Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Worst In Us

As the Terri Schiavo affair appears to be coming to a merciful conclusion, one can't help but reflect on all the conflicting impressions this will leave on our society and culture. One thing jumps out immediately: Despite the intellectual pundits who claim that we do not live in an ideologically deeply divided society, we do live in an ideologically deeply divided society which at times can seem to find no common ground. But this was a bit of a different division. Numerous polls indicate that instead of the 50-50 (left right) split we've come to expect over the last 4 years, this issue brought more of 70-30, or even 80-20 difference, effectively separating the mainstream conservatives from the extremists and pseudo-christians.

Some have written that this issue has demonstrated the best in us, with strangers maintaining a continuous vigil outside the Florida hospice where Ms. Schiavo resides, sending letters of support, and sending their 10 year old kids to be arrested for trying to bring her a symbolic cup of water.

This may be, but it has also brought out the worst in us. As usual, we have the hate-mongers who have persecuted Circuit Court George Greer and his family for the last 5 years. Judge Greer, described as a conservative christian, is the judge who originally ordered that Ms. Schiavo's wish be granted, that she be removed from artificial life support, and has repeatedly upheld that order through several legal challenges since. It was a very brave position to maintain given the endless stream of injury and death threats against his family and him. Ironic, the "right-to-lifers" making death threats......

Then there's the US Congress, meeting in an emergency session to pass cynical legislation which can only be applied to a single individual in a nation of nearly 300 million people for purely political gains (which may have backfired on them). And Jeb Bush, nearly causing an old west-style showdown between two law enforcement agencies as he tried to stage a quasi-legal raid on the hospice to kidnap Ms. Schiavo and bring her to another facility.

Lastly one must look at the parents. No parent could help but be sympathetic with parents facing the loss of a child, I can't think of a sadder situation. But the Schindler's have shown a particularly ugly side the last few weeks, which I have not seen before in the 2+ years I've been following this story. Whether its their healthy appetite for media attention, their using the federal and state judicial systems for their own personal playground, or their seemingly total disregard for their daughter's wishes (whom they lost 15 years ago), they have become very selfish and self-centered. One wonders what must be going through the minds of the less fortunate who can't get justice or proper medical attention, or of parents who have lost sons and daughters in a war against a country who was of no threat to us, and who's reasons are murky at best.


Flyboy said...

While lauding your commentary I cannot necessarily agree that we have seen the worst of the Schindlers.

They do not beleive that they lost their daughter 15 years ago. The believe they still have her. Every statement out of them is a little eerie really, saying things like "She cried when visited" or "She asked not to die". While perhaps posturing, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that in their view, their daughter is simply misunderstood by others including the doctors. Not a huge stretch for a parent. So I think perhaps you're being a little hard on them.

Then there is "the other worst" to contemplate, in the potential for an the endless string of wrongful death suits surely to follow, as the never-say-die crowd tries to prove that it was corrent long after it ceases to matter.

sooray said...

Perhaps you're right; you and I will never know. I don't know that I'm all that committed to the concept, I was just trying it on after years of empathizing with them. I've read a number of off-the-beaten-path articles about them: how close they were to hubby after the accident, until he got the malpractice $$$ when the dad asked for his cut; observations by some close to the situation that if it were up to the mom, this would have been resolved amicably years ago, that the dad's a butthole; how the dad loves his time in the klieg lights more than his kid. They are surrounded by top flight lawyers and physicians and the medical science here is quite extensive and sound. Even a grieving parent would have to wake up to the truth being shared with them after 5 or so years.

Prediction: their marriage won't survive this year, they'll both end up with severe post-incident depression (not from the death, but from the sudden removal of the incident's attention and stimulation), and they'll be no wrongful death cases that go anywhere. These folks' lawyers have been flirting with a frivilous charge against them for some time. Only public attention has prevented it.