Thursday, June 16, 2005

Culture of Reality

     Sometimes the fact are stranger than fiction. Sometimes the facts are just the way things are. Luckily today we have another option - where opinion carries more weight than facts. We've seen this dynamic time and time again.
Cocaine was prohibited in the first part of the 20th century. Newspapers used terms like "Negro Cocaine Fiends" and "Cocainized Niggers" to drive up sales, causing a nationwide panic about the rape of white women by black men, high on cocaine. Many police forces changed from a .32 caliber to a .38 caliber pistol because the smaller gun was supposedly unable to kill black men when they were high on cocaine. src: Wikipedia
1937 saw the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. Harry J. Anslinger (Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner) testified in hearings on the subject that the hemp plant needed to be banned because it had a violent "effect on the degenerate races". This specifically referred to Mexican immigrants

The Christianist argument that Evolution is only a theory with no more to back it up than the bible does is a third case, as is the 17th century church argument that Earth is the center of the Universe (not to mention that "geometry is the devil").
     However, the one thing that these cases of moral panic have in common is that they all rested near the boundaries of scientific knowledge. At the very least, these things are not readily observable. Evolution usually takes place over thousands and millions of years, and if you've never met a Mexican, who's to say marijuana doesn't have a violent effect? Of course, in all this anti-intellectual fervor, Bob & Mary Schindler, Terri Schiavo's parents have decided to get in on the action.
     I honestly did not expect to write about the results of Terri's autopsy. Even though the autopsy revealed that Terri was, in fact, brain dead by any definition of the word, even though her remaining bran mass weighed less than half of what a normal brain weighs, even though the part of her brain that sees was totally atrophied, I would have abstained. Even though Jeb did not apologize for creating such a huge furor, even though Bill Frist hasn't been impeached for his "expert testimony" that Terri responded to visual stimulation, even though nobody has recanted the slander against Michael Schiavo that he abused his wife, I was going to drop the issue. But now the headlines scream, "Schiavo's parents not swayed by autopsy results"! Of course, that's the AP title. On, the link to the story from the homepage reads, "Schiavo Kin: Autopsy Wrong". So now there is a conspiracy to kill Terri, not just from her widowed husband who wanted to marry another woman and make money from suing doctors, not just from the judges who happened to be assigned the case, not just Terri's doctors themselves, but the medical examiner is in on the conspiracy too?
     Look, I get that Terri's parents cracked a long time ago. They're babbling nonsense to whoever will listen. That's fine - they need help. But Fox News (sic) should not validate their crazy, wild-eyed ideas that despite the fact that the part of her brain that operated her eyes no longer existed, the Schindlers insist that Terri interacted with them and followed balloons around the room with her eyes. Why this hatred of science and facts and knowledge? The findings that Terri was, indeed, dead doesn't piss off the church. It just pisses off the people who wanted to make Terri into a political statement. And of course her parents, who have been divorced from reality since the early 90's. If you were to put Terri through any series of tests to determine A) if she were totally brain dead and B) if her husband had more right to speak for her than her parents, you would come to the same conclusion. Why? Because this woman has been overanalyzed more than anyone in the history of overanalysis, with the possible future exceptions of Jennifer Wilbanks and Natalee Holloway. (Amazing that these women have their own encyclopedia entries already) Every medical and legal test has been conducted, and except for the ones purchased for the sole purpose of disseminating false information, all have come back with the same conclusion. Stop attacking people who know what they're talking about. Is this what America has come to? In the age of Law and Order and CSI, everybody thinks they are qualified lawyers and judges and doctors and medical examiners. People, TV is great and all, but back in reality, these people know what they're talking about.


Mike said...

I wish we could move past Terri Schiavo. But the main stream media has to parade this story around certifying she was brain dead. What's funny is how the democrats, who didn't want to touch the issue with a ten foot pole while she was dying, now are gloating about how they knew she was braindead all along. Who cares. It's over. Let's not make a political issue out of it. Any politician who uses this for political gain is wrong.

scorcho said...

The Democrats wouldn't touch the issue when she was dying because they respected the laws that allow a person to pull the plug (or have the plug pulled, I should say) when they are in a vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

If you'd like the point the finger, have a look-see at the Republicans who completely crossed that magical federal/state line in an attempt to get involved in matters respected by state legislation.

sideshow bob said...

Memo to Bill Frist:

Read the last couple lines of Mike's comment. Learn it. Live it.

Mike said...

The democrats didn't touch the issue because they don't have the moral conviction to take a stand on issues of morality. They couldn't figure out how to score political points so they figured they would wait to see how the Republicans handled it and do the opposite.

And I stand by my comment: Any politician who uses this for political gain is wrong. Republicans included. I would also like to add that anyone gloating over the autopsy report and rubbing it in the face of christians is wrong as well, Scott.

It's over. Let's move on.

sideshow bob said...

I think I missed the part where Scott was rubbing the autopsy in the faces of Christians. He even went so far as to specifically say that it "didn't piss off the church", but rather the people who wanted to make this into a political issue.

And it's trigonometry that's the devil. That stuff is evil!

Chirac said...

Mike, were you the kid who took his ball home when he was losing the game? Scorcho's right - the Republicans made a political issue out of personal tragedy. Now you think you have the right or the moral authority to tell other people to stop talking about it?
Let's review the timeline, shall we?
March: Repubs call Michael Schiavo and Florida judges the devil
April: Repubs back off and say the whole issue is about hypocrisy and anyway the judges are running amuck
June: Mike decides Terri was a bona fide political concern that the Democrats dropped the ball on. God damn it, if they only had some testicles, they'd all be Republicans and Terri would be alive, doing a little dance. Anyway, why don't those pesky know-it-alls shut the hell up, anyway? Obviously it's unpatriotic to talk about it if we were caught in bald-faced pandering to the lowest common denominator. Shut up! Shut up! Nanananana I'm not listening, you stupid liberal traitors to the son of God, George Bush!

Mike said...

The whole underlying theme to Scott's post is that people of faith should shut up and yield to the opinions of the "experts". Some experts wanted to offer a second opinion, but Michael Schiavo didn't want that. So I guess we can assume from that that Democrats only want to listen to opinions that back their own twisted moral values.

What sickens me is how the democrats and mainstream media are using the autopsy report to say they were right. All they are doing is trying to score political points. I'm just saying let's let Terri rest in peace.

Ben said...

Hey, let's not forget that there were plenty of Dems who thought she should continue to get life support, and plenty of Republicans who didn't. I'll grant that the Repubs were the main movers in trying to legislate the whole affair, but that didn't stop some Dems froma greeing. The split almost seemed to be a right angle from normal partisan lines.

It's always a shame when individual tragedies get played up for political points. Any poltician, not matter which side of the aisle they sit on, should be ashamed to do such.

canis lupus said...

And the sad part (and stark reality)is that all this incessant whining and bitchery from both sides will not bring back Ms. Schiavo from the dead. I know, it is hard to believe ... but there, the cycle of life.

BTW, in view of the constant wah-wah-wahing about the democrats this and the liberal media that ... allow me to quote a sticker I saw on an SUV in (of all places) Florida: "the media is as liberal as the conservatives that own them."

So there.

Sylvana said...

Ditto to Chirac's comment. Republican's don't have a problem dragging things out forever as long as they feel that they are on top, but once they are shown to not know what the hell they are talking about they suddenly start the old "It's old news. Why can't you just let it go? Democrats were doing it too." routine.