Marlowe's Shade

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Euthanasia Hall of Shame: Dr Kevorkian

I find ad hominem attacks distasteful. And yet even with those of us who adhere to traditional values there is a reluctance to publicly declare a moral judgment, as doing so brings repeated negative reinforcement from the culture we live in. I think this has caused a blindness in all of us and we deny the presence of evil right in front of us. With this in mind I think we need to really scrutinize the players in the right-to-die movement and expose evil when we see it. If that statement makes you uncomfortable, I'll warn you now you are not going to like the rest of this post, or at least what it will make you confront in yourself.

I've already mentioned Jack Kevorkian and his Australian counterpart Dr Philip Nitschke in a previous post. Dr Nitschke turned out to have a disturbing past. As a teenager, he slit the throat of a neighbor's dog. Recent studies have found a link between violence to animals in childhood with violence against people later in life. Law enforcement professionals consider this a red flag in investigations of serial killers, and Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz, and Jeffery Dahlmer, among others exhibited cruelty toward animals early in life, as did school shooters Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Kip Kinkel, Luke Woodham, and Andrew Golden. This doesn't mean that everyone who has abused animals becomes a serial killer or school shooter, but it's a warning sign that can't be ignored. The question it raises for me is whether the right-to-die movement attracts those who find it a secret channel for their rage and violence.

I think a good case for that has been made for George Felos . But what of the euthanasia icon that has gotten the lion's share of media exposure over the last fifteen years, Dr Jack Kevorkian?

In one sense what characterizes Dr. Kevorkian is his lack of guile. He seems to be exactly who he claims to be, and makes no excuses for it. He is a man openly fascinated with death. In his early career he hovered around wards of dying patients waiting to capture a moment on film of their eyes as life left their bodies. He also performed experiments of transfusing blood from recent cadavers into living subjects. Even his colleagues found his interests disturbing and distasteful, but Dr Kevorkian was influenced little by others. He clearly had his own internal guidance system. Most of my impressions of him were formed by reading an article from Esquire and some selections from a biography. I can't encompass a man's life in a single post, but to me this is the tale of an exceptional mind desperately working in a nihilistic void. I can't say where the morbid inclination occurred. It may have been the gruesome stories of the Turkish genocide against the Armenians that later caused him to publicly state, "I wish my forefathers went through what the Jews did...They've had a lot of publicity, but they didn't suffer as much."

He had an existence of monastice intensity, marked by professional disputes, tempermental outbursts and failed relationships. The cold demeanor cracks at any invocation of Kevorkian's nemesis, which usually manifests as the "system", or any tradition vestiges of a society he considers obsolete, and then he becomes strange, quixotic, and almost endearingly pathetic. Even some of his would-be allies like pro-right-to-die Michigan State Senator John Kelly after repeated exposure to the doctor, decided that Jack Kevorkian had the psyche of a serial killer.

Kevorkian like almost everyone you have met, is not pure evil. Yet he is a modern monster. If you have any lingering doubts of this after reading the two links above, spend some time with his artwork. I don't think that he will survive his jail term, and if he does, I don't think he will continue his cavalcade of death. I believe the torch has already been past. But let's not forget him and credit should be given where it is due. Whenever we consider the right-to-die movement, let us remember that Dr Jack Kevorkian was their champion.
papijoe 7:12 AM