By Wesley J. Smith
The mainstream media mostly went head over heels over Jack Kevorkian’s ghoulish assisted suicide campaign, rarely mentioning that his ultimate goal was to gain the right to conduct human vivisection on people being euthanized.
The Australian Kevorkian — Philip Nitschke — hasn’t advocated that. But he has traveled the world teaching people how to commit suicide, published a suicide recipe he invented made of common household ingredients, and pushed a pernicious death-on-demand philosophy.
Now The Economist swoons over “the bad boy of the euthanasia movement,” touting his new suicide pod machine in a profile of a length few presidents have received. From, “A Design for Death”:
My host’s name is Philip Nitschke and he’s invented a machine called Sarco. Short for sarcophagus, the slick, spaceship-like pod has a seat for one passenger en-route to the afterlife. It uses nitrogen to enact a pain-free, peaceful death from inert-gas asphyxiation at the touch of a button. With the help of his wife and colleague, the writer and lawyer Dr Fiona Stewart, Nitschke is ushering the death-on-demand movement towards a dramatic new milestone – and their enthusiasm is palpable.
And he’s such a jolly fellow!
Nitschke and Stewart are much jollier than you’d expect the right-to-die movement’s only power couple to be. They’re full of – well – joie de vivre and arch banter about everything from Brexit to the roadworks that have denuded the front of their home of a beloved creeper. “If it’s not dead, boy is it doing a bloody good impression of being dead,” observes Nitschke, correctly.
And he’s so good at the suicide sales pitch!
It’s undeniable that Nitschke’s campaigns have exhibited a certain PR-savvy pizzazz. He is the originator, no less, of the euthanasia flash mob, which took place to celebrate his 70th birthday and 20 years of Exit International (soundtrack: Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”, naturally). When he announced plans for Sarco, it was dismissed by some, says Nitschke, as “a stunt, or some virtual creation in someone’s mind that didn’t have any prospect of physical reality.”
I can attest that the machine exists, having had the singular experience of reclining on a prototype at Nitschke’s workshop on an industrial estate in Hillegom, South Holland, amidst the incongruous spring blaze of the tulip fields. Plus, scratch the surface of his provocative patter and there’s a person – a patient – lurking behind each of his convictions.
I think we should be very clear about who, exactly, The Economist is touting. Nitschke, the nihilist, told NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez that he wants suicide pills made available in supermarkets. Kathryn asked Nitschke whether they should be available to “troubled teens.” Why, yes, he said. From Kathryn’s NRO interview:
My personal position is that if we believe that there is a right to life, then we must accept that people have a right to dispose of that life whenever they want. (In the same way as the right to freedom of religion has implicit the right to be an atheist, and the right to freedom of speech involves the right to remain silent). I do not believe that telling people they have a right to life while denying them the means, manner, or information necessary for them to give this life away has any ethical consistency.
So all people qualify, not just those with the training, knowledge, or resources to find out how to “give away” their life. And someone needs to provide this knowledge, training, or recourse necessary to anyone who wants it, including the depressed, the elderly bereaved, [and] the troubled teen. If we are to remain consistent and we believe that the individual has the right to dispose of their life, we should not erect artificial barriers in the way of sub-groups who don’t meet our criteria.
Nitschke has taught elderly people how to get animal euthanasia drugs to use on themselves. He has repeatedly lied about those he counseled on suicide, such as that of Nancy Crick, who Nitschke falsely claimed to the media that she had terminal cancer. Nitschke wasn’t near her when she died to avoid criminal his own culpability, but his fans were — and they applauded when she swallowed the pills. When I traveled to Australia in 2001 to expose him about the above-quoted interview with Kathryn, he accused me of lying in the media. He also used to sell plastic suicide bags to suicidal people until stopped by the Australian government.
The man is thoroughly reprehensible. No wonder the mainstream media is attracted to him like a magnet to metal. They love their transgressives!
Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with the author’s permission.