Dr. Jack Kevorkian died today at age 83. No introduction should be needed. This is a man who will hopefully be remembered as the man who charted a new path for human dignity.
There are millions of fundamentalist Christians out there who will no doubt not grieve his death, many will even rejoice (luckily not all believers will do so). Dr. Kevorkian was reviled by many because his convictions were viewed in stark contrast with the concept of the sanctity of life. That is quite ironic, since only a person who had high regard for human life and human dignity would concede that a human being should not have to endure prolonged and needless suffering for the sake of not offending a supposedly benevolent life-giver and creator and the feelings of the adherents to his religion, regardless of whether the terminally ill, suffering poor sonofabitch who seeks to end his torture is a believer himself or not. (This, by the way, is why people like me don't believe those fundamentalist Christians who maintain that their goal is not to establish a theocracy: it is, don't be fooled, and in many ways they have succeeded in furthering their goal.) Only a person who is serious about the value of the life, all life--not only his own but that of others as well, would choose to sacrifice a large chunk of his own by going to prison for upholding his convictions. So today all people with a good heart and sound rational powers, in the United States and around the world, should mourn the loss of Dr. Kevorkian, whether they agreed with everything he stood for or not.
What is particularly ironic is that religious advocates of the sanctity of human life are often on the same side of the ideological divide with those who show absolutely no regard for the life of anything which is not a zygote or a foetus or, at the other extreme, a corporation. Anything in between is fair game for predators, political, ideological, and financial.
As Jon Stewart deftly showed on last night's Daily Show, those who are adamant that they would not raise taxes on the wealthiest among us are also quite adamant that people affected by the recent swarm of deadly tornadoes should sweat for every penny of aid they seek from the government (it's their money, too, by the way).
Long live the memory and the legacy of Dr. Kevorkian, a true pioneer, a man who has done more to advance the cause of human dignity than the vast majority of those who reviled his convictions as murderous.