Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Day Common Sense Took A Holiday

Here at the HoB, we've gone a bit heavy on the Terri Schiavo matter, but since I'm still personally recovering from a four-day cold, a dearth of sleep and reeling over the masturbatory futility of the Schindler family's legal attempts at circumventing the laws of the United States, I figgered it'd be worth cramming in as much of this saga as is humanly possible prior to Ms. Schiavo's impending death, which, frankly, will be coming soon.

Incidentally, many people who have been overtaken with the Constitutional issues embedded in this fiasco forget that at the heart of this matter is a woman who will soon die. Granted, she's been unable to communicate, think or even blink her eyelids in any deliberate way since she suffered heart failure due to a bulemia-caused chemical imbalance. In other words, she's pretty much gone already; but once her heart stops beating, that will be it. Despite right and wrong, the loss of human life, especially considering the bizarre spectacle in which this situation has culminated, is worth contemplating on its own.

The day's events came fast and furious: Jesse Jackson made his way to speak with Florida Governor Jeb Bush; he was invited to the hospice by the Schindlers but was denied a visit with Ms. Schiavo by her husband, Michael. The main reason, one would speculate, Michael Schiavo denied Jackson access to his wife was to limit his on-camera time. Jesse Jackson is clearly not concerned about Ms. Schiavo's well-being; his interest in this case is to express and instill his beliefs on the politicians and the proletariat at large. The only thing that he has not yet attempted is riding up to the entrance of the hospice on a large white horse named "Miracle." And frankly, I wouldn't put that tactic past him.

Meanwhile, Dubya's wife Laura weighed in on the whole situation while doing her Tupperware Party in Afghanistan. Her brilliancy shone through: "It's a life issue. The federal government has to be involved. It really does require the government to be involved."

With all due respect to Ms. Bush, it's a personal issue, not a life issue. I can scribble out a living will right now and have my next-door neighbor, Cherry (she's a stripper) bear witness to my living will; the government, subsequently, cannot and should not be involved in my choice to be allowed to expire should I recede into an incapacitated, unrecoverable state (judging by this forum, that's to be expected -- soon). No government official, elected or otherwise, has the right to tell me I cannot choose to be allowed to die should I become incapacitated without hope for recovery. Doesn't matter how many bibles or protesters shack up outside my apartment -- it ain't happening. In fact, a government official has more right to demand more new episodes of Melrose Place than dictate to me my right to die, should I so choose.

More participants weighed in today, as was expected; specifically, Ms. Schiavo's father Bob described Ms. Schiavo fighting to stay alive. She can't give a thumbs up, cannot say "hello" and hasn't been aware of her surroundings for 14 years, but, according to Mr. Schindler, "she's fighting to stay alive." Okee. I believe Mr. Schindler. Just because he's suggested a variety of judges are conspiring to kill his daughter, as is the hospice which is looking after her, not to mention her husband, doesn't mean his credibility is completely in the toilet. Not at all. In fact, if he offered, I'd buy the Brooklyn Bridge from him. Again.

Mr. Schindler's wife Mary spoke directly to Ms. Schiavo's husband and his companion this afternoon. "Michael and Jodi, you have your own children. Please, please give my child back to me."

The problem is, of course, that it's not Michael's or Jodi's or Ned's or Billy-Bob's place to "give" her daughter back to her. God, and Ms. Schiavo herself, made these decisions: the former provided heart failure, and Ms. Schiavo's bulemia (which went unnoticed by doctors) and her own personal feelings and choices were the remainder.

I'm not going to address the expected national reaction to Ms. Schiavo's death, which is near. Last weekend I remarked to friends that I was surprised no network (nor cable) news program/network hasn't entitled a segment or dedicated a rolling bar called "The Terri Schiavo Death-Watch." America has locked onto this issue and, while it largely focuses on the Constitutional rights of individuals, the states, the Fed and the Judicial Branch (on the state and Federal levels), it seems to me that this situation should be anything but focused (or intruding on the family struggles) of Ms. Schiavo, her husband, and her family.

I anticipate mass memorials throughout the locale the hospice is located (Pinellas Park, Florida) as well as Washington, where protesters began plying their beliefs. As I've indicated herein on more than one instance, I respect and admire the fact that this country fosters -- thrives on -- the freedom of speech. However, we must temper that freedom of speech and the notion itself of self-government with education and intelligence, lest our efforts fail. Thomas Jefferson, in an 1819 letter to John Adams, wrote:
"[If a] people [are] so demoralized and depraved as to be incapable
of exercising a wholesome control, their reformation must be taken up ab
incunabulis. Their minds [must] be informed by education what is right and what
wrong, [must] be encouraged in habits of virtue and deterred from those of vice
by the dread of punishments, proportioned indeed, but irremissible. In all
cases, [they must] follow truth as the only safe guide and eschew error which
bewilders us in one false consequence after another in endless succession. These
are the inculcations necessary to render the people a sure basis for the
structure of order and good government."

The same Thomas Jefferson also wrote the following:
"Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence
before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful
to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one."

Sometimes I wish those people clamoring for the reinsertion of Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube, and for our government to intervene on her behalf -- against her own wishes -- would spend more time reading and learning about our government and actually thinking and less time reading about and obeying the Bible. The freedom to think and the freedom of religion are not mutually exclusive; unfortunately, as Ms. Schiavo's destiny has played out across the country, it appears increasingly that they are. If nothing else, that is the next question we as a nation, as a people and a culture should be asking ourselves.

Between prayer vigils, of course.

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