The Final Wish
The band Hell on Earth, as reported by Rolling Stone, will be hosting an on stage suicide during their October 4th performance at St. Petersburg State Theater. An unidentified member of a euthanasia society, whose terminal condition is still unknown, has intent to take their own life on stage to raise awareness for the cause of dying with dignity. Billy Tourtelot, Hell on Earth front man, has agreed to allow the live suicide claiming that the band is not in legal jeopardy because they are not ‘assisting’ the suicide but merely allowing it to happen.
When I first read the story it reeked of being a bad publicity stunt for an ego feeding metal band who can’t rely on their own talent to bring in the press. It even sent me back to Junior High School days when the sociopath punk icon GG Allin kept a dedicated audience coming to his shows over a promise that he would take his life on stage as his final act.
After having read the article last night, slept off the judgmental chatter, and now looking at the subject matter fresh I have gained new insight into this somewhat bizarre story. There are definitely two sides to each coin and I want to point that out before I delve deeper. The BBC has done an amazing special section on their website on euthanasia and has evenly handled the issue properly from both perspectives: Supporters and opposition alike. The opposition feels that it is the duty of medicine to prolong lives and make death dignified but cutting off the pain and allow death to come in a slow comfort. Euthanasia supporters simply want the right to choose how and when they exit this life.
My personal opinion (you knew this was coming) is that now I am in full support not only of this metal band Hell on Earth but the idea itself, even if it is a publicity stunt. This is why: Publicity stunts raise awareness and mine has been raised beyond what it was last night. Whether you agree with me or not I will tell you that music is a very powerful medium that has been asked to fill many different roles in our cultures up to an including marriage, birth, war, grieving, and mainly the facilitation of death. I mean this last statement in the most positive way and in this day and age you might describe it as your death ‘Theme Song’ or the film score when your final credits roll up the screen and you sleep eternal. The ‘Shamanic’ or ‘Spiritual’ role of the musician is something that I’ve always been fascinated with like Jim Morrison who claimed that the spirit of a dead American Indian had possessed his soul since childhood and would come through his movements and song on stage with the Doors.
Rather than having tubes stuck in every orifice of my body, every medication known to man running through my veins, and some dim-wit nurse reading the latest beach novel beside my bed with no care of my own miserable ending only what time her shift is over, I’d rather go out on my own terms. Kudos to the euthanasia society member who wants to spend his final minutes and sharing his final right on this Earth with his Rock and Roll heroes on stage. Whether it really takes place or not, a pat on the back to Hell on Earth who has enough compassion to gladly respect the wishes of another human that merely wants their shamanic presence to lead them through the door. I’ll tell you right now that I’d rather have John Bell singing ‘Space Wrangler’ with an acoustic guitar or the remaining members of the Grateful Dead playing ‘Estimated Prophet’ or Traffic lulling me away with ‘Rainmaker’ than the mechanical whirring of the life support systems as a backdrop as my family (if they are alive at that point) and my friends (if they aren’t ashamed by me or if I haven’t run them away in deaths process) have to suffer watching me shrivel away into the dust with looks of gloom on everybody’s face. Wouldn’t they rather see me with a last nod to joy and my own relief experiencing my musical heroes as their song escorts me over the threshold into the unknown? That is my wish and it won’t match everyone else and that is for sure. But, shouldn’t I bear the right to HAVE that wish? Who decides what my final wish is? Shouldn’t it be me?
S. Remington – Editor
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