On June 3, 2011, Jack Kevorkian passed away. Four months before his death, on an unusually warm Saturday evening, he spoke at the legendary UCLA Royce Hall which was jam-packed with an agitated audience, most of whom were Armenians eager to catch at least a glimpse of the proponent for euthanasia, as well as artist, musician, and pathologist.
Jack Kevorkian, nicknamed Dr. Death, opened the evening in a manner typical to him:
“I wonder if a former prisoner has ever spoken from this tribune.”
In his speech, he spoke about the 9th Amendment to the United States Constitution – also called the Silent Amendment – which confirms that there are human rights that are not listed in the Constitution.
Kevorkian claimed that every person is born with every conceivable right. In 2007, after he was released from prison, he spoke about his plans to educate the public about this amendment. While in prison, Kevorkian even wrote the book “Amendment IX: Our Cornucopia of Rights.”
“Armenia has a unique opportunity to lead in the world by introducing the 9th Amendment in its Constitution and by actively using it,” he said. “But first, you must eliminate corruption.”
The crowd burst into applause. He urged the Armenians to realize their real position in the world and also stressed that Armenia needs more activists.
“Let the Armenians understand the reality. We are a small country, we do not have much value in the modern world,” he said.
Kevorkian’s family did not differ from the families of Diaspora Armenians – his parents had fled from the Armenian Genocide, but he grew up with his father who did not have any political or religious convictions, which, as Kevorkian’s father has said, allowed him to think for himself.
After a few words in Armenian, Kevorkian was asked if he would ever like to go to Armenia to give a lecture. He was not against this possibility but did not feel that he would have a great influence there.
“What good will that do? You cannot struggle against the church – Armenians are holding onto it as if it is the last anchor that they have. Your language – this is your last anchor. The only thing you need is Armenian.”
When asked what inspired him in his life, Kevorkian answered that it was the ability to think freely for himself.
“You cannot be religious and at the same time think freely,” he said, possibly presenting the dilemma of at least some Armenians who are proud of having descended from the first Christian nation in the world. “I do not want Ter Hayr, the Pope, or the Catholicos to think for me because in this world, they were often mistaken.”
When asked what he would like to say to the Armenian diaspora, Kevorkian passionately stressed the importance of learning the Armenian language.
“In every Armenian home, every day, there should be an Armenian newspaper regardless of whether you can read Armenian or not,” he said. “I remember that when I was growing up, I saw “Hayrenik Amsagir” (“Periodical ‘Fatherland’”), which was home for me.”
“Your company, your country, politicians are all artificial, they’re not Armenian,” he said. “You have traditions that you can enjoy with your language, but they don’t matter to young people. They are easily fooled by propaganda, they see how the Kardashians make a lot of money, degrading the dignity of people, and they think that it is what they have to do.”