12 June 2011

The Economist, in its obituary of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, writes:

Bombastic and arrogant, he would liken himself to Galileo, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. He revelled in opprobrium. He exploited the vulnerable. Yet he also helped people who surely wanted to die, and with reason.


How in God's name did he "exploit" anybody? All of his clients were mentally competent adults who, for reasons we may or may not be able to fathom, wanted to die--and they had enough consideration for others to accomplish their suicides in an orderly, private way.

In its zeal to uphold a perceived standard of "respect for life," the Economist may have fallen into the same trap as the Inquisition did, when it condemned Galileo for heresy. By denying the Ptolemaic world-view (in which 'hell below, heaven above' was literally true), Galileo was, or so the Church thought, putting every Christian soul who heard his theories at risk of eternal torment.

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