NRL News

Jack Kevorkian and “Morbid Fashionistas”

by | Oct 14, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Al Pacino, who played "Dr. Death," with Jack Kevorkian

What, pray tell, might a “Morbid fashionista” be? If you believe USA Today’s Ann Oldenburg that might describe someone who would be “interested to know that among the items going up for auction on Oct. 28 from the estate of Jack Kevorkian will be his famous blue sweater.”

Yes, as incredible as it sounds, the memorabilia of “Dr. Death” is being sold by his niece, Ava Janus of Troy, Michigan. Along with his sweater among the more than 140 personal items to be auctioned off at the New York Institute of Technology (Oldenburg writes)

“there will be artwork, musical compositions, handwritten documents from prison, a doctor’s bag, bulletproof vest, paint kit, typewriter, pearl flute, wooden case of paints, dental retractor, master lock from prison, eye- and sunglasses and the infamous Thanatron machine, which he built and used in more than 100 assisted suicides”

To be accurate Kevorkian  “assisted” the suicides of at least 130 people. From a legal perspective, he was literally untouchable until his overweening ego got the better of him. Kevorkian actually videotaped himself administering a lethal injection to a man with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and then went on CBS’s “60 Minutes” to taunt the legal establishment by showing the video to millions. That cost him over eight years of his life in jail.

But why would anyone respond to the auction, which will be coordinated by David W. Streets, a California fine arts and celebrity memorabilia appraiser?  For starters Kevorkian, dressed in his “iconic” blue sweater, became a media celebrity long before HBO recruited Al Pacino to play the title role in ‘You Don’t Know Jack,” the film that earned Pacino an Emmy and Golden Globe.  In fact, Kevorkian, in his own twisted way, was part of the advance guard that ushered in the cult of celebrity that is now such a part of our popular culture.

Bioethicist Wesley Smith tracked Kevorkian’s trail of death for years, concluding “Whether we ultimately become a culture out of Kevorkian’s dark imaginings will determine his final historical legacy.”

What “dark imaginings”? Kevorkian lived for death. Look at his paintings (13 of which are currently on display in the Alma Museum in Boston and will be for sale) and you will know that I do not exaggerate. They speak volumes about the demons that drove him. To quote Smith again,

“He methodically pursued his ghoulish purposes step-by-step for eight years; first, gaining a quasi-license to assist suicides after several juries refused to convict him; then, taking the kidneys from the body of one of his cases and offering them for transplant; to actively lethally injecting Youk. (Euthanasia being necessary for experimentation, since the ‘subject’ would have to be anesthetized.)”

Smith also wrote, “Kevorkian was a proud atheist who frequently stated — and acted on — his intention to force society to tack into the wind of his own dark desires.” Interesting—and very sad—that one response to Oldenburg’s story is the desire that the auction be broadcast online because the respondent so “loves his artwork.” She adds, “My favorite is his ‘Nearer my god to thee.’”

That‘s the one where Kevorkian mocks the Resurrection—the “annual resurrection by dumb bunnies of a pathetic, despairing, almost scorned image of the purported divinity.”

Alas, in its own pathetic way, the “historical legacy” of Kevorkian lives on.

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Categories: Assisted Suicide