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The American Zombie Cult

Now that the animated corpse of Terri Schiavo has finally been allowed to die, some of the fault lines of American conservatism have been brought into sharp focus. The behaviour of quite a few on the left has not been very edifying either but certainly it is amongst the Republicans that the most remarkable behaviour has occured.

The term ‘pro-life’ may be a reasonable description for those who oppose killing late term foetuses but the broad political church of pro-lifers (with whom I actually share many positions) includes a section of conservatism which is so obsessed with the physical trappings of life that they have stretched the definition of human existance to the breaking point.

The origins of this conservative faction are not hard to see. It came about in opposition to those on the socialist left who treat abortion as not so much something to be tolerated but rather a sacred sacrament which they venerate with cult-like obsessiveness and even demand it should be supported by the tax money of people who abominate the practice. In resistance to this we now see some conservatives developing an equally extreme cult to whom being ‘pro-life’ means treating the intentional death of a fertilised egg as tantamount to murder and demanding the removal of the customary fiduciary role of a spouse in decisions such as the Terri Schiavo case when the spouse does not follow the ‘pro-life’ party line. Moreover these people describe courts which does not intervene in such a civil matter as ‘activist judges’ who should be opposed with force by the executive if they will not buckle under and act like a, well, activist judge. So when such a group which thinks extending the existence of the hapless Terri Schiavo’s body regardless of the fact much of her brain was spinal fluid and pretending that being in some way reactive to light and sound means she was still ‘alive’ in any meaningful way, they cannot really be called ‘pro-life’ because it seems to me that Terri Schiavo’s life ended many years ago. We are not talking about euthanizing someone who is horribly brain damaged and has been reduced to sub-child like imbecility (i.e. someone with at least a pathetic but identifiable remnant of a human existence), no, we are talking about someone with an effective intelligence of pretty much zero.

Now it seems fair to differentiate between three classes of people who opposed moves to allow Terri Schiavo’s body to die:

Firstly, those who disagreed on the medical facts (i.e. felt that she was not persistently and irretrievably vegetative)…

Secondly, those who did not feel Michael Schiavo was the right person to make the decision because he had alienated his right to be regarded as Terri Schiavo’s husband…

And lastly those to whom the only acceptable outcome was keeping Terri Schiavo’s body alive regardless of who was nominally ‘in charge’. It is this later group with whom I have the greatest disregard and who seem to me as being the ones making the most noise at the front of the pack.

For the first group, granted I am not a doctor but the publicly available evidence seems pretty clear to me. That said, I admit that opinions may vary but I can only go with what seems the most plausible theory. Likewise to the second group, it seems to me that Michael Schiavo’s behaviour fell within sufficiently acceptable bounds to not disqualify him and that far from taking the ‘easy way out’, in spite of the character assassinations levelled at him, he did what he thought was best and was well within his rights to do so. Ann Coulter has certainly not convinced me that Michael Schiavo stands to get anything out of this other than the hatred of millions of people and precious little else. Again, I realise that reasonable people may disagree on these points. I certainly do not think all (or even most) of the people who took a contrary view were either unreasonable or immoral, I just think they were wrong.

To the third group however, no accommodation or meeting of the minds or even reasoned discourse seems possible. For me, the decision to starve this poor creature to death was wrong: once it was decided that the body that was once Terri Schiavo was better off dead, why not just have the courage of convictions to end it all with an more dignified injection? I understand the legal niceties of why it was done the way it was done but that does not make it the right or humane way to do such a thing. Terri Schiavo may have been past caring but the fact there are people who are so obsessed with prolonging physical existence even under the most horrendous circumstances that to ‘do the right thing’ would risk prosecution for murder, which is deeply disturbing.

I am fortunate that this blog means my views regarding what I would want for me if I was ever in Terri Schiavo’s situation will be a matter of public record so not even Tom DeLay will be able to argue if someone wants to pull the plug on me if some day I get hit by a bus when in Florida. To demand the intervention of the state to ensure the continued bodily existence of a woman whose brain was made up of a high proportion of spinal fluid is not being ‘pro-life’, it is being ‘pro-undeath’, what we have here is truly an American Zombie Cult.


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77 comments to The American Zombie Cult

  • Hank Scorpio

    What I find most interesting is that it takes months to get anything done in Washington, yet the case of a woman who died a long time ago, but whose earthly shell has lingered for 15 years can elicit an emergency session of congress, which passes a bill in no time flat and which the president signed that very night.

    Yeah, guys. This and steroids in baseball are what you should be concerned about. It’s not like there’s a damned war on or anything. Forget the fact that we’ve got non-braindead people in the prime of life dying every day out in some god-forsaken, sandy, third world hell hole, we’ve got a vegetable to create a media circus around!

    This country is ridiculous, and although I wouldn’t call myself “libertarian” by any stretch of the imagine, I’m a lot closer to that branch of conservatism than I’ll ever be to these Taliban Republicans currently in power.

  • Bolie Williams IV

    I am not a lawyer or a doctor, but I’ve talked to and read stuff written by a number of both. I’ve also perused affidavits and court documents. I realize that there is still a lot I don’t know about Terri’s case, so nothing I say is intended to be authoritative.

    I tend to agree with the position that Terri was PVS and did not need to be kept alive. I have read enough comments by doctors, though, to believe that her diagnosis was not as thorough as it could have been and that even with the CT scan showing incredible brain shrinkage, it’s possible that there could have still been activity in the cortex. Neurologists who examined her and saw her CT scan believed that there was still a possiblity that she was Minimally Conscious rather than PVS.

    Before killing her, I would have liked to see more thorough testing. Unfortunately, even after 15 years of court battle, no other testing had been done.

    I’m also concerned that her lack of any kind of therapy at all would have led to a deterioration. She may have been PVS when they pulled the feeding tube, but therapy does sometimes help the extremely brain damaged.

    In addition to the question about her condition, the finding that she would have wanted to die was based on some offhand comments she made, not a considered and thoughtful decision. I’m not crazy about killing someone without something more concrete. If she’d been on a respirator or something, then it would have been a different story.

    I’m also a bit disturbed by the fact that she was given pain medication and morphine even though someone who is PVS doesn’t feel pain. If there was doubt, then she probably shouldn’t have been killed.

    I don’t like starving someone to death who is otherwise physically healthy. I also do not like the idea of actively killing someone in the same state. For people who are brain damaged but physically healthy, in my opinion there is no good way to end their life. I’m not so much concerned about the patient as I am about the person who would do the killing.

    This issue has provoked a lot of straw men and broad brushes. It is obvious to me that intelligent, thoughtful people can hold different opinions on this. The fact that all of the evidence is second or third hand (or more) doesn’t help.

    I would bet that the number of people who wanted her kept alive at all costs is pretty small. I think a lot of people were disturbed at the apparent vigor with which the court was ordering her death. Some of this vigor I believe was illusory or manufactured by the media and/or Terri’s family.

    This case is not a sign of the decline of America or anything like that. There are far worse things going on that show the decline of America. This is just a particularly difficult case that caught the public eye.

  • Winzeler

    Perry, I like your thought. It was at least interesting, but I think your language and tone is going to put a lot of people so far off that they’ll miss what you’re really saying.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    I think you’re a bit off the mark with your photo. These absolutist pro-life types might better be like the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, who wanted to “help” humanity by taking away all of people’s highs and lows. 🙂

  • veryretired

    This case rekindled the fire that has been smoldering quietly in the back of the fireplace—the division between the pro-life and pro-abortion forces. The Justice Dept during the ’90’s was aimed very squarely at the right wing, and the pro-life people were harassed, jailed, and sued repeatedly in order to gag their protests.

    Once the occupant of the White House changed from left to right, and especially after 9/11 and the military became involved in the Afghan and then Iraqi campaigns, the left took over protesting that situation, and protesting became respectable again. During this latter period, while there were continued abortion protests, the media concentrated on anti-war activity, with which it agrees, and mostly ignored anything on the right, except to mention occasional counter-protests in order to be “balanced”.

    The pent up fury of the pro-life side came out for the Schiavo situation because it had always been there, bubbling below the surface, and only needed a focus in order to erupt.

    It strikes me as very odd that so many people are so upset about this emergence of anger on the right, when it is routinely dismissed with a ho-hum when it happens regularly on the left for an entire laundry list of reasons, from anti-globalization to the environment, as long as it is anti-US and esp. anti US military.

    As an improper libertarian, and not a social conservative, I find all this intrusion into peoples’ private affairs distasteful in the extreme.

    What I can’t abide is the grotesque double standard which views people trashing entire cities and threatening anyone who doesn’t agree with them as “activism” spurred on by noble motives when it is on the left, but which then categorizes any protest on the part of the right as a dangerous and fascist display of irrationality.

    When the Berrigans and their religious allies were damaging offices and throwing blood at people, it was peaceful protest. When some religious conservatives demonstrate for unborn babies or comatose adults, it suddenly becomes an attempt to impose a theocracy.

    There are some serious ethical issues to be dealt with in these cases, but I doubt the heat generated by this “media event” will shed any light on potentially viable alternatives.

  • warmi

    “the animated corpse of Terri Schiavo”
    “an American Zombie Cult.”

    And that’s from a guy who lives in a society that, as far as freedom is concerned ,has been effectively brain-dead for much longer than Terri Shiavo.

    The question is who and when will pull the plug …

  • warmi

    “the animated corpse of Terri Schiavo”
    “an American Zombie Cult.”

    And that’s from a guy who lives in a society that, as far as freedom is concerned ,has been effectively brain-dead for much longer than Terri Shiavo.

    The question is who and when will pull the plug …

  • DLW in KCMO

    Wow..thought I said everything there was to say about this.

    First of all using such terms as “zombie”, “animated corpse”, empty shell” “already dead” among all the other ones I’ve seen to describe Ms. Schiavo is what kiddies do. It’s not only in bad taste, it’s dispicably and purposely dehumanizing. Who are you trying to convince that she was not human? Maybe you are trying to convince yourself.

    I can’t speak for the slimy, posturing Washington politicians but the average Americans who found this starvation disgusting transended political ideology. There were quite a number of people and groups that usually champion liberal causes against the starvation of this so callled zombie. There were also Conservative Republicans who thought she should be put to death.

    Don’t paint us with a broad brush. I have no religious belief. I am not bible thumping Republican crack pot. I claim no party but believe in the Constitution in the strictist sense. I’m not pro-life though I have some question about late term abortion. I also question the death penalty. I believe the state has NO RIGHT to order the execution of anyone when there is a shadow of doubt that that person may be innocent.

    Save me your posturing…you bleat about how you wouldn’t want to be kept in such condition. Who would?
    You use this “brave” statement to justify your belief that this icky, inhumane, zombie shell needs to die. Go write a living will.

    People die over here all the time because someone “pulled their plug.” It’s what they requested, recorded and made well known.

    Your rabid defense of the husband and his “rights” without considering his honesty is a bit over done. I suggest you read up about the case a bit more.

    You freedom loving “Libertarians” (and I use that description loosley) are apalled that Congress made a gesture to get involved in this case even though they were acting within the Constitution to do so as someones life was on the line. For some reason, when the INTRUSIVE GOVERNMENT represented by a judge decided someone should die based on heresay it didn’t seem to phase you.

    Oh, I forgot. This wasn’t a real person. It is a thing, not human, not life. Pass around the internet pics…see? it’s brain has the consistency dog piss! This thing doesn’t have the same right as us real people, right? (read Dred Scott).

    Peter, no, not all of the people who were sickened when the state decided to starve this woman were right-wing wackos.

    You people moan about the Nanny State wanting to control your lives and bad habits but don’t blink an eye when she decides to “do away” with someone.

  • zmollusc

    Every time a case like this hits the headlines it fails to ignite a public debate about life. I think it is about time that a commonly agreed definition of life, and indeed conciousness was reached. Then we can eliminate either animal cruelty or the animal rights people.

    As to the day to day practicalities of the pro-life argument, I say let the pro-lifers pay for the lives they claim to protect. Lets see the pro-lifers provide medical facilities, education and upbringing for the otherwise aborted fetususes. Ditto medical facilities for the PVS patients.
    If they don’t want to put their money where their mouths are then how can we tell them from a bunch of self-serving attention-grabbers working to a secret agenda?

  • ‘Rabid defense’? ‘Don’t paint us with a broad brush’? Did you actually read my article or are you just reacting to trigger words? Did you not read the bit where I do NOT paint you all with the same brush maybe? Did you read the bit where I indicated I thought starving was actually a cop out? As for using terms like animated corpse, well yeah, that is exactly how I see it. Terri Schiavo was already dead. You may not agree but kindly characterise what I wrote correctly.

  • The thing is that Terri Schiavo is not brain dead – brain death is not the same as PVS (which is at doubt, in my opinion – the courts should have mandated a MRI or a PET scan). If she is brain dead, she would need much more life-support than a G-tube. A key part of what constitute brain death is the lack “spontaneous respirations” – she breathes without any problem on her own. Her heartbeat as well as blood flow are independent of any machines.

    The thing about brain death is that a person can be pronounced clinically death even though there is still a heart beat sustained by life support procedures – Judge Greer thought this was so with a feeding tube. Yet it took 13 days for Terri Schiavo’s heart beat to stop – she is definitely not brain dead.

    Otherwise, why is it that after finding Terri’s EGG flat the doctors didn’t issue a death certificate for Terri?

  • I realise she was not brain-dead but rather was PVS. However as I gather much of her brain was just fluid, it seems fair to say no one was home any more and there was no possible way that could change. If that is NOT a correct understanding of her medical state then yes, I would change my views on the correctness of pulling the plug.

  • Charles

    Anyone here like being offended?


  • Mr X

    I think Mark Steyn makes a far stronger case.

  • S. Weasel

    Well, that’s just precious, Perry. “I gave it a deliberately offensive title and ended it with a deliberately offensive photo, how come you didn’t read all the stuff in the middle?”

    Jesus. Somebody please tell me the reason I haven’t seen David Carr’s byline lately is that he’s starting his own blog…?

  • Mr X

    “So when such a group which thinks extending the existence of the hapless Terri Schiavo’s body regardless of the fact much of her brain was spinal fluid and pretending that being in some way reactive to light and sound means she was still ‘alive’ in any meaningful way, they cannot really be called ‘pro-life’ because it seems to me that Terri Schiavo’s life ended many years ago.”

    I am especially interested to know how you reached this prognosis, Doctor, when Michael Schiavo has not permitted a single medical exam to determine the exact level of Terri’s functionality since 1993.

  • Steve

    It amazes me that some people still believe this was a case of the state ordering that someone be put to death. This was a case of the state inserting itself into a private legal and medical matter, and for once being slapped down by the judiciary in the way it deserved. The only reason a judge was ordering the tube withdrawn, was because a judge had ordered it re-inserted.

  • Surely a libertarian should be passionate about conserving social capital – absent that, only French-style central government works. Building social capital depends on conserving and growing trust.

    Now look at how the killing of this woman has reduced trust of/or in the following groups:

    1. Disabled people. See http://www.thecrimson.com/today/article506716.html.

    2. Married people. Hubby/wifey can top you if you become helpless & can’t communicate.

    3. Doctors. The “can’t communicate so is non-person” school of medicine is prevalant, so best keep doctors away from your ailing kin. In fact this school looks to be bad science. Take a look at this from the Senior Psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/421fubzy.asp. So your assumption that Terri Schiavo was just “a body” is debatable.

    4. Hospices. Many old folks will now see them as places they go to be killed, rather than places they go to die. The use of morphine to stop her reacting to the dehydration suggested this is SOP. Creepy.

    5. Judges. Nuff said.

    6. Libertarians. Protecting the weak is (probably) wired in to us. Enables folks to raise helpless babies, fix damaged children & harvest knowledge and skills from failing older people.

    Anyway, Samizdata will be pleased by the upcoming Brit Mental Capacity Bill. You’ll be able to starve not just people with PVS but also the severely mentally deficient, gay men suffering from AIDS-related dementia, Alzheimer’s patients who can’t feed themselves, and infants with cerebral palsy or spina bifida or hydrocephalus.

    Enjoy your Brave New World.

  • Disappointing analysis, Perry, and invective worthy of a teenager. The attack ad hominem mars what would otherwise be an easily parried attack.

    And I’ll take the American cult of life over the European cult of assisted suicide for those whom authority deems inferior, any day of the week.

    Sorry. I am a fan, and this was really a disappointing post from you.

  • Perry de Havilland: You gather wrongly – Terri Schiavo’s celebral cortex is largely, but not completely, liquidized – not the entire brain. That means that there’s no hope beyond some miracle stem-cell cortex-growing cure for recovery. However it might be possible that Terri Schiavo getting her to learn to swallow (a big might, BTW).

    Point remains that she isn’t brain dead. If you can get a simple point wrong in your post, what else can be said of your entire opinion? Yes, that can’t be changed – but that isn’t justification to kill her. The lame can’t walk, the blind can never see, and the mute have no hope of talking and the deaf would never hear them. Kill them too?

    Yes, I’m very much for euthanasia, but I’m even much more for rule of law – the law in Florida bans assisted suicide. And even if they did, it is far from certain, unless you are naive to believe a man who conviently after winning a malpractice suit remembers that this is her wife’s speech in heresay testimony (corroborated by his immediate family, conflicting with testimony provided by the Schindlers).

    The courts should have granted custody to the guardians, especially after 1997 (Florida’s Statute 744.3215 2. (c) provides the state to help initiate her divorce from a husband that lives and have children with another woman). As for the argument this isn’t a matter for the state – when both sides decided to take this to the courts, it have become a matter of the state. Nothing in the statutes forbids both families from settling without going to court.

    As for abortion, most conservatives don’t object to “the intentional death of a fertilised egg” (i.e. birth control/ night-after pills.) And while Schindlers’ lawyers is a anti-abortion nut set on using the Schiavo case to campaign against abortion, few parallels can be drawn between the two (the difference is great – Terri’s death is prolonged for 13 days, while abortion kills the embryo or fetus almost immediately).

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Hang on a second – I completely disagree with Perry on this issue, but I still think this is a good blog he founded and I still think Perry’s an interesting contributor. All of you people who are coming out with these ridiculous “I was a fan but now I’ve heard you say this…” lines I’m currently stumbling over aren’t particularly libertarian at all. Do you need to agree with everything you read to enjoy a blog? It’s a shame that you’re so intellectually hermetic.

  • Verity

    There are consequences beyond what happened to Terri. We now have a legal precedent.

    In the case of a severely incapacitated person not capable of making his own decision about whether to pull the plug, the spouse’s sudden recollection of a casual remark several years after the onset of the incapacity now has the power of law.

    In the absence of British or Commonweath precedents, British judges look to the US, so hang onto your life support machines, folks! Doubtless in Britain, this right to Sudden Convenient Recall Syndrome will be extended to “partners” of one week or more.

  • Verity, you continue to get the facts wrong on the Schiavo case:

    In the case of a severely incapacitated person not capable of making his own decision about whether to pull the plug, the spouse’s sudden recollection of a casual remark several years after the onset of the incapacity now has the power of law.

    First, Mr. Schiavo’s recollection was confirmed by other witnessses, under oath, and the totality of the evidence was found by a court to be “clear and convincing.”

    Second, the only reason that anything Mr. Schiavo said ever achieved “the power of law” was because the state of Florida insisted that any decision to withdraw a feedng tube be confirmed by a court in a court order. His recollection never had the power of law, only the court order did.

    In other words, it is the involvement of the state in the guardian’s decision in the first place that made this a legal matter. I ask you, as I have asked others and never gotten an answer:

    If the state courts had never gotten involved, and allowed the decisions regarding Ms. Schiavo’s care to remain entirely private, her feeding tube would have been pulled and she would be dead.

    So which is it that bothers you: The fact that a court was involved in this decision, or the fact that the decision was made at all? If the latter, then it is not the involvement of the state that bothers you, not the “force of law” behind her care decisions, but something else altogether.

  • “I’m suffering for my art”,

    I don’t know if you are lumping me in with the others in your comment, but if so, I would like to clarify.

    I said “I am a fan,” not “I was a fan.” Present tense. I am a fan of Samizdata. And I said I was disappointed in the post, not in the blog.

    I do not expect the folks at Samizdata to always agree with my views. I would be surprised if they did.

  • Winzeler

    There are consequences beyond what happened to Terri. We now have a legal precedent.

    I know this is going to be true, but it exposes precisely the problem. One particular person’s experience now dictates to the rest of the country “precedent.” That really burns me. If the courts had never been dragged into this one, if the J Bush had never stuck his convinctions in, if the federal legislature and GW Bush had never gotten involved, THERE WOULD BE NO LEGAL PRECEDENT. There would only be one person who’s decision making rights had been handed over to their next of kin as the result of a horrible tragedy at the hands of an inept medical system. Thank you, Verity, for summing this one up nicely.

  • Verity

    RC – You may know something I do not know, but to the best of my knowledge, the corroborating witnesses were two other Schiavos.

    Anyway, this is fruitless. People are never going to be persuaded to change from entrenched positions.

  • toolkien


    People want the full analysis? Fine. (Construction from the ground up ahead).

    How about, absent a State, a severely damaged individual must necessarily depend on the goodwill of other people. The people most willing to allocate their wealth to assist them are going to be the immediate family and/or a ‘life-partner’ (so as not offend any particular persuasion- and marriage, of course, as a State recognition of a partnership). At the end of the day it is only interested parties who are going to allocate their time and wealth for such an individual. The proof? No one here gave a steaming pile about Terri Schiavo 45 days ago. There was functional disinterest manifesting itself in all its splendor.

    Now add in that technology has enabled conditions like Mrs. Schiavo to continue on and on. The problem is who should have to pay for the treatment? Should a State be constructed to force certain people to pay for it? What if there is disagreements over the type of care given? Based on what and whose ethic should these issues be decided? Should people at large be extorted of their wealth at large to pay for it? And what if the prognosis is so dim so as to be beyond hope, whose value judgement should control? Do we force people to care for a person so damaged that nearly all hope is gone until they are bankrupt?Bureaucrats and (ulitmately) disinterested third parties should impose their will based on some collectivist value? Or should those closest (emotionally and financially) have their value system rule?

    So we create a State (for many reasons). There are many of us who are ideally anarchists but are very willing to make a concession that there will be a State. Then what role should the State have? How can there be a State and maximum preservation of human life an property with minimum intrusion into private affairs? This is debated many different ways here, between the more ‘pure libertarians’ and the ‘conservative leaning libertarians’. The fact that ‘murder’ is so easily tossed around in this case shows just how much of a fundemental divide there is here.

    A simple start is to recognize the next closest person and give them as much control to exercise their will in accordance with their value system instead of having a singular value rule from on high. Of course there is going to have to be a fine line for the State to distinguish between the active desire to kill a person and to withhold care in a basically hopeless situation. If the damaged person’s condition can effectively be traced to previous actions by the appointed guardian with deadly intent, well then the State, which is created to protect life and property, should step in. A person with deadly intent should not be given a further chance. Then the rights to decide the fate of the invalid will go the next closest blood relative.

    The Schiavo case really boils down to a dispute between the value system of default surrogate #1 and default surrogate #2. Without showing a root deadly intent or clear incapacity on the part of surrogate #1, surrogate #2 should not be able to dislodge #1 simply because they disagree with their valuation. To do so, and demand action from the State, will make the State the de facto evaluator in all cases.

    What this case illustrates is the State (at least some portions) trying as best it can to keep itself out of private affairs. This should be celebrated by anyone who considers themselves libertarian. But it surprising just how quickly such supposed sentiments disappear when faced with the hard reality of death and economic constraints.

    A question I have so far avoided asking the folks who were concerned about Mrs. Schiavo is, what if Schiavo and the Schindler family were without means to pay for treatment and hospice care?
    Also, I watched my father pass away nearly two years ago. His intestines were all but shot. His heart was very weak. And then there was the morphine. And while he was slipping away slowly, the morphine was turned up more and more. Given the interplay between my family (specifically my mother) and the intensive care staff, I am more than certain it was an overdose of morphine that ultimately ended my father’s life. Are we all murderers? Or does it really matter? I guess it doesn’t unless Aunt Mildred thinks so, and then the whole world’s opinion matters.

  • Mário Vilela

    Look at the videos of the “animated corpse” on this site: http://www.terrisfight.org/ (RealPlayer is required). She (or it?), although severely handicapped, seems quite alive to me, but then I’m no doctor and can only use my Mark One Eyeball — a tool others consider ridiculously unreliable when compared to Florida judges and London-based pundits, who apparently use ESP.
    And take a look at the way Michael Schiavo, that model spouse, has spent the million dollars Terri was awarded in the malpractice lawsuit. The loving husband provided her with no therapy, no PET, no MRT. And of course, for the past two weeks, no water and no food. Lucky girl.

    Mário Vilela
    Ribeirão Pires, Brazil

  • FredJHarris

    Might give this one a bit more thought.
    There are a lot of “animated corpses” that
    will need killing.

  • Dace

    weasel, who seems to be suffering from neocon defensive kneejerk syndrome, does not like that fact someone objects to being critisized for things he never said. classy.

  • Dace

    I am especially interested to know how you reached this prognosis, Doctor,

    it was widely reported in the media so i guess he got it from the same place you get your info, unless you got some inside track we all dont

  • S. Weasel


  • I'm suffering for my art

    Yeah, you big neocon, you.

  • Winzeler

    Where did that come from?

  • DLW in KCMO

    zmollusc said: “Everytime a case like this hits the headlines it fails to ignite a public debate about life.”

    zmollusc, this particular case became controversal and hit the headlines because the family of this woman (not the husband) were trying to fight the husband’s desire to kill her. His actions were suspect and many felt that if she were allowed to die without further investigation a great injustice would have been commited.

    It wasn’t about abortion rights or assisted suicied. He had his story and wittnesses. The family had their story and wittnesses…it was a “he said/she said” situation and the judge had to decide which story to believe when neither side had proof other than wittnesses. It was a legal battle in which a person’s life was at stake.

    Often family members make the difficult decision to “pull the plug” on their loved ones. This has been going on for decades. These incidents never hit the headlines.
    The difference is that these people are terminal and at the end of their life and it’s generally their wishes.

    Instead of describing it as a pro-life/pro-abortion controversy, it would be better and more accurate to describe it as a legal battle that focussed on the basic human rights of a person who had already been born.

    I’ll remind you that many people, including “pro-abortion” types found the idea of starving this woman to death because she was disabled and unable to speak for herself wrong.

    zmollusc, further, in your post, you rant on about “attention seeking pro- lifers” and how they shoud take on the feeding and care of the lives they claim they want to protect.

    #1 I’m not neccessarily against abortion nor were many people who spoke up about this case. I generally try to stay away from the abortion debate. Instead of venting your anger at “pro-lifers”, perhaps you should rant at people who act irresponsibly – enough about that.

    #2 Human beings, who have already been born, but , for whatever reason, end up in a “pvs” are not disposable lumps of meat. What’s next? Hey, how about people with downs syndrome? Don’t forget the very old.

    #3 If your real concern is the cost of taking care of people who can’t take care of themselves, then let’s join forces and demand welfare reform! Get the able bodied people off the dole!

    Your way of thinking is very strange. The devaulation of human life is a frighteneing concept.

  • I think we have officially reached the point of talking past each other.

    Some see the Schiavo case as her husband trying to kill her and successfully enlisting the Florida and federal judiciaries in that project.

    Others see the Schiavo case as a private family dispute over medical care that ballooned out of control and sucked in all manner of state actors, from state judges right on up to the POTUS, who have no business sticking their oar into a private decision.

    The gap cannot be bridged. We await only the accusations of Nazism to declare the discussion officially closed.

  • Amelia

    So far I have not commented on this, nor have I read others comments so if I am repeating someone just ignore me. It is my understanding that Judge Greer legally was to err on the side of life unless there was clear and convincing evidence of her wishes. Hearsay cannot in my state constitute clear and convincing evidence. Usually hearsay is considered to meet a slight evidence standard, hardly ever would it meet a preponderance of the evidence standard and it would never meet a clear and convincing standard. The judge is a moron regardless of the emotions in this case. I do not understand how his ruling survived on appeal. I guess the Florida appellate courts are really incompetent as well. Under these facts alone an injustice occurred whether or not she was completely brain dead. This whole circus would not have happened had the judge acted within the confines of the law. His is the greater overreach.

  • DLW in KCMO


    First of all, my original comment on this thread was a response to all the various comments I read on this and previous threads concerning this topic. I was responding not only to your post but more so to those who commented on this subject.

    I wouldn’t have time to address each and every commentor so I simply focussed on the general theme that you all seemed to agree on which was Ms Schiavo was not worthy enough to be allowed to live and Mr Schiavo’s right to have her killed should be protected at all costs without question.

    The words “you” and “your” were used as plurals. Also note my phrase: “You freedom loving Libertarians” – notice the “s” on the end of “Libertarians?

    I did make one comment to you specifically (I called you “Peter” not “Perry” and I apologize for that):

    “Peter, no, not all the people who were sickened when the state decided to starve this woman were right-wing wackos”

    You made this point even though YOU mischaracterized the majority of people who were against this woman’s death by focussing on the fringe elements. The personal comment to you was my “half-assed” agreement. I certainly wasn’t mischaracterizng what you originally posted.

    Secondly, I did read your entire post. In fact, I read it again this morning and was not reacting to trigger words even though you threw in a few good ones. I appreciate it that you tossed in the fact (though obscurely) that not all those who disagree were bible thumping crack pots. I just didn’t like the idea that your post focussed on those types nor did I agree with your characterization of this contoversy as an abortion rights debate. In my view, it was not “pro-life” debate though I certainly understand why “pro-lifers” would get envolved.

    It’s your blog…free speech and all that ..and I’m glad I can express my opinion here.

    Lastly, you are certainly free to use whatever term you like, no matter how deragatory, to describe Ms Schiavo. I’m sure “zombie” was intended to stir it up a bit. I don’t really believe your term “American Zombie Culture” wasn’t intended to insult those of us who disagree with you (wink, wink). I bet your are actually a nice, polite fellow in real life.

  • Winzeler

    Ms Schiavo was not worthy enough to be allowed to live and Mr Schiavo’s right to have her killed should be protected at all costs without question.

    If this is best you can understand our general theme then you are not engaging what we are actually saying. None of us (R C Dean, toolkien, Johnathan, et al) have asserted that Ms. Schiavo was unworthy of life. We haven’t postulated that Mr. Schiavo’s rights to make her decisions in her stead should be protected at all costs. You can just take me at my word when I say we’re aren’t saying that. Now that I have totally undone what you think we’re saying I would like you to go back and, exercising better comprehensive reading skills, try to figure out what we’re really saying, because it is a far cry from what you just said we’re saying.

  • zmollusc

    Dlw in Thing, It is the definition of life and intelligent life that I would like to see more public discussion about. How much brain activity qualifies one as alive? How much functioning brain mass? What about if one is asleep? Gestating? What is human? How many changes from human DNA does it take to make one non-human?
    I think that the existance of these big grey areas should be more widely realised as it greatly affects cases like this.

    This does not mean I favour gassing of disabled elderly gay jews.

  • Jon H

    The anti-death faction would like to think they have the moral high ground. But they don’t.

    They don’t because they would consign patients to death on the say-so of accountants. When the money runs out, the life support stops.

    Thus, the patient dies, not because of their own preference, not because of the spouse’s preference, not because of the parents’ preference, but because continued support would reduce corporate profits or require a tax increase.

    “Erring on the side of life” is empty, meaningless rhetoric if not backed up with funding. Otherwise, you’re content to let people be quietly disconnected by bean-counters.

  • GCooper

    Winzeler writes:

    ” Now that I have totally undone what you think we’re saying I would like you to go back and, exercising better comprehensive reading skills, try to figure out what we’re really saying, because it is a far cry from what you just said we’re saying.”

    I’ve held back from further comment today, not least because it seemed better simply to ignore Perry de Havilland’s rather juvenile attempt to stimulate controversy, than give him the cheap thrill of imagining that he had been successful.

    However, I do think it’s necessary to point out that the need to read what is being written, rather than what you wish to read, extends in both directions.

    The inability of some posters, among whom you figure prominently, as does toolkien, to comprehend what is being said simply adds weight to R C Dean’s earlier point, that we are at the stage where people are talking past one another.

    The primary objection, as far as I can see, has been to judge Greer’s original decision, which it seems many (myself among them) consider to have been unsafe. Why it seems beyond the ability of self-styled libertarians to conceive that a judge could be in error, is baffling.

    Failure to grasp this simple objection has resulted in a garbage heap of straw men and sophistry. No doubt more of the same will follow.

  • Jon H

    In regards to Michael Schiavo’s “adultery”, I would point out the Biblical precedent of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.

    Abraham was married to Sarah. Sarah couldn’t give him a child, so she gave Abraham her slave Hagar, as a concubine. Abraham had children with Hagar. Much later, he managed to have children by Sarah.

    This does not seem to have been considered bad behavior, given that Abraham had positive interaction with God and angels after the fact. ie, being told by God to sacrifice his child by Sarah, and then being stopped by an angel before the child was killed, because Abraham had proved his obedience to the lord.

    Now, granted, the Schiavo situation is not the same, because Terri did not give Michael a slave for the purpose of procreation. On the whole, I should think that’s to the Schiavos’ credit, because at least Michael Schiavo’s girlfriend participated freely.

    Then there was Jacob, I think it was, who had kids by his two (simultaneous) wives, *and* by the serving-girl of each wife.

  • DLW in KCMO


    I read all the comments on this topic and stand by my claim on the “general theme”. Some were more concerned with the legal aspect others had concerns over the financial aspect but the majority agreed on the basic theme that I stated. I was prepared to do some “copy/pasting of various comments starting from 18 March…until I read “GCooper’s” sensible reply.

    Don’t see a point in it as it is unlikely that we will agree. The controversy has ended, the woman is dead.

    When researching past comments on this blog I noticed another general theme expressed by those on the opposite side (there were exceptions so untwist your panties); the habit of “insulting” those who thought this woman should live by assuming we were emotionally out of control. A habit usually reserved to the Left.

    It is possible to disagree with this issue and NOT be a hysterically, emotionally driven religious fanatic….tut tut.

  • Verity

    DLW – Yes, the acusation that those of us who were speaking up for a woman whose husband had Suddenly-Recovered Memory Syndrome three or four years after she went into a coma and one year after he won a million dollar settlement were spurred to protest by religious right sentiments has been very irritating and, to be candid, suspicious.

    Jon H, to attempt to use OT crap as an argument in a blog that has such a high percentage of Brits and Aussies is passing naive. You do understand that you are not, in the main, addressing the religious right – or even the vaguely Christian? There may be some genuine British Christians who read and contribute to this blog, but there may also be some CoE clergymen and bishops, whose presence would water the numbers down rather.

    Judge Greer ruled lazily and insecurely and subsequent rulings were lazy rubbing stampings on a narrow remit.

    Now loving husband Michael is having Terri cremated …. hmmm … against her RC beliefs and against the wishes of her parents who he has treated with such brutality it beggars belief.

  • Jon H

    “Now loving husband Michael is having Terri cremated …. hmmm … against her RC beliefs and against the wishes of her parents who he has treated with such brutality it beggars belief.”

    First, cremation has been okay for Catholics since 1963. If her parents are claiming otherwise, they’re bullshitting.

    Second, she didn’t get communion in the two years prior to her heart attack, so she probably didn’t have a very strong Catholic faith. Just because her parents are super-religious it doesn’t make her that way.

    Third, her parents’ wishes are irrelevant. And they’ve earned the treatment they’ve received from Michael Schiavo. They and their partisans pursued a scorched-earth policy of slander, and now they’re getting their just deserts.

  • Interesting title. Since I heard about this case the parents have reminded me of the husband in last year’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead” who tried to keep his zombie wife and baby hidden from the other survivors, and then kills the woman who finds out and shoots his wife.

  • Verity

    Jon H – Her parents are “super religious”? That’s an unfounded statement based on what might appear to be, given your previous appearances on this blog, freefloating malice. References please.

    (Also, just to keep the record straight, “didn’t” make her that way. Past tense, there’s a good fellow. She is dead.)

  • Winzeler

    DLW, we (specifically, toolkien, Johnathan, RC, and I -maybe a few others) deserved to be lumped in with your “general theme” about as much as you and Verity deserve to be lumped in with the “emotionally driven religious fanatics.” Without verifying, I think I’m safe saying that we haven’t “generalized” you. So repay the respect we have shown you and don’t do it to us.

    We make few, if any, judgments about the condition of Ms. Schiavo. We make few, if any, judgments about the infallibility of Mr. Schiavo’s capacity to accurately carry out Ms. Schiavo’s will. That said, let me explain (again) our general theme. First, you have a person who is receiving medical care perpetually who is incapable of expressing their wishes about whether or not they would like to remain in such a state. Second, this person’s next of kin is a husband. Third, there are interested parties contesting the husbands decisions. Fourth, in a libertarian society the government intervenes in these situations as only a mediator. Fifth, justification for any government intervention bears the burden of proof (particularly that a civil liberty has been violated by the initiation of force). Sixth, no evidence was provided proving that the next of kin had disqualified himself by violating his wife’s civil liberties throught the initiation of force. Seventh, the judiciary acknowledged the fact that there was no proof that the next of kin had disqualified himself (Suspicions, conjecture and, accusations may abound, but they do not justify the government forcibly intervening and interrupting the natural order of things). Libertarians basically believe this is the way it should go. Now, go ahead and tell me how this squares with your generalization

    you all seemed to agree on which was Ms Schiavo was not worthy enough to be allowed to live and Mr Schiavo’s right to have her killed should be protected at all costs without question.

    of the purist libertarians opposing your “The Federal Government simply wanted Terri to get another hearing” ideology

  • DLW in KCMO

    zmollusc writes: “That doesn’t mean I favour gassing of disabled elderly gay Jews”


    That’s a relief! What are your views on Black Christian vegan hermaphrodites with speech impediments who are self-proclaimed male lesbians?

    Nuke em or no?

  • Mr X

    it was widely reported in the media so i guess he got it from the same place you get your info, unless you got some inside track we all dont

    The same media that has universally decided to overlook the fact that not one single medical exam – of any kind – was performed on Terri Schiavo after 1993.

    You see, those of us with a brain recognize that as being an information deficit, and therefore refrain from drawing a conclusion as to her physical condition.

    I questioned Perry as to what he based his prognosis on. I offer no counter-prognosis, dolt.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    GCooper –

    The primary objection, as far as I can see, has been to judge Greer’s original decision, which it seems many (myself among them) consider to have been unsafe.

    YES! I TOTALLY AGREE! I pretty much said this on an earlier post and it was completely ignored – people were too busy rehashing all these peripheral issues. At the end of the day, I agree with the existence of an arbitration process, but I think in this instance it failed catastrophically. Congress’s intervention is a sideshow, but some of the most adamant libertarians here are like deers in the headlights of this issue, which is important in its own right but not so in the primary focus.

  • Verity

    Mr X and Suffering – Me too. Greer’s original decision was flawed in flashing neon lights with a chorus line, yet no other court ventured outside its self-imposed narrow remit.

    That the medical people involved weren’t as insouciant as the lawyers and Michael Schiavo is evidenced by the fact that they chose to err on the side of compassion and administered morphine to Terri as she was dying.

  • Winzeler

    It appears that Greer recognized that in order for the government to justify disrupting the natural order of things (decision rights and responsibilities being passed on to the next of kin) it had to have proof (not theories, not accusations, not conjecture, not suspicions, but proof) that the next of kin had disqualified himself.

    Why would a libertarian conclude that the government finally ruling that it had no business interferring in a matter, as the result of a lack of proof that it needed to, is “flawed in flashing neon lights with a chorus line?”

  • I'm suffering for my art

    not theories, not accusations, not conjecture, not suspicions, but proof

    These theories, accusations, conjecture and suspicions you refer to did not amount to proof because the court didn’t seem particularly interested in investigating them. Its unwillingness to re-examine Ms Schiavo’s medical condition reminds me of a recalcitrant, de Gaullist non!

  • S. Weasel

    I, thank goodness, have little direct experience of the court system, but here’s what I understand from far too much reading about the situtaon:

    The first court — Greer’s court — was the finder of facts. Once he ruled on what the facts of the case were (whenever in the wayback that happened), those become the FACTS , full stop. Appeals to subsequent courts can ONLY rule whether that first court did anything improper in the course of finding the facts. There were several possible grounds for this — like the fact Terri didn’t have her own separate legal counsel — but they could NOT go back and revisit the evidence and redecide the facts.

    That was the point of Congress stepping in. The bill they wrote said that not only should the case be looked at again, but it should be looked at again de novo — from the beginning, as if it were new. The courts would not have been permitted to do this on their own. The thinking was two-fold — a fresh court might come to an entirely different conclusion, especially since her condition has probably changed since the original trial, and, at any rate, the process would take so long that they would obviously have to feed her while they worked through it.

    The courts, by simply looking at the appeal and rejecting it one more time, told Congress to screw off.

    Now, I have very little respect for that pack of thieves and bozos that gets up on its hind legs and calls itself a Congress, but I have even less for those pompous, self-important blow-hards in the black robes. And, in this case, it was the court that overstepped its boundaries. The only court mentioned in the US constitution is the Supremes; the entire rest of our judicial system is the creation of Congresses past. It would be a violation of the separation of powers if Congress simply directed a verdict, but they are well within their traditional rights to give the courts a thump if they think things aren’t working as expected. (Our masters in the media dubbed this a “circus” and how would anyone know otherwise without doing a good bit of homework?).

    This is not only a landmark in our national conversation about euthenasia, but another serious skirmish in the war between congress and the judiciary. For once, I think congress has the right of it. The judiciary operates in too little sunshine and seems to concern itself primarily with maintaining the honor and dignity of the judiciary above all else. Terri Schiavo was, after all, a nobody.

  • Winzeler

    Its unwillingness to re-examine Ms Schiavo’s medical condition

    I don’t think Ms. Schiavo’s condition was what they should be examining in the first place (except for two things 1. She required perpetually medication and 2. She couldn’t communicate her desires and intentions about remaining in such a state). The focus of examination should be whether or not Mr. Schiavo had disqualified himself from making her decision as her next of kin. You keep bringing up her condition, but I don’t think it mattered (other than what I just mentioned), and, as you can verify for yourself, I haven’t commented on it, passed judgment on it, or used it to support my point of view (again, except as I have just stated).

  • Winzeler

    DLW, I’m sorry if my last few posts seemed needlessly insulting. I don’t normally try to come across that way, but (without trying to justify improper behavior) I’ve been frustrated by continually being generalized.

  • Verity

    Winzeler – The focus of examination should be whether or not Mr. Schiavo had disqualified himself from making her decision as her next of kin.

    Yes. I agree.

    The latest is, he refused to let the Schindlers have a qualified medical observer at their daughter’s autopsy. Why, for god’s sake? He had her cremated. Whoa! That was fast!

    Again, this sufferer from Suddenly-Recovered Memory Syndrome didn’t remember that his wife had stated (age 23) that she didn’t want to be kept on tubes, and didn’t remember this chance remark (at a funeral) for until three years after she went doolally. Three years is a long time not to have a recollection about something that must have been exercising your thoughts day and night. Oddly enough, this memory kicked in just after he got the insurance settlement.

    One more thought: When you’re in your twenties, you cannot conceive that you will die one day. You’re full of the present and the immediate future. You think you may as well be dead if your hair highlights turn out not great. You can’t even see the end of your life in the distance. The future’s all empty space. Everything is NOW.

    Frankly, before all this, 15 years ago, it would have been a very weird young woman who had given other than flippant consideration to a living will.

  • Winzeler

    I think we’re disagreeing on what the court’s responsibility was. You seem to think it was to figure out if Mr. Schiavo was doing what Ms. Schiavo would have wanted (In which case it would have to figure out what she wanted). I don’t think it had to assertain at all what she would have wanted (in the absence of a living will). I think it had to determine if there was proof that Mr. Schiavo should not be the one to make that determination. It’s a subtle, but important, difference.

  • Verity

    Winzeler – If you were addressing me, I agree with you and have been arguing this point for three or four days.

    By the way, everyone, does Michael Schiavo have a “living will”? If not, he’d better get one really fast. The new girlfriend cannot fail to have picked up a few lessons. He might want to err on the side of caution .

  • Lee Moore

    In principle, I’m all for the state declining to get involved in private affairs. But in cases where someone is acting as “agent” for another, everyone but a committed anarchist will accept that the state must have some responsibility for reviewing whether the agent is pursuing his own, or his principal’s interests/ wishes. Consequently I think it is a little silly to get all theologically libertarian about the degree of state involvement in this case. On balance I agree with Perry that the court didn’t have enough to go on to conclude that the husband should be overruled. However, it has not escaped my notice that nine tenths of the people who approve of the judicial result in the Terri Schiavo case wouldn’t dream of allowing parents to determine how their children are brought up, without the “advice” of social workers, state schools and the like. Is there anyone out there who thinks (a) that it’s quite right that Mr Schiavo should have been left to determine whether his wife should continue to be fed AND (b) that Mr Schiavo should be left to determine whether his children will benefit from reasonable chastisement ? Apart from me that is ?

  • Quite so, Lee!

    In principle I have no objection to the idea of courts getting involved when there are reasonable grounds to suspect someone is *not* carrying out their fiduciary responsibilities appropriately. I have first hand experience relating to a nursing home that makes me all too aware of the horrible things that *can* happen (I would rather not elaborate but suffice to say my experiences did not exactly engender faith on my part in humanity’s basic goodness). I just happen to think that the Schiavo case was not one of those cases, at least judging from the available information that was widely available to the likes of me.

  • Winzeler

    However, it has not escaped my notice that nine tenths of the people who approve of the judicial result in the Terri Schiavo case wouldn’t dream of allowing parents to determine how their children are brought up, without the “advice” of social workers, state schools and the like.

    How is it that you came to this conclusion. It’s not anti-libertarian to “allow” parents to raise their own children their own way.

  • Scott

    I marvel at how many people of either the “minimal government” or the “life is sacrosanct” persuasions have felt compelled to latch on to this case as proof that the other side has got it wrong. There is so much wrong with the Schiavo case as to make it wholly an abberation and not a standard against which to determine future right-to-die cases or legislation. In fact, Ms. Schiavo’s condition has been so poorly handled, investigated and reported on from day one that absolutely no sense can be made of it now so many years later.

    While both sides may regard this tragic case as an abhorent display of Big Government/Religious Zealots (pending your persuasion), I hope it will not become the Roe vs. Wade of the right-to-die/assisted suicide dialogue. This case ultimately boiled down to a custodial dispute, and as far as I’m concerned there are far more unanswered questions in that regard than in regards to a patient’s right to determine what degree of lifesaving treatment he or she desires.

  • Scott’s absolutely right. This case has absolutely nothing to do with Left or Right, Libertarian or Statist, pro-life or pro-choice. Until the last few weeks, it wouldn’t have occurred to any of us to suggest that it was right-wing to believe that feeding someone isn’t medical treatment, or left-wing to believe that a sacramental wafer is.

    I’m a Libertarian, but I do believe the state has some purpose, and that includes policing. It’s not an unreasonable state intrusion when the police intervene in cases where parents are starving children to death. That may be a private matter, but it shouldn’t be. In the Schiavo case, it looked suspiciously like a man was trying to kill his wife for financial gain. It’s not an unreasonable state intrusion to investigate that.

    My own position is that I have the right to commit suicide but I do not have the right to force anyone else to make that decision for me. I also agree with Mark Steyn that Michael Schiavo shouldn’t have been Terri’s next of kin. He broke the marriage vows, so he shouldn’t get to keep the marriage responsibilities. In sickness and in health, for better, for worse — nope, nope, nope. So comes he gets to retain the attendant privileges. In all this debate about what Terri would have wanted, no-one seems to have asked whether she would have wanted her husband to have children with another woman. I can’t be sure, but reckon probably not.

    There is a woman ni Britain, by the way, who has very little brain, literally: scans show a big gap in the middle of her head. According to medical science, she shouldn’t be able to live normally. Yet she’s fine, not even mentally disabled. Would Terri Schiavo have been the same? Almost certainly not. But, bearing such a case in mind, can we say with confidence that anyone with a large portion of their brain missing is effectively dead? Of course not.

    If I were disabled, I’d be shitting myself after the Schiavo case.

  • Verity

    What Scott and Squander Two said. It’s not about right to life, left wing right wing, right to die, Libertarianism, Fascism … it was about who should have custody. Schiavo had set up house with another woman and had two children by her, as was his right, of course. But for him then to be judged a competent and loving guardian of his wife stretches credibility. Given the additional element of a substantial insurance policy and it beggars belief that custodial duties were not removed by a court and given to the parents. That is all we’re arguing about.

    Given the brutality with which Schiavo has treated the parents, I think we have further evidence of the measure of this man. He barred them from her deathbed. (He, on the other hand, was right there and, as she breathed her last, kissed her and handed her a rose. Hey! Wait a minute! I thought she was in PVS. What was the rose for? To prove that being venal and trite are not mutually exclusive?) He didn’t tell them where her funeral was being held. He is only going to tell them where her ashes are because he has been ordered to do so by a court.

  • Lee Moore


    I reached the conclusion that nine tenths of the people urging an absence of state intervention in the Terri Schiavo case were eager state interveners in family life generally, by observation, and by reading the papers. People of a libertarian disposition, presumably including yourself, are sadly rather thin on the ground, and probably don’t even fill up half the remaining tenth. In any event, I do recall a discussion on samizdata in which all sorts of people who presumably think they are libertarians of one kind or another were all for smacking bans.

  • Winzeler

    Lee, that’s news to me, maybe you should check out this

  • Winzeler

    Verity, at the risk of receiving your scorn, I will suggest that you’re still casting judgment on Michael Schiavo based on conjecture, hearsay, doubt, and unsubstantiated rumors. This is not libertarian policy.

  • Verity

    Winzeler – It bothers me not at all that I’ve breached the libertarian creed, if indeed I have. I think barring the parents from Terri’s deathbed in her dying moments and refusing to tell them where their daughter was being cremated argues for a certain savagery.

    That he remembered a chance remark of his wife’s that she wouldn’t want to be kept alive artificially three years after she went into a coma, yet only a short time after he received an insurance settlement is suspicious. Many other unusual things about Schiavo’s behaviour point in the same direction. One would have to be stupid to discount all the circumstantial evidence against him. Circumstantial evidence can gain a critical mass, you know.

    What is interesting is, no one has come forward and said what a lovely guy he is. I don’t know who got paid for the TV movie that is already in the making and due out next month, but I have a feeling it wasn’t the parents.

  • Winzeler

    If baffles me why this nation (and world) had been so hell-bent on villifying this man. My grandmother is a registered nurse in Pinellas County (She lives in Clearwater, works in Largo) and she has talked to a few of the nurses who were with Ms. Schiavo in the beginning. Apparantly he was a “holy terror” if his wife was neglected in any way. Also, apparently, for the longest time (3-4 years, Grandma can’t remember for sure) he kept up with even her clothing. She was dressed nice and cared for. I am NOT insinuating that he is a “loving, caring” husband like you probably think I am, but I will say he has suffered the scorn and hatred of a nation and I don’t think he did it for money. I’m just not ready to concede that the government has the right to interfere with a husband without proof that he has disqualified himself in a manner like I described above.

  • mamapajamas

    Rajan: “However it might be possible that Terri Schiavo getting her to learn to swallow (a big might, BTW).:

    Terri WAS capable of swallowing. Otherwise she would have had an aspirator to remove saliva. It was her husband who would not allow her to be fed orally.

    Perry: “…it seems to me that Michael Schiavo’s behaviour fell within sufficiently acceptable bounds to not disqualify him and that far from taking the ‘easy way out’…”

    Having guardianship of his wife while living with another woman and starting a second family was, IMHO, an extreme conflict of interest. Had he been willing to surrender guardianship to Terri’s parents, this would never have been in the news. Judge Greer didn’t see it that way. I disagree with Judge Greer. The remaining judges who were in the appeals process did not look at any of the evidence. They only looked at the process to be sure the court procedures were done properly. So only one judge saw the evidence that is starting to come out on the net. It’s quite possible that this one judge made a mistake concerning guardianship, and I believe that to be true.

  • > I’m just not ready to concede that the government has the right to interfere with a husband without proof that he has disqualified himself in a manner like I described above.

    You want proof before court proceedings commence? I thought the whole point of courts was to establish whether there is proof. If you want proof first, you don’t need courts at all.

    > Having guardianship of his wife while living with another woman and starting a second family was, IMHO, an extreme conflict of interest.

    It’s also breach of contract, but hardly anyone ever mentions that. I always thought that Libertarians were supposed to be big on contracts freely agreed to by consenting adults. Well, what do you think marriage vows are?

  • Cathy Young

    Terri WAS capable of swallowing. Otherwise she would have had an aspirator to remove saliva. It was her husband who would not allow her to be fed orally.

    More nonsense. Terri Schiavo was capable of reflexive swallowing (i.e. swallowing saliva), but she was not capable of voluntary swallowing (swallowing food or water).

    I cannot understand why Michael Schiavo’s cohabitation with another woman is a “conflict of interest.” If all he wanted was to “get rid of” Terri Schiavo, all he had to do was divorce her and turn her over to her parents. (He had long ago agreed to forego financial interest in the matter.)

    If anything, I would say that a husband who felt himself obligated to remain celibate as long as his vegetative wife “lived” would have a far stronger motive to want to be rid of her.

  • > I cannot understand why Michael Schiavo’s cohabitation with another woman is a “conflict of interest.”

    Really? You married, Cathy?

  • toolkien

    Hopefully clears up some of the more passionate opinions

    The report of the Guardian Ad Litem appointed by Jeb Bush under HB35-E, in 2003.