Friday, March 25, 2005

A Confederacy of Dunces

On this Good Friday, as Christians reflect on the passion of Christ, it is appropriate to ponder the passion of Terri Schlinder Shiavo. One thing about Terri is incontrovertible. She is an innocent young woman who is being killed by the United States “Justice” system.

Nearly everything else about this case is debatable and emotionally charged. When I hear the disingenuous and patently absurd arguments made by some members of the judiciary, some politicians and some pundits, I cannot help but remember that splendid farce by John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces.

I would not want to die like Terri is dying. Then again, I would not want to live like she has for the last 15 years. I would want to have the best, up to date, medical diagnoses. I would want to receive physical therapy. I would want to be given basic care like teeth brushing, turning to prevent bed sores, and medicines to fight infections. I would like verbal and visual stimulation and natural light in my room. I would want to be fed by mouth and not by a tube in my throat. I would expect love from my husband.

If I were Terri Schiavo, I would be disappointed on all counts.

The injustice in this case is egregious. The ramifications for our society are monumental. Only the President and the Florida Governor have the power to save Terri and the soul of American society. I would have them do the following:

1. Arrest Michael Schiavo on suspicion of attempted murder and spousal abuse.
2. Transfer guardianship of Terri to her parents.
3. Bring charges of obstruction of justice against the primary judges in the case.
4. Initiate legislation to re-establish the “separate but equal” intent of the Constitution.

Constitutional lawyers doubt that the Florida attorney general would file criminal charges against Michael. In that case, his guardianship should be challenged on the grounds of marital abandonment that would serve as grounds for divorce. The key is to enable the Schindler family to be Terri’s guardians.

The legal case rests on the assumption of spousal guardianship. Yet, there must be some standard employed. Would you make a husband who was estranged from his wife her guardian? Or a husband who may have been involved in his wife’s injury? Would guardianship continue if the husband enforced draconian regulations on his wife’s care. Or if the husband became the common law husband of another woman and fathered two of her children. Is there no reason to question Michael Schiavo’s fitness to determine Terri’s fate?

The judicial dunces have chosen to believe Michael Schiavo’s assertion that Terri would not want to live in a vegetative state. Judge Greer believes that Michael loves her so much that he is complying with her earnest wishes. Yet he let her live in that state for nearly 15 years. Why so long if he loves her so much? He did not even mention her wish for seven years, until he won the malpractice suit. In testimony, he claimed to need the money to care for Terri for the rest of her life. A friend of Terri’s testified that Michael said he did not know what she wanted. He said they were only 25 years old and didn’t talk about such things. Another friend testified that Terri mentioned that she would not want to be killed this way. Is there no reason to question the husband’s assertion?

Terri’s “accident” occurred the day after she told her parents and her best friend that she was going to leave her husband. Terri’s parents were concerned about her safety and begged her not to return home that night. Her friend testified that Michael was a control freak and capable of violence. The police originally thought that a crime had been committed. When xrays were taken of Terri years later, several unexplained broken bones were discovered. A doctor testified that there was evidence of potential strangling. Michael also happened to be the only person present when the oxygen was cut off to Terri's brain in the first place. He has not allowed her medical records to be released.

A nurse testified that Michael went into Terri’s room, locked the door and left her weeping and in a state of extremely low blood sugar as could be produced by an insulin injection. The nurse testified that she found a syringe containing traces of insulin in the waste basket and found puncture marks on Terri’s body. Michael says he will not release Terri’s body for an autopsy once she is dead. Is there no reason to question Michael’s guilt and his motives?

The primary diagnosis of Terri’s persistent vegetative state was by a doctor who is an advocate for euthanasia. The doctor did not even employ MRI or PET scans that would commonly be used to certify his opinion. Despite medical advances, Terri did not receive any further medical diagnosis for a decade. A recent diagnosis by another state appointed doctor concluded that Terri is most likely in a minimal cognitive state wherein she experiences pain, fear, joy and love. She would most likely benefit from therapy that was denied her by her husband. Is there no reason to question the original diagnosis?

The Congress of the United States and the President passed a law that requires the federal circuit court to reconsider the facts of the case. To assure there could be no confusion in the courts, several congressional leaders submitted a "friend of the court" brief asserting the legislative intent of the law. Their brief stated that Public Law 109-3 requires US District Court Judge James Whittemore to have Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted pending the outcome of the federal court reviews.

They ordered a de novo trial, ie. from the beginning. Instead the court refused to consider the evidentiary facts, ruling that they were “unlikely” to change the outcome. Is it not clear that the court defied the combined legislative and executive branches of government and thereby violated the “separate but equal statute” of the Constitution?

Neither the law, nor the Constitution nor the concept of federalism requires that the courts have the last word. Governors and presidents are also sworn to uphold the law. “Sublimely confident that no one will ever call their bluff courts are now regularly discovering secret legal provisions requiring abortion and gay marriage and prohibiting public prayer and displays of the Ten Commandments. Just once, we need an elected official to stand up to a clearly incorrect ruling by a court.” (Ann Coulter)

Aside from the right-to-life people and the Catholic Church, where are the defenders of Terri’s right to live? “There are passionate groups of women in America who decry spousal abuse, give beaten wives shelter, insist that a woman is not a husband's chattel. This is good work. Why are they not taking part in the fight for Terri Schiavo? Again, what explains their lack of passion on this?” (Peggy Noonan)

As we await Terri’s death, we must remember that it is more than one life, however precious, that we are losing. “If we untether ourselves from the absolute injunction of our god to honor all human life — we are very likely to further morally defile ourselves and our civilization, even with the very best of decent intentions.” (Tony Blankly)

We must gird ourselves for the battle of morality against agnostic humanism. The war against terror pales in comparison to the importance of this campaign. The fate of America hangs in the balance.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been following this story for quite some time and from the beginning I thought something just wasn't quite right with the husband. What is he so afraid of?
I do wonder why it has taken so long for some friends and caregivers to come forward like her nurse of 3 1/2 years did on Friday night stating that Michael was a broken record when he would say "I don't know what to do with her... we never discussed this".
Why can't the judge, at the very least, order an IV for Terri so there can be time to investigate further?
I understand that the courts have to base their rulings on the law and personal feelings can't come in to play. But in my opinion there are so many factors that are not clear and it breaks my heart everytime this family hears the words "case denied or rejected"!
I'm with Bill O'Reilly...
Michael should realize that he tried his best to honor his wifes wishes, realize that she has a loving family that WANTS to take care of her and he just needs to do the right thing here and give custody of Terri to her parents.
One last thought...
No matter what side of this issue we may be on, I urge everyone, if they have not yet done so, to have an "advanced directive" in place.
Ray and I went online and downloaded the form. It's fast and easy.
~ Carolynne

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a sad state of affairs regarding Terri S. It really saddens me to see how the judges (who have way too much control over us) are willing to literally starve this woman to death. I cannot even imagine how I would feel if it were my loved one.

Unfortunately I am not surprised by what's happening in the U.S.A. We have left our first love and in that, seem to have become a nation of political correctness, liberal ideas, laziness, corruption, etc.

How quickly 'they' forget that the greatest civilizations have often come to ruin from within rather than from without.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous christina said...

Sorry Bill, but I'm disagreeing with you on this.

I don't believe that Michael Schiavo killed his wife.

Terri had an electrolyte balance, which lead to her heart and brain damage, most likely because of her eating disorder. When a person induces vomiting (as bulimics do), potassium levels are totally screwed up. Most bulimics who die die over the toilet, while purging, from heart attacks.

Her bone scan ( shows nothing that isn't consistent with a fall and osteoporosis. The scan was taken before it was determined that she had bulimia, so it's not surprising that there was no connection made.

Nevertheless, everything about this is very tragic. If I were in Terri's position, I would have wanted to die, 15 years ago. Her brain scan shows that there is zero chance of recovery.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Ralph said...

The big issue now is what can we do to prevent this from happening again. Why are the courts so antagonistic to what the public believes is right?

5:34 PM  
Blogger Melanie said...

OK, Bill, I have to say that my original reaction to this situation has been quite emotionally convoluted. But, now, Michael has achieved his objective and I just cannot understand why he will not allow her family to bury her. If her family is devoutly Catholic, wouldn't Terri have been, as well?

My opinion of Michael Shiavo has changed substantially with this specific denial. Or, I should say, has now been firmly developed. Until now, I was uncertain as to his motives. But, denying Terri a proper burial is simply malicious and ill-intended.

In the end, it's a bit like OJ. He is going to have to answer for all of this.


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