Editor’s note. This first ran June 16, 2010.
By Dave Andrusko
Over the years I’ve read a fair amount of what Jack Kevorkian has written, a ton of what has been written about him, and in the process always came to the same conclusion: I just don’t get what it is about a man who freely owns up to “assisting” at least 130 people to commit suicide that so many reporters find delightfully fascinating.
Kevorkian is going one-on-one (we’re told) tomorrow night on “Larry King Live.” To prime the pump, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta conducted a very long interview with the 82-year-old Kevorkian which appeared Monday at www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/06/14/kevorkian.gupta/index.html?hpt=C2.
What do we learn beside the fact that throughout the two-and-a-half hour interview, Kevorkian “fluctuated wildly between being downright combative and hostile to being sweet and fatherly”? Well, for starters, that Gupta is easily impressed. “By the end of the interview, Dr Jack Kevorkian was smiling a lot and thanking me for spending a day with him. He was back to the paternal, friendly Jack.” And that was enough to compensate for the things Kevorkian said.
No sooner had he insisted he had “No regrets, none whatsoever,” Kevorkian answers his own rhetorical question: “The single worst moment of my life… was the moment I was born.” That might tell you a lot, or nothing.
That no, medicine was not a “noble” profession.
That what he did to all those people was not “assisted suicide, or euthanasia,” but what he dubbed “patholysis” (“The destruction of suffering”).
That he was surprised Gupta had done his homework. “It says here that in at least five of the people, there was no evidence of any disease on autopsy.”
Having allowed that to “hang in the air for a second,” Gupta notices that Kevorkian “seemed a little stunned that I had found this study. He shook his head slightly, and looked again at his lawyer, with no intention of addressing the point I had just made.” A few paragraphs later, Kevorkian answers in his own way.
“What difference does it make if someone is terminal?” he said. “We are all terminal.”
That in the final analysis it’s all of a piece. His mission is to “convince the American public that their rights are infringed upon each and every day — and that the Ninth Amendment is not being upheld. Everything from banning smoking in public places, to assisted suicide, euthanasia and patholysis.”
Gupta laps this all up. Why? Partly because he revels in what he clearly thinks is his role as a kind of confessor/confidante for Kevorkian. Partly because
Kevorkian “fascinated my parents, and during the rare occasions I attended a cocktail party with them, the conversation among their friends seemed to always turn to him. He invoked strong emotions in so many people he had never met.”
I have met many people like Kevorkian in my life. No, not people who are in every sense of the word obsessed with death. Rather those who have decided that no one is ever going to tell them what they can do about anything.
Where it gets really dangerous is when they convince themselves that in acting out their own recklessness they are “liberating” others to enjoy true “freedom.”
Gupta’s final paragraph begins, “I told him it was an honor to meet him, and hoped to see him again soon.” Really?
Like I say, I just don’t get it.