Monday, April 04, 2005

Truth vs Rhetoric

     Probably the most painful thing for liberals suffering through the current administration is the feeling of a loss of reality. I read "Catch-22" in high school. Life feels like that today. The truth - the hard facts and objective reality - are no match for right-wing propagandizing. I wanted to bring attention to this column about Terri Schiavo's autopsy. It asks the question: what happens if the autopsy reveals beyond a shadow of a doubt that Terri had no higher brain function left? Does anyone really think that the legions of Terri fans out there will stop believing that they "know" Terri was conscious and aware?
     Not as political, but just as delusional: What will it take for the Michael Jackson fans to stop believing that their idol is not a saint? Do they have to physically be in the room to watch him fondle a little boy? Will even that suffice? Dayeinu?

16 comments:

Ben said...

Now let's be fair. If the autopsy comes out the other way, where her cortex was not liquified, the people who wanted to pull the plug will still say she had no higher level functions. People believe the truth that fits their desires, not the objective truth. I don't think there'e anyone in the world that that does not apply to.

alex said...

Before i get into addressing the mater of hypocrisy on the part of one party or another let me begin by stating my position on terri. While her fate is regretable the judge seems to have followed the laws of the state of florida as they are written if these laws are unjust or inadequate then that is a matter for the legislature of the state of florida to take up. However my opionion on the terry matter as a whole is that there is more then enough hypocrisy to go around such as liberal groups like the ACLU which has publicly campaigned and helped in the removal of her feeding tube. I find this amusing since the ACLU is against the execution of anyone esspecially mentally retarded people and like it or not removing her feeding tube is an action designed to specifially end her life that is an execution. Now you might say she wanted it but lets be honest there is no real proof of that it has basicly come down to he said she said. This is hardly overwhellming evidence. So please while yea conservatives have been hypocritical so have liberals (i guess it is only wrong to execute retarded people that are a danger to society but the ones that are bed ridden that is fine). I understand that you don't like conservatives but i think you need to climb down from your high horse there has been plenty of hypocisy to go around on this one.

Scott said...

    I'm not going to rehash the entire Terri argument, since that has apparently consumed the entire world for a month and only stopped when the Pope died. And then John Paul II died. JK.
    Anyway, 1) regarding he said/she said, that's not even close to true. It took unanimous doctors saying she had no prayer of recovering (dissenting "doctors" only appeared out of the woodwork once the crazies and Terri-groupies began appearing); it took multiple courts declaring her brain dead and her husband power of attorney; and then he had the right to make the decision. Funny thing - if Terri had been in Texas, GW Bush signed a law that would have killed her years ago, *against* even her husband's wishes, had she run out of money.
2) Regarding mentally disabled executions - calling Terri "mentally disabled" is like calling sand "low calorie". Terri was brain-dead. Not brain-disabled or disadvantaged. Dead. That means, as crude as it sounds, she was nothing but well-nourished meat. Surely you can tell the difference between someone who has no higher brain functions with someone who has Down Syndrome.
    I'm just saying.

alex said...

by he said she said, i was not refering to brain function i was refering to if she said that she would not want to remain on life support or not, i think you misunderstood my point, i have no problem with her feeding tube being removed. As far as i am concerned the law was follow as it was written. I am just saying that there is more then enough hypocrisy to go around let me ask you why are you so for her being killed, there wasn't a lack of money, i was mostly indifferent on this issue but i think even you can admit that she was used to make a political point by both sides.

Ben said...

Yeah, both sides were hypocritical. That's the problem with the liberal/conservative label. What they mean now has so littel to do with what they used to mean. Conservative used to mean you wanted things to stay the same, and liberal meant you wanted change. Now conservatives are trying to change things, and liberals are stubbornly resisting any change. What was so interesting about Schiavo is that it wasn't at all a conservative/liberal split. Some "libs" went one way, some the other, same with the conservatives, and even the South Park Republicans.

Scott said...

OK - you can make yourselves feel better by equating the Dems and Republicans in the case, saying they were equally hypocritical. But the fact is that it was Republican politicians who blew this case out of proportion and Republican politicians who created a federal case (literally) out of this. The Dems actions were only in response to Republican demagoguery.
Here's the list, in order: Florida Gov Jeb Bush (R) files a court brief to stop removal of the feeding tube. President GW Bush (R) praises the action publicly. Florida House & Senate pass "Terri's law", an amendment proposed by Florida Senator Daniel Webster (R) (GT '71 EE). Jeb Bush (R) passes an executive order to reinsert feeding tube. Florida Senators Wise (R) and Sebesta (R) introduce legislation to force fedding of patients in vegetative states in the absence of a living will. Florida State Reps Baxley (R), Brown (R), Cannon (R), Davis (R), Flores (R), Goldstein (R), Lopez-Cantera (R), Murzin (R), Quinones (R), and Traviesa (R) introduce similar legislation in the Florida House. US Rep David Weldon (R-FL) brings the case to the national arena with legislation. Speaker of the House Tom DeLay (R) goes on C-Span to talk about Terri Schiavo. Democrats finally enter the story on March 20, 2005 in a news conference.
Hypocrisy or no - this whole thing has been driven by the Republican party. So I feel perfectly justified directing any criticism about the handling of this case their way. The Democrats and a few brave Republicans did exactly what they should have done - stayed the hell out of this issue. This isn't about hypocrisy. This is about our elected representatives abusing their power to try to create political gain. The hypocrisy is just icing on the cake.
(reference from a University of Miami Ethics Program timeline on the Schiavo case. Research into the party identification of all involved doen by yours truly.)

Ben said...

It was driven by PART of the Republican Party, which does not mean the entire party, nor the majority of people who voted for Bush. There were tons of Dems on their side, as well as a few randoms like Jesse Jackson, who favored government intervention. Try and try to make it all about Republicans, fine. They were wrong. But just because they were hypocritical first doesn't excuse the other side for also being hypocritical. The other side had no reason to try to pass a bill on the issue, because judges were ruling in their favor. If they weren't, then you can bet that some Dem senator would have tried to get a bill passed giving Michael full control, or something similar.

I think a party (the Dems) that is basically the antithesis of the concept of states' rights is certianly due for criticism for hypocrisy when they start crying federalism when that bill was going through.

So I will admit both sides were hypocrites and wrong, and the GOP should have stayed the f*** out. Although, in the end, all they did was ask that the case be looked at fresh, instead of just the stuff they can review on an appeal. Not really all that big a deal. The injunctions by Jeb were the worst. Hypocrisy was equal on both sides.

Sylvana said...

She wasn't "killed", she was allowed to die. There is a difference. She wasn't executed. What she had was not life, not quality anyway, and what good is life is there is no quality to it? It only means something to others- not the person themselves. I personally consider keeping her body alive all those years a very selfish act on the part of her parents who just were never going to accept that their daughter had virtually killed herself.

Mike said...

Scott,

You want to talk about the abuse of "elected officials" but you turn a blind eye to appointed for life judges who completely ignore legislation and executive orders. You said it perfectly. One side didn't need to act because the judges were ruling in their favor.

And Sylvania,

Should we have killed Christopher Reeve years ago? He had no quality of life. How about people with MS or mental retardation? Where do you draw the line?

Scott said...

Mike,
The state legislature and Jeb Bush had no legal right to halt the removal of the feeding tube. Every single judge who heard all the facts in the case and who were familiar with the law agreed. This isn't a conspiracy. It's the law. You can't argue against "activist judges" when they rule against laws you like and hate on them when they uphold the ones you don't. They have rules to follow and they did so. If you dislike the laws of this country that allow DNR orders and removal of feeding tubes, then maybe you should talk to your congressman to have the federal laws changed. But notice that even the Republican Congress that was Sooooo against Terri's death only passed a law that was specific to her, not the other dozens or hundreds of people who die in similar circumstances. Even they recognize that sometimes people just have to die. Just not Terri, apparently.
The only vaguely unique aspect of this case compared to all the others going on every single day, is that her parents decided to keep her alive, literally as a meat puppet, against her wishes and against her husband's wishes. Sure, it would have been nice if she could have died through an overdose of morphine or some other quick method, but euthanasia is illegal in Florida, so she had to go the hard way.
And Christopher Reeve could have died, had he wished. He made the choice to live, although every single day when he woke up he cried. Terri Schiavo made the choice to die, and she told this to her husband. Maybe it's hearsay, but in this case, it's legally admissable, since he was her guardian. It's irrelevant that Tom DeLay never heard her say this. Terri did the right thing, although she would have been better off with a living will. Even proponents of living wills say that if you don't make your views clear to your family, the living wills may not be honored. Michael was her family. She made a choice when she married him, to give him the power of attorney for her, to speak for her when she could no longer do so. He gave her that same right.

Mike said...

"had no legal right"
"It's the law"

Didn't Congress pass a law and President Bush signed it that would have kept her alive? Why was this law ignored? Clearly there was a conflict between the law and previous law which made her husband her legal guardian. With all your talk about taking our time and allowing debate in selecting judges, why were they in such a rush to kill Terri?

Regardless of the issue of euthanasia, it bothers me when judges ignore congress and the law to pass their own moral judgement.

Scott said...

No, actually, Congress passed a law allowing the Schindlers to bring suit on behalf of Terri Schiavo. They specifically did not order a stay. Bill Frist said, "I believe Congress should not mandate that a
Federal judge issue a stay." and "Nothing in the current bill or its legislative history mandates a
stay. I would assume, however, the Federal court would grant a stay..." Read the whole thing for yourself.
And rush to kill Terri? Michael spent 15 years trying to pull the plug. It only feels like a rush to you because you were only made aware of the situation a few months ago!

Mike said...

Actually, he seemingly forgot his wife wanted to die until after he won the million dollar malpractice lawsuit...7 years after her accident.
Speaking from personal experience, I was there when we decided to pull the plug on my father-in-law so I kind of know what it's like to be there. He was on a respirator. This was not the same thing. We can argue about laws and courts, but something isn't right about denying a crippled person food and water to kill them. She wasn't on a machine. Braindead people can't breath. Their kidneys don't function. Their hearts don't beat. She was breathing and functioning on her own. She just couldn't feed herself. Big difference. You can't say courts have a right to overrule an unjust law and then hide behind the law in the face of cruelty.

Scott said...

I never said courts have a right to overrule unjust laws. They have a right to overrule unconstitutional laws. Unfortunately, there's sometimes a big difference.

Mike said...

And how was the law Congress passed unconstitutional? On what grounds did Greer refuse to allow it?

Scott said...

That was wasn't overruled. Greer never saw it. It went to an appeals court. Read the decision - I posted the link at 1:52. Basically, the law Congress passed only allowed the Schindlers the right to sue on behalf of Terri. It did not specify the reinsertion of the feeding tube. The appeals court took this into account and decided against overturning the lower court (Greer). Read the decision, and read the bill itself, if you want.