Monday, March 21, 2005

Terri Schiavo

The vast majority of surveys, polls and psychological studies have concluded that Republicans are significantly happier people than Democrats. It should not be surprising, then, that those who believe life is good are siding with allowing Terri Schiavo to live and those who think life is bitter seek to hasten her demise.

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Me? I'm torn. Since we cannot know Terri's wishes, have serious doubts about the motivations of the estranged husband and do not really know what degree of cognition anyone in Terri's condition has we are in many ways trying to come to a conclusion without any of the salient facts.

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I certainly DO understand -- and even buy -- the argument that when one errs it should be on the side of life. As the old Jewish expression goes "where there's life there's hope." On the other hand we don't know that Terri isn't suffering -- if only from an immense and profound boredom -- which might sound trivial but I could imagine it being horrific.

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I think that Terri's face being frozen into that kind of "smile" might be fooling some into thinking (even subconsciously) that there is a degree of joy in her life that might not be there. I wonder, had her face been frozen into a painful-looking frown, would it have made any difference in how this debate is playing out.

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I am, yet again, disappointed by the unwillingness of the mainstream media to frame the issues in their true context. It is a disgrace that they continue to call food and water "life support" and portray Terri as in an "irreversible vegetative state" when that is far from an established fact.

As with the war that liberated twenty-five million people, it is sickening that the media feels its job is to mislead the people to their (the media's) position and that their position is always that which is darkest.

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3 comments:

Janna said...

I feel that we (every single one of us) allow everyone (government) to intrude upon our personal lives too much. Twenty-five years ago or two hundred years ago, Terri would not have been sustained beyond the first few days in most hospitals around the world. Who are we to play GOD? This poor woman has been "living" thanks to modern medicine with no brain activity for fifteen years now and not too many people think this is bad. I do. I cannot even fathom living a minute totally zoned out, non-receptive to this world. Imagine 15 years!?!?!?!?! I say that we allow Terri to live or die on her own accord and stop interfering in the grand scheme of life and death. We are mere mortals as well and should never forget that!

Jerry McClellan said...

What is wrong with this world!!!!!

Here is an excerpt from Schindler attorney Barbara Weller's account of the last few visits with Terry Schiavo. I found it via David Limbaugh's blog. I encourage you to read the entire account. If anyone is still wondering whether this woman is alive and does want to live, this will dispel all doubts immediately....

Bearhums said...

The Schiavo case illustrates a larger problem for family conflict resolutions using our courts (as the legal process is now constructed). We have surrendered to a monopoly of narrow law-think. We passively main-line legal-speak cool-aid… just listen to media legal pundits. Lawyers are proud to apply legal technicalities and by training ignore basic issues of right and wrong. I quote an attorney, “it’s not about justice; it’s about evidence”... (if you can get it presented, otherwise you’re screwed as in the Schiavo case).

In family cases the lawyer-based system defines what is and is not evidence and may exclude important facts because of an un-dotted “i” or uncrossed “t” or ridiculous “politically correct” mandate. Important facts referencing right or wrong may simply be excluded for no better reason than they don’t meet an ambiguous relevance test. How does one know what is relevant before one has heard it in family law. Therefore, when evidence is ignored through a technicality, a willful judge or a cumbersome expensive process it’s - OK with lawyers - (and judges since they are all lawyers), when a wrong happens and it happens often. Lawyers even sleep at night… in big houses.

In an example of mine, after a bad decision, I asked my lawyer what to do. He said we could challenge the judge based on an “abuse of discretion”… in other words the judge got it wrong. When I asked my attorney to proceed with the challenge he said “not me, I have to appear before judge x again and he doesn’t like to be told he’s wrong”. Count me screwed. What a convenient collusion. Forget an appeal because the next judge is reluctant to change directions, he won’t want to “rock the boat” of lawyer\judge infallibility. Our judges no longer judge, they perpetuate. They have set up the perfect insular monopoly supported by double-speak.

Conservatives have a hard time with this problem… we are by nature law and order types, inclined to trust the legal process. So the problem grows, Schiavo is just one example of many. Conservatives should frame the issue as one of a monopoly that denies basic God given rights and fairness.

This state of affairs was inevitable, at least in California, when we decided that only lawyers could be judges (the last county to allow a non-lawyer judge was in Northern California and a ballot proposition in the 1980s sealed the deal when it required all judges to be lawyers first.) I voted against that proposition.

My solution would be, in family law cases only, to dispense with the legalities, have non-lawyer judges sit with the parties and discuss solutions. Let all information in. Choose judges who can judge right and wrong, clergy for example. Push for an enforceable solution. If parties can’t agree, then go the adversarial route with all its formalities.