Painful debate

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Unsurprisingly, Alistair McBay, on behalf of the National Secular Society (NSS), objected to my plea that the assisted suicide debate remain free from pejorative language (Letters, 3 December).

He then demonstrated the contorted double-think of the NSS by asking that I “confine” my arguments “to debating the matter with fellow Christians”.

Should atheists also “confine” their discussions internally until a consensus atheist position is reached?

Of course not; everyone has the right to express their own opinion on the matter.

The routine error of the NSS is to treat the views of religious people differently than all other opinions. Once again, we need to ask whether the NSS exists to “challenge religious privilege” as it claims, or to indulge the anti-religious sentiments of its ­members.

Paul Brownsey (Letters, same day) suggests that ­opponents of assisted suicide be labelled as “painophiliac” – “someone eager to have pain and suffering prolonged unnecessarily”.

This would maintain the established tradition of progressive insults as it simplistically and incorrectly ascribes objectionable views to opponents.

Opponents of assisted suicide argue that palliative care to alleviate pain should be a priority, and life-extending treatments are not always appropriate.

It’s just that they don’t want to cross the line into actually killing people and helping people to kill themselves.

Richard Lucas