Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, and consults for the Patients Rights Council.

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The Historical Kevorkian

From Web Exclusives

I am often asked for interviews by students who are writing papers about the assisted suicide issue. I am always happy to oblige. Most ask why I oppose assisted suicide and whether I think guidelines can prevent the slippery slope. But, the other day, I was contacted by a high-schooler writing a paper about something I had never considered: the historical significance of Jack Kevorkian. Continue Reading »

Protesting for Disruption’s Sake

From Web Exclusives

Disruption can be an effective protest tactic if limited and carefully targeted. But disruption seems to have been the ultimate purpose of the recent “Ferguson” eruptions—and I am referring not to the rioters but to the nonviolent marchers who closed down bridges, stopped trains, and blocked traffic. We all know why the protesters are upset. Grand juries refused to indict police officers in the deaths of African-Americans Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Their anger and disappointment are understandable. Continue Reading »

New-Time Religion

From the December 2014 Print Edition

The West, we are told, has entered the secular age. Religious faith is irreversibly shriveling, opening space for a society governed by reason. What such statements miss is that while traditional religion may well fade, we will never see an end to something like religious belief. We’re subjective beings whose need for meaning will never be satisfied merely by what can be “proved.” Thus, even if Judaism and Christianity are reduced to vestigial influence in America, they will be replaced not by unbelief but by different creeds. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the recent rise of transhumanism, a futuristic social movement that offers a worldly transcendence through faith in technology. Why consider ourselves made in the image and likeness of God when we can recreate ourselves in our own, individually designed, “post-human” image? Why worry about heaven, hell, or the karmic conditions in which we will be reincarnated when we can instead enjoy radical life extension, perhaps even attain immortality by uploading our minds into computers? Indeed, transhumanist prophets such as Google’s Ray ­Kurzweil and University of Oxford’s Nick Bostrom assure believers that science will soon wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, for through technology, the former things will all pass away.  Continue Reading »

Death With Aesthetics

From Web Exclusives

We don’t speak plainly in public discourse anymore. Rather, we equivocate and deploy euphemisms to sanitize our debates. Take the passing of Brittany Maynard by her own hand, which the media has repeatedly characterized as an act of “dignity.” To be sure, Maynard died with human dignity—but not because she committed suicide. Human dignity is intrinsic. Indeed, to accept the premise of suicide as death with dignity says—or at least strongly implies—that patients who expire naturally die with indignity. Continue Reading »

Of Michael Landon and Brittany Maynard

From Web Exclusives

Michael Landon, the hugely popular television star of BonanzaLittle House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven, died in 1991 at age fifty-four. Landon’s last act—if you will—was widely hailed as his best: He publicly announced his diagnosis with terminal pancreatic cancer, appeared on the Tonight Show to openly discuss his pending death with Johnny Carson (almost unprecedented back then), and gave several interviews announcing his determination to hang on until the end. He told Life, “If I’m gonna die, death’s gonna have to do a lot of fighting to get me.” Continue Reading »

Lethal Ageism

From Web Exclusives

story out of Belgium vividly illustrates how our elderly are becoming personae non gratae in a society increasingly obsessed with avoiding difficulty. Francis and Anne are healthy and happily married octogenarians. Not wanting to live without each other, they plan to die together on their sixty-fourth anniversary. Rather than engaging suicide prevention, their children procured a doctor to euthanize them. Continue Reading »