Wednesday, March 30, 2005

hideously partisan mindf**k

Chris Selley well and fairly laments Mark Steyn's Sunday column here. I couldn't agree more with his conclusion:
To me, Steyn's column reads like he felt obliged to write about it, and in the final analysis it looks like he should have trusted his trepidations.

I have two things to add, if I may. First, two paragraphs of Steyn's column are essentially devoted to expressing his opinion that living wills are a bad idea.
We all have friends who are passionate about some activity -- They say, "I live to ski," or dance, or play the cello. Then something happens and they can't. The ones I've known fall into two broad camps: There are those who give up and consider what's left of their lives a waste of time; and there are those who say they've learned to appreciate simple pleasures, like the morning sun through the spring blossom dappling their room each morning.
We can't know which camp we'd fall into until it happens to us.

That's a perfectly admirable sentiment, but it's simply unfair to bring it up as if it demonstrates incompetence or dispassion amongst the crowd of Schiavo justices. If it is immoral to recognize a person's living will because they might change their mind, that is patently not for George Greer or any other judge to say.

I'm also flat-out confused by his ostensibly chilling conclusion:
Here's a thought: Where do you go to get a living-will kit saying that in the event of a hideous accident I don't want to be put to death by a Florida judge or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals? And, if you had such a living will, would any U.S. court recognize it?

I can't be the only person that understands the answers to these questions to be
(1) "I dunno - bookstore, internet, that napkin over there?", and
(2) "Yes, and if anything, this case has made me more confident of that."

You can legitimately argue that the U.S. and Florida law doesn't sufficiently allow for "erring on the side of life". But Jeez, the biggest question in the whole fooferaw has been "What would Terri Schiavo want" - there's no sign that any judge has it in mind to ignore or contradict the answer to that question. Every indication I've seen is that if she had prepared a triple-notarized living will in 24-point type, or even scratched "No Feeding Tube Please" on the back of a bank statement, this issue would have been settled 10 years ago.


At 1:39 p.m., Blogger Sacamano said...

Only marginally related, but a good Wills story nonetheless:

On June 8, 1948, Cecil George Harris of Saskatchewan was trapped under his tractor. While laying there, he managed to scratch into the fender the words, "In case I die in this mess, I leave all to the Wife, Cecil Geo. Harris".

Well, he did die, and the fender was cut off and admitted to probate as a valid holographic will that was later upheld in the Court of Queen's Bench.

It is now on display at the University of Saskatchewan's Law Library.

At 12:49 a.m., Blogger Paul said...

The point in this case is that in the complete absence of direct evidence that Terri Schiavo did not want a feeding tube, and plenty of evidence to the contrary, she was executed under the direct order of Judge Greer.

So you don't want to be kept alive by a feeding tube? Even if you're otherwise expected to come out of the coma within a week? Within two weeks? You aren't even in a coma? You're a paraplegic, but otherwise in fine health? You can't speak, but that's okay, you already told the judge to kill you.


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