It was inevitable that I eventually actually write a post that has something to do with ethics and not just the questionable behavior that may or may not get me thrown into prison internationally. And I have been galvanized by the recent repeal of death panels, the foundation of which I admit I had been looking forward to with great anticipation. But although reasonable precautions to ensure autonomous decision making at the end of life are no longer funded by the federal government, I am pleased to announce that there are a few praiseworthy philanthropists taking the bull who has Parkinson's by the trembling horns and moving to address the needs of the people.
I admit that I initially experienced a minor qualm of lumor about writing this post, since I have no desire to address the question of death with dignity itself but rather to examine some of the fringe specimens who have used it to further the exploitation of the dying; and since it's my blog I reserve the right to call Mitch Ablom an asshole. Also I have some legitimate concerns about furthering press or publicity for these clowns. But if y’all have heretofore been unaware that dead people can be either buried or cremated, and that there are different types of ceremonies for different beliefs, I highly doubt that I’ll be doing them or you any favors, since you’ll probably choke to death trying to order a shakeweight from your microwave with a kazoo and no one will find you until it’s too late anyhow.
It’s clear that several enterprising individuals have appeared on the horizon, anxious to fill the need in all our lives, or rather, all our deaths. If there’s one thing we all have in common besides a genuine desire to avoid another novel by Dan Brown, it’s a willingness to capitalize on the last great undiscovered country. I am not talking about space.
I AM TALKING ABOUT DEATH.
I have been surprised to discover over the last few years that very few people have had the cojones to both identify and exploit the ridiculous capital just waiting to be amassed in the lucrative field of demise. There is a reason that funeral homes look like mansions, folks, and it’s all because there is MAD CASH to be had in corpses. Death is like a money factory if you just know how to look at it. It’s like that saying about life handing you lemons - When life hands other people lemons, just have some invention ready to turn those lemons into a direct deposit into your bank account. Let’s take a brief look at some innovators in the burgeoning field of death.
First up is the man we in the field consider the father of financial fatalism, the tycoon of the terminal, Swiss Lawyer Ludwig A. Minelli.
Minelli founded his organization, Dignitas, to provide a care institution where people can go to kick the bucket, or in some cases, have the bucket kicked for them. Dignitas accepts substantial donations and bequests from its patrons, though unlike private schools in Texas, they will still cooperate in hastening your death if you can only pay their fee. The institution specializes in assisted suicide for individuals with terminal physical illness, although in some cases will euthanize those with "severe mental disorders", provided that they demonstrate full competency at the time the request is made. I’m not sure exactly how the hell they think they can provide an objective assessment of capacity in those whom they also intend to extinguish. It remains a mystery of the ages. In case that inherent contradiction left your head intact, Swiss law states that assisted suicide is legal only under conditions in which those assisting do not benefit personally or professionally from the death. As long as there is no evidence of self interest, it is perfectly within the confines of the law to run an establishment that accepts significant donations in return for gently and prematurely enabling the divine immortality of hundreds.
As always, there are cynics who decry the existence of true altruism, and impugn these heroes with aspersion and vituperation.
Soraya Wernli, a nurse previously employed by Dignitas, has described the institution as a “production line of death concerned only with profits.” To which we respond,
So what if Minelli has accumulated literal MILLIONS since founding an alleged non-profit? So what if dozens of unclaimed remains were unceremoniously DUMPED IN A LAKE IN URNS EMBLAZONED WITH THE NAME OF THE CARE HOME? So he’s either terrible at advertising or not very subtle about littering. So what? Neither was Arlo Guthrie, and he’s a national hero.
This next profile cuts a little closer to the quick, primarily since this innovator hails from my beloved hometown, Portland, Oregon. But also because I admit to being a little jealous that I didn’t get there first. Oregon was the first state to legalize physician assisted suicide, and has since provided both a practical and ethical framework for other legislation, both within the United States and internationally. While most people were just sitting around appreciating the increase in options surrounding decisions about end of life care, geniuses like Dr. Stuart Weisberg were finding ways to
Since I know you, like me, are simply DYING to hop on this bandwagon, and since I know that you, like me, consider yourself an ingenious pioneer with higher than average penetration and discernment, I am opening up this once in a
Why die with just dignity?
Following in the footsteps of my inspirational mentors, Dr. Million-Dollar-dump-the-body and “Dr.” tax-deductable-costs-of-the-Enya-Karaoke-CD, I too am opening my home to those who want assistance in dying. But I am offering a service far superior to your regular, run of them mill, out with the tide sort of death. For a reasonable fee, I offer the death of your dreams! We provide our very own
For our Platinum members, we are pleased to offer a new line of services, “Celebrity Knock-Offs.” These extra special pro-death-tions (!!) are designed to emulate for the discriminatory decedent the final moments of the lives of our most legendary stars! Currently available are the Mama Cass package, the Elvis package, the (budget option!) Elliott Smith (some assembly required), the Isadora Duncan package, The James Dean package, and the Albert Dekker Supreme package (21 and older only). All of these but the Albert Dekker can be additionally customized with the Houdini underwater adventure add-on for a nominal fee.
Why not? You can’t take it with you!
So please join me in putting the “Art” back in “Departure.” We are taking back "petard," and then we are going to hoist the hell out of ourselves! Just the way we've always wanted. The way we deserve. Because why die with just dignity when you can have it all?