Thursday, March 24, 2005

Confusing ideas

I have not written about Terri Schiavo because I don't feel I can add anything to the debate. However this post from the generally stimulating Andrew Sullivan is so outrageous that I feel compelled to say something.
Andrew has managed to conflate a slew of issues which have absolutely no bearing on the case at hand to make a few raving accusations, for example:

It's been clear now for a while that the religious right controls the base of the Republican party, and that fiscal left-liberals control its spending policy.


When conservatism means breaking up the civil bond between a man and his wife, you know it has ceased to be conservative. But we have known that for a long time now. Conservatism is a philosophy without a party in America any more. It has been hijacked by zealots and statists.

I am Jewish, I believe that gays should be allowed to marry like anyone else (by the way, it's unbelievable how gay issues wiggled into this debate from left field...) and I am conflicted about euthanasia. At the same time I have great respect for the people who have expended enormous amounts of energy to ensure that Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube not be removed. This depends on the fact that there seem to be fundamental differences in this case that make the removal profoundly objectionable:
  • The removal causes Mrs. Schiavo to starve to death over about two weeks. I suspect this fate is more painful than the state she is in right now.
  • She did not leave a living-will, therefore noone knows what she would have wanted to do in this case.
  • Her husband, who wants the tube removed and whom I sincerely feel for, clearly has ulterior motives (wants to close this chapter of his life, wants to remarry etc.) which, any fair minded person would recognize, cloud his judgement on whether this was his wife's real will.

In this particular case, running the gamut of legislative and judicial options to extend this woman's life, even contrary to her husband's will, seems to me the right option. See this and this. I suspect that nonetheless Congress should not have gotten involved. However I believe Andrew's hate for the religious right (whose policies I often disagree with) has blinded him to the fact that this is not a case of gay marriage, or euthanasia of a person who is able to express her will. The zeal with which the removal of this helpless woman's feeding tube is advocated in some circles is, to put it mildly, in extremely bad taste.

No comments: