by Fr. Charles Irvin

July 1996

The Deadly World Of
Adolph Hitler And Jack Kevorkian

Adolph Hitler and Jack Kevorkian share ideas growing out of the same soil in their efforts to benefit society, eliminate “defectives” and mercifully terminate the lives of those who are hopelessly deprived of a “quality life” (as they judge it).

Hitler was unique, to say the least. His maniacal hatred for the Jews set him apart from all others. Jack Kevorkian is not a man of hate; he is, rather, a man fascinated with death and a provider of death for those whom he has determined merit his ministrations.

Adolph Hitler was likewise a provider of death. He decreed what he deemed the “Mercy Death” to the mentally retarded, gypsies, homosexuals, and elderly who were near death.

Hitler’s ideas and Kevorkian’s ideas are not new; the similarities go back in human history as far as we can travel. The Old Testament speaks of it. Infanticide and abortion are related to it. And so are some aspects of eugenics.

Plato, the famous Greek philosopher, argued that physicians should mercifully terminate the lives of those afflicted with chronic illnesses that deprived them of the privilege of working. People who can’t (or won’t) work do not lead lives worth living, declared Plato in his Republic. Their lives should be mercifully ended via active euthanasia, even if it is against the will of the one being so mercifully killed.

Other Greek philosophers, notably Hippocrates, counselled doctors not to treat patients who were without any hope of recovery, a form of passive euthanasia. Subsequent doctors have been, at times, more active, but without public fanfare in terminating the lives of hopelessly ill patients living in acute pain.

Jack Kevorkian and Adolph Hitler have been morbidly dramatic in advocating their public policy positions. Hitler “mercifully terminated” the lives of over 100,000 emotionally disturbed people, along with others who were mentally retarded, or elderly, or physically disabled persons. It was a part of his form of eugenics, his selective manipulation of the Germanic gene pool in order to insure the greater glory of the Master Race. Jews, gypsies and gays were later added to the lists. Eugenics and euthanasia are first cousins, you see.

Whose life is worth living? And who decides? These are the fundamental questions involved, the critical ones. These questions should not be lost sight of in the emotionalism and histrionics of the public “debate” over this issue.

We may now be well along the road to mercifully terminating the lives of people with inherited severe physical and mental defects. And what about the retarded? Epileptics? Habitual drunks? Habitual criminals? Nor should we overlook the fact that the death penalty is a related form of involuntary termination of life in order to “enhance the quality of life”, everyone else’s. And why stop there? Why not have the Marines shoot their mortally wounded instead of bringing them back?

How utterly ironic the fact that this whole thing is erupting in the Century Of The Baby-Boomers.

There are over five billion human beings alive on this earth today, and in this century, more than in any other century in human history, human life is less and less valued. The baby- boomer generation, namely all those born after the ending of WWII, is committed to individual expression and individual personal choice, to individual rights, to consumerism, to environmental protection plans, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement and the sexual revolution as no other generation in human history.

Perversely and paradoxically, this generation of baby boomers is given to abortion and euthanasia as never before known among previous generations of human beings. Human life in our time is disposable by human choice on a scale never before known to mankind. Life in our century is cheap. And this while we ever more forcefully advocate individual human rights! The logical inconsistencies abounding in present day thinking on the topic of imposed human death are beyond any rational explanation.

Assisted suicide, active euthanasia, is a social contract, not a private exercise of a right to do “whatever one wishes with one’s own body.” It is to be explicitly noted that this latter statement is non-existent right. Roe v. Wade specifically denied that one can do whatever one wishes to with one’s own body. Dueling, for one example, is against the law even though it is done with consenting adults. So is self-mutilation, for another example.

Assisted suicide is a social act, it is permissible only as a matter of social policy, as a part of our greater social contract. By it’s nature it is not a solitary private act. It is a state licensing of one person to actively engage in the taking of another human being’s life. If the Equal Protection clause of our U.S. Constitution, along with the equal protection jurisprudence developed in this century by the Supreme Court, is to mean anything at all, it means that everyone falls under the laws against killing human beings equally and without exception, even by one’s own consent. To be endowed with rights that are “unalienable” means that these rights cannot be even voluntarily given away. The common good of all requires that all human life be unalienable because unalienable rights pertain to human nature.

In an ordered society that exists under the rule of law, individual personal rights do not exist in an independent autonomy. Unrestrained individualism is the very definition of anarchy. We live as Americans in a society of ordered liberty, sharing life in a common good, which requires a balancing of individual rights with those belong to us in the commonweal. If there is anything that is un-American, it is the notion that I have individual freedoms and rights that are independent of and free from those we hold in common in an ordered, and therefore limiting, society.

Human life is totally unalienable if we are all to be totally free as Americans.