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Well, last night the infamous Dr. Jack Kevorkian spoke at the University of Florida.  I went to his speech, expecting to hear a lucid argument for assisted suicide and whatever else the Dr. chose to speak about.

I got my lucid argument about assisted suicide, cut short that is.  According to his parole, Dr. Kevorkian could speak about assisted suicide but not in detail.  He seemed to think that this was a violation of his free speech rights, but I didn’t really want to hear the details anyway.  He talked about compassion, and empathy.  He talked about how the Hippocratic oath is really a religious-fueled mockery of what a true doctor is supposed to do, which is to alleviate suffering.  This oath, he stated, is really drawn from a sect of ancient Greece, the Pythagoreans.  He proceeded to read off several of their tenets, to show how they made no sense.  Alright, I’ll give it to him, they didn’t.

Then he moved on to a pointed critique of the American penal and justice system.  The overcrowding in our prisons is a critical issue, one that could possibly be solved through alternative theories like restitution, as was done in ages past.  He cited a doctor, whose name I do not remember but I’ll strive to find and update this post with that information.  An Italian man I believe, Dr. Kevorkian explained his ideas by couching them in Middle Ages analogies.  Monasteries could provide refuge to fugitives, and no one could touch them there.  Once inside, the two parties strove to reach an agreement on restitution or punishment, pretty much just a collective bargaining to make up for the crime committed.

Dr. Kevorkian wanted something similar to this instituted here in the U.S.  We could keep the penal system, and the punitive justice system, just as fallbacks in case an agreement between the two parties could not be reached or they refused to negotiate.  He talked about some of the good men he had met in prison, men who had been imprisoned for long periods for crimes committed in youth.  These are good people, he said, that are being left to rot.  He accused the government of breaking up families with our legal system.

From here, he moved on into a nebulous argument about the 9th Amendment to the constitution.  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  In this amendment, he postulated, there remains the ability to exercise our fundamental human rights, one of which is the right to die.  He claims that the government has ignored this amendment for centuries, and that we the public are ignorant of it, and that this has led us into tyranny.  We are not free, he said.  This country has never been free, despite all the propaganda you may have learned in school.  The italics there are mine, but they are to show the emphasis he put on the word.  He drew it out.  Anyways, this amendment is the answer to everything that you might want to do and that the government is prohibiting you to do.

Now, I’m no legal scholar.  Not yet at least.  But this seems a tad counter-intuitive to me.  You cannot just expect a vaguely worded amendment such as this to allow you to justify just anything you want.

Once he had covered these topics, he jumped back and forth in a confusing muddle for about 25 minutes.  He compared our current government to Nazi Germany.  He made statements about the armed forces, the conflict in Iraq, religion, and how “Whites can’t unite.”

Yes, he said “Whites can’t unite.”  The reason for this is that we are too aware of our diverse heritage, and the Italian can never ally with the German, the German with the Frenchman, so on and so forth.  I cannot speak for Dr. Kevorkian’s generation, but I don’t identify with the disparate parts of my ethnic heritage.  I am American.  But that didn’t enter into his calculations.

After he said whites can’t unite, he went on to say that because of this we have been led into tyranny by a “tyrant” who is “intentionally keeping us in the dark”.  Now, I sincerely hope that he wasn’t talking about Pres. Bush.  I have a lot of respect for the man, but keeping the American public in the dark on something?  I don’t think so.  Perhaps V.P. Cheney.  He is devious and intelligent enough to do so.

I keep wandering.  I apologize sincerely, but I am sick, so I am doing the best I possibly can.  Anyway, he then stated that the only people who can unite are “blacks”.  The reason that they can unite is that they don’t care about their disparate tribes, just about the unity of their community.  Hmm.  This couldn’t be because, when the slavers brought them over here, they suppressed tribal customs and forced them to speak different languages?  They have no common history, they had it stripped from them.  No matter how this state was arrived at, Dr. Kevorkian’s position is that “blacks will have to lead the whites out of slavery and into freedom.”

This offends me.

Dr. Kevorkian’s ideas are interesting, but the man seemed a little around the bend.  At one point, he told the audience, “Everyone should refuse to vote.  That’ll send the tyrant a message”  Yes, a lot will get accomplished if we refuse to vote.  A candidate we don’t like will be elected, and we will be screwed.  He also talked about the military, and how they shouldn’t be praised for “just doing their jobs.”  In the midst of another vague, rambling section, he also denounced the church, saying that he had no false views clouding his mind.  The Bible is just literature, he said.  This wasn’t really a hit with the older, more conservative elements of the audience.

There was a panel after the speech, composed of U.F. professors, one of moral philosophy, one of the law, and one of medicine.  They spoke for about a half hour, on the various topics that Dr. Kevorkian had touched on and their positions on the matter.  The doctor was particularly interesting.  In the last ten years, he said, we have made so many advances in pain medication and therapy that PAS isn’t really considered a viable option anymore.  The point of it is to end unbearable suffering.  We have so many new weapons in the arsenal, he said, that if it is that bad we can sedate you completely until the natural end of your life.  Without the worry of addiction, pain medicine can be given freely and a painless state fairly easily induced.  This seems to me to be a major blow to Dr. Kevorkian’s main premise.  He is using outdated information to form his ideas, which is a recipe for disaster.

In summation, it seems to me that Dr. Kevorkian, while he has valid points, is slightly outdated.  This is through no fault of his, of course.  How can he be expected to remain medically current while incarcerated?  I think that, while he is interesting to listen to, and deserves to have a voice, we need to consider many things in this argument, and not just his points.  We cannot reform the legal system, de-criminalize assisted suicide, root out corruption in government, everything all at once.  These things take time.  I am glad that I went to see him though.  Also, that there were no bombs or anything.  There were protesters, but they were docile.

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2 Comments

  1. i think he said that we should be able to carry machine guns and have crack in our pockets. a higly addictive drug that can kill combined with a highly dangerous weapon perhaps that is how he killed his patients

  2. He killed his patients through lethal injection, as far as I know. But yes, he did say that we should be allowed to have crack and automatic weapons. I think it was more for shock value, to show people how opposed to the government he is, than anything else. Or he could be a crack addict. I don’t know.


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