A Southern Gothic lesson in bioethics


James D. HamiltonThis story about a “mercy killing” is straight from the Southern Gothic playbook used by novelists like Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner. In the Tennessee town of Dickson, 50-year-old James D. Hamilton often stayed overnight in the Lynn household. The son, 35-year-old Doug, was a paraplegic. Apparently he had asked several people in the Nashville area to put him out of his misery. They refused. This week, he asked Mr Hamilton to kill him in exchange for prescription drugs. Mr Hamilton was more obliging and began hitting him on the head with a hammer. Doug’s mother, 62-year-old Faye, came to see what was going on and Mr Hamilton panicked. He seized a .40 calibre pistol and shot Mrs Lynn in the back and in the chest. For some reason he failed to complete his original assignment and sped off in his car. He has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.

As a suicide assistant, Mr Hamilton’s methods lacked elegance, but they do serve as a cautionary lesson about the complex background to what the local TV station described as a “mercy killing” and “assisted suicide”. ~ WSMV, Mar 18; Dickson Herald, Mar 18




MORE ON THESE TOPICS | assisted suicide, human drama, mercy killing

 
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