Yesterday Doctor Jack Kevorkian, who claims to have assisted in upwards of 100 suicides, was released from prison after serving eight years for his “crime.” Was he welcomed with open arms by those who work in the “death with dignity” movement? Given a parade? Invited to speak? Hah! Cindy Sheehan was right on when she said that activists eat their own. Right-to-die groups began distancing themselves from Kevorkian before the prison gates opened. One spokesperson, Barbara Lee, said, “We don’t need Dr. Kevorkian in Oregon–we have a sane, rational right-to-die law.”
Isn’t that lovely. How in hell does Ms. Lee think they got their “sane, rational right-to-die law?” They got it because one nutty, crazed, outrageous, single-minded and committed guy named Jack Kevorkian put his body on the line by breaking the old law! I don’t care what the good and rational people in the rest of the movement did–they never would have gotten this far without one person who was willing to go further than what’s considered appropriate.
Sure, Dr. K. is way out there; of course he’s extreme. But it’s the extremists who move society forward. It’s the extremists who, with their daring acts of courage, highlight the truth of a situation, whether it’s war resisters burning draft cards or Freedom Riders sitting in the front of the bus or leather daddies marching half-naked in Gay Day parades. It’s the people who defy unjust laws that ultimately get them changed.
The goodly citizens of Oregon should be throwing Dr. Kevorkian a homecoming party–but then they wouldn’t be able to maintain their image as nice, sane, rational people. So let me be the first to say, Welcome Home, Jack. Thanks for putting yourself out there. Because of you, the right to choose the time and circumstances of our own deaths will one day be a reality for everyone.