North Country Gazette, NY
Jan 11 2008
Protesters Readying For Kevorkian's UF Speech Tuesday
Posted on Friday, 11 of January , 2008 at 10:44 pm
GAINESVILLE, FLA - Demontrations protesting the appearance of Jack `Dr.
Death' Kevorkian Tuesday at the University of Florida at Gainesville
are already being organized by student groups.
Additionally, an e-mail campaign is underway seeking to cancel
Kevorkian's appearance at the college.
Administration officials ssay they have already received about 1,000
such e-mails but they have no intent on canceling the event. They
say that while the e-mails are from different addresses, they are a
form message of sorts. They say they don't know who's spearheading
According to one published report, a typical e-mail reads, `With the
forced starvatin of Terri Schiavo still fresh in our nation's memory,
I am appalled that a convicted felon like Dr. Kevorkian is being
given the microphone at the University of Florida'.
Accent, the student-operated speakers bureau at the University of
Florida, is paying Kevorkian $50,000 to speak at the university.
Convicted murderer Kevorkian was originally scheduled to appear on
Oct. 11 but his appearance was postponed until Jan. 15 after security
concerns were raised following the controversial tasering of a
student on the campus during a Sept. 17 appearance of former
presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry.
The college website announces a `speakout/demonstration' planned from
5:30 to 8:30 p.m. outside the O'Connell Center on the campus by the
Pro-Life Alliance to `peacefully protest former physician Jack
Kevorkian's speech' which is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.
Although the event is free, tickets are required for entry to the
event and must be picked up in person at the University Box Office.
An announcement on the college website says that after the speech, a
moderator will ask Kevorkian questions that were submitted before the
event. Even though audience members won't directly speak to
Kevorkian, Accent's Steven Blank says their will be a free exchange
of ideas. Following the Q and A session, a panel of UF faculty
members will discuss the concept of assisted suicide as it relates to
their fields. It appears that it will be an unbalanced, one-sided
presentation advocating assisted suicide.
Submissions for the post lecture question and answer session can be
made at www.accentspeakers.com or by submitting an email to
Kevorkian, 79, who readily acknowledges that he participated in the
assisted suicides of at least 130 people, served eight years of a 10
to 25-year sentence for second degree murder in the 1998 poisoning of
Thomas Youk, 52, a Michigan man afflicted with Lou Gehrig's disease.
He had fatally injected drugs in Youk, taping the procedure which was
later shown on `60 Minutes', claiming it was euthanasia or mercy
killing but the jury said it was murder. The airing of the tape led
to his arrest.
Kevorkian was convicted in April 1999 of second degree murder in
connection with Youk's death and was been incarcerated in Michigan,
released after his attorney claimed Kevorkian would probably not
survive another year if kept in prison, because his health had
deteriorated so rapidly and listed a litany of diseases and
conditions which he claimed afflicted Kevorkian.
Kevorkian, a retired pathologist, showed no remorse as he left prison
in June, smiling and laughing as he left prison, saying it was `one
of the high points in life'.
In October, Kevorkian had claimed he was setting aside his crusade
for assisted suicide in favor of prison reform and civil rights.
Kevorkian says America's prison system is `punitive and
unproductive'. He also champions the Ninth Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution which says that rights not mentioned in the Bill of
Rights can't be denied simply because they aren't enumerated.
Kevorkian says that's a civil rights issue that could solve
innumerable controversies in American society such as abortion and
Kevorkian made his first paid public appearance since his release
from prison at Wayne State University in Detroit in November,
speaking about prison reform.
In postponing Kevorkian's appearance last fall until Jan. 15, the
Gainesville college administration had exacerbated an already
volatile situation by announcing that they had spoken with Kevorkian
and his attorney and reached a `mutual agreement' to pay the
convicted murderer an additional $7,500 `inconvenience fee' in
private money from the UF Foundation, the college's fundraising
Kevorkian protesters argue criminals shouldn't be allowed to profit
from their criminal acts and misdeeds.
Although claiming that he's not advocating assisted suicide,
Kevorkian says that doctors should be allowed to administer drugs to
end a patient's life if the patient is too disabled to do it himself.
Suicide is illegal and Oregon is the only state that has passed
legislation that allows doctor to assist the terminally ill to end
their lives if the patient too disabled to do it themselves. However,
there's a real issue about mental competency.
It has long been argued that Kevorkian in essence writes off the
disabled and elderly and many argue that he has caused an enormous
stigma to the disabled community, making the disabled feel worthless
and a burden on society.
The site of the University of Florida for Kevorkian's paid appearance
is particularly repugnant to many Kevorkian opponents as it is the
alma mater for the death judge in the Terri Schindler Schiavo case,
George Greer, who received his law degree from UF. Kevorkian must
obtain special permission from his parole officer to leave Michigan.
The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation had asked the University of
Florida to withdraw its invitation to Kevorkian, `join us in telling
the president of the University of Florida that it is unacceptable to
invite Jack Kevorkian to spread his message of death and violence to
the campus'. While the college has yet to withdraw its invitation and
money, it has postponed his appearance.
`Not surprisingly, our mainstream media has already begun to help the
`doctor' use his `plight' as a reason to promote the legalization of
assisted suicide - allegedly for the terminally ill - even though we
know that many of his victims suffered only for depression', the
Foundation said in circulating a petition to the UF administration.
`This is the same University of Florida where Judge George Greer
attended school. It is also where bio-ethicist Bill Allen teaches - the
same Bill Allen who said in an interview that he believed that (Terri
Schiavo) was not a person'.
Bobby Schindler, Terri's brother, said that he nor the Foundation is
against free speech but feels it is wrong for Kevorkian to
financially benefit from crime. The Foundation is opposed to
Kevorkian receiving $50,000 for his appearance.
The Foundation has asked people to sign the petition to stop
Kevorkian from targeting college students. `We're sending this
message to our young people that the answer to human suffering and
the chronically ill is to kill. That's extremely dangerous and