Monday, March 21, 2005

Countering Some Common Arguments Against Saving Terri Schiavo's Life

In discussing the Terri Schiavo case, I have mostly focused on trying to get the facts out, since MSM reporting has been atrociously incomplete, in some cases biased, and in general plain lazy.

But there is also the rhetorical angle to consider. I’ve noticed a few common arguments made – some directly, some implied – by those opposing the preservation of Terri Schiavo’s life. I thought I’d collect a few of them for examination.

First is the argument that the federal government has no role here; that this should be a private matter among the family. Big problem here. In this case the family is divided. Actually, they’re not terribly divided. There is one and only one family member who wants Terri killed – Michael Schiavo. Ask yourself this question: should guardians be granted the authority to decide whether their wards live or die? Also, since the right to life is a civil right recognized by our Constitution, upon which basis state sentences of capital punishment are routinely appealed to federal courts, why the exception here? Why are Terri’s federally protected civil rights less important than convicted murderers?

A variation of the first argument states that the will of the people of Florida is being trodden on due to federal intervention. This is simply false. The Florida legislature, not Judge Greer, is the best reflection of the will of the majority of Floridians. And the legislature passed a law to protect Terri which was signed by Governor Jeb Bush. A court decided it was unconstitutional. I will assert that the will of the people is far better represented by legislators who have to regularly return to the people to face re-election, than by a few judges. Our government is not designed as the rule of judges. It's the rule of the people. The judicial is our least representative branch of government, and therefore not useful as a barometer of the "will of the people."

Another argument is that “the religious right” is pushing this, because they’re trying to link it to abortion. This isn’t so much an argument as a bizarre scare tactic attempting to influence those afraid of the big bad religious-right and/or the pro-abortion crowd. Yet despite hearing this repeated many places, I have yet to see someone spell out this link. So let me do it for you. It is indeed correct that those who see the value of the lives of the unborn, also see the value of the lives of the severely disabled. Therefore it is no surprise to find pro-life advocates fired up about both issues. However I have personally been surprised by how consistently so much of the crowd who occasionally fancies themselves “pro-choice, but anti-abortion” is coming around to the “some lives are not worth living” point of view (there are of course notable exceptions, but I truly expected more). The slippery-slope of accepting abortion, leading to support of assisted suicide, leading to involuntary euthanasia of “unworthy lives” was predicted by many pro-life advocates decades ago. One side seems to be advancing farther and farther down a radical path, while the other remains consistent to its core convictions. Perhaps it’s not the “religious right” who are the radicalized ones in this case.

A more infuriating argument comes from a legal mindset that apparently believes Judge Greer’s “findings of fact” are the final word, and over-rule anything, including reality. This deference to one branch of our government – indeed to a single judge – has no role in the history of our form of government. Far more significant rulings have been proven laughably wrong on the facts by later discovery. It turns out Dred Scott really was a human being and not property. It turns out the tomato really is a fruit and not a vegetable. There’s really no way to refute this, because it’s a statement of faith in a system in defiance of objective reality. I would simply argue that the role of a citizen in our form of representative government allows one to disagree with any court, any time, provided one remains within the boundaries of the law. Judge Greer's findings of fact are, at best, incomplete.

Then there are the predictable “hypocrisy” accusations. Since they seem to have such prominence in certain sectors, I suppose they deserve some mention. And the mention is this: Life is more important than rhetorical consistency. If you disagree, you scare the hell out of me. If my life is ever on the line, I’m completely willing for every hypocrite, fornicator, fool, and fraud to come to my aid and save me. And speaking of hypocrisy, I find it rather hypocritical for anyone to accuse politician of scoring political points over this... and use that political basis as reason to oppose the actions attempting to save Terri Schiavo. Pot meet kettle. If you want politics out of this decision, practice that belief in your own rhetoric regarding this case, deciding right and wrong on the merits.


Blogger Russ2008 said...

Doug your agruments are weak. First, you say

"Also, since the right to life is a civil right recognized by our Constitution, upon which basis state sentences of capital punishment are routinely appealed to federal courts, why the exception here?"

which clearly dismisses the fact that this case has been appealed and appealed and appeadled for years! Have you not been reading the news! I am not going to cite it here but by the manor that you speak of the case I would assume you are aware that this case has been in and out of federal courts for years. Therefore, you have a very invalid arguement because this case has been through the courts ,maybe more than a death penalty case (which is totally irealevant because how does the "right to die when in a vegative state" have anything to do with the death penalty cases in a legal matter ,muchless a social and moral value), and this completely nulls any value that "since the right to life is a civil right recognized by our Constitution" had;in fact, it seems that you are needlessly citing the constitution to strengthen your agrument.

Anyways, okay so you weren't aware of the facts on the case. Maybe you didnt read that the case has been appealed over and over again. I'll give your that and since I don't have all day I'll get to what I believe is your most flawed agrument from the your so-called "rhetorical angle."

Okay wow, I just got past the rest of your post and it gets worst, but alas I have not the time to address it.

You say

The slippery-slope of accepting abortion, leading to support of assisted suicide, leading to involuntary euthanasia of “unworthy lives” was predicted by many pro-life advocates decades ago

Wow, well is I guess those pro-lifers can see the future. Are you saying that the Schavio case is assisted sucide!?1? In no way is it, you aren't even talking about the case here you are just spitting your "rhetorical angle" all over us. I would extremely disagree with anyone that would dare say "God wants Terri to live" . I am a firm believer in God and I am sick of the religous-right saying that God is on there side. And here are three reasons why God isn't on there side in this case and that they are just blaspheming Gods name by saying that the all-mighty or Jesus would want someone to be alive in a sustained vegatitive state for 10 years!

1)WWJD- well lets think this one out. Did Jesus have feeding tubes in his time. NO.( I admit this alone isn't a very stong point but it is clear that Man invented machines that could keep Terri alive, and that in no was God stepping in when Terri got a feeding tube stuck in here--man stepped in where God couldn't provide)

2. Are your religous? If so, would you want to live in an unnatural vegative state being sustatined only by machines and not by Gods will.

3. It is unnatural. God created only a ceratin amount of things for us, he didn't create feeding tubes.

I want to address your statement that "Then there are the predictable “hypocrisy” accusations." Here's an idea doug--why would the Republicans step in on Terri's case(sorry to say but people get the plug pulled all the time if they are in a condtion like Terris')for "pro-life" reasons. How many people have died in Iraq. How many people's human rights have been violated in US "enemy combatant" prisons? How many soldiers have lost their life? How many more will lose their lives? How many "enemy combants" are being held without being given rights(like, due process, right to know what your are being charged with, right to see a lawyer...etc.) that are guaranteed to me and you? These are just some examples of how our president,our government officals,and our republican controlled congress feel about life. Do these sound like pro-life policies too you? Is that not a hypocrisy”. I dare to say that their motives are anything but pro-life. Moreover, I would say that the are just trying to draw attention away from the problems with their polices --like a needless war that has drained 150 billion dollars from our cities, our schools, our safety, our law enforcement, our social programs...on and on and on-could this money be better spent?
Hypocrisy is a staple of the United States of American Republican Party in these days of war, endless government spending and huge government debt. They claim to want small government, then they cut taxes for the rich and increase spending in government-nothing small about the debt their racking up. Pro-life motives for Terri, what do you think?

Enough said. What do you got Doug?

7:31 PM  

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