It seems that his status as a convicted murderer has been treating Jack Kevorkian quite well these days. First he gets paid $50,000 to speak to some 4,000+ college students at the University of Florida last January shortly after his release from prison. Now it’s being reported that HBO Films will air a biopic about “Dr. Death” that is set to be directed by Barry Levinson (director of such films as Rain Man, Sleepers, Good Morning Vietnam and Bugsy). And according to The Hollywood Reporter (h/t Wesley Smith), none other than the legendary Al Pacino is in negotiations to play the great “Doctor” who assisted the suicides of at least 130 people and murdered at least one. To borrow a line one of Pacino’s more memorable and notorious characters:
Make way for the bad guy. There’s a bad guy comin’ through!
And this may be his baddest “character” yet (well, if he hadn’t already played the devil himself). Of course this piece will not likely portray Dr. Death as much of a bad guy or even take a critical look at the sociopath or the issue of assisted suicide (AS from now on) as a whole. The screenplay is loosely based on the book “Between the Dying and the Dead: Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the Assisted Suicide Machine and the Battle to Legalize Euthanasia” by Kevorkian fan Neal Nicol.
This is not the first time Hollywood has looked favorably on AS. Four years ago Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie Million Dollar Baby about a female boxer who becomes paralyzed and seeks suicide help from her trainer. The movie was later rewarded by the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when it nearly swept every major award category at the 2005 Oscars winning Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Picture. That same year the Academy gave Best Foreign Language Film honors to the movie Mar adentro, or The Sea Inside, the true story of Ramón Sampedro, a Spanish fisherman who fought for almost 30 years for his “right” to an AS after he was paralyzed in a diving accident.
This is just the latest in a growing trend of normalizing AS and perpetuating the idea that human pain and suffering is the greatest moral evil of our time which should be avoided and eradicated at all cost. Many AS advocates will assert that their intention is only to provide suicide services for the terminally ill and those who are “going to die soon (and very painfully) anyway,” but once killing is accepted in certain circumstances to relieve human suffering, it is, to quote AS advocate and well respected British philosopher Lady Warnock, “irrational to confine it to those who are terminally ill.” Note that in the two movies awarded in 2005 both patients had non-life threatening physical disabilities and many of Kevorkian’s own patients were also not terminally ill. In fact, some of the people he helped kill were later found to be in perfect physical health.
Things like this destroy humanity. Our duty as human beings is to love and care for the suffering, not kill them. It cannot be said that euthanasia, AS or any sort of “mercy killing” eliminates suffering, rather, what it does is eliminate the person who suffers. Suffering does not devalue human life, killing does.