X-Message-Number: 2560
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: CRYONICS: Reply to Mike Darwin
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 1994 00:03:34 -0800 (PST)

Hi everyone!

I will explain here just why I think we won't get "a lot of flak" from either
the general population or the government. But the first thing to do here is
to look at just what level of conflict and violence really constitutes "a lot".
I do think this knowing quite well that Mike was hauled off to jail in the Dora
Kent conflict, and that many cryonicists do feel (and understandably so!)
very strongly about failure of any suspension of their relatives.

It may surprize many cryonicists to hear that at one time, when I was just
out of college, I was involved in civil rights activities. These were not the
versions of "civil rights" we see today, but "civil rights" much closer to 
how libertarians would understand them. It has not been very long, historical-

ly, since blacks were very thoroughly discriminated against. This 
discriminationinvolved a lot more than denial of the right to vote. They were 
denied even the right to speak throughout a large part of the US.

All that is now so much in the past that even some cryonicists may not remember
that time. I bring it up because if we want to discuss discrimination and 
oppression, and all the things that it involves, we DO need some kind of
base mark. Do I believe that cryonicists will ever be subject even to an 
ATTEMPT to treat them in this way? No, I do not. Do I think that the general
public will ever go on witchhunts for cryonicists? Try to lynch cryonicists?
No, I do not. Hold show trials to condemn large numbers of cryonicists to 
imprisonment in labor camps? Again, I do not.

Please understand that when I say these things I do NOT mean to minimize the
wrongs done to Alcor or to Mike himself. These were significant wrongs, and
deserved to be fought as strongly as we can. But there are other things that
should be remembered about the Dora Kent battle. The first one, which I noticed
myself, is that most people where I lived did NOT stand up and cheer the 
Coroners. I didn't hear a lot of "Right on! Give those cryonicists what they
deserve! ... etc". Sure, a lot of people were interested, but it did not evoke
strong feelings of one kind or another. And basically, Alcor finally won; we
also note that Mike Darwin did not remain for a long time in jail, nor was he
surreptitiously murdered on one excuse or another while he was in the hands of
the local police. (As I recall, the real police were somewhat at a loss, 
because the Coroners did not follow normal police procedure). The second point,
which I think we really should remember, is that Alcor won. If feelings against
cryonicists had been as strong as those against some other groups in history,
Alcor would not even have been able to find a lawyer willing to undertake
Alcor's defense. Those lawyers in sympathy would have decided to keep their
sympathies to themselves, while the defense lawyers chosen by the state would
happily cooperate with the prosecution.

Another thing that did NOT happen was a declared negative attitude by the
AMA and doctors generally. Yes, Alcor by its activities is saying some
strong things about the medical profession, but not about doctors individually.
Moreover, Kevorkian's activities suggest that there may even be some wistful
sympathy towards people who try to really deal with the problems of death.
I say "wistful" intentionally: it's not that the sympathy goes very far, but
that the doctors who feel it might wish things were otherwise, but feel that
they could do nothing. 

Do I think that everything from now on will be peaceful and wonderful? No. On
the contrary, I wouldn't be at all surprized to see a few more struggles like
the Dora Kent one. Given that cryonicists are willing to support their 
society and cryonics in general, and given that we make plans to save patients
in the event of the kind of attack the Dora Kent case produced (notice that
it was not the attempt of a crazed mob to destroy all patients. It was the
attempt of a few bureaucrats to obtain one patient), then I think we have 
every chance of persisting. And even winning. And even though the Riverside
authorities have decreed that Alcor cannot conduct research in its present
facility, I believe that the main reason that decree has not been vigorously
fought is simply that Alcor aims to move from that facility regardless. (For
that matter, I also note that the nearby cryonics facilities inhabited by
Mike Darwin and his friends are not subject to that research prohibition).

Often quite massive changes in society do not require great social turmoil and
conflict. The advances in medicine and computers give instances of these. 
Even the industrial revolution did not cause a revolution in England, where it
began, or in the United States, which went through similar changes soon
after... though certainly, in some countries, the adjustments needed were to
great and society DID go through a violent revolution. I do not mean by this,
of course, that there were not significant numbers of people who were not
happy by what was happening. We remember the Luddites. But compared to other
countries that had a REAL revolution, the conflict was much milder, and the
outcome was quite predictable. For that matter, even civil rights in the US
took place with relatively mild conflicts: there were no serious guerilla
movements, for instance.

It seems to me that the public attitude to cryonics (and ultimately it is the
public attitude, rather than the attitude of a few bureaucrats, which will
prevail) is NOT hostile. It is more schizophrenic than that: I think most
people, seeing our activities, feel torn between two thoughts: Oh how terrible
it would be if immortality really came! Oh, how wonderful it would be if
immortality really came! And with these attitudes they continue to be 
paralysed between them. That is what all the TV talk shows and radio shows
tell me, in particular. To actually ACT AGAINST people who are trying to
make this thing happen is to cut off a possibility that many people dream
about in their secret hearts, secret even to themselves --- who would dream
of such a thing? Yet to ACT FOR it still remains a choice that few people 
can bring themselves to make, it is so bizarre and outrageous. And so the
response is paralysis rather than antagonism.

I do not mean by this at all to denigrate or minimize the troubles we may
have in future with bureaucrats and other such people. And certainly, some
bureaucrats have great power. The real issue, it seems to me, is that of
whether this battle will be fought out mainly on the field of science and
technology, or on the political field of violence, subversion, mob action,
and murder. I do not believe that it will be the latter. Certainly we must
keep an eye out for the bureaucrats. But our main enemy is not the rest of
the human race, but death itself.

		Long long life,
			Thomas Donaldson

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=2560