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Monday, March 28, 2005

Pimpin' Terri 

Our distinguished colleague Susan Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla informs us that the Schindlers' List is up for sale. Sneer if you will, but after all the emotional distress Terri Schiavo's parents have endured (not to mention generated) in the past few weeks, can you really blame them for rolling her out on the sidewalk and putting her to work?
The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

"These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish . . . .

Executives of Response Unlimited declined to comment. Gary McCullough, director of the Christian Communication Network and a spokesman for Ms. Schiavo's parents, confirmed that Mr. Schindler had agreed to let Response Unlimited rent out the list as part of a deal for the firm to send an e-mail solicitation raising money on the family's behalf . . . .

Pamela Hennessy, an unpaid spokeswoman for the Schindlers, said she was initially appalled when she learned of the list's existence.

"It is possibly the most distasteful thing I have ever seen," Ms. Hennessy said. "Everybody is making a buck off of her."

Ms. Hennessy, who operates the Schindlers' Web site, www.terrisfight.org, said the family had not released any of the names or e-mail addresses gathered there. "Obviously these people are enterprising, and they are taking advantage of this very desperate father," she said . . . .

"I think it sounds a little unusual right now because of the situation where she is in the process of dying," said Richard Viguerie, another major conservative direct-mail operator. "If you came across this information six months or a year from now, I don't think you would give it too much thought."
No word yet on whether the Schindlers have received the inevitable call from Larry Flynt, or whether they plan to return it when it comes. Meanwhile, our learned colleague David Neiwert is wondering if the Schiavo case represents "a kind of tipping point in the Culture Wars":
It is one thing, of course, to point out that both our politicians and our media are being grossly irresponsible. What's equally important is to recognize the potentially horrific consequences of this.

Hateful propaganda is just the beginning, because it creates an army of True Believers -- who I previously described as "their oxyconned, Foxcized, Freeped-out, fanatic army of followers" -- who will not be as restrained, either in their words or their actions, as their leaders. The limits on awful behavior are already being pushed to extremes by people like Randall Terry and Bo Gritz [not to mention this charmer -- S.].

The vultures are already coming to roost. Hal Turner has been calling for the use of force to "save" Terri Schiavo, and killing anyone who interferes. And sure enough, someone has already been caught putting out a bounty on Michael Schiavo, while another man was arrested for stealing a gun in hopes he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo."

As John Cole has been pointing out, genuine conservatives should be as horrified by these events as liberals -- and at some point, must come to grips with the fresh monsters in our midst. All of us: citizens, politicians, the media.

It won't happen, though, until we recognize the current model of "balance" for what it is: an open invitation to the spread of lies and misinformation. And get back to the time-honored traditions of striving for the truth.
-- and Paul Krugman sounds a similar note here:
What we need - and we aren't seeing - is a firm stand by moderates against religious extremism. Some people ask, with justification, Where are the Democrats? But an even better question is, Where are the doctors fiercely defending their professional integrity? I think the American Medical Association disapproves of politicians who second-guess medical diagnoses based on video images - but the association's statement on the Schiavo case is so timid that it's hard to be sure.

The closest parallel I can think of to current American politics is Israel. There was a time, not that long ago, when moderate Israelis downplayed the rise of religious extremists. But no more: extremists have already killed one prime minister, and everyone realizes that Ariel Sharon is at risk.

America isn't yet a place where liberal politicians, and even conservatives who aren't sufficiently hard-line, fear assassination. But unless moderates take a stand against the growing power of domestic extremists, it can happen here.
Or, as our BARBaric colleague Paperwight puts it: what's the GOP to do when its franchise player demands to renegotiate his contract?

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