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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Day Seven

Terri Schiavo is approaching her final hours. The state (FL) and federal court systems have put forth a united front to prevent her rescue. Yesterday's spectacle involved the Supreme Court of the United States taking time out from their attempts at ending the death penalty for mass murderers and serial rapists and deciding (with breathtaking alacrity) that the execution of a young woman who has done no harm to anyone is appropriate. And be quick about it.

A number of readers have brought up a number of aspects of this case in recent days that they wish for me to consider, and I thought I would address the most important ones now.

1. There are those who believe Terri has a right to die. I agree. But don't take this right and jump to the conclusion that it is her wish that she be deprived of life support. There is significant evidence that Terri's husband has his own motives for relentlessly pushing her demise. He has another common-law wife with whom he has 2 children. A conflict of interest? It is also reported that, when Terri first had her heart attack, he went to court and won a million-dollar judgement, but didn't mention any "wish to be allowed to die with dignity." It was only seven years after the fact, and after he had been handed the cash with which he was to take care of her, that Michael Schiavo "remembered" that she had said, in casual conversation, that she would never want to be kept on life support. Her parents say Terri, being a devout Catholic, would never have said such a thing.

So we don't know what her wishes are.

2. There are those who have called Terri Schiavo a vegetable; that the quality of her life will never again be worth living. I listened to a physician who has attempted to examine Terri Schiavo, a nominee for a Nobel prize in the field, say that he has a strong suspicion that she is not in a permanent vegetative state. That she is capable of considerable rehabilitation. I guess we'll never know now. And to me, this is no reason, in itself, to have her starved to death.

3. There are those who have written and argued that the government should not be involved in this, that this should be between a wife and her husband. This has been mostly directed toward Congress' attempt at saving Ms. Schiavo's life. I've not heard from anyone who has a problem with the government in the form of the state court being involved in this case for the last fifteen years.

I also feel that the government has no greater responsibility than to protect the citizenry, particularly those least capable of protecting themselves. This may be the most important point to me. I have listened to the most heartless people simply write this woman off for having no chance at a full life. Like being in a wheelchair should be a death sentence. Or being blind. Or being brain-damaged. Suffering from spina bifida. Cerebral palsy. Downs syndrome. Autism. Allzheimers. Old age. If I were disabled, I would be scared to death just listening to the debate over who should live and who should be executed.

4. There are those who have written, saying the decision to kill Terri Schiavo should be left up to her husband. I don't disagree until I read about so many ulterior motives that this guy might have. Besides, I wonder how long one would maintain that argument if the husband wanted to beat the wife on a regular basis. So, as a general rule, I agree. But there are plenty of exceptions.

5. There are those who have asked if I would feel differently if Terri Schiavo had left a living will, outlining a specific wish never to be kept on life support. My answer is yes, of course. You might be shocked to find that I have no big problem with a person seeking out a Jack Kevorkian to help end that person's suffering. My only issue in that instance is that we should pass a law preventing physicians from being called upon to do the deed. If society wants to promote professional killers, they should be just that. Doctors save lives.

But the problem here is that none of us knows what Terri Schiavo's wishes are. Except, it seems, all these judges who have lined up to declare the husband to be telling the truth, therefore she must die. Not long ago, we would have erred on the side of life in such a case. Today, in this our Culture of Death, we see a semi-vegetable taking up space in a hospice - costing the taxpayers a lot of money each day she is kept alive - and we wish her dispatched.

The implications of all this are frightening. It wasn't that many years ago that our parents, when learning of the evils that came out of Nazi Germany, were appalled beyond words. Euthanasia of the weak-of-mind and infirm. Extermination of sub-humans - the Jews and Gypsies. Now in this "enlightened age," we have reached the same point. The unborn. Vegetables.

Terri Schiavo deserved to live. We as a society owed her every protection that we could afford her. Instead the people of this country have turned their backs on her plight and have conjured up all sorts of reasons for her to ... disappear.

And there are tens of thousands of American citizens in similar circumstances out there awaiting the same fate.

Get the ovens ready.

When Is a Minority a Minority?

I was hammerin' a few beers with a friend in Knoxville the other night. In the course of our conversation, he told me how proud - and relieved - he was that his son had been offered a "full ride" scholarship to a prestigious Ivy League university. He was even offered plane fare from his home to New England to meet with school officials and to tour the campus. I congratulated him and his son.

But then this friend began to relate the details of the story and I have to say I was a bit bemused. His son had never applied to this school; the college had sought him out. Because this individual is one-half "hispanic." Now his father - my friend - is caucasian. His mother - my friend's wife - is from Spain. I used the quotation marks because, as best I can remember, the "hispanic" designation was meant to be descriptive of one who descends from Cubans or Mexicans or Guatemalans. But Spain?

I remember reading in history class many years ago about the Nazis in 1930's Germany being obsessed with aryan heritage. The more aryan you were, the more intelligent and good looking you were - purportedly. By the same token, German society went to great lengths to ferret out Jewish heritage. Citizens had to register with the government their Jewish ancestry. If a person was 1/16th Jewish, meaning that individual had one great-grandparent who was non-aryan, that person was declared a Jew.

So I asked this friend, and I apologize to him here for having done this to him, "So how much 'hispanic' ancestry does one need in order to qualify as 'hispanic?'" He said he didn't know but thought it was at least 1/8th. Ah, we've come a long way since the 1930's.

Here we have a student whose mother is European and whose father is of European ancestry qualifying as a minority. And having money thrown at him by a university attempting to satisfy a quota.

Makes perfect sense to me.