Schiavo Spin Doesn't Wash

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by little fauss, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. little fauss

    little fauss New Member

    As I seem to have touched a sore spot with a few individuals on this forum, and I'm obviously in their dog house, I figured I might as well dig myself down a little deeper, under the presumption that I have nothing to lose. So here goes...

    Why is it that liberals declare victory irregardless of the circumstances? How is it that they've so mastered the art of spin? Is it because they're inherently less tied to quaint notions such as objective truth? E.J. Dionne's latest article on the Schiavo case is exhibit one. This article was posted on this forum; it was, as one might expect from that fine example of journalistic excellence: even-handed, unbiased and intellectually honest (I'm being ironic).

    It would seem that the findings show, as near as doctors can tell, that Ms Schiavo was apparently not beaten to death nor strangled nor otherwise--as near as they can tell 14 years after the fact-- done in by her husband, but that she did not show any signs of an eating disorder as per his claims.

    Sounds like a draw to me.

    But people on this forum and in the MSM seem giddy about that news, smugly demanding apologies. Hmmm....

    Next, many seem exultant at the news that the autopsy revealed Ms Schiavo was blind and had a shrunken brain. What of it? There are millions of Americans with shrunken brains, some even argue that my brain has been shrunken by reading too much right-wing rhetoric, but would you euthanize me? (maybe you would!) There are some profoundly retarded people living in institutions all over America that have very few cognitive abilities, they just stare and must be fed and hydrated. Shall we euthanize them?

    I doubt that many on my side harbored illusions that Ms Schiavo had an undamaged brain, nor did we presume that she had 20/20 vision--we acknowledged she was profoundly impaired. I know that some--particularly her parents--hoped against all hope that she could regain more cognition with proper rehab, but that was by no means the linchpin of the arguments of those like myself, who argued against starving a woman to death who was not brain dead. Just seems so axiomatic to me: even if you're substantially impaired, unless you're literally brain dead, you have a right to food and water. You shouldn't be starved to death in a manner to which we wouldn't subject our sick animals. Because that's what happened, whitewash away if it makes you feel better.

    The fact is that no one will ever know what level of cognition--however primitive--she had, or whether, on some level, she wanted to live. But that decision was made for her by a court that accepted the flimsiest of evidence:


    MR. SCHIAVO: "Well, we were at this movie years ago, see, and Terri, she said, she said it just like this: 'I wouldn't want to live like that'."

    COURT: "So, Mr. Schiavo, did she set up a living will per the laws of this state documenting these intentions?"

    MR. SCHIAVO: "No."

    COURT: "Did she draft a durable power of attorney under the laws of the state of Florida to memorialize these heartfelt wishes?"

    MR. SCHIAVO: "No."

    COURT: "Did she write it on a napkin, or anything of any sort at any time whatsoever in her life?"

    MR. SCHIAVO: "No, not at all."

    COURT: "Well, I guess that settles it, it's obvious she wanted to be starved."

    What a monument to fine jurisprudence! Oliver Wendell Holmes would be proud. There now, folks, fire away and hate me. And while you're at it, have a nice weekend. Do you remember when Apu, the character on the Simpsons said to Homer, after he'd belittled his religion: "I spit on your ancestors...and, have a nice day." Classic.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2005
  2. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Well, if the Schiavo spin doesn't wash, does it at least rinse?
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Doesn't Florida law call for the spouse to make these decisions when advanced directives are not in place? If so, doesn't that make the post by "little faus" irrelevant?
  4. Tom57

    Tom57 Member

    Yikes. Talk about spin. You invoke the right wing tactic of sort of changing the argument in the face of reality – kind of like Bush’s shrug when confronted with the absence of WMD. We got rid of Saddam, and that’s a good thing, right? Never mind that the premise of war has been completely blown out of the water.

    The autopsy revealed EXACTLY what her husband and others (on the left, mostly) were arguing: that her existence was just that, existence and nothing else. You’re right that starvation is not the right way to do it. Unfortunately, we are not able to do for ourselves what we do for our “sick animals.” That is, we can’t give them a shot to help them on their way to God.

    In the end, you’d like to kind of forget about the evidence and say “no one will ever know what level of cognition…” Well yes, I suppose in some absolute sense that’s true, but it’s kind of an argument based on reductionism, isn’t it? If the scientific evidence had shown her awake, feeling and aware, you’d be jumping up and down for the triumph of science as a tool. Now you’d like to wave your hands and just go back to reductionism.

    This reminds me of the whole intelligent design nonsense. Proponents of such attack science for the very qualities that every scientist accepts: that no theory is airtight and all theories are subject to anomalies, and that every theory is an evolution of stops and starts, revisions and improvements. This doesn’t invalidate science. It is the scientific process. People who attack science on that basis don’t understand the very thing they think they are tearing apart. Most laughable is that intelligent design fails every test as a scientific theory, but this is where the hand waving starts and philosophy and religion enter. One is science the other is philosophy/religion. They can both coexist – in separate spheres. Intelligent design does not replace evolution as a scientific theory. Evolution theory is not defective, and intelligent design is not science.
  5. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I think, little fauss, that there really isn't any "victory" for anyone in this tragic case.

    What I found more disturbing than anything was the Congressional attack on the judiciary. Judge Greer was threatened by Tom DeLay exactly because Judge Greer chose NOT to legislate from the Bench but to follow the law.

    We on the Left perceive DeLay's tactics as a clear attack on the independence of the judiciary, which is exactly equivalent to an attack on the rule of law.

    Judges are said to be "unaccountable". Well, insofar as the attacker means "unaccountable to the will of the majority", that is EXACTLY how the Framers INTENDED it to be. The Judiciary is accountable to the rule of law even where the law is umpopular.

    The kind of vicious, rabble rousing attack we are seeing from the religious right in Congress is not designed to reform the system; it is intended to end the judiciary as a co equal branch of government. It is nothing less tha an attack on the constitution as written.
  6. JoAnnP38

    JoAnnP38 Member

    I can't believe that right-wing zealots are still flailing at this dead beast. Even Jeb is making noise that he wants to reopen the case against Michael to exam the timeline so as to blame him for the death of Terri. I am so, so appalled at the apparent machinations of a party so intent on destroying our laws and more importantly -- the rule of law (thanks Nosborne.)

    My advice – get over it, get over yourselves and find another Falwell issue with which to embarrass yourselves.
  7. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    If there is any evidence of spousal abuse still extant, it's unlikely that this evidence wasn't available 15 years ago. This thing is a witch hunt for political purposes, a "scandal" behind which the REAL scandal, Tom DeLay's pattern of unethical behavior, can be hidden.
  8. little fauss

    little fauss New Member

    Re: Re: Schiavo Spin Doesn't Wash

    Congratulations, Ted, you win the prize, you got my double entendre first. I knew that you, of all people, would nail that one. ;)
  9. little fauss

    little fauss New Member

    Actually, no, I don't believe so.

    And my posts may be otherwise irrelevant or misguided or bearing the marks of derangement, but I do not believe that Florida law gives an erstwhile spouse carte blanche to have their ispo facto "ex" starved to death. That's what all the commotion was about, Rich! This was not a cut-and-dried legal matter. The system of jurisdprudence was entering a "Brave New World" here, if you get my drift.

    You know, some of us get a little touchy when women get starved without their consent.

    And please, spell my made-up handle right. It's "little fauss"; it's a reference to an obscure old Robert Redford, Lauren Hutton, Michael J. Pollard movie.
  10. little fauss

    little fauss New Member

    Re: Re: Schiavo Spin Doesn't Wash

    What did I spin? Did any on my side think that had her parents won out and had she been put into therapy, that she was going to jump out of bed and do the Hokey Pokey and compute Pi to 1,000 digits?

    We harbored no such illusions.

    Please, Tom, if you're going to going to respond to someone, respond to me, not to a straw man. I never though Ms Schiavo was anything less than a profoundly impaired woman, my argument was never about whether she was going to recover fully or marginally or at all.

    This is not post hoc rationalization.

    This is simply a matter of the sanctity of life. Is a woman, even one who's sadly impaired with only minimal cognition--but not brain dead!--deserving of life if she has left no evidence such as a Durable Power of Attorney that she would want to be "put down" if persistently vegetative? That's it. That's not spin. Tell me sir, who was it, other than her desperate parents, who was saying this woman would recover?

    Tom, you're ignoring or not understanding our whole point. You need to understand your opposition better. That's why these demands for apology are so absurd--they utterly miss the point. We do not think that Terri's life would have been of value only had she been capable of recovery. We think her life had value by dint of her status as a human being. And even impaired human beings have value. Again, draw for me the bright line between Ms Schiavo and a profoundly retarded individual with minimal or close to no cognition. Why exterminate the former but not the latter?

    Tom, as the speed of your descent gradually increases, you can continue insisting you're not on a slippery slope, but you'll have to shout louder, as you're getting out of earshot.
  11. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Me thinks that Jeb may be contemplating a run for the Senate (to be followed by a run for President).
  12. little fauss

    little fauss New Member

    Sorry, JoAnn, as I've said before, we tend to get a mite touchy when you go about starving people to death. Some of us are funny that way. And I happen to know a tad about the law--apparently you do not--and the law here was far from settled on the issue and was actually rather shaky from the side of Mr. Schiavo.

    I hope to goodness you never become "inconvenient".
  13. little fauss

    little fauss New Member

    Please! You know better, Osborne. Certain hysterical types on this forum might buy that one, but you know I'm not going to.

    As for winners and losers in this case, the clear winner was the notion that the impaired should be starved; the clear loser was the sanctity of life.

    Cite for me the all fours precedent and statutory law that Judge Greer faithfully observed. You know this was murky jurisprudential territory: that without a Durable Power of Attorney--really, the only thing that would apply here, as this was not a terminal case warranting a Living Will, least, not til they started starving her--and with a "spouse" of the most nominal nature conceivable, that this was not a matter of just plugging the law in, faithfully following precedent and staututes, and moving towards an inevitable result. There were issues--huge issues!--of custody and intent and evidence.

    Don't play these games with me, my friend. And I still consider you that--hope the feelings are mutual. And you still haven't answered my question as to whether we can collaborate on some scholarly writing. Why not? it doesn't have to have anything to do with politics. Come on, man, what do you say?
  14. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    Little fauss, it is not your postions that are wrong. It is your attitude that anyone that doesn't agree with you is evil, deceitful, unintelligent, etc. that is wrong and unappreciated.
  15. qvatlanta

    qvatlanta New Member

    I'd have to agree with that. There's not much point in debating when the other side immediately gets touchy and launches sweeping ad hominem attacks. Personally, I prefer to keep passionate attacks reserved for public figures (fair game) and ideological groups.
  16. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    I'd like to try to make one small point then one small suggestion.

    The point I'd make is this. As medical science continues to advance, issues such as these will continue to arise. They challenge individuals, communities, states that countries to examine their values (which also evolve) and to form policies and laws that will accurately reflect these values. If you are not directly involved in the medical professions you still have a large stake in this issue. You should be attending to these stories as they present themselves in the news and you should be in touch with your elected representatives, letting them know how you feel and asking (expecting) that their votes in congress reflect your values. If I might put this in a bit more blunt form,
    If you don't speak up, call, email your elected reps, then you lose your bitching rights . The voter turn-out rate in this country is shameful yet everyone complains about how things are done. Wake up, your voice counts. How many know the names, email addresses of their elected reps? I'd be willing to bet the answer is less than half. Wake up!

    My small suggestion is this. There are several very good DL programs in Medical Ethics (this is the subject that rules the subject of this discussion). If you feel passionately about this issue then maybe you should be thinking about this sort of degree program. Become an authority. Become a force.
  17. DaveHayden

    DaveHayden New Member

    Re: Re: Re: Schiavo Spin Doesn't Wash

    If some one has no chance at even "marginal recovery" and no conciousness as we know it what is the point? The law was followed, reviewed, and re-reviewed at multiple levels. While the whole situation is sad, perhaps the most difficult thing is at this point her parents are still tormented. Hopefully they will gain some peace.
  18. Mr. Engineer

    Mr. Engineer member

    I have no issues with the parents wanting more answers. As parents, that is their right. What I have a problem with is cheap politicians like Frist and Jethro Bush putting their big noses into the fray. They have no business even being involved. It is a matter for the family and perhaps the courts to decide.

    And Dubya - what about all of your rheortic about "states rights"? I guess it is a "states rights" issue to execute prisoners but when it comes to your religious beliefs, it becomes a federal issue. I wonder if Terry were a black or Asian woman if you felt differently?
  19. jerryclick

    jerryclick New Member

    When one gets through all the political and other rhetoric, it comes down to this: Terri Schiavo was brain dead, this is a clinically demonstrated fact. Her husband just wanted to move forward with his life, once he accepted the fact that he was a widower. Terri's parents probably realized deep down that their daughter was a vegetable, but they used many various legal arguments, some good, some specious, in multiple attempts to be able to bring her home. My wife has a potted Bonzai plant. She waters it, she talks to it, it moves its leaves toward the light, much as Terri Schiavo did. ALL TERRI'S PARENTS REALLY WANTED TO DO WAS TO BE ABLE TO BRING THEIR "PET" DAUGHTER HOME AND WATER HER Just as my wife does with the Bonzai plant. In my opinion, the real tragedy is that the whole affair turned into a political football and her parents were unable to bring her home and water her every day. It appears to me that a different judge could have set up something and still stayed within the guidelines of Florida law.
  20. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    Jerry - You may well be right in everthing you've said. Part of the problem, however, lies in your first sentence. Terry was brain dead. In such cases, you do not simply "Bring someone home." Persons such as Terry require life support. Who will pay for this? The parents? Their insurance company? The husbands insurance company? I do not wish to offend you but your statement is naive. 24 hour care, seven days a week for 10 years? 20 years? The cost would be astronomical. I do not believe that this was ever a viable option. Please believe that my above statements do not necessarily indicate that I endorse the outcome of this situation. There were no winners in this situation. As medical science continues to improve, these situations will continue to occur.

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