Positions on Schiavo—Some Whys and Wherefores

Lawrence Auster argues in an interesting article on Frontpagemag.com that the reason the Left decided to back Michael Schiavo in his quest to end his wife’s life was a simple hatred of and fear of American Christian conservatives. It is an interesting argument, which I don’t quite buy, but I must admit that his refutation of the reasons given for why the Left supported Michael Schiavo is persuasive.

Larry does ask the right question:

“If individual rights and personal choice are the liberals’ bottom line, why must the personal preference of Michael, who has (understandably) moved on with his life, be seen as inviolable, but the personal preference of Terri’s parents, who have not moved on with their lives but want to care for their daughter, must be equated with theocratic tyranny and resisted at all costs?”

It is not my intention here to restart the fight over the merits of that argument, only to point out that it is an important question for the Right to ask, if only to test its own position by considering its own positions on individual rights and personal choice.

Of course, the Left will argue (and has done so) that their response to the situation has been based purely on reason. I agree that it has been a reasoned position. The Right, however, would say the same about its arguments, again correctly in my view. As I have pointed out earlier on this site, the two sides had and still have a serious dispute over the facts of the case. They disagree on the basic question of whether Terri Schiavo had sufficient brain function that her condition did not meet the criteria that Michael Schiavo claims she set for preferring death over continued existence.

I believe this disagreement came about on the basis of the two sides’ differing perceptions of the intellectual issues it brings up. It seems evident that each side leaped intuitively to a conclusion about what would be best in the situation, then chose arguments to support that premise. There is nothing wrong with that. However, pretending that one’s own side is reasonable and the other is driven by dark superstitions, as many on the Left have done in the present case, does not evidence a use of pure reason. Likewise, claiming that one’s opponents adore death, as many on the Right have done, is unlikely to win adherents for the pristine logic of one’s position.

This issue won’t go away, I surmise, because the hatred and suspicion of both sides remains. Indeed, the arguments over this issue have strengthened those hatreds. In that regard, Lawrence Auster is quite correct.

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3 thoughts on “Positions on Schiavo—Some Whys and Wherefores

  1. “”If individual rights and personal choice are the liberals’ bottom line, why must the personal preference of Michael, who has (understandably) moved on with his life, be seen as inviolable, but the personal preference of Terri’s parents, who have not moved on with their lives but want to care for their daughter, must be equated with theocratic tyranny and resisted at all costs?””

    I’m amazed that he missed the point so entirely and that you also failed to catch it. Neither Michael nor her Parent’s desires matter one whit. They never did. Neither was called upon to attest to what they want. They were witnesses for what they believe Terri wanted.

    Her wishes were the only ones of consequence. The courts found that she did not want to live under certain conditions and according to the testimony of neurologists they found she was in that condition. Hence the “left’s” stance was completely consistent.

    “As I have pointed out earlier on this site, the two sides had and still have a serious dispute over the facts of the case. They disagree on the basic question of whether Terri Schiavo had sufficient brain function that her condition did not meet the criteria that Michael Schiavo claims she set for preferring death over continued existence.”

    Yes but it’s worth pointing out that of the doctor’s who examined her directly three found she was a vegetable. One dissented. Another dissented but is also considered a quack in the field and has been reprimanded by the state health department for false advertising. His credibility is highly questionable. In other words the “left’s” opinion is the one with the preponderance of evidence. Given that this was a court matter you’d think that just might matter a teensy bit. Of course it’s always been the perogative of the religious right to ignore inconvenient facts.

    “It seems evident that each side leaped intuitively to a conclusion about what would be best in the situation, then chose arguments to support that premise. There is nothing wrong with that.”

    I disagree. In this case after years of trial it was quite apparent that the justice system had worked hard to ensure a reasonable outcome. Before the media attention you’ll notice that both Michael and Judge Greer were well regarded by the same people who would later call them murderers.

    “However, pretending that one’s own side is reasonable and the other is driven by dark superstitions, as many on the Left have done in the present case, does not evidence a use of pure reason.”

    How else do you qualify a stance that absolutely relies on the opinion of anonymous internet “doctors” over the people who actually examined her? How else do you qualify an opinion that takes as fact rumors of abuse? How else do you qualify a position that asserts that people outside the courtroom , with little or no knowledge of the family, with certainly no impartiality, and with definite political interest in the outcome are somehow more qualified to judge than the actual judges?

  2. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and tlaloc is correct that Auster misstated the facts. Michael Schiavo’s preference was never considered. His testimony about Terri’s preference was taken to be credible evidence.

    The more correct approach for the judge, if in his heart he believed that Michael was telling the truth, would have been to replace him as guardian with a court-appointed one. Then he could have accepted the testimony and handed the dispensation of it over to the impartial guardian.

    That would have altered the political if not the moral calculus, and certainly would have spared us from Michael’s latest sadistic plan to cremate her body and bury her ashes in a “secret” location in Philadelphia.

  3. What possible difference would it have made? Once the courts found that she didn’t want to live in such a state her guardian, impartial or not, would have been obligated to carry out that wish.

    Frankly after the vicious smear campaign the family engaged in I could hardly blame him for excluding them from the funeral.

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