The Politics of Life and Death or Right and Left?

Michael Gallaugher at Christian Conservative really hit a nerve with this post about Terri Schiavo. I’ve never seen so many comments generated from so little text. Some of the comments really took me by surprise. Not only were commenters ill- or misunformed about Terri’s condition, they also showed a disturbing inability to reason logically. Here’s a sampling.

"Err on the side of life? They have been stuffing her from a tube for 15 years! You are writing about this as if there is some dispute. The woman’s cortex is gone. All that is left is a brain stem. Terri is gone and she has a right to be allowed for her brain stem to die as well. A whole boatload of neurologists and judges have invariably –invariably– found the same thing. She’s gone."
Public Theologian

Invariably, eh? Perhaps this information would change his mind.

"This is a fascist religious conspiracy to take away Michael Schiavo’s rights to fulfill his wife’s wishes."
– POed Lib

Really? And here I thought it was an attempt to save a women from being treated like the living dead and forced to waste away painfully.

"Excellent opinion, Christian Conservative. We liberals are completely for the ‘Err on the side of life’ mentality." [Unless that life is on the wrong side of a cervix. – Funky]

"Perhaps we should have ‘erred on the side of life’ before sending 1500 US soldiers to their deaths in Iraq, along with an estimated 100,000 Iraqis."

"Perhaps we should have erred on the side of life with the 152 executions he allowed as Governor of Texas."

"Or perhaps the countless patients in Texas whose tubes were removed, simply because the families could not afford the health care — against the wishes of the family."

"Maybe it should be extended to the millions of Americans without health insurance."

"Perhaps slashing Medicaid funding in the proposed budget would be reversed."

"Perhaps."

Nick Davis

Can you say "red herring", boys and girls? Does support for Terri necessarily imply support for the war in Iraq, the death penalty, the Texas Futile Care Law, or slashing Medicaid funding? No. Just because President Bush may be acting hypocritically by supporting Terri, doesn’t mean we all are. I don’t like President Bush and I didn’t vote for him (either time). It’s high time liberals learn that sometimes "discrimination" is a good thing.

discrimination – 1. The act of discriminating. 2. The ability or power to see or make fine distinctions; discernment.

"So you’re going to come out against Bush’s elective Iraq invasion, alll of the executions that he signed off on, the dead people who are dead because they could afford health insurance, and the the texas law that Bush signed that makes it possible for hospitals to cut life supprot for people who can no longer pay?"

"(I’ll be holding my breath while you think about it)"

– jri

Absolutely. I neither like nor voted for Bush. I still want to see Terri Schiavo live. Try not to spontaneously combust as you digest that.

BTW, You can stop holding your breath now.

"I find it ironic that same folks pushing for Shiavo’s "right to life" are the same folks who go on and on about the ‘sanctity of marriage’ – yet they’re stomping on Michael Shiavo’s marital rights. Can’t have it both ways."
– Jinx

Michael doesn’t give a rat’s behind about his marital rights. His girlfriend and their two children are evidence of that.

"Matthew 25 is one of my favorites – to me it summarizes elegantly what it means to be Christian. It also summarizes the beauty of liberalism. We propose direct aid for the hungry, the thirsty, for strangers, for the naked and for the imprisoned. The Adam Smith approach does not do it for us. We admit that it fails and has failed for over 200 years to address the needs of the poor. Conservatives tend to argue that the poor are lazy and need to get to work, or that they will benefit indirectly from government support for the very wealthy. I believe that the conservative view is in conflict with this scriptural teaching."

Duf

You’ll get little or no argument from me on those points. Now tell me why Terri must die painfully at her husband’s whim.

"I believe that there should be a national statute to protect all citizens from the horror that Terri Schiavo has been experiencing for 15 years. In the absence of clear instructions to the contrary by the patient, the maintenance of life by artificial means such as tube feeding or a respirator should be limited to a maximum of one year unless a judge can be convinced that the patient has a genuine chance of recovery to a state in which they can communicate their wishes."

– tgibbs

Tell that to Sarah Scantlin and others like her.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of the comments are very insightful, especially those by a fellow called Jinx. I encourage my readers, who have demonstrated their superb reasoning and debating skills on a number of occasions, to weigh in on the issues raised over there.

On a related note, if you’d like to see how these mostly civil comments from the Left can be turned ugly, read the ones left at this Hullabaloo post. Some of these individuals must have been foaming at the mouth while writing them.

This entry was posted in essays, editorials, fisks, and rants, government, law, and politics and tagged , , , , , , on by .

About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

15 thoughts on “The Politics of Life and Death or Right and Left?

  1. theomorph

    And here I thought it was an attempt to save a woman from being treated like the living dead and forced to waste away painfully.

    Or is it an attempt to save a woman from having to basically be living dead by allowing her to die without further technological molestation?

    Michael doesn’t give a rat’s behind about his marital rights. His girlfriend and their two children are evidence of that.

    First, you shouldn’t be making that kind of judgment about a guy whose thoughts you know not. Second, it’s difficult to talk about “marital rights” when one of the partners can’t even function like a human being. If your wife had been stuck in this state for five years (which is about how long I think she was before he hooked up with his girlfriend), and you were still a normal person needing love and companionship that your wife could no longer provide, not even minimally, would you maintain the kind of loyalty that would almost certainly mean deep emotional solitude for an indefinite period of time?

    Now tell me why Terri must die painfully at her husband’s whim.

    Tell me why God had to destroy her ability to live at his whim, and then demand that her body be kept alive while her mind is either obscured or destroyed, at whatever financial expense to whomever, turning her family against her husband, taking up an extraordinary amount of time in court, involving a state legislature, a governor, the federal legislature, a president, and the minds of perhaps millions of people, and allow her plight to become a political football in our already fractured nation, all just–apparently–to prove some kind of doctrinal point about an alleged right to life, the enjoyment of which has been fundamentally denied to her not by any medical treatment or lack thereof, but by the physiological condition within her own body?

    Do you really want to worship a God who must be somewhere saying, “Yes! Keep my child plugged in! Drag out her poor, pathetic existence as long as you can with your medical technology! Everyone must know that, despite the mortality of humans and my offering of everlasting life beyond the grave, no one has a right to die until I say so, and I don’t feel like saying so right now (even though she would die without human intervention, which might seem like I’ve said so, but really I haven’t), not because she doesn’t deserve to return to me, but because I need to prove a point to all you people down there–that you have a responsibility to keep death from happening, even though it’s part of the punishment for your own sin, and you might expect that I would look askance on bucking your punishment, I don’t, because I’m God and I don’t have to make sense!–and she’s as good a pawn as any!”

  2. theomorph

    Yes, I would. Five months ago I made promise before God and man that I would be faithful to my wife, forsaking all others, through good times and bad, sickness and health for as long as we BOTH shall live.

    But does that justify judging Mr. Schiavo by your own standards, when his are perhaps different? For instance, I can imagine him having a difficult time seeing the person he married in the vastly incapacitated body that she has become. From my perspective, and perhaps from his as well, though I don’t know, the idea of “my wife” as well as what it means to “live” are things that might go beyond the physical existence and temporal continuity of the corporeal body. Is she still really his “wife”? Is she still really “living”? I think any reflective person who wants to seriously ask those questions ought to be allowed to do so, because the words I’m talking about are not so much things as they are ideas. What duty does Mr. Schiavo have to his “wife,” what duty does he have to her body, and what duty does he have to their marriage when it is no longer capable of functioning as a marriage? How elastic are the terms “sickness and health”?

    You are certainly free to come to your own conclusions and convictions, then stand by them, so why isn’t Mr. Schiavo?

    It’s clearly a difficult situation, and there is no clear ethical path that a majority of people discussing the issue are willing to follow. Since a social consensus is impossible, it seems most sensible to put aside that possibility. Let Mr. Schiavo make the decision himself, and allow the Schindlers to disagree and take that disagreement into the court system for mediation (which they have done). The really important thing for the stability of our society is not whether Terri Schiavo lives or dies, but whether the rest of us, in dealing with her situation, are able to adhere to our own rules by law.

    Unfortunately, perhaps, the woman and the dilemma in the center of this maelstrom have become secondary, and of greater importance is how we, as a society, are able to solve the dilemma, not so much which solution we find. Executive and Legislative involvement in a situation that is clearly under the purview of the Judiciary may seem exciting to the people who are most concerned about the medical dilemma itself, but the meaning of that action as it relates to the rest of our society and how we deal with our differences in general is not very bright at all.

  3. Funky Dung

    “If your wife had been stuck in this state for five
    years (which is about how long I think she was before he hooked up
    with his girlfriend), and you were still a normal person needing love
    and companionship that your wife could no longer provide, not even
    minimally, would you maintain the kind of loyalty that would almost
    certainly mean deep emotional solitude for an indefinite period of
    time?”

    Yes, I would. Five months ago I made promise before God and man that I would be faithful to my wife, forsaking all others, through good times and bad, sickness and health for as long as we BOTH shall live.

  4. Funky Dung

    “Or is it an attempt to save a woman from having to basically be
    living dead by allowing her to die without further technological
    molestation?”

    Theo, you’re one of a seemingly small minority who are making that point. It is one that is worth discussing. However, most of the negative comments I’ve read on the net are more interested in states’ rights or Michael’s rights, rather than Terri’s best interests.

  5. Steve N

    If one were to be in such a state, desiring that one take no heroic efforts to keep one alive is perfectly legitimate. The shame is that Terri did not make any unequivocal statement to that effect.

    I’m not sure feeding (via spoon, straw, or tube) should ever be considered heroic, irrespective of her chances of recovery. And further it seems far from clear that by rehabilative effort she might no regain the ability to eat/hydrate via mouth.

    My $0.02,

  6. Rick

    Rick, are you aware that you misspelled “politics” in your blog’s title?

    I am now –(embrassd smiley) and have appropriately scolded my visitors for not pointing that out earlier.

  7. Jerry

    I don’t consider food and water heroic, either Steve, provided that the mechanism for deliver said nutrition is not causing GI irritation or infection (not the case here). I do not, however, want to be labelled as some conservative nutjob who wants to keep people alive at all costs. There are lines, but Terri has not passed that line.

  8. dlw

    If I were in Terri’s position, I would want my spouse to be able to remarry and have children.

    I would also rather have the money used to keep me alive spent saving lives in the under-developed world. If I am in a PVS or near a PVS and no longer able to glorify God with my vocation and can no longer recognize and love my family then I’d rather go and meet my maker.

    dlw

  9. dlw

    Iร‚ยดm not sure what is a fair shake. From what I had read, she had been given ample time to recover. And I guess the devil really is in the details…

    From what I had read, it seemed a better diagnosis was needed for Terri.

    dlw

  10. Jerry Nora

    PVS is a troublesome statement, dlw, especially since evidence shows that Terri or patients like her can be rehabilitated. I don’t think it’s very liberal to give up on patients without giving them a fair shake.

    If one were to be in such a state, desiring that one take no heroic efforts to keep one alive is perfectly legitimate. The shame is that Terri did not make any unequivocal statement to that effect. The resources we’ve been expending on her, as your somewhat consequentialist reasoning pointed, perhaps would have been less if her husband had backed up his promises to take care of her. Hence liberals, in my view, are betraying their best principles in forsaking Terri.

    This is a seriously screwed-up case. We should not legislate based on such a bizarre case, but it nonetheless displays a shabby treatment of some of our weakest, most vulnerable citizens.

  11. jpe

    The left is being uncivil on this? Typically, I don’t get involved in the who-is-less-civil game, but there are more references to nazis on a given day over at blogsforterri than you see on the History Channel.

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