Power of People





There are times throughout the history of the United States when it's citizens have felt the need to revolt

against the government. One way they might revolt against the government is to disregard the law

peacefully. There was such a case during the time of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when there was unfair

discrimination against the African American community. They used peaceful protests to eventually get

legislation passed to stop the injustice brought against them. Another name for this is called civil

disobedience. A more recent case of civil disobedience involves Dr. Jack Kevorkian who is an activist for

the right to die. Dr. Kevorkian believes that a person should not have to go through the pain of being kept

alive by machines. There are times when a person can no longer handle such things as terminal illness. Dr.

Kevorkian breaks the law openly for what he believes in knowing fully of the consequences.

In an article out of a May 9th, 1996 edition of The Sacramento Bee reads that "Kevorkian attends

another suicide", tells about Dr. Jack Kevorkian attending another assisted death during a recess in his

current trial. Austin Bastable, a Canadian right-to-die activist who had multiple sclerosis killed himself

May 6th with the help of Dr. Kevorkian who reportedly gave Bastable the mask and carbon monoxide

canister. Bastable felt that his death was for the fight of freedom to have the right to die under such

conditions as his. In the article it tells us that hours early that same day he testified in his assisted-suicide

trial in the deaths of two women in 1991. Michael Modelski, a former prosecutor said "It's an in-your-face

kind of thing", He also goes on to say "It's par to the course. He's a loose cannon". Modelski feels Dr.

Kevorkian shows no respect for the law.

This is the 28th assisted-suicide Dr. Kevorkian has attended since 1990. He is currently on trial

for the two assisted-suicides of two women in 1991. The article also reads that some assisted-suicide

supporters were taken back by his actions. State Senator Jim Berryman said he finds Dr. Kevorkian's

methods offensive. He also said "He really continues to flaunt this in the face of the Legislature".

Berryman feels that the focus is more on Dr. Kevorkian rather than the cause of death with dignity. The

Judge of the case has ordered the jury in Dr. Kevorkian's trial not to read or listen to news accounts of the

case. If there are any jurors indicating that they have heard any of the latest new they would be removed

because of the influence it might have on them. There are four alternate jurors and the article reads if the

count falls below the 12 members there could be a mistrial. If the jurors get a hold of the news it could

influence them by giving them the feeling tha!

t Dr. Kevorkian has no respect for the law. It also might be seen as a man with strong beliefs who does the

right no matter what the law.

In Henry David Thoreau's "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience", he tells us that he refused to pay

poll taxes and he was once sent to jail for not paying his taxes. He believed strongly that he should not

have to pay these taxes and would rather end up in jail then go against his will. A certain passage shows

how strong he felt when he said "Your money our you life," why should I haste to give it my money?

(Thoreau). Thoreau's strong beliefs are seen in what he did and Dr. Kevorkian's case is very similar to

what Thoreau does in breaking the law.

Dr. Martin Luther King used peaceful sit-ins and rallies to unite the black community. This was a

very effective way of showing that they would not stand for the unjust discrimination. They used methods

such as banning the busses and instead walked. The busses could not afford to go without their business

and this hurt them enormously. Such protests as these caused the passing of legislation that gave equal

rights to all. King protested without breaking the law such as Dr. Kevorkian does. Dr. Kevorkian breaks

the law willingly and openly. He does what he feels is right no matter what the law says. According to

King I think that he might be justified because of the issue