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Memo to Vultures

Wesley J. Smith


Sigh. My writing is linked over at CNN in a story about Britanny Maynard, who has decided to postpone her suicide. (See our ENV colleague Dr. Michael Egnor’s earlier comments.) But I am linked with the following words, meaning this is what the story says about me:

She’s also become a lightning rod for criticism from people who criticize that approach.

No. I specifically didn’t criticize Maynard for wanting to commit suicide in the post CNN linked. I criticized the media! Here is what I wrote about her. From "Brittany Maynard: The Vultures Circle":

I wasn’t going to write about Maynard because I am not critical of her. No one knows what our limits might be. But more importantly, she is a living, very ill woman. No way I am going to do anything to add to her burden.

What about the words, "I am not critical of her," does CNN not understand?

And here is what I wrote about media ghouls — like CNN — breathlessly acting as propagandists instead of journalists:

Media know they are being played. But if it bleeds, it leads!

  • By breathlessly pushing the Maynard story, the media are pushing suicide. This totally violates media guidelines for reporting suicide stories issued by the World Health Organization.

  • Why is this case making headlines? There have been hundreds of assisted suicides with nary a peep from the media. And cases that make legalized prescribed suicide look bad are assiduously ignored.

  • Many of the stories read as if she has no choice but to kill herself. No mention of the potential of hospice and other care opportunities to alleviate her suffering.

  • By pushing suicide as death with dignity — and by giving so much attention to her death — the media tell others that suicide is the right answer for them too.

  • Many media support assisted suicide and are using Maynard for ideological reasons.

  • This is like 60 Minutes playing the video of Jack Kevorkian murdering Thomas Youk, with Mike Wallace repeatedly asking, "Is he dead yet? Is he dead yet?" Or the BBC playing the video of a death at one of the Swiss suicide clinics.

  • And here’s the thing: If she kills herself on November 1, they will barely remember who she was on November 3.

So, thanks to CNN for linking me. I’m flattered. But I do wish it had reported that they — and cynical assisted suicide ideologues-are my lightening rod, not Maynard.

Image: African Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)/Wikipedia.

Cross-posted at Human Exceptionalism.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.