Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Tide Is High, But I'm Moving On

Slate has one of their News Graph videos up profiling a Larry King interview with the newly freed Jack Kevorkian. It's short and somewhat interesting: they have doctors responding to his comments and they've grouped the results by averred religion (Catholic/Protestant/Jew). The first notable thing is that the Jews are with him immediately, but pretty much as soon as he opens his mouth their support drops off. Then it drops way off when he makes sweeping claims about how all doctors except him have sold off their principles to the government in order to practice (strange how people don't like it when you debase them and everything they stand for), and he loses everybody with the inevitable comparison of self to Rosa Parks (Sarah Vowell and Aaron Sorkin have dealt with that particular bit of self-aggrandizement pretty well).

Kevorkian's touchstone, euthanasia--like stem cell research and other so-called Culture of Life topics--is an issue that doesn't really make sense outside of the broad context of humanity. There aren't any parseable arguments against it on the human level that I've ever heard; instead it's a slippery-slope-based uneasiness that this is the first step on the way to a universe where Michael York hunts you down like a dog after you turn 30. If what we as a whole are really discussing is our future as a species, the debate makes rather more sense. One person being afraid that if we allow euthanasia that ones children will force one into assisted suicide because one has become old and useless probably doesn't constitute a legitimate fear. A population with a collective unconscious fear, on the other hand, that a new offshoot of humanity will emerge that has little to no use for the old one and that this in turn will redefine the value of the life of the old species and the reasonable basis for its euthanasia--it's much farther into the realm of speculative fiction, but it's a much more sensical argument to parse.

If this blog were famous for, you know, anything at all, it might be because it previously lumped together George W. Bush and the Unibomber as members of a collective effort to make our species think about the future it's rushing headlong into. Ted Kaczynski, as you will recall from earlier in this blog, was fucking insane, and the "Culture" of "Life", seeing as how it selectively doesn't include poverty, access to health care, starting wars, or capital punishment, just isn't a useful frame for understanding the arguments it supposedly makes. If, on the other hand, we are all talking about the future of the species and the future of a species that might supplant it, I might be interested in what they have to say.


Mita said...

The question is ... how can one be "moving on" AND be determined to be this guy's "number one" at the same time? Conflict of interests, no?

And while I think that the argument against euthanasia is an anthropocentric one ... it is also, oddly, one that reflects our greater respect for animals than for ourselves. We have NO problem putting our pets to sleep--allowing them to die without further suffering and with some dignity. But when it comes to other humans, the discourse shifts. The act becomes equated with murder rather than consideration for those who are suffering.

Also, that graph was fucked up.

Transient Gadfly said...

I have since learned that while the tide is high, she is in fact "holding on", rather than moving on. So now it totally makes sense.

I think the thing about domesticated animals is that we control them (or at least from our point of view we do)--we determine how and when they reproduce and with whom they do it. The visceral scary thing that kicks in for our own species doesn't apply because we exert control already (or, again, we think we do. But that's another question entirely).

Dude, that graph WAS fucked up.

fronesis said...

What do you mean 'holding on'??!!! It has to be 'moving on', or my universe shifts in a way that I cannot graspe!

Besides, it makes perfect sense. She's 'moving on', and as she does so he'll come to understand that she is/was her 'number one'. He won't appreciate her until she's gone, but by then it will be too late.

Lilita said...

Last semester one of my earnest students wrote that whatever issue he was covering (who could remember now?) was very controversial, much like the death penalty, youth in Asia, and abortion. It took me much longer than it should have to figure out what the heck he was talking about.