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A Man Needs A Fish Like A Woman Needs a Bicycle
Monday, March 21, 2005
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE SCHIAVO HYSTERIA: I was taking my occasional stroll over to TAIR for my daily dose of robust debate. I was immediately taken with a comment from LC Staci (no webpage link), who asked:

"but bottom line, how is keeping Terri alive and allowing her to recieve therapy infringing on Michael's rights? HOW??!!"

I don't know about his rights--but what about Ms. Schiavo's rights? If she had written down that she would want to die in the medical circumstances that she now finds herself--would folks who are currently demanding intervention be alright with her decision? I ask this question of all of those who favour intervention to stop her feeding tube being removed?

If you say, "no way, she doesn't have that right" then I could think that your point of view is consistent and I don't have a problem with what is after all, a point of view.

But if you hold that in that case (of having made her wishes to die known to others before this situation developed): "Yes, she should be allowed to die, since she wishes not to live a degraded life" then I am at a loss as to what distinction you are making in order to support your position to keep her alive now.

My point is this: I get the sense that a lot of this debate is motivated not so much by a desire to respect Terri Schiavo's rights, but by a desire to give Michael Schiavo his comeuppance (deserved or not). We do not know what Michael Schiavo's motivation is for sure. Even if the man was an evil son of a bitch who was everything his detractors said he was (and I don't get the sense that he is--rather, he is a human being struggling mightily with weighty issues, and trying to handle them with some dignity)--would this matter if Terri's wish was actually to have her life terminated in these circumstances? I can understand a natural reluctance to trust Michael Schiavo, but what if this is in fact what Terri Schiavo wanted?

One other observation: a good summary of the terri schiavo case can be found at wikipedia . It appears to suggest that her cerebral cortex is basically gone (which is what the state courts based their decisons on). The cerebral cortex is the seat of our higher function. It is what contains the elements of our personalities and what makes us basically "who we are." Would one want to be alive if that which makes us recognizably human is gone?
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WHY THE MEDIA IS ALL OVER THE SCHIAVO CASE: I just read Atrios today, on his puzzlement concerning the media's fascination with the Schiavo case:

"It also should be emphasized just how out of touch the media (specifically, the cable nets) is on this issue. They've been almost completely on one side of this."

It is not very hard to understand this at all. And it is not hard to understand the actions of politicians and the feelings of the majority of folks who think that Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die, and yet are still clearly fascinated by this whole "life and death/against the clock/moment of truth" spectacle. The answer is right there in the "life and death/against the clock/moment of truth" spectacle.

Once the plug (so to speak) had been pulled, Ms. Schiavo is "on the clock," a fact made abundantly clear in various comments from Republican officials (who now figure that time is of the essence. Where were they six weeks or a year ago?). We have "heroes" (Terri's parents, legislators both state and federal), we have "villians" (Michael Schiavo, the Hospice, various doctors, the Florida judiciary), the spectre of slowly looming Death, and most of all, we have a STORY ARC. We have THEATRE. That is a story we can sell. That is a story we want to buy. What more could one want in the marketplace of ideas?

Take One:
I can see the clock ticking down, we are behind by five, one last play, the hail mary pass, its going, going (slow mo-quick cut-player-crowd-slow mo-repeat-rinse-cycle) and its ....

Take Two:
We only have an hour to find the bomb that will blow all of us (and the little kiddies) to smithereens (59 minutes & 49 seconds later) ... Clock face ... 11 ... "Which wire?"... 10... "I can't tell" ... 9 ... 8 ... Which one? ... 7 ... 6 (cut to face dripping with sweat) ... 5 ... 4 ... (cut to concerned, equally perspiring, sidekick) ... 3 ... "Choose!!!!!" ... 2 ... 1 (snip) ...

We have a game and we have a genuine compression of time. This is the fuel for the SPECTACLE of it all.

Ahh, a heartfelt book-deal, with options, a screenplay, perhaps a Broadway success; and an Oscar for the title role... Do you think we can get Alan Rickman as Michael?
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