Eeny Meany Miny Moe People Make Bad Choices

by | Oct 15, 2014 | Can of Worms, Pop Culture, Things I Think | 15 comments

The recent stories of Brittany Maynard and Jennifer Lawrence are quite different in circumstance and gravity. But both women are suffering. And both have a skewed way of rationalizing what is happening to them.

My glioblastoma is going to kill me, and that’s out of my control. I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying. . . . I believe this choice is ethical, and what makes it ethical is it is a choice.  . . . I’m dying, but I’m choosing to suffer less, to put myself through less physical and emotional pain and my family as well.

–Brittany Maynard in People Magazine 

Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.

–Jennifer Lawrence in Vanity Fair

Choice. We are, of course, all too familiar with “choice” as a euphemism for abortion. But now, “choice” is being championed as the trump card to make any behavior acceptable, no matter how physically or emotionally destructive it may be to the chooser.

Jennifer Lawrence very rightly feels violated by all of the people viewing pornographic photographs of her. It is wrong for nameless faceless men to be lusting after her body, separating her sexuality from the wholeness and beauty of her personhood. It’s wrong, because it is WRONG. Not, as she seems to think, because it wasn’t her CHOICE to allow them to do so. It would still be wrong, even if she had chosen it.

Because people make bad choices.

Brittany’s situation is more grave than Jennifer’s. It’s more permanent as well. There is no changing your mind once you’ve killed yourself. She can’t know what tragedy or beauty her future might hold. And even though she, just like all of us, has probably made thousands of dumb choices in her life, in this most important of circumstances, we are to believe that just having chosen to commit suicide will make suicide the right choice.

People are dumb. We are emotional, irrational, fallen creatures. We choose wrong.

We need to be admonished for our bad choices, or counseled away from them, to avoid them in the first place, rather than celebrated for making them.

People who choose suicide and pornography don’t feel like they have any other options. And that’s not really a choice.

Nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence were available to be stolen and distributed online because she felt that she HAD to create them. 

I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.

–Jennifer Lawrence in Vanity Fair
That doesn’t sound empowered, that sounds resigned.

And Brittany Maynard seems to believe that her life is worth less if it becomes difficult for others.

I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that. I did not want this nightmare scenario for my family, so I started researching death with dignity.

–Brittany Maynard in her CNN Op-Ed

She’s not alone. A Dutch study found that social and psychologic factors (e.g. concern regarding a loss of dignity, fears of becoming a burden to others) comprised four of the five most frequently cited reasons for euthanasia requests. . . . But in an early study of desire for death among terminally ill patients in an inpatient palliative care unit, of the 200 patients interviewed, only 10 acknowledged any suicidal ideation or desire for hastened death, and all 10 of these patients were diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from a major depressive disorder (based on DSM-III criteria). They reported that treatment for depression resulted in resolution of patients’ desire for death.

Treating the patients helps them. Not just supporting any old crazy thing they want to do just because they CHOOSE it.

It is a bad idea to kill oneself whether or not a person chooses to do it. It is a bad idea to make pornography whether or not a person chooses to do it.

Evil doesn’t become good because it is chosen. And “choice” doesn’t become a virtue by calling it one.


  1. blissfule

    Exactly. Just because someone chooses something doesn't make it right. And it also doesn't make it a right, as in a right to _____________.

    I'm hoping Ms Lawrence's sad story will serve as a cautionary tale for other people who send inappropriate pictures of themselves out over the internet.

    • Kendra

      Yes! I do feel terribly for all the people involved, but I liked Patricia Heaton's response, which was an apparently naked photo of a kid in a baby swing with the comment: "These are the only naked photos in my cloud."

  2. Mary @ Better Than Eden

    well done. Yes, resigned is the perfect word for that attitude about porn and it's such a sad way to view relationships and the "love" of your partner. Praying for both these women.

  3. amyp

    I have nothing but deep sorrow for Ms. Maynard's "choice". I question why she had to go public and make this such a wide spread news story. If she did not want to cause her family such pain and burden why not just slip away some random night? I think this is a cry for help in so many ways. with the ever growing field of palliative care, it is possible to give patients dignity and if needed relatively pain free natural death.

  4. Elizabeth@SuperSwellTimes

    You've been killing it with your truthiness lately. Personally, I thought Jennifer Lawrence's quip about the choice being "porn or her" to be one of the saddest things ever — especially because so many young women look up to her.

    What no one ever seems to think about is why the perceived choice is "porn or me?" What pressures has society created so that everyone assumes that all men everywhere use porn? Why do women think that providing naked pictures of themselves is a cool/fun/loving alternative? How many times can I write "porn" in a single comment?

    • Kendra

      Thanks! And I totally agree. I read that quote from her and my heart just broke.

  5. Amanda

    This society is created choice as the ultimate good. I have had conversations lately that make me think women in particular have trouble with things that are not labeled wrong. If it isn't inherently wrong then we must have to offer it as a choice. So women feel like they have to offer themselves as porn and then they call it being empowered. Because, after all, they offered.

  6. Elizabeth

    It's also important for loved ones to understand that they are not burdens when they suffer and ultimately die. People fear they will cause suffering in their families and be burdensome. Family inherently possesses suffering and "burdens" (or responsibility). We don't love and support each other because it is easy or always joyful. We will all die, and we can choose to avoid closeness and prefer distance out of the fear of greater pain when we lose the ones we love. Or we can choose to be a family and accept that suffering and burdens are part of love. Families need to reassure relatives that they will never wish them away early, that they will never be unworthy burdens, and that there is always value in the suffering, especially when suffered together.

    • Kendra

      This is a really great point. We are so used to CONVENIENCE. We need to let the people we love know that it's okay with us to be inconvenienced for them.

  7. Erin Pulles

    Interesting juxtaposition of these two news stories. I hadn't really thought of them in this context, but you make some very interesting points. The story of Brittany is much sadder, for so many reasons. She should really be in our prayers!

  8. Janice Trinh

    I've admired "JLaw" from a distance, but her recent comment about that whole thing made me sad for her. It really is a sad way of looking at a relationship. Why she should think that she needed to send those kind of photos to her boyfriend is a sign, really, of a not so good relationship in the first place.

    And of Brittany……to make suicide ok by calling it a "choice?" All suicide is a choice. And they are all wrong. I hope someone can convince her to change her mind before it's too late. 🙁

    • Kendra

      Me too! I have read so many great stories about Jennifer Lawrence. She seems like a really lovely young woman. And, yes, there is still time for Brittany to change her mind. I pray she will!

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