By Hilary White and John Jalsevac

GAINESVILLE, Florida, January 16, 2008 ( – The US’ most notorious euthanasia activist, Jack Kevorkian, spoke at the University of Florida in Gainesville yesterday, despite thousands of protest emails having been sent about his appearance.

Kevorkian at the University of FloridaNicknamed “Dr. Death”, the former pathologist served eight years of his 10-25 year sentence for the 1998 second degree murder of Thomas Youk, who had suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kevorkian was released from prison on parole last June.

Pro-life advocates rallied outside as the 79 year-old former pathologist spoke for an hour to nearly 5000 students and faculty, defending his actions and calling US lawmakers “a criminal group” for refusing to legalize euthanasia. The students’ speakers bureau paid Kevorkian $50,000 for his appearance. He was given an additional $7,500 by UF’s Foundation after the appearance had to be rescheduled.

In his speech Kevorkian claimed that he didn’t intend to cause the death of his victims. “My aim helping a patient was not to cause death. I mean, that’s crazy,” he said. “My aim was to end the suffering.”

“I am a physician. I knew how to do it. … I did it humanely.”

Kevorkian railed against US lawmakers who refuse to legalize euthanasia. “We have a bunch of cruel dictators,” he said. “Everyone should refuse to vote. That would send the tyrant a message.”

A central theme of Kevorkian’s speech was that law is intrinsically anti-liberty. He also repeatedly referred to “the tyrant,” who seeks to control people with law, thereby removing their “natural rights”.

“Every law is an infraction of liberty. Every law! So when you see those law books in the lawyers office – hundreds of laws!…Those are all the rights you’ve lost. You can’t use ‘em. All law can stop you from doing is using the right that you have naturally.”

“That’s the problem. The tyrant owns the legislative branch, owns the laws. Anything he wants he just makes a law. Now he’s got you controlled.”  

The aging doctor repeatedly referred to euthanasia as a medical solution to a medical problem. At one point the doctor responded to a question, in which he was asked what he thought of the fact that many people believe that suicide is wrong, and believe that it is “unpardonable because forgiveness cannot be asked after it is done.” 

“Don’t introduce religion into a medical problem,” responded the doctor, at which point the crowd burst into uproarious cheering.

In an interview with the Gainesville Sun, conducted before the speech, a visibly angry Kevorkian repeatedly invoked the Constitution’s ninth amendment as justifying his actions, and denounced an unnamed tyrannical ‘they,’ apparently identified with “the tyrant”.

“I’m trying to understand where your anger is aimed,” says the interviewer at one point, after Kevorkian had begun yelling at him.

“My anger is aimed at my rights being blocked!” retorted Kevorkian. “By whom?” he was then asked. “I don’t know!” the doctor yelled back. “But the point is that I’ve got the power to fight ‘em. It’s in the highest law in the land.”

“I am born with every right. To pick my nose when I want. To carry cocaine in my pocket when I want. To smoke marijuana when I want. As long as I don’t hurt anyone or threaten them.”

“They’ll do anything to stay in control. They’ll lie through their teeth,” he continued.

“Who is the ‘they’?” the off-camera reporter asks.

“They’re tyrants. No one knows who they are,” Kevorkian responded. “You don’t think the president runs the country do ya? That dumbbell? He can’t think his way out of a…I like what Mollie Ivins said. ‘If his IQ sinks any lower we’re going to have to water him twice a day.’” 

  In his 70-minute long speech, Kevorkian touched on numerous other topics, besides euthanasia, including the war in Iraq and the United States’ penal system. Kevorkian is forbidden to give details about how to commit suicide or euthanasia, according to his terms of parole. “Let’s start with euthanasia. I can’t talk much about it. I’m on parole,” he said towards the beginning of his speech, which remark was greeted with appreciative laughter. “I guess this is the first time you’ve heard an ex-con speak.”

“You think Iraq is a war?” he said at one point. “That’s not a war. That’s a modified genocide.”

“Violence breeds common violence,” he said in his remarks on the prison system. “Putting a man or woman in prison is violence.” Instead of prisons and jury trials, Kevorkian advocated a system where criminals could claim “sanctuary” in a designated area, and then work to come to an agreement about a just punishment with the victims of their crime
  Kevorkian claims to have “ended the suffering” of at least 130 people and he developed a medical machine to allow patients to administer lethal doses of drugs to themselves.

He has promised that he will commit no more “mercy killings” but will be spending his remaining years campaigning for legalization of euthanasia. “It’s got to be decriminalized and the law has to step out of the picture,” he said.

To read further coverage and to view video footage of Kevorkian’s speech see:

To view the Gainesville Sun’s interview with Kevorkian, see:

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“Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian Speaking at the University of Florida Today