I have been receiving much e-mail both praising and castigating my take on Million $ Baby. I have been told, "It's only a movie," repeatedly. I know that. But movies have the power to mold popular attitudes. That is why so many anti-tobacco activists want Hollywood to stop portraying smoking as cool and glamorous. This message touched me the most and reflects the point I was trying to make in my column:
"Bravo for your perceptive comments on Million-dollar Baby. I am a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down by a diving accident 40 years ago when I was 20. I was entering my third year of college at the time. The previous year I had skied on the varsity ski team. After my accident I completed both a baccalaureate and master's degree and since my graduation have been a geography professor in our local community college,teaching full time since 1991. Each semester I have more than a hundred students in my classes. I've traveled extensively throughout the world, to Europe, Africa, South America, Mexico, Canada, and to Hawaii 13 times. I'm married to a beautiful, accomplished woman recently declared by our local newspaper to be the "eighth most influential person" in our city. I am active in our community, sitting on local governmental committees and participating in a local church. I have served as Academic Senate Secretary, vice president and president over a six-year stint as a Senate member. I have a full, satisfying life, with numerous friends and engaging activities. I have decried the implicit message in Clint Eastwood's movie to everyone who will listen. To claim that he had no intent to promote the despicable notion that even severely disabled people cannot live full and satisfying lives is disingenuous at best and blatant falsehood at worst. Euthanasia threatens those in society -- the old, sick, and disabled -- who most need society's protection..."