Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bill O'Reilly

I'm tired, so here's an easy target: Bill "Falafelpants" O'Reilly on Terri Shiavo's case:

For those of you wondering why the Terri Schiavo story is
receiving massive attention, the answer lies deep within the culture war.
Terri's sad saga is rooted in the battle over who has the final say on human
life: the State or the Creator?

Actually, we're not advocating that the state kill people, we're advocating that they respect an individual's desire to die, despite what her clearly whackjob parents want to do with the husk of a body she's left on the earth.

There is a difference.And if Bill had more than the collective memory of a goldfish, he'd know that liberals have been trying to keep the state from killing people for some time now.

Followers of the secular philosophy believe that the government
has the authority to terminate life in the womb and in the hospital. In
Texas, for example, a 2003 law gives medical personnel the final say over
who receives life-sustaining care and who doesn't. A few weeks ago,
5-month-old Sun Hudson died just seconds after being removed from a hospital
ventilator in Houston. His mother desperately fought the hospital's
decision, but a Texas medical ethics committee ruled that the baby's lungs
were incapable of growing and the condition was irreversible. Baby Sun died
in his mother's arms.

Yep. This is true. But Sun Hudson didn't die because of any "secular philosophy," he died because then-Governor George W. Bush signed into law the "Texas Futile Care Law" which means medical professionals are perfectly within rights to disconnect life support, regardless of a family's wishes. Which is not to say that perhaps baby Sun's time had come- I'm no doctor- but it is more likely that the financial constraints outlined in the Texas Futile Care Law effectively eliminated any chance of his future care or recovery. He may have not been to sick to live- just too poor.

People who believe in the Christian philosophy generally reject
these manmade life-death decisions. To them, all life is sacred because it
comes from a higher power who has the ultimate say about who is born and
when they die. Thus, abortion is rejected, as is euthanasia. Christians and
others of like mind are convinced that man should not have the power to take
life unless it's a matter of self-defense.

I agree that most real Christians probably agree with Mr. O'Reilly's last statement, however, let's look at who he's really talking about. He's really trying to tell us that the Bush Brothers and their ilk are life cheerleaders, all about leaving life and death decisions to God's will. Which is laughable. Florida and Texas have the dubious distinction of leading this nation in capital punishment and lest we forget, Bush's war has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. So . . . what is he trying to say?

This battle between the two philosophies is never going to be
settled. Emotions run high on both sides, and Terri Schiavo was the fuse
that reignited the brawl. At least the Christian side is focused about it.
The Vatican released a statement that supported Mrs. Schiavo's life purely
on theological grounds. The secularists are all over the place. They cite
legalities, states rights, humane treatment, and on and on.

Yeah, those pesky laws about humane treatment. When will those silly secularists stop trying to make rules?

But what it comes down to is a belief system. Who should control
human life? The legal system or a higher power?

The resounding answer from the Bush administration is clear: Who should control human life? Everyone but the person living or carrying it!

For those of us who realize that secularism must be the basis
for common law in a democracy, the Schiavo case was especially frustrating.
Both sides demagogued the issue, and both sides are full of it. No third
party really knows what Terri Schiavo wanted. Her court-appointed guardians
in Florida freely testified that her husband, Michael, had ulterior motives
in the case. The guardians also testified that Terri's family grew to
despise Michael Schiavo, and much of the controversy was born from that

Ah, the "That Husband was Bad News" argument. Forget about the fact that he has repeatedly turned down millions to walk away from the case, forget about the fact that her parents are completely fucking nuts, forget about the fact that this has gone to trial what? More than a dozen times? and has always ruled in favor of the husband. Majikthise goes into greater detail on mythbusting this but I think I see why liberals are having such a hard time competing against right-wing rhetoric these days. We have a debilitating tendency to take facts under consideration, while the Right has never had that problem. Anything's possible when you ignore all medical evidence and legal processes!

In a clear-thinking world, the solution to this terrible case
would be obvious. Michael Schiavo would have dropped his litigation and
allowed Terri's family to care for her. Mr. Schiavo could have made a
statement that he tried to carry out his wife's wishes that she not be kept
alive by extraordinary means, but for the greater good he would grant her
family the right to keep her alive.

The greater good for whom? Those goggle-eyed morbid freaks you see in the videos, inches from her face, dressing her in little-girl nightgowns and talking to her like an infant? One wonders why Mr. Schiavo would have tried so hard to respect her wishes if he really just wanted to run away with his new girlfriend. If it was simply a matter of dropping her off at her parents' house and forgetting about it, he could have done that. If he were the heartless adulterer the Right-To-Lifers would have us believe, he would have done that ages ago. Clearly, simply giving it the old college try isn't enough for Michael. He deeply respects what she wanted, or else he wouldn't be going for it. And he probably isn't too tickled at the prospect of giving custody to the people who have stated that they would keep her alive limbless and gangrenous, just to have her live on.

What is the downside to that? Who gets hurt with that solution?
No one. According to doctors, Terri doesn't feel anything while on the
feeding tube. So if the family wants her around in that state -- why not?
Her family could even raise private funds to pay for Terri's care, thereby
taking Medicare out of it.

Who gets hurt? Tell me, Bill, if you were in a vegetative state, trapped within your body, dressed in ridiculously juvenile nightclothes, unable to even answer the phone, much less make your beloved lewd calls on it, wouldn't you rather be released from this living hell? And even if you couldn't think or feel in this condition, what would be the point of going on? Just to please your parents? I think we know who gets hurt in the situation- the woman who wanted her dignity.

But reasonable solutions and thought are rare in the battle
between the secular and the religious. It is a titanic struggle, and the
culture of America hangs in the balance.

No it doesn't. People make these kinds of decisions daily- if there was a consensus between the parents and Michael Schiavo, they would have pulled the tube years ago and Terri would be dead. This is just a media circus event that has only reached prominence because it involves a Bush State, the dramatics of the Religious Right and people wealthy enough to bring the case to as many courts as they want. The culture of America will remain much the same after this, with the Right claiming that the Left likes to watch women and babies die and the Left claiming that the Right only values the lives of fetuses and vegetables. This is rather a tempest in a teapot, and I don't see much changing in the future except for the fact that another case has reached prominence that will make the religious right further despise our judicial system.

I don't know who will ultimately win the struggle. I do know
that everyone has lost in the Schiavo case.

Oh, don't be so dramatic, Bill. Not everyone has lost- Rove has another little story to bring up to the Religious Right when he needs to sway public opinion against "activist judges." Terri Schiavo will be freed from her current enslavement as a mascot of right-to-life crowd and people like me will be able to continue to hold out a little bit of hope that the court system is not entirely in the hands of the Bush Brothers and their evil minions.

The only one I can think of who's lost anything is Chimpy himself. His approval ratings are down and while the lefties like me can always be counted on him to disapprove, the Religious Right has got to feel a little bit betrayed that their God-appointed leader didn't sweep down in a red cape and whisk Terri Schiavo away to a prayer and speech-therapy camp where she will be miraculously cured. I think he's probably lost some ground with them. And I think he will continue to lose more.

Not that he cares . . . but if any of his little friends on the Hill want to run in '08, they are probably going to have to answer for this and the many other steps he'll take in the next four years to further distance himself from the evangelicals who elected him. It will be interesting, if nothing else, to see them all come to recognize that Bush might have made a lot of promises to them in the last election cycle, he's going to be taking care of the people who gave him the big bucks, not the people who gave him their piddly little votes.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. I needed it. A lot. Funny and oh so true.

    If you were on O'Reilly's show, he would tell you to shut up. Or he would turn off your microphone. Then he would ssay later that he never said that.

    Keep on keepin' on, sister.
    -- L.