is what we get in a post-Fairness Doctrine world-two entirely
different versions of events, each of which perfectly echoes
the preconceptions of those on either "team." I'm
supposed to be on the blue team, so I'm expected to believe
that Michael Schiavo is a loving, devoted husband who is only
trying to do what his wife would want, her parents, Bob and
Mary Schindler, are publicity-hungry meddlers prolonging their
daughter's agony, and Terri Schiavo is in a coma.
on the red team hold that Michael Schiavo is some lying, craven,
bloodthirsty animal who is trying to kill his wife before
she can finger him as the cause of her injuries, despite all
medical evidence to the contrary, and her parents are looking
out for her best interests.
sides insist that they are only trying to do "what's
right for Terri," while their opponents are cynically
manipulating the facts to support their political agendas.
In fact, both sides are guilty of this, but it is clearly
the religious right that's got the most invested in this.
Randall Terry, the despicable pro-life radical who brought
his clinic-protesting Operation Rescue group to Buffalo back
in the '90s (only to be run out of town within a couple of
weeks), is now the Schindlers' "spokesman." The
doctors you've heard about, who say that Terri is not in a
Persistent Vegetative State as the court has held, and that
her cognitive status could improve through therapy, are highly
of those doctors is Florida Neurologist William Hammesfahr.
His name keeps popping up in articles which argue the Schindlers'
case. Hammesfahr was disciplined by the Florida Health Department
two years ago for fraud, but he still thinks he can save Terri,
as he said on the 700 Club: "Oh, absolutely. She'll definitely
be able to communicate. She'll probably be able to communicate
verbally over the course of about two years of treatment with
medication. And then as far as being able to use her arms
and use her legs, she'll be able to use those. This woman
is not in a coma. She's not in PVS. She's not that bad."
cerebral cortex is gone, according to court-ordered tests,
replaced by fluid. Whatever the motives of her husband and
parents may be, she is clearly not going to get well. It is
true that she could live for decades to come, but she can
hardly be described as a person. Unless Hammesfahr is a magician
from the future, he can't do a damn thing to help her. But
he says he can, and that's what the red team needs, so he's
currently making the rounds on the cable news shows. On Monday,
Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough repeated Hammesfahr's false
claim that he was nominated for a Nobel prize a combined total
of 12 times. Hammesfar is also one of the two doctors the
Schindlers chose to evaluate Terri in their court battle who
predictably disagreed the PVS diagnosis affirmed by two doctors
chosen by Michael Schiavo and one appointed by the court.
As Jay Wolfson, appointed as Guardian Ad Litem by Jeb Bush,
scientific quality, value and relevance of the testimony varied.
The two neurologists testifying for Michael Schiavo provided
strong, academically based, and scientifically supported evidence
that was reasonably deemed clear and convincing by the court.
Of the two physicians testifying for the Schindlers, only
one was a neurologist, the other was a radiologist/hyperbaric
physician. The testimony of the Schindler's physicians was
substantially anecdotal, and was reasonably deemed to be not
clear and convincing.
there's Carla Sauer Iyer, a woman described on Fox News and
CNN as Schiavo's "former nurse," despite the fact
that she wasn't actually a nurse when she assisted in her
care in 1996. In an inflammatory affadavit, Iyer claims that
Michael Schiavo attempted to kill his wife with insulin, and
repeatedly complained that she wasn't dying fast enough. She
also claims that Terri often spoke, saying "mommy,"
"help me," and "pain." Even the Schindlers
never called Iyer as a witness, and Judge Greer dismissed
are incredible to say the least. Ms. Iyer details what amounts
to a 15-month cover-up which would include the staff of Palm
Garden of Lago Convalescent Center, the Guardian of the Person,
the Guardian ad Litem, the medical professionals, the police
and, believe it or not, Mr. and Mrs. Schindler.
there she was on Tuesday, telling the persistently vegetative
"Fox and Friends" gang the same story
precisely the same language. Iyer's delivery was weird, to
say the least. She consistently paused at inappropriate, yet
regular, intervals, as if she were being fed her lines through
an earpiece. Even the Fox folks seemed somewhat incredulous,
but surely the more fanatical elements of the red team will
not hesitate to embrace this confirmation of the third-rate
"Law and Order" plot they imagine this case to be.
Michelle Malkin, of course, finds Iyer to be credible, or
at least extremely convenient.
troubles me is that Iyer's allegations are thoroughly investigable,
but no reporters seem to be trying to pierce the fog. She
says she reported the insulin incident to police, and was
fired for this. But no one has tried to obtain the police
report. No one has followed up on any of Hammesfar's former
patients. This case has been receiving scrutiny for years,
but the press has chosen to use it as a springboard for an
ideological and legal struggle, rather than attempting to
actually discover what the facts are. There are a lot of unanswered
questions here, but nobody seems very interested in obtaining
this is because an objective determination of the facts might
kill the story, ending the talk show shout-fests, and public
attention. But more likely it's just expensive and hard to
chase down facts, and simply more profitable to keep the debate
ill-informed and emotionally charged. Nowadays, the 24-hour
news networks prefer to simply make the news rather than break
it. It's a lot easier to simply pick a minor story-a pretty
white girl gets abducted in the rural south-and descend upon
it with hordes of cameramen and frenzied speculation, than
it is to put a lot of money into travel and training expenses
in a media environment that is simultaneously saturated and
empty, people just pick the version they like and decide that
it is true. This type of behavior I expect from Christian
radicals; after all, they believe the whole Noah's Ark thing,
too. But those on the left side of this issue, who believe
they know better, are guilty of the same sophistry in this
case. Many, including truthout.org editor William Rivers Pitt,
describe Schiavo as "comatose," which is certainly
not the case. She may not be conscious in any meaningful way,
but she clearly is awake. Others lionize her husband, without
anything to back it up but their own imaginings of him. Some
castigate the parents as money-hungry opportunists, when it
doesn't seem too hard to believe that they just don't want
their kid to die.
of the facts of the case, it has been appealed through the
entire Florida court system, and it has been decided. The
Congressional action which has put it before a federal court
is, legally speaking, a pile of crap. It is undoubtedly unconstitutional,
and an amazing display of gall from the party which has, until
now, been raving on about "judicial activism." It's
a clear violation of the state's rights that conservatives
are supposed to hold so dear, and an obvious move to pander
to their most loyal demographic. Again the liberal response
is disappointing, with congressional Democrats caving in yet
again, lest they incur the wrath of a bunch of backwards Fundies
who will never vote for them anyway.
it is just this type of right-to-life zealotry that makes
it illegal to end Schiavo's life with a pleasant overdose
of morphine. The only "ethical" way to do it, according
to the law, is to let her slowly starve to death. So, though
ending her life painlessly would constitute "euthanasia"
and be wholly unacceptable to the pro-lifers, they argue that
those on Michael Schiavo's side are cruel for wanting to starve
next thing you know, they'll be arguing that she can be saved
through stem cell research.