Tuesday, March 22, 2005

We are all Terri Schiavo

Just in case you need some perspective on the Terri Schiavo case, Noel at Sharp Knife, is happy to provide. (Hat tip: What Attitude Problem)

If Terry Schiavo had only starred in "Superwoman", we'd find a way not to kill her.

If she were a corporation, we'd indict the Chief Financial Officer--her HINO (husband-in-name-only).

If she were a killer, she'd be protected under the supreme court's ban on executing the retarded.

If she were a terrorist, Teddy Kennedy would be making blistering speeches on the Senate floor condemning her torture-by-starvation.

If she were a teen-aged murderer, she'd be spared execution under the 'Cruel & Unusual' clause.

If she were Scott Peterson, she'd get an automatic appeal...and 20 more years of life.

If she were a beached dolphin, we'd demand not just her feeding, but that heroic measures be taken.

If she were in Guantanamo, we'd see to it that she had appropriate meals and medical care.

If she were on another Death Row, her parents and her priest would be allowed visitation.

. . .

And if we hadn't been desensitized by three decades of the Death Culture . . .

would we even ask "If"?

Though we often refer to modern society as a "culture of death," never has death been less present than it is today. We no longer routinely face death. Death occurs in hospitals and nursing homes where the elderly and infirm are hidden away from society. Because we do not regularly bear witness to the ravages of disease and decay upon our bodies, I might suggest that on the whole we Americans are ill-equipped to face it when it comes.

For this reason, opinions on the Terri Schiavo case do not seem to follow the usual conservative/liberal political opinions (except perhaps in Congress where pandering to one's perceived constituencies is part of the job description). Friends who self-identify as liberal/left have also lined up in support of Terri Schiavo's parents. Friends who lean rightward are also insistent that she be "let go."

Because deep down we fear crippling infirmity, . . . because we are not equipped to deal with it, . . . because we look at Terri Schiavo and recognize that "there but for the grace of God go I," we wish to "end her suffering." Because we would never want to live like that, we believe it's best that no one else has to live like that either.

Because we have accepted the ideal of "quality of life," and have drawn our own arbitrary lines marking the point at which quality of life ends, we are entirely willing to draw that line for others as well.

The reason so many people support ending Terri Schiavo's life is because we are all potential Terri Schiavos, and it scares the crap out of us.


At 8:55 AM, Blogger Mary Eileen said...

Exactly right. And yes, we never should have bought into the "quality of life" business, nor the "right" to die. Yes, we'll all die, but do we have some sort of constitutional right to die in a manner of our choosing? I don't think so.

The "right to die" leads almost immediately to the "duty to die", and that's what we have here. Terri is inconvenient, she makes people uncomfortable (it's hard to watch those videos, the first time you see them), and she just isn't up to our standard for "quality of life". So, she should die, according to Michael Schiavo, Felos, and Greer.


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