Monday, March 21, 2005

To Michael Totten Regarding Terri Schiavo

I'm about to use a writer I admire a lot as a symbol of something I consider pretty bad. On the offhand chance he ever discovers this blog, I hope he doesn't take it personally.

You see the problem isn't with him, or his values, or his morals. It's with his facts. And for some stubborn reason when it comes to the Terri Schiavo case the main people in favor of killing her want facts supressed, and for the life of me I can't understand why this is allowed without serious inquiry by a fairly large number of people I have no reason to believe intend anything untoward.

But facts are stubborn things. And I'm a stubborn man. So let's apply some of this stubborness to the recent post on the topic of Terri Schiavio from Michael Totten. In fact, I'll write this directly to Michael.

Let me get directly to the points where I disagree with you Michael, because I find them symbolic of a large segment of the public who retreat into safe cliches rather than confront some very uncomfortable truths about this case.

You state:

[H]ere’s a quick summary for those who are out of the loop: She’s been in some sort of vegetative state for fifteen years, her husband has fought to take her off life-support, and her parents have fought to keep her on it.
No Michael. That's not a "summary." It's a falsehood. She might be "vegetative" by legal ruling, but not in the sense 90 percent of us would use the term to mean. And, more to the point, she is not on any "life support" unless being allowed food and water is now to be considered the same as an artificial respirator.

A challenge to you Michael. Deprive yourself of only those things Terri Schiavo is being denied by court order, and let us know how well you do in a couple of weeks.

What's more, I'm sorry Michael, but you're making a terrific case for representing the very worst of the "non-partisan" politcal affiliation. Much of your argument amounts to digust that the two parties are at odds over this. And in the process you completely lose the value of a real, living, breathing, human life in your calculation. The lens of your political analysis appears as cold and calculating as that of any party apparatchik. Reactionary perhaps, but just as cold. And I've read you long enough to realize this isn't even how you think in general, so why on earth go there now?

You criticize "pull the plug." Michael, there is no "plug" in this case. It's food and water. That's the same "plug" we all have.

The difference here is that she relies on others to provide it. She's in the power of others. Is their decision sufficient reason to deny her food an water? Think seriously about this Michael. Take the Republicans and Democrats out of it. Don't think about elections. There's a real person who is really dying by court order who needs only food and water to live. On what basis should that be denied?

It is my contention that you don't need to get very deep into the facts of this case to become outraged with the rulings and outcome. But it is also my contention that the vast majority of people in favor of Terri's death are, intentionally or not, depriving themselves of fact and reatreating into safe assumption. Here are some facts for those of you in that camp.

And if you get tired of that come back and say so. It's the tip of the iceberg. I can give you plenty more if you're unpersuaded. Just be prepared to let the rest of us know what is sufficient basis to you for not killing a disabled person. That's a side of this debate going strangely silent as the rhetoric shifts all around.

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