cohort" research overall, equally acceptable to academics.

Price, who quotes unreferenced — therefore potentially dubious — researches, can check this, same as anybody, by approaching the statistics departments of nations, or read it in publications like The Case Against Fluoride (Connett, P. et al. 2010. Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont, USA).

Connett's expertise is environmental toxicology — you can't get more relevant expertise than that. The accolade in his book from the Nobel Prize winner must carry some weight too. And the book is incredibly well referenced. The last 20 per cent of the book is references — a huge, academic-level amount.

Or read the smaller publication from Fluoride-Free New Zealand (3rd Edition. 2015), 80 pages of research (available at www.fluoridefree.org.nz). I'm no member of Fluoride Free, just referencing my sources.

Fluoride in toothpaste appears okay. Recent discoveries affirm it should be applied directly to teeth to reduce decay. Swallowing it doesn't work on teeth, but there's potential danger in swallowing: reduced IQ, hypothyroidism, skeletal fluorosis, potential harm to babies breast or bottle-fed.

Read the referenced researches.

Use fluoride toothpaste. Don't drink fluoridated water.

STAN HOOD
Aramoho


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