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Terri Schiavo: What We Learned
2005.03.31 (Thu) 23:28
Earlier today, what was left of Terri Schiavo died in a Florida hospice room. Her feeding tube had been out for two weeks. While we have repeatedly argued for the government to allow this day to come, it certainly isn't celebratory or cheerful. But then, doing the right thing isn't always fun. Our sympathies go out to Michael Schiavo, especially in light of the abuse he has taken and will continue to take. Our sympathies also go out to the Schindlers, Terri's parents, for, though we may question their tactics, they are just now realizing a loss that they suffered fifteen years ago.
What have we learned from this battle...this circus...this painful chapter that marked the end of Terri's life? Quite a bit.
We learned that the judicial system can do its job even when the legislative and executive branches do not. The state and federal judges involved in this case should be commended — they carried out their duty in the face of threats and political pressure. We'd also note that some of these judges were Republican nominees, and some were Christians; but in doing their jobs, they showed that they were, above all, judges. Some of them even publicly pointed out how the other branches overstepped their bounds and trampled on the Constitution. Their actions illustrate the checks and balances that protect our country from government abuse, checks and balances that worked admirably in this case, even if only one branch of three was functioning properly.
We learned that our Congress is largely made up of hypocrites and sanctimonious assholes. (Well, perhaps this just reinforced that knowledge.) We learned just how low some politicians were willing to go to pander to the religious right, and just how little they think of the 60% or more of United States citizens who opposed their intervention. We especially learned a lot about Tom Delay, who himself agreed that his own father wouldn't want to live in circumstances very similar to Terri's, and who stood by while that plug was pulled, but then refused to extend the same right to Terri, and instead called her husband a murderer. Hey, Tom — fuck you. Sincerely.
We learned once again that the religious right will not accept anything less than total submission to their agenda. The Bush Brothers bent the law until they broke it (and make no mistake, break it they did), but that still wasn't good enough. As the fundies have said, now that Terri Schiavo has died, there will be "Hell to pay" for the Bushes. Well, Dubya and Jeb, here's your thanks. You've alienated a large portion of the country by kowtowing to religious radicals, and now you've alienated those same radicals by not being successful. So the question is: what did you learn, Bush Brothers? Time will tell.
We also learned the importance of making our own wishes known, and getting them down in writing, by creating a will and a living will for us and our families. Unless we are completely clear, we run the risk of having the government interfere in our own lives the way they interfered here.
So we've learned a lot, but what will we do with this knowledge? The politicians are counting on all of us having selective amnesia. Now that Terri is dead, they hope that those of us who supported Terri's right to die will only remember the end result, and not the sleazy and underhanded attempts they made to subvert the law. They also hope that the religious right will do exactly the opposite — that they will remember the "righteous" attempts to "save Terri's life," and that they will blame the "godless liberals" and "activist judges" for her death. Well, from what they've said, the religious right will not forget the end result, and they will blame both the judges who ruled against their "culture of life" and the politicians who failed to ignore the law completely in order to cater to their misguided and narcissistic desires.
If the politicians are going to get negative reviews from the fundies for this whole fiasco, then let's do our part and not forget the hidden agendas, the Constitutional sidestepping and the public grandstanding that these politicians engaged in. This directive goes double for you rational Republicans out there; the ones who realize that your party has been taken over by the religious right at the expense of the ideals that used to guide the Republican party. What the Republican politicos did in the Terri Schiavo debacle was about as un-Republican as it gets, and even more so than the rest of us, you thinking Republicans are in a position to make them see the error of their ways. To every rational person out there: let's make it a lose-lose situation for these politicians, so that next time, maybe they'll think twice about inserting themselves into our personal lives. Let's make sure that the message gets through loud and clear.
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[For more information, read our other posts on Terri Schiavo.]
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[ Filed under: % Bush Watch % Civil Liberties % Government & Politics ]
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