3.20.2005

Full Spectrum Hypocrisy

Recently I've taken notice of the Schiavo case in Florida. Terri Schiavo became brain-dead fifteen years ago. Since then, there has been a bitter legal struggle between the woman's husband who claims that she would not have wanted to be kept alive artificially and her Catholic parents who want her to stay on life support. Doctors say that her entire neo-cortex shows no activity, she is not capable of thought or emotion and that this is not ever going to change.

Recently, the U.S. Congress has created a special Congressional committee to deal with this single case and sub-poenaed Terri herself(?), her family and all of her doctors in order to try to prevent the court-ordered removal of her feeding tube. This subpoena, as I understand it, was then struck down by the courts, and now congress is working on a new bill. In the past, Florida Governor Jeb Bush created a special state law, that was actually called "Terri's Law," just for her.

While I'm not taking a stand on whether or not her feeding tube should be removed, it seems to me odd that the members of congress, who regularily rush through long complicated bills without having the time to even read the whole thing, should be taking this kind of time to get involved in the situation of a single person, who is by all medical evidence, not really even a person at all.

Currently, congress is working on a comprise bill with the senate in order to intervene again. Protestors are gathering in greater numbers outside of Terri's hospital room everyday. Meanwhile, between seventeen and nineteen thousand, non-brain-dead civilians have died in Iraq. For the most part, the Christian right sees this as an unfortunate side-effect of a just war.

On the otherside of the political spectrum, we have pro-choice peaceniks who think war should never ever be an option because of the the unjustified loss of innocent lives. Everyday there are more and more protests of the Iraq war, while I personally don't think the US should have taken action in the way it did at the time that it did, I'm not exactly sure what these protestors are proposing now. Are they suggesting that the US army should just leave Iraq right now? How would that help anyone. These people, who believe that war is never an option, even if it improves the lives of millions in the long-run, are the same people who believe that every woman should have the option of killing her unborn child. Does this make sense?

Although perhaps there are situations in which it is the best option, abortion is disturbing and disgusting now matter how you look at it. Personally, I feel that abortion is the issue where the left's moral high-ground is most questionable, and yet it seems to be the one issue where the left sticks to its guns most consistently. Sure, the democrats are willing to go to war and cut taxes to sway voters, but they won't even consider that maybe abortion is a bad thing.

These are extremely complicated moral issues with good arguments on both sides. I am not taking a position here on when war or abortion is justified, but I would like to point out that people on both sides of both issues have lost all semblance of perspective or reason.

From a rational perspective, it seems to me that if you are "pro-life" you ought to be opposed to war and the death penalty and if you are "pro-choice" you have to admit that sometimes going to war is the best choice, even if it is a tragic one. I know that things are much more complicated then this and that it is possible, with the right assumptions, to develop logically consistent arguments in favour of almost any set of believes, but I don't think most of the people who hold these positions have even considered whether or not they are tenable.

My point is this: Everybody take a step back from your emotional, fanatical positions and try to look at things rationally. Try to to examine whether your personal set of positions and believes are internally consistent before you run-off at the mouth and start screaming and wailing and demonizing people left, right and center.

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BONUS SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE -- ONE FREE IN EVERY BOX!

While this post was originally intended to make a point about people on both sides being hypocritical, I was shocked and disturbed to read just how hypocritical Bush is on this issue. He has forgotten to mention, while flying home from vacation to "Save Terri Schiavo" that he signed a law while he was Governor of Texas allowing hospitals to unplug brain-dead patients with no hope of recovery after ten days IF NO ONE COULD PAY THEIR BILLS (not the fifteen years that Terri has had) and his cuts to medicaid are ensuring that this is often the case. The MSNBC article that I read about a current case conveniently forgot to mention that Bush was governor at the time that the bill was passed, despite it's obvious relevance. Here is a well-reasoned blog-post about the issue. Notice Tom DeLay calling this "medical terrorism" which reminds me of the zombie terrorism from last week.

In my above discussion of the spectrum, I must admit, I forgot to mention a third group who have no such logical inconsistencies within their position. That is the clever neo-cons who don't believe in anything except for the systematic dismantling of all governments everywhere and the eventual enslavement of the population by the ultra-rich. It is interesting to notice how they take the moral high-ground on any cause -- abortion, assisted suicide, family-friendly media, gay marraige -- that won't cost them a penny or require them to hinder businesses. This way, they can talk the talk without ever walking the walk and stay in power without anyone catching on to the fact that they are soulless demons who have consistently lied about everything.

3 Comments:

Blogger deadpan said...

Awesome post. I actually cited you in a discussion I had this morning. You and the Globe & Mail were my primary source material (besides my own opinions).

Group F likes your blog. I hope you don't mind random law schoolers learning your opinion of things like Pooh's Heffalump Movie.

8:31 p.m.  
Blogger naomi said...

This reminds me of the Robert Latimer case, though the circumstances are slightly different. It's hard to be rational and consistent i guess when you just listen to the voice of Terry's mother-Catholic or not. i was watching her plea on TV and i realized that even though certain groups have aligned themselves with her request, what she wants is so beyond the debate of pro-life vs. pro-choice-she just wants her daughter back, however impossible that may be. i can only imagine how devastating and raw the emotions are-one's child is in limbo-and it's painful to watch that being exploited. Everyone would probably get along a lot better if we'd could own up to the times when we get stuck instead of yelling to cover up our uncertainty.

12:57 p.m.  
Blogger me said...

Whenever the question of life and our own power to take it away comes up, it makes me really uncomfortable. I’ve always hesitated to say, for instance, that I’m “pro-life”, at times I think maybe I’m “pro-choice”. But it feels like a lie when I say that.

The “pro-life” stance implies a judgement on those who don’t agree with me. It implies a lack of sympathy for what really goes on in someone’s life when death becomes the most viable option. I think those who know me understand that I have my own views and a particular foundation for living my own life without imposing my views on them. People like to condemn when they’re in no position to do so. Sometimes I wonder whether this makes me a fence-sitter or a non-judgemental person. I’m fully aware that there is always choice, whether laws dictate that or not. Laws will just make it easier or harder to follow through.

On the topic of euthanasia/assisted suicide, I choose life. But life that actually exists. I used to be more idealistic---where there is life, there is hope. I think that I still do believe in miracles, and I think I would hope beyond rationality when faced with the need to decide whether someone I love dies or lives. Despite this, I can’t shake the thought that we have gone too far in the quest for a longer life---that we have lost sight of when death (or God’s will, if you want to call it that) has already made its claim. Is it a lack of faith or a recognition of human limitation? It just might be the case that we’re fighting for death masquerading as life.

Should I be placed in Sciavo’s parents’ situation, I would fight to keep my daughter alive. But I would question my motives. What would I be keeping alive exactly? Her body that’s been tossed around and has been used as a springboard for political strategy? – insert tube, take it out, insert tube, take it out – oh goody, now we’ve got a great topic for political debate! Behold the moral pulse of a nation!

I would want to do all I can to keep someone I love with me. It sounds oh-so-altruistic. But am I merely fighting to remain guilt-free, so that I can sleep at night knowing that I’ve done my best? So that I can say that I didn’t kill her and that I’ve done all I could so that I will not be the one who says, “Let her die”? I can’t stand to see her die. But if that’s the case, then I’m being selfish. It’s now about me. I fear my own guilt. I fear impending loss. I’m protecting myself, not her. I can blame the doctors, her husband, the laws. But I would remain blameless. I would have fought for what I want.

Even as I type this, a million pin-prick thoughts assault my brain and demand examination. Do I want laws to protect life or the ability to choose? When the ability to choose includes the ability to choose whose life should be saved, a criteria to establish qualities of “life” and their values would be needed and it’s a whole other ball game. A mother’s life or a fetus’s life? Punish a mother by making her bear life? Life to hurt life?... AAARRRGH!!

Thanks Von Mustard, I will now drown in my own apocalyptic whirlpool.

12:07 p.m.  

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