Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rest in peace, Max Carpenter

Jack Kevorkian, like Ron Burgundy, played jazz flute. If you'd like some thematic music to listen to while you read this week's Fear Goggles, here you go:

Jack Kevorkian died on 2011 June 3, 4 years and 2 days after his release from prison. He had been in prison, as you probably know, for actively and persistently assisting willing humans to euthanize themselves. Kevorkian died not from a euthanasia device, but from a thrombosis.

6 days after Kevorkian's death, a friend of the Booboisie, and family member to Jerry, was euthanized. Rest in peace, Max.

The decision to euthanize a non-human animal is often made by a council composed of that animal's doctor and that animal's adoptive family. In the case of humans, I suspect the decision is made similarly, but in the human case, the person whose life is at stake can also have a say, except in cases where the person in question is too young or otherwise unable to understand or communicate his/her opinions on the subject.

Local legality and acceptance of euthanasia, as I understand it:
  • Non-human animals - legal and largely uncontroversial
  • Pre-natal humans - 1/3 legal and controversial
  • Terminally unconscious humans - legal and mildly controversial
  • Conscious, mentally unfit humans - sometimes punitively legal and controversial
  • Conscious, mentally sound humans - illegal and largely uncontroversial

I cannot understand how this set of legalities and controversialities developed or how it makes any sense. Wikipedia currently lists the following "Reasons for euthanasia" on its "Animal euthanasia" page (reasons are not currently listed on the general "Euthanasia" page):
  • Terminal illness – e.g. cancer
  • Rabies
  • Behavioral problems (that usually cannot be corrected) – e.g. aggression
  • Illness or broken limbs that would cause suffering for the animal to live with, or when the owner cannot afford (or has a moral objection to) treatment.
  • Old age – Deterioration to loss of major bodily functions. Severe impairment of the quality of life.
  • Lack of homes - many shelters receive considerably more surrendered animals than they are capable of re-housing.

I often hear people claim that humans are the only species capable of feelings, including pain and fright. I fully disagree with that idea, but I also don't understand how that idea is compatible with popular views on euthanasia. How is quality of life an issue for an unfeeling beast?

Regardless of the existence of animal emotions, why is a quick, peaceful, medically-induced death acceptable for almost every possible suffering animal except the willing, cognizant human?

At least the suffering animal incapable of communicating its medical desires is allowed a quick, peaceful, medically induced death.

Rest in peace, Max. You too, Jack.