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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Don't Speak Ill of the Brain-Dead 

As any of our loyal subjects can tell you, and had better tell you if they know what's good for them, we are not the type to pat ourselves on the back -- but don't you think we have shown admirable restraint in refusing to mention Terri Schiavo in any but the most glancing fashion? Sure, we could've gassed on about the medical issues (which Majikthise has already covered in depth), the ethical issues (which Majikthise has already covered in depth), the legal issues (which Majikthise has already covered in depth), or the naked hypocrisy and opportunism of the Republican party (has anyone hit on this angle yet? Must investigate). But what could we tell you that you don't already know? The only salient fact of the case is this: Terry Schiavo has no higher brain functions, and with a skullful of goo where her cerebral cortex used to be, she is not about to sit up in bed and start doing the New York Times crossword puzzle in pen. The Lord done took Mrs. Schiavo lo these many years ago, and the various "extraordinary measures" undertaken at her parents' behest have never offered the slightest hope of keeping her alive in any meaningful sense; it's merely a matter of keeping the corpse presentable, much as Roy Rogers did when he stuffed Trigger and stuck him in the foyer. (Dale Evans, you will note, could have done the same with Roy when his time came, but as much as she enjoyed having him around the house, her good taste won out. She planted him instead.) Of course, even a cadaver can have powerful inspirational value, and we cannot help but wonder whether Tom DeLay and his cohorts might have developed their Schiavo strategy after screening El Cid, in which the recently-demised hero, dressed in full armor and strapped to a horse, leads the Spanish army to victory.

Now that that's off our chest we plan to resume our no-Schiavo policy starting immediately -- or almost immediately, since there is still a cheap yock or two to be had elsewhere. First we direct you to Blogenlust, where our BARBaric colleague John has noted the strong possibility that Ms. Schiavo will breathe her last on Good Friday, an event that would certainly trigger an avalanche of Terri Schiavo-Jesus kitsch. And the always reliable Zemblan patriot D.A. comes through with this:



UPDATE: Our distinguished colleage Avedon Carol informs us that the Harper's website has posted Garret Keizer's article from the February issue, "Life Everlasting: The Religious Right and the Right to Die":
But the alarms raised in America’s ongoing right-to-die debate have always been characterized by a curious selectivity. You will notice, for example, how the fear of playing God operates exclusively on one side of the medical playground. Thus to help a patient end his or her life “prematurely” is playing God, while extending it in ways and under conditions that no God lacking horns and a cloven hoof could ever have intended is the mandate of “our Judeo-Christian heritage” and the Hippocratic oath. Let someone like Dr. Thompson step out of bounds to honor the spirit of his patient’s advance directives, and we will be told that he is eroding respect for the medical profession. But in cases involving a medical professional who blatantly ignores such directives, we are reminded that doctors don’t always have time to review patient files while making difficult decisions. They’re not God, after all.

When former Attorney General John Ashcroft thrice challenged the Oregon Death with Dignity law, threatening to prosecute participating physicians under DEA regulations (a threat that now stands at the bench of the Supreme Court), nobody mentioned the dangerous course toward theocratic despotism—or rather some did mention it, though their voices were effectively drowned out by larger moral concerns, such as those occasioned by the sight of Janet Jackson’s breast or a gay groom’s boutonniere.

When the Vatican issued its 2004 statement against the removal of feeding tubes from vegetative patients, a development that has even conservative ethicists and devout Catholic physicians slapping their foreheads in disbelief, few commentators spoke about returning to a day, no farther back than the 1970s, when a dying patient who begged not to be intubated would have her wrists tied like those of a condemned witch so that she could not pull the instruments of salvation from her body. Instead we are told that time will be required “to reflect upon the ruling”—time that translates in concrete human terms to a slow and horrible death.
UPDATE II (courtesy of Zemblan patriot M.F.): Find the whole sordid mess revolting? Most Americans agree with you -- including the evangelicals:
More than two-thirds of people who describe themselves as evangelicals and conservatives disapprove of the intervention by Congress and President Bush in the case of the Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman at the center of a national debate.

A CBS News poll found that four of five people polled opposed federal intervention, with levels of disapproval among key groups supporting the GOP almost that high.

Bush's overall approval was at 43 percent, down from 49 percent last month.
Karl . . . ? KAA-RRRENNNNNN??

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