Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Schiavo Affair


As a knee-jerk liberal, I of course think Schiavo should be killed, preferably by pulling a plastic bag with a poisonous spider in it over her face. Her parents should have to do it with their shaking, grief-stricken hands, and the rights to watch this poor woman choke her last breath should be sold on Pay-Per-View, with the money taxed heavily distributed to everyone who hates America to spend on solar panels and tall, obtusely named designer coffee. At least, people could reasonably infer that from my opposition to this week's proceedings.

I am furious at the language that is being used by the conservative machine to describe this and many other issues. When mainstream conservative politicians use the phrase "culture of life" in their televised commentary, it makes me shake with impotent fury. Who wants to oppose a "culture of life?" Its usage paints its enemies as a bunch of scythe-swinging liberal reapers who want nothing more than to hit the highways with a pack of jackals and trim the weak from America's midst. Nobody with half a brain is going to stand up and say that they oppose a "culture of life," just like nobody with any soul is actually "PRO-abortion." I sincerely doubt that choosing to remove a feeding tube or abort a fetus will ever be considered somebody's favorite decision.

Bill Frist and other conservative politicians have stood in front of television cameras all week and said that this emergency vote was "not political." This is patent huck-fuckery in its finest form. When a politician uses the power of his vote to achieve something: it's political. When he holds a press conference about an issue, it's political. Simple as that.

I don't know if Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die or not. I don't know her or her family or her husband. I wasn't there when she talked to her husband about this, and I have no idea how well her fmaily respected her wishes when she had her faculties about her. I know that some conservative members of the blogosphere have commented that "not all husbands are the best husbands in the world." This is true, but who hasn't known parents to treat their adult children as if they don't know what they are doing?

The reason I want Terri to be allowed to die is purely political: I don't want this to be an arrow in the quiver of the religious right. As a court case, this sets an ugly precedent for America. It says that Americans can make their own private choices unless the dominant political party can score serious points off of their involvement. It says that the right to life and death can be overturned by the Federal courts, and that the conversations between a husband and wife are not valid when there's and agenda to push. But that's the politics talking, and politicians have skillfully framed this issue so that if you disagree politically, you hate families and want to kill Terri Schiavo.

It's very important to be clear that I am speaking in the abstract here. I don't know the people at the heart of this thing at all. I have no idea what is right in this situation, at this moment, for this family. I come from relative comfort with a loving family and a pretty huge sense of hope, and I don't honestly judge any spouse or family member in this case one way or the other right now. Love and grief are massive, powerful creatures, and when the stakes get this high, those massive animals naturally stampede.

In the abstract, the decision is clear-cut--this case sets an ugly precedent. When you look at it with the heart, it's pretty muddy. One truth is really clear here, though: this case has gotten political as all hell, and once the politics come in, the real, suffering people get blocked out. People say that liberals are cynical, and that may be true--but when you see politics highjacking suffering for further political gain, it's hard not to be cynical.

I'm going to close with a cartoon from the consistently amazing Get Your War On...



At 11:32 PM, Blogger Nat said...


i see you are from richmond, or at least you mention it frequently. i live there myself, and paint shit in her alleys. come see.


At 11:50 PM, Blogger Sir Bubba Thumper said...

Thanks for the clear insights and good, strong writing... keep it up.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger aka_Meritt said...

I can't believe how incredibly misinformed you are.

Funny that for the first 7 years of Terri's life after the heart attack he insisted she wanted to be kept alive, rehabilitated. After that he met another woman, fell in love and into her bed. They moved into together. Suddenly he 'remembers' a conversation he had with his 'wife' that she didn't want to be kept alive.

2 kids later with this woman and the money running out he decides yep, this is what she wanted. Kill her off.

So there is the background in a tiny nutshell (oh so much more, but halo cuts me off at 1000 characters).

Bottom Line: Whether or not she should be kept alive is debatable. However: ****Starving**** her to death is what is wrong. Film footage and nurses, family, etc. all agree she can feel, hear, see. Just not communicate. Starving her for 2 weeks when she feels every second of it is inhumane.

At LEAST give her massive dose of morphine and do it quick and painless. Starving anyone is wrong for any reason.

At 7:26 PM, Blogger Listmaker said...

Meritt, what part of this post did you not understand? Jeff wrote, "It's very important to be clear that I am speaking in the abstract here. I don't know the people at the heart of this thing at all. I have no idea what is right in this situation, at this moment, for this family."

Of course, this is all political grandstanding and from what I've read many of Republicans aren't so pleased with what is going on here. I find it very interesting at how far the Republicans are straying in recent years from the idea of "Keep the federal gov't off of our back."

But you do bring up a good point at the end of your comment. The fact that we don't have legalized euthanasia is a real problem in this country and leads to this sort of crazy situation.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Chris Larry said...

Actually what we need is living wills, even if they are as simple as checking choice boxes for the ultra lazy. Living Wills would keep the lawyers, politicians and judges in check. This case would be also so much easier to deal with if there was a record of her wishes.

Merit: My guess that if the husband had filed for divorce so he could move on and have a fulfilling life, you'd be anti that to. I think Dan and the Paranoid Android have good points about govt involvement in families and the crazyness that the right controls and manipulates messages.

Does merit have a blog maybe I should start bashing her.....

Chris Larry

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Use of the word "starving" is a bit disingenuous, as it implies extreme physical suffering on her part.

At this point in a hospice situation, she should have been given morphine and anti-anxiety medication to manage her pain. Suppositories if she's running a fever. You could still call the process "starving", but I would argue on the "brutal" part when such efforts are made to keep the patient comfortable. Ethically or morally brutal? Then you may have a different case.

I just wonder if some misconceptions about the hospice experience are leading to misplaced outrage and muddling of two issues -- end of life/euthanasia options and healthcare patient & surrogate rights.


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