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March 31, 2005

A Culture War Turning Point

Topics:

- Passion For Fairness
There exists among my culture war brethren a hope, albeit a dwindling one, that the Terri Schiavo tragedy marks a great catharsis in the collective conscience of Americans. Finally, the thinking goes, Americans will awaken to the horrors wrought by the culture of death. Finally, people will understand government is no friend of the faithful.

Lawrence Henry has wondered allowed on the cyber pages of the American Spectator whether the Schiavo situation is "It":

Conservatives have been asking themselves the question for years: "Is this finally it?" "This" being whatever event in the news exemplified a current gag-making excess of the culture or the polity or the law, and "it" being the point at which the nation as a whole simply won't take it anymore. There have been many points along the way when it seemed as though society might rear up and refuse to go in the current direction.

So far, no.

Certain "it" moments have actually occurred. The left has been trying to re-stage the destruction of public support for the Vietnam war and, twinned with it, Richard Nixon's downfall, ever since. California's Proposition 13 campaign, described in my column, "The California Circus Redux," started a round of tax rollbacks that inspired other state tax-cut initiatives and climaxed in the 1984 Tax Reform Act under Ronald Reagan. That, in turn, led to the prosperity which has latterly defined American life. My column pointed out the similarities between Proposition 13 and the Gray Davis California gubernatorial recall vote, all the ramifications of which have yet to be realized.

"Sooner or later," I concluded, "voters will rise up and cut politicians off at the knees. The results might not be pretty. Only richly deserved."

IS THE TERRI SCHIAVO CASE THE "IT" MOMENT OF NATIONAL POLITICS? Will this be the point at which country's consciousness turns, as it turned on the flights of two helicopters, one from Saigon, one from Washington, D.C., in the early 1970s? Or on the landslide brass-off the voters delivered to the political establishment decades ago in California?

Alas, it is not so. Public opinion pretty clearly - and depressingly -- demonstrates that we are well out of the mainstream on this one.

Continue reading ...

Posted by richard at March 31, 2005 4:09 PM


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Comments

I just got home and heard the news.. and then heard that Michael had to be a complete bastard right to the bitter end and not let the family be by Terri's side at her death. THAT, IMHO, IS THE DEFINITION OF WHAT IS NOT HUMAN. The wrong Schiavo was condemned to death, it is Michael who should have been put to death, not Terri.

I hope each and every person who contributed to this murder suffer in kind tenfold, but the justice system has already let the people of the US down, it's not about to turn around now and condemn itself, so don't get your hopes up about any wrongful death lawsuits, the evil bastards won't let justice prevail when it means pointing the finger at themselves.

If that had been my sister or daughter in there and I was forced to stand outside knowing she was being murdered at the same time, I don't think I could stand by and take that, if nothing else I'd probably make sure that she was being joined by those who killed her, even if it cost my own life to do it.

Justice will never be served in this case, because justice died with Terri. Rest In Peace. For those responsible, you have sealed your own fate and you will be judged for it when you eventually end this life and move on to your next. I spit on you.

Posted by: demonsurfer at March 31, 2005 5:03 PM

I better clarify, my comment is not a call to arms to go and kill anyone, it is an admission of defeat. I have about as much faith in the US justice system as I do in growing a third arm by the time I finish this comment. America deserves its bad reputuation, and the constitution is apparently nothing more than a manifesto of a racist, Indian-murdering nation written by a bunch of slave owning, money grubbing revolutionary terrorist.

SHAME.

Posted by: demonsurfer at March 31, 2005 5:16 PM

No doubt the Terri Schiavo case, regardless of the perspective, is tragic. However, the real tragedy (I hope we can all agree) occurred in 1990. I am a committed United Methodist - I am also an epileptic, and at any time, a seizure of unusual severity or length could render me in the same condition as Terri Schiavo. Knowing this, I wish we could recognize that none of us in the American public have the knowledge, facts, training, or expertise in legal or medical matters that the doctors or judges who were versed in the case have had. It’s incredibly difficult for most of us to realize that a condition such as PVS can even exist - yet in fact it does, and it renders a painful situation even more heartbreaking for a family. We simply CANNOT know whether she was or was not conscious based on a few seconds of videotape!

I hope we would also recognize that, as probably most of us learned in school, the U.S. was actually founded NOT on Christian principles, but rather to escape religious persecution (there were other reasons as well, as you know). To ensure this, our founding governmental doctrines ensured a SEPARATION OF POWERS between the three branches of government, with a system of checks and balances amongst the three. No doubt there have been errors in our 200+ years of government - however, it’s worked REMARKABLY well for its errors nonetheless. So whether you believe (as I do) that the courts acted within their authority, or whether you believe the courts erred, I would question what other system of government in existence on earth would you PREFER to live under? Seriously. As it is, our LEGISLATIVE branch makes the laws in accordance with the will of the people. The EXECUTIVE branch enforces the laws. And the LEGISLATIVE branch interprets the laws - it is not accountable to the “will” of the people. How many of us are legal scholars? Doctors of Jurisprudence? How many of us have studied Constitutional law? Each branch has “checks” over the other - our system, despite its flaws, is one that I’ll take any day. Or are we just supportive of democracy when it happens to be supportive of our views?

I am, again, a person of faith. And if those of us of faith would remember, our Savior’s kingdom isn’t of this world and He left governmental matters to the government - remember? And we were charged to not be quarrelsome and live in peace.

Posted by: dtobar33 at March 31, 2005 5:27 PM

Try reading some Kozol and similar literature. The US constitution is nothing but lip service.

Posted by: demonsurfer at March 31, 2005 6:42 PM

dtbar33:

We are not charged by God to allow HIS will to be thwarted by INjustice.

You have no clue as to the atrocities that greer committed and had endorsed by the INjustice of the courts in this country.

You are correct, that Our Savior's Kingdom is not of this earth. But just because you are "a person of faith" does not ensure you will be granted access to the Kingdom. Satan believes in Jesus; however, his knowledge is first-hand; whereas our knowledge is based on faith. And in-spite of Satan's knowledge of the TRUTH, he will NEVER be in Heaven again.

To enter God's Kingdom, we must live a life of LOVE and live our lives to serve God. Man cannot serve two masters--we cannot serve both God and Man. As long as man's laws conform to God's laws, we must be faithful. However, when man places himself above God and deigns to over-ride God's law with HUMAN law, we must fight. This is proven throughout history by the martyrs who died fighting against those who set laws above Divine authority.

"...As it is, our LEGISLATIVE branch makes the laws in accordance with the will of the people..." and please tell me how the "will of the people" will ensure we enter the Kingdom of God?

BTK greer violated the Constitutional Rights of Terri Shindler. He ordered her murder by starvation; we have laws that protect animals against starvation, yet greer SET LAW to torture Terri to death.

If you think you are following God's laws...then ask yourself how you can justify ignoring them to "appease the will of the people."

Posted by: Tress at March 31, 2005 7:05 PM

Good Friday Homily by Rev Francis de Rosa of the Diocese of Arlington, VA .
On the Passion of Teresa Marie Schiavo
Good Friday, 2005
Rev. Francis M. de Rosa

Today as we remember the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, I feel compelled to place our meditation within the context of the heart-wrenching drama that has unfolded in our nation since last Friday. In fact it has saturated my spirit and has made this Holy Week for me personally the most painful one in my entire life. I know that I am not the only one with these sentiments, as many have asked the question why in the mystery of Gods plan this tragedy has happened this of all weeks.

If it is true that in Christ we live and move and have our being, and if it is true that by baptism we are made members of His Mystical Body; and if it is true that this new status enables us to make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ; if we are to see Christ in other people, especially those who are helpless, then it is absolutely impossible to fail to contemplate what can justly be called the passion of Theresa Marie Schiavo.

The parallels with the Passion of Our Beloved Lord are striking to consider. It is as if Jesus, present in this poor sister of ours, bore again the opprobrium of the world. It is as if in the mystery of Divine Providence our nation has acted out during this Holy Week its own passion play. It is as if our nation, through its destruction of this innocent life, were crying out for her blood to be upon us and upon our children.

It is impossible in these events not to detect the spirit that drove Judas to betray Christ: Judas the thief into whose heart the Scriptures tell us Satan entered! ; Judas the traitor in the person of Terris husband who handed her over to evil men to be killed. In a sense the greatest calamity in all this is the one which has befallen him, for sin resides in and possesses the sinner in a most horrible way. Jesus said: Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin (John 8:34). So it is a strange irony that Terri's husbands last name Schiavo means in Italian slave.

If we turn to the courts in Florida and even the US Supreme Court, they played the part of the evil judges of the Sanhedrin, Pilate and Herod quite capably. For the sake of the law they confounded the very purpose of the law which is to serve and protect us and not kill us. They preserved their law; they argued about it and discussed it. They wrung their hands and pitied the tragedy. But in the end they upheld the law of man and condemned an innocent child of God to death as the whole world watched.

They felt very satisfied that they had done the right thing. They talked about respecting her rights even as they ended her life. They followed procedure with great skill and knowledge. Professors from important universities Harvard, Georgetown - concurred that the judges played by the rules. They murdered Terri Schiavo legally.
And just as our blessed Savior had armed guards sent out to apprehend Him, so too our sister Terri had armed policemen standing guard outside her nursing home to guarantee the decision of the judges who condemned her to death at the request of her adulterous husband.

I cannot but think also of the parents of Terri and how they have stood at the foot of her cross just as Our Lady did watching her Son die. We know that the Passion of Christ is also called the Compassion of Mary. It is as if Mary were crucified with her Divine Son.

What a terrible sword of pain pierced the hearts of Terri"s parents this week! The news reported yesterday that Terris mother upon entering her dying daughters room to visit her reeled in agony upon seeing her desiccated and tortured face and fell sick. Terri"s siblings tell of how the she looks like a victim of Auschwitz.

Yet Terris brother-in-law, Brian Schiavo (who wants to see her dead), declared on national television that she in fact looks peaceful! Opinion polls show a sizable percentage of Americans calling this mercy and not murder. This is unspeakable malice. What morally sane person would say such an outrageous thing about a starving person?

These are momentous days for America. The demon of the culture of death has bloated and swelled exponentially as it slaked its thirst with this fresh blood. The Holy Father has said that we are in fact faced with what he calls an objective conspiracy against life. Was not Terri the subject of a conspiracy involving elements in the legislature, the executive branch and the judiciary, not to mention her traitorous husband? They all conspired and worked together to block any help from coming to her.
The situation, my friends, is grave indeed. Pope John Paul II has written of this, and I quote:

The panorama described needs to be understood not only in terms of the phenomena of death which characterize it but also in the variety of causes which determine it. The Lord's question [to Cain after his murder of Abel]: "What have you done?" (Gen 4:10), seems almost like an invitation addressed to Cain to go beyond the material dimension of his murderous gesture, in order to recognize in it all the gravity of the motives which occasioned it and the consequences which result from it.

Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations But today the problem goes far beyond the necessary recognition of these personal situations. It is a problem which exists at the cultural, social and political level, where it reveals its more sinister and disturbing aspect in the tendency, ever more widely shared, to interpret the above crimes against life as legitimate expressions of individual freedom, to be acknowledged and protected as actual rights.

In this way, and with tragic consequences, a long historical process is reaching a turning-point. The process which once led to discovering the idea of "human rights" - rights inherent in every person and prior to any Constitution and State legislation-is today marked by a surprising contradiction. Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.

In the movie the Passion of the Christ there is a well-done and emotional scene depicting Veronica slipping through the hostile crowd to wipe the face of Jesus. As she holds out a cup of cool water to assuage the burning thirst of Our Lord, a Roman soldier suddenly appears and slaps away the cup from her hands just as it reaches Our Lords lips.

In a scene that will never be effaced from my imagination, I saw on television footage from outside Terris nursing home showing police officers arresting people who tried to enter the nursing home with cups of cool water to moisten Terris parched lips and mouth.

Three of those arrested were children. They had driven all the way from Texas with their father to stand heroically at the foot of Terris cross I saw children handcuffed and forced into police cars because they dared to see Christ thirsting in Terri Schiavo. These brave Christian children didnt need to ask the question posed by Our Lords disciples, Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give You to drink?

Outside the nursing home where Terri is being slowly murdered there has been kept a constant vigil of people praying. These to me represent the women of Jerusalem who wept for Our Lord. But of course Jesus words to them apply very well to us: Weep not for Me but for your children. These words are particularly applicable, because this murder was not done in secret but in broad daylight with the complicity of our judges and legislators. The evil is now deeply infused into our system. It will haunt us and our children.

Terri Schiavo is not simply being killed, she is being mocked. Just as Jesus was challenged to come down from the Cross if He were truly the Messiah, so too was Terri challenged by talk show hosts, newscasters, neurologists, politicians, attorneys and judges - to prove herself to be a human if indeed she were human and not a vegetable.

On Wednesday night I sat dumbstruck as a US Congressman (Jim Moran (D) Virginia), one claiming to be a Catholic, declared on national television that when one loses ones cognitive ability one is no longer a human person. Yet he said it not calmly but in almost in a fit of unprofessional rage that left me wondering why the network didn't clip him off. It was if her innocence provoked him all the more to the point of losing his own his cognitive ability.

Terri Schiavo has undergone a humiliation before the whole world and with her our entire nation has been degraded and disgraced. Her human dignity has been scourged and mocked and spat upon - not by rough and uncouth Roman soldiers - but by modern civilized people with college degrees and high paying jobs; educated people, intelligent people, but evil people.

Our Blessed Savior told His disciples that as He was despised, so they would be despised.

Yet still we are Christians, and ultimately nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. We know what really happened on that Hill of Golgotha 2000 years ago. We know that this was not a true victory for the devil. We know that the crucifixion of Our Lord brought about the great outpouring of grace into the sinful world. We know as only Christians can know that the gibbet of the Cross is in fact the throne of the King of Kings.

And we know also that in order to be His true disciples we must take up that Cross and follow Him. Placed in this context we understand in a way how the passion of our sister Terri Schiavo was a participation in that of Jesus own passion and death.

We must not take these events lightly. The powers of darkness are mighty, as was proved by our helplessness before the frightening onslaught of evil this past week. All of our imperial might was confounded and shown impotent to save this one innocent woman who was condemned to death by corrupt judges and lawmakers.

As Americans we must not be indifferent to what has happened, for a kingdom cannot last under such terms.

But as Christians and especially as Catholics we know that our true citizenship is in another Kingdom a Kingdom that will never crumble; a Kingdom against which the gates of Hell will not prevail: the Kingdom of God established by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who reigns victorious from the throne of the Cross whose blessed wood we will kiss today.

Jesus, I Trust in You!

Posted by: Tress at March 31, 2005 7:23 PM

One more question dtbar33:

Would you assert in the face of Our Lord at your judgement that because the LAW allowed HIM to be crucified, that He was served JUSTICE?

And you state that you would never want to "live" as Terri lived...you state that you would rather take a bullet to the head?

So now you have denigrated the great passion that Jesus accepted for us, by refusing to suffer at all for HIS GLORY. See, Terri is not with our Lord simply because she is dead; she is with our Lord because she Suffered with HIM and accepted HER CROSS.

The US Congress, the Court, and even the President brought great shame to this country when they re-created the atrocities of the ROMAN empire; when they repeated the sentence handed down by Pontius Pilot; when they ordered the death of another innocent person by torture.

As Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."

From the most civilized "Christian" nation in the world, we have fallen to DEMONstrate that we are infact, barbaric--and laugh at the Christian princiles which we pretend to uphold.

I would gladly suffer with Terri and enter God's Kingdom, than support the newly defined US "JUST US" system which is now creating the "perfect" race through genocide.

Posted by: Tress at March 31, 2005 7:38 PM

dtobar33, I don't know why I'm wasting my time with this...

You talk about separation of powers. So tell me, why do the police bow (in my opinion) to Greer? The police are part of the Executive Branch. Greer is part of the judicial branch.

There seems to be only one check and balance on the judiciary: election for state/local judges and appointment by the President (not to mention the circus that goes on in the U.S. Senate) for Federal judges. There are numerous checks and balances between the Executive and Legislative Branches. There need to be more for the judicial branch.

You talk about what was learned in school. Yes, I'm sure schools teach that, along with teaching that all sorts of sexual deviancies are "normal."

As to whether or not we can know what Terri feels, there are numerous people including the family, lawyers and priests who testify that she can communicate. If she can communicate, she can feel. You say you are religious. You should therefore know that it is a mortal sin to lie in a serious issue such as this. If a Catholic priest lied on national television, he would be leading others astray. He would be harming the priesthood. But if we are to accept the statements from the side that wanted Terri to starve and be dehydrated, we must call ALL of these witnesses of Terri "liars." I'm not willing to do so.

You have said we cannot know how she feels. Well, there was a way around that: Felos and Michael Schiavo could have allowed a few members of the media to enter the room. They could have allowed cameras from the family. They chose not to based on "privacy" concerns. Yet Felos continued to discuss Terri Schiavo's medical details in the media. That, in my opinion, makes me question the "privacy" concern.

Furthermore, if we do not know how she feels as you say, then obviously, they should have erred on the safe side and not allowed her to slowly starve and be dehydrated. Kate Adamson has gone through the process. She described it as quite painful.

I've heard arguments about "forcing her to live" or "prolonging life," etc. You say you are a person of faith. You therefore must realize that even if she was hooked to a ventilator (TRUE life support), if God decided a given time was her appointed time to enter eternity, He would make that happen. Either the machine would fail or she would simply die regardless. Instead, she died based on human intervention - allowed by a court ordered sentence of starvation and dehydration.

You talk about the Constitution and law. Terri was a Catholic. I'd suggest you review the First Amendment of the Constitution. Specifically, "Congress shall make no law....prohibiting the free practice of religion." We know that where state law conflicts with the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Constitution takes precedence. As a Catholic, Terri was entitled to DAILY reception of Holy Communion. She last received Holy Communion on Easter Sunday. In the intervening days between Easter Sunday and her death, she was not allowed to receive Holy Communion. If Michael denied this, he needed to have a basis in law. Greer has said he rules based on the law. He denied Terri oral access to food and water (he claims the law allows this). However, Holy Communion must be received via the mouth. Receiving Holy Communion is practicing one's religion. Thus, Greer could not order that Michael be allowed to deny Terri the right to Holy Communion as allowed by the Holy Catholic Church if he is just "interpreting the law." Yet somehow, Michael was allowed to do this. In fact, on Easter, she was originally DENIED Holy Communion. At some point during the day, Michael relented. If he was allowed (I contend he was NOT allowed based on the First Amendment) within law to deny this, why did he later relent? Furthermore, allegedly the hospice priest had to hold the hand of the Monsignor who has been ministering to Terri for years when he gave her Holy Communion. Allegedly this was based on a court order. Again, "free practice of religion" was violated in my opinion. Terri SHOULD have been able to receive Holy Communion from the Monsignor with whom she was familiar. The Monsignor did not need help administering the Sacrament. I've also heard that outside of Easter, the Monsignor was told by the police that he would be arrested for administering Holy Communion to Terri (again, this is based on what I've heard). If true, this is a violation of the First Amendment. So tell me about separation, and what a perfect system we supposedly have, etc. If they (in my opinion) ignore the Constitution on this matter, what else might they ignore?

Unless the absolute rights given to us by God are recognized, those in power are free to provide rights and free to take those same rights away. NAZI Germany, Stalin's Russia, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and plenty of other dictatorships are perfect examples of why this should NEVER happen.

Posted by: cw at March 31, 2005 11:47 PM