August 31, 2014

Wesley J. Smith: A Dark Mirror on Society

Wesley J. Smith

Source: The Corner The death of Jack Kevorkian by natural causes has a certain irony, but it is not surprising. His driving motive was always obsession with death. Indeed, as he described in his book Prescription Medicide, Kevorkian’s overriding purpose in his assisted-suicide campaign was pure quackery, e.g., to obtain a societal license to engage in what he called “obitiatry,” that is, the right to experiment on the brains and spinal cords of “living human bodies” being euthanized to “pinpoint the exact onset of extinction of an unknown cognitive mechanism that energizes life.” So, now that he is gone, what is Kevorkian’s legacy? He assisted the suicides of 130 or so people and lethally injected at least two by his own admission (his first and his last); as a consequence of the latter, he served nearly ten years in prison for murder. But I think his more important place in contemporary history was as a dark mirror that reflected … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: The Disturbing Rehabilitation of Dr. Kevorkian

Wesley J. Smith

By Wesley J. Smith | Source: The Corner When Jack Kevorkian came to the nation’s attention in the 1990s, reporters at first depicted him — correctly — as a macabre and megalomaniacal promoter of death. But he was remade into a popular icon, becoming a pet guest on 60 Minutes, treated to uncharacteristically softball interviews by Mike Wallace and fawned over by Andy Rooney, and then declared by Time magazine to be one of the major “celebrities” of the 1990s. Time even invited him to their 75th anniversary gala as a star guest. You knew the world was spinning the wrong way when Tom Cruise rushed up to shake his hand. Now, more than ten years later, Kevorkian is out of the pen and having a ball after serving time for the second-degree murder of Thomas Youk. It is important to understand why he was convicted: Youk had Lou Gehrig’s disease and Kevorkian lethally injected him—and videotaped the deed for posterity. The body was barely cold before … [Read more...]

Response to the Patriarchal Address

While the Patriarchal address has much to commend it, the leveling of ideas it exhibits is troubling. The essay below was originally written as a comment, but I posting it here for comment and analysis. Frankly, the ideas in this speech are muddled. It sounds like it an American wrote it who has only a cursory understanding of the history of ideas. For instance, while the examples citing Ghandi and King are true, it is overlooked that the reason for Ghandi's success was that the English, despite their empire building in India, still responded to Ghandi's appeals that were shaped by and heard through the Christian moral tradition. The same holds true for King. He was successful because by drawing on the morality of the Christian tradition, particularly the inherent value of the individual, he awakened the conscience of nation shaped by that tradition. Ghandi's and King's success however does not translate into a universal appeal for non-violence, simply because non-violence … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: Orthodox Advocate for Human “Exceptionalism”

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Our culture is at a crossroad about the value of human life, argues author and human rights activist Wesley J. Smith in an interview with Kevin Allen on the "Illumined Heart" podcast (Ancient Faith Radio). Do we value human life simply because it is human, or do we value it based on notions and definitions of "personhood" including such characteristics as sentience, awareness, stages of biological development and others factors? The former allows for a universal definition of human rights. The latter reduces human beings to "subjects" that are bound to shifting and often capricious standards that determine who lives and who dies.   Listen here: widget here (43:38) It's a heated battle (one that even spills over into the comments of this blog on occasion). Often, the the level of vituperation in the attacks against religious defenders of human life arise because the utilitarians understand their view allows for no coherent defense of any human rights, Smith says. "They … [Read more...]