X-Message-Number: 2554
Date: 14 Jan 94 01:57:24 EST
From: Mike Darwin <>
Subject: CRYONICS Response to T. Donaldson

Thomas Donaldson says that he thinks there doesn't have to be a heated or
violent conflict between cryonics and society (in particular the
medicolegal system) in response to my assertion that such a conflict is
inevitable.  On the surface Thomas' remarks probably seem more
reasonable.  Particularly in light of his example of the continued
existence of "alternative medicine" such as homeopathy, vitamin therapy,

I would make the following observations:

* My first inkling of the coming conflict came long before Dora Kent when
a lovely, normally very placid and gentle female cryonicist stated to me
quite matter of factly that if the coroner had *her* husband or daughter
on the slab and proposed to dissect them she would do whatever was
necessary to get them out including *killing* the coroner and any of his
minions that stood in her way.  This shocked me.  What shocked me more
was the SUPPORT she had from others around her when she said this.

Subsequently the Dora Kent event occurred.  Here we had a situation where
cryonicists consciously, and for a protracted period of time, openly
defied the government and (luckily) won.  Again the issue was, from the
cryonicists perspective, a life or death one. Despite the victory,
everyone involed paid a high price.  Alcor was repatedly raided,
internal political shifts occurred destabilizing things (arresting
research, costing many tens of thousands of dollars in legal trouble) and
people's lives and careers were aletered forever on BOTH sides of the
conflict (believe me, the Alcor controversy did no good for Mr. Carillo's

* Later, a GUN was actually drawn on a government official by an Alcor
employee and a short (but very frightening) armed standoff occured with
police behind cardoors with their weapons drawn and so on...  This
incident also occured over a threat (real or imagined) to the safety and
security of cryopreserved patients.

* The choice of "medicines" as an example by Thomas was I believe a
flawed one.  Medicines are NOT like cryonics.  Banning homeopathy and
harassing its practioners is NOT the same as raiding a cryonics facility
and/or holding someone's mother, lover, brother, wife... hostage under
certain threat of gruesome dismemberment.  Practices like homeopathy can
go on underground, new practioners spring up, and as is the case with
narcotics, the penalties for the USER are much less than for the
practioner: the user doesn't have his/her self, wife, lover, etc.,
chopped up and killed.  And the loss is not of the same magnitude either.

If someone doesn't get homeopathy they may blame their death or that of a
loved one on the FDA or the government.  But, to quote Shakespeare: "She
should have died anyway" (in others words sooner or later, with our
without homeopathy, the loved one would be dead).  Not so with cryonics. 
Here we are talking about a PERCEIVED chance at Thomas' (capital "I")
Immortality.  And it is NOT the same kind of situation where lack of
access to treatment results in the already in-motion disease process
ending a life.  

Rather, the situation Thomas should have used as an example would be one
where the government goes into a person's home, carts off their loved one
and brutally chops them up.  This makes people GO CRAZY.  Especially in
this society (we are not after all China or other places with a STRONG
respect or FEAR of authority -- and even in places like that it wears
thin after awhile: look at Tien Amin Square!).

*Cryonics erodes respect for the law in many (maybe even MOST) of its
adherents because so many aspects of the law as it relates to cryonics
and medicine are IRRATIONAL and contrary to the interests of the patient
and his loved ones.

*Nor is this kind of conflict confined to cryonics.   Dr. Kevorkian has
NOT had an easy time of it.  One may question his style and technique but
there is little doubt in my mind that the good Dr. K has touched a nerve
on both sides of the issue of euthanasia.  He is without a doubt the John
Brown of the assisted suicide movement.  There is a conflict here and
MEDICINE and SOCIETY (the law) will have to change one way or another. 
Still, it is easier to quietly euthanize loved ones than it is to freeze
them, store them, etc.

*Ditto for the Christian Scientists who want to practice their faith on
their families (including their minor children and fetuses).  Courts
routinely seize their children and try to force CS or fundamentalist
mothers to have C-sections or other prenatal care!

*But let's look at the examples Thomas cites such as homeopathy and
alternative medicine.  Perhaps Thomas would like to talk to Saul Kent and
Bill Faloon about government tolerance as they face 88 years in prison
for allegedly selling vitamins and FDA banned or restricted medications
(like life extension drugs and antibiotics!).  Or perhaps you'd like to
talk with any of the dozens of alternative medicine MD's who've been
raided, arrested, harrassed, beaten and imprisoned.  Some of these guys
are total quacks, some probably have genuine good things to offer.  But
that's not the point: the point is these people have been severely
assaulted and have been harmed professionally and personally.

Their colleagues live in constant anxiety.  Many, like Donsbach, have
left the US for Mexico or elsewhere in order to practice.  I KNOW some of
these people and their lives are NOT easy and the government does not
TOLERATE them (unless you describe tolerance as a reign of terror limited
only by the FDA's scarce resources).  Also, as Saul Kent has pointed out
homeopaths used to be the dominant medical practioner in this country. 
While no doubt the spectacular success of orthodox medicine has contributed
to their decline, they too were subjected to a prolonged and largely
successful reign of terror by the US government.  Talk to Saul about this.

*Once again, the situation with cryonics is not the same.  Government
seizure of patients and/or their assets will have a much different effect
on both the cryonicists and the society's perception of them.  So will the
violence which I believe will flow back and forth as a result of these

*Also, don't underestimate the anger that exists among dying people NOW. 
The ACTUP people and other (even more extreme) AIDS activists are getting
angrier and angrier.  I believe violence may not be long in coming here
either.  Hell, look at the abortion and animal rights issues.  These
issues have already resulted in underground and overt acts of violence,
murder and sabotage.

Finally, some general thoughts.  Thomas Donaldson is a man who has given
us great and powerful insights into cryonics.  His message about how
medicine needs to change in its attitude towards "dead" people is but one
example.  He was one of the first to understand the POWER of the cryonics
idea and to see its revolutionary implications.  I am thus somewhat
surprised that he has failed to see the implications of THOSE
implications.  Cryonics and this society are on a collision course.  Guns
have already been drawn, threats made, laws broken.

Note I am NOT saying that a government can necessaruily succeed in such a
conflict.  But I am saying that the BATTLE may be costly, bloody and
protracted.  THAT is exactly what I want to avoid.  The faster we can
change the society from the top-down the better -- and the shorter the
war and the more absolute the victory.  That is all I am saying.

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