Mike Volkman is a long-time member of Not Dead Yet’s Board of Directors. Mike joined Not Dead Yet at its inception in 1996. He had been on the staff of the Capital District Center for Independence in Albany, New York, and later was on the Board of Directors. He has written op-ed columns for his local newspaper, the Times Union, and remains a tireless advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.
On 10/27/17, the Albany Times Union published an op-ed by Mike, in which he picks apart the complicated relationship between assisted suicide and the mostly-undefined concept of “dignity.”
Below is an an excerpt from “Death with dignity devalues disability.”
What does it mean to die with dignity? Or the opposite, what is death without dignity or with indignity? There is no legal definition. It is a phrase people like to use with the hope that it is sufficient and accepted. Remember the bit George Carlin did in 1992 about euphemisms? They hide the truth.
Legislative bodies should come up with legal definitions for the term. They should specify what constitutes dignified ways of dying. When they come to define what are undignified ways of dying, the challenge is how to do it without describing circumstances that go with disability.
Please go read this op-ed in its entirety here. For one thing, it’s a great op-ed. Also. newspapers track how people access their articles. If a lot of us access the essay, it lets the paper know that there are lots of us who would like to hear from disability rights activists/advocates in general and from Mike in particular.