IT is a harrowing paragraph to read about any child, but force yourself. Read it. After seven days of medical testimony at the High Court in London, Justice Hayden reached the following conclusions about the prognosis for Alfie Evans, a 23-month-old infant, currently receiving palliative care at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, and the centre of a vortex of increasingly hysterical global publicity.

“On the consensus of every doctor from every country who had ever evaluated Alfie’s condition,” the judge found, “Alfie’s brain had been so corroded by his Neurodegenerative Brain Disorder that there was simply no prospect of recovery. By the time I requested the updated MRI scan in February, the signal intensity was so bright that it revealed a brain that had been almost entirely wiped out.

“In simple terms the brain consisted only of water and Cerebrospinal fluid. The connective tissues and the white matter of the brain that had been barely visible six months earlier had now vanished entirely and with it the capacity for sight, hearing, taste, the sense of touch.”

This is the terrible reality of Alfie’s remorseless degenerative condition. Only the residual wisps of his brain stem keeps his tiny lungs in motion, increasingly fitfully. It is a reality I wouldn’t blame anyone – any parent – from turning their heads away from, reluctant to look, preferring not to see. But terrible as it is, reluctant we might be to face it head on, a reality it remains.

Justice Hayden reached his verdict on these realities. His judgment has been subject to countless appeals and cross appeals. Legal files have flown across Europe. But the intractable, implacable reality the judge identified remains undisturbed. There is no treatment for Alfie Evans. Care, at this stage, can only be palliative. It is not in the boy’s best interests to continue to receive treatment, in this country, or outside of it.

But in the international cyclone of misinformation, hocus pocus, half-information and damned lies which have been told about this tragic case over the last week, the bare facts of Alfie Evans’ short and difficult life have – too often – been declared missing.

Instead, we see a picture and a picture – as they say – is worth a thousand words. It is a compelling picture. Like the 2017 case of Charlie Gard, Alfie’s parents have thrown their privacy to the wind in their desperate efforts to sustain even a spark of life in their son, sharing emotive family scenes of the newborn and his radiant parents before illness and sadness took hold of their lives. That is their right, of course. It is their privacy.

So we see a slumbering toddler in his cot, courageously clinging to life, coorie-ing in to the elbow of a determined dad who doesn’t want to let his son go. We see the antic grin of an uncuddled stuffed toy, perched beside the hospital bed as an ambivalent memento of more hopeful times. The eternal family. That’s the idée fixe. That’s the picture. And you empathise. How couldn’t you?

The half-informed, who can only see this picture, I don’t blame for struggling to reckon with the court’s decision. Intuitively, the idea that it can be in your best interests to die strikes at the idea that life, life at any costs, is better than nothing.

But like the Charlie Gard case before it, this controversy has attracted a murder of carrion crows and cynical Christian fundamentalists, who have seen an opportunity to turn a dime or push an agenda. And these partisan actors have had no regard for the truth in prosecuting their arguments.

Time and again, they’ve turned a blind eye to the hard facts of this hard case.

Take Ted Cruz, the oleaginous Texan senator and one-time Republican presidential candidate, for whom Alfie’s case makes twin points about the American Revolution and socialised medicine.

“It is a sad irony that while the people of the UK are busy celebrating a royal birth, its government is brushing off a commoner’s right to life,” the Senator said yesterday, claiming the court’s decision “is a grim reminder” that “socialized medicine like the NHS vest the state with power over human lives, transforming citizens into subjects.”

He concludes on a patriotic note, urging Theresa May to intervene because “Americans strive to achieve the promise of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ for all our citizens, no matter how young or old.”

But here’s the thing, Senator, the hard thing, the thing you can’t and won’t discuss as you make cynical political points out of the tragic end of this infant’s life. Alfie has no prospect of liberty. Alfie’s brain has evaporated. However long he lives, he can have no hope of the pursuit of happiness. And life? He’s holding it together by the thinnest threads. And they’re fraying.

This isn’t a question of reason against emotion. It isn’t a matter of “doctor knows best” and biddable patients just doing as they’re telt.

It is easy to be glib about “fake news” in the age of Donald Trump, but in reporting and responding to the Alfie Evans case, too many people have not just been immune to the facts of this case, but have stubbornly committed to distorting and denying them.

And uncomfortable as it is to point this out, Evans’ parents have contributed indispensably to this confusion. You can only feel for a family in denial about the horrible reality of their circumstances. Who are any of us to judge? It is difficult to find adequate words to express how hard these cases must be – for families, for medics, for judges called upon to take the ultimate decisions. How do you even begin to contemplate the death of a child, whose short life has been marked by the most profound physical challenges? Nobody wants to criticise the parents. You can only respect their predicament.

But watching this case from afar, following the judgments of the courts and the reactions of the watching world, I find myself wondering this. Do I really respect you, by pandering to your self-deceptions, your understandably furious, false hope? Isn’t colluding in your denial – essentially – patronising? Doesn’t respect mean that I owe you the truth? Even – or perhaps, especially – hard truths which you may wish, with every fibre of your being, to avoid confronting?

Parental love can’t knit a body back together. Hopes and prayers cannot restore a child to consciousness, however heartfelt they may be. And it isn’t a kindness to pretend otherwise.

God rest the boy. And in the aftermath of Alfie’s little light going out, when the fight is done, and their struggle over – you can only hope his family can knit themselves a measure of peace.