Jack Kevorkian may have decided to assist in one last suicide: his own. In November, Kevorkian provided 60 Minutes with a videotape of the death of Thomas Youk, a 52-year-old man with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kevorkian bluntly admitted that he had turned the tape over in order to force prosecutors in Oakland County, Michigan, to charge him in Youk’s death, telling 60 Minutes: “Either [the prosecutors] go or I go. . . . If I’m acquitted, they go, because they know they’ll never convict me. If I’m convicted, I will starve to death in prison, so I will go. . . . The issue’s got to be raised to the level where it is finally decided.” Although Kevorkian was clearly manipulating CBS for his own purposes, 60 Minutes aired selected footage anyway.
The tape revealed a horrifying spectacle that cannot be called an “assisted suicide” by any stretch of the English language. Kevorkian claims to have provided previous “patients” with lethal doses of medication or the use of his “suicide machine”—a ghastly contraption which releases deadly chemicals into the person’s bloodstream after he or she presses a button—but he made no such pretense this time. Even though Youk could have swallowed pills or used the suicide machine, his participation in his own death was limited to signing a “consent form.” Dr. Death took over from there, injecting a muscle relaxant into Youk’s arm, followed by a lethal dose of potassium chloride. As viewers watched, Youk’s body stiffened and then collapsed.
Almost as horrifying as Kevorkian’s cold-blooded murder of Youk was the decision by 60 Minutes to run what can only be called a “snuff tape.” Kevorkian clearly took great pleasure in the broadcast, and even Mike Wallace had to admit that there was something “ghoulish” about Kevorkian’s desire to “share” this with the rest of America. Wallace, however, didn’t seem to find anything ghoulish about CBS’s decision to air the tape, and in the wake of the episode, he even assured opponents of assisted suicide that 60 Minutes had nothing but the best of journalistic intentions. It was merely a coincidence that the segment aired on the last Sunday of the November sweeps, and that it was the highest-rated episode of the season.
Within a week, Oakland County prosecutor David Gorcyra announced that he would fulfill Kevorkian’s wish and charge him in Youk’s death, arguing that “Consent is not a viable defense in taking the life of another, even under the most controlled environment.” His decision was applauded by Michigan State Senator William Van Regenmorter (R-Hudsonville), a long-time foe of Kevorkian and the chief sponsor of Michigan’s recent law banning assisted suicide. “This is a defining moment for Michigan,” Van Regenmorter declared. “We are either going to pursue a culture of death or a culture of life.”
This is a defining moment, not only tor Michigan but also for America. Unfortunately, we may have already chosen our direction: The Detroit News reports that, in the wake of the 60 Minutes episode, a “pro-family” group demanded that CBS air an 83-second tape of a partial-birth abortion to prove that the network will provide “equal coverage to a variety of controversial issues.” When Christians delude themselves into thinking that they are fighting for life by exposing Americans to graphic depictions of murder, then the devil can take a holiday.
Ironically, those who truly pursue the culture of life may find Jack Kevorkian to be their greatest ally. His candor about his own twisted desire to watch people die at least allows us to look evil in the face, and to see it for what it is. And, ultimately, evil must destroy itself, which may well be what Kevorkian will do when he defends himself in his upcoming trial. The Detroit News reminded its readers of another high-profile case in which the defendant. Long Island Rail Road shooter Colin Ferguson, acted as his own counsel. “Of course, Colin’s problem was that he was a delusional psychotic,” New York attorney Ron Kuby, Ferguson’s legal advisor, told the News. How Kevorkian differs from Ferguson, Kuby didn’t say.
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