Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Schiavo Case: Madness on All Sides


This is a truly mind-boggling drama being played out in Pinellas Park, Florida.

The Miami Herald reports that Florida state law enforcement agents set out March 24 to forcibly take custody of Terri Schiavo for the purpose of reinserting her feeding tube, only to finally back off when Pinellas Park police vowed to uphold the judge's order.

This is getting downright scary on so many levels.

Meanwhile, Schiavo's parents now allege their daughter tried to say "I want to live" when the feeding tube was removed last weekend. According to AP, the parents claim in their written legal motion that Terri said " 'AHHHHH' and 'WAAAAAAA' when asked to repeat the phrase 'I want to live.' "

The absurdities of this case widen. On one side, there is the seemingly far-fetched claim that, many years ago, a twentysomething Terri Schiavo mused about whether she'd ever want to live hooked up to life support or a feeding tube. Equally far-fetched, it seems to us, is the notion that a verbal plea for life came from a severely brain-damaged woman whom the vast majority of neurologists say cannot think or feel.

Finally, parents Bob and Mary Schindler are now laying blame with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for not taking the law into his own hands and somehow kidnapping Terri Schiavo from her hospice. "He's put Terri through a week of hell and my family though a week of hell," Mr. Schindler told reporters. "I implore him to put a stop to this. He has to stop it. This is judicial homicide."

Regardless of where one stands on this whole sad affair, it seems exceedingly cruel to now blame Jeb. While we're no fan of Florida's governor, he is obviously a true believer on the side of the Schindlers and has done everything within the rule of law to aid their cause. Governors pledge to uphold laws, not break them.

There are serious issues and questions involved in the Schiavo debate, and reasonable, well-intentioned people can and do disagree. But the degree of incivility and demonization that the Schiavo controversy has inspired is, in a word, vile.

Proponents of the Schindlers refuse to believe it, but not every single judge in America is dedicated to the notion of murdering an innocent woman.

Even if we accept the notion that Michael Schiavo is a wicked, wicked man who has spent millions of dollars in legal fees and placed his life and new family at risk for the sole purpose of killing his wife (and we're not saying we do believe that) his motives are almost immaterial to whether Terri Schiavo is capable of cognition or why dozens of judges have determined validity to his claims about Terri Schiavo's prior wishes.

Similarly, we don't think U.S. District Judge James Whittimore, who was randomly assigned the case, deserved being vilified by the Religious Right as some Grim Reaper of the bench. Frankly, we feel sorry for each and every judge who has ever been assigned this case, considering the risks it exposes them to from zealots on both sides.

Nor do we think Dr. William Cheshire, who came forward to say he did not believe Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, deserved the skewering he received by liberal pundits who went so far as to attack the poor guy for pun-filled medical papers and even bad poetry he has written in the past. That is nothing more than character assassination.

This ... is ... crazy.


At 12:59 PM, Blogger OKPartisan said...

Well said, Chase.


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